Some of the best advice my mother ever gave me was to establish a bedtime for my children within just a few weeks of them being born! I know that probably sounds crazy to some people, but it IS possible, it’s so healthy for your child (emotionally and physically) and……. it’s very beneficial to the happiness and emotional stability of you, as parents!
It’s simple….within just a few weeks of your child’s birth, whether you’re nursing or bottle-feeding, try to time the last feeding of the evening shortly before 7:00/8:00. Then, put them in their crib (at an early enough age, they will have fallen asleep while feeding anyway). The trick is to put them in their crib, not just on a blanket on the floor or in their carrier next to you on the couch, etc. Now, if they’re still very young, they will, of course, wake up for a feeding at least one more time before YOU even go to bed, so then just make sure you put them right back in their crib after they’ve been changed and fed (no different than what you would do during a middle of the night feeding). As they get a little older, it also helps to keep the last feeding as a separate ritual from “going to bed”. It is well known now, that it’s just not good to allow a baby to fall asleep flat on their back drinking a bottle, because it encourages ear infections because the milk tends to pool into the ear canals instead of right down their throats. And the baby develops a comfort connection to the bottle which one day will turn into not being able to fall asleep unless they have a bottle in thier mouth. Anyway, continue this process every night. My mother did this with me and my sisters (twins… born 3 1/2 years later), and it worked like a charm. I, in turn, did the same thing with my 2 children and we couldn’t have been more pleased with the results.
The best part about establishing a bedtime for your child at a VERY YOUNG age is that they will be much happier during the day (that’s what a good night’s sleep does for a person….young or old), and….there will be no fights over getting them to bed early enough when they start attending school, because they will already be in the habit. 🙂 And I believe, deep down, that most children really like and respond well to rituals and structure….it helps them feel secure when they know what to expect. 🙂
I hear of many couples who comment how much their life CHANGED after they had kids, biggest complaint…they “never have time for themselves”. There are enough adjustments that have to be made after having children, but “time alone with each other” does NOT need to be affected. If you put this process in place right away, you’ll at least have every evening to yourselves….which, I’m sure you’ll agree, is…… PRICELESS!!