Its easier to get your child on a schedule or to sleep if you have a routine. This lets your child know that soon it will be time to sleep, and no longer time to play. I started a bedtime routine when my little girl was about 3 weeks old, and it took. It just happens that 1 am was her dedicated bedtime. She went to sleep, because she knew it was bedtime. Now, Emma, wouldn't sleep in her own bed.. ever. But, after starting her bedtime routine, she would sleep in her own bed. Then 3-4 hours later she would wake up to eat and wouldn't go back into her own bed. Eventually, she slept through the night and grew out of that.
Its very easy to make a bedtime routine. Basically, you need to do the same thing every night. You can do this starting from a newborn, or wait until their a little older. Whenever you feel it is time to put them on a schedule.
Here's how you do it:
First: Pick a bedtime.
Now, this is completely your choice. Different families have different lives, so different times work better. Until after a year old, your baby should sleep 10-12 hours at night (depending on the child), so think about the time that they will be wanting to get up when you make their bedtime. For instance, if you have to drop your baby off at a baby sitter or daycare, or take other kids to school, pick the time you would need to get the baby up and work backwards, allowing them 10-12 hours of sleep. In my case, her daddy work late a lot, so we kept her up a little later, so she could see him before going to bed. I choose to put her to sleep at about 8:30, and then she wakes up at about 8:30. Now remember, this is the time you put your child in their bed asleep, not when you start your routine.
Second: Choose Your Routine.
This is the same thing you will do every night. It's good to spend quality time with your child doing these things. You can pick one or two things or more. Try it out and do what works for you. I'll list a few suggestions to get you thinking, but it can be anything you like.
Getting a bath
Reading a bedtime story
Putting on lotion (maybe the nighttime one?)
Saying your prayers
Getting a bottle
Eating dinner (if they are old enough)
Giving mommy/daddy/brother/sister/pet hugs and kisses
Changing into bedclothes
Sleeping with the same blanket
Sleeping with the same stuffed animal
Getting rocked to sleep
Getting sung a lullaby
Cleaning out babies nose
Cleaning out babies ears
Cleaning belly button (after the umbilical cord falls off, its still dirty for a little while)
Saying good night to a stuffed animal
Snuggling with mommy or daddy
Rocking in the same rocking chair
Eating dinner together
This was our routine
1. Eat dinner: usually rice cereal or a vegetable (or both)
2. Clean out nose: she was a very stuffy baby
3. Bath: this is what helped me a lot, I noticed she fell asleep easier after a bath, so I started giving her one every night. She cried, and I think that is what made her tired, but eventually she grew out of that.
4. New diaper and lotion: I used the Johnson's bedtime lotion and a face lotion
5.Clean out ears: babies get ear wax too, and comes right out after you take a shower. Plus they sell baby q-tips (which, I love!)
5. Bed Clothes: I made the decision when she was 1 month old, that the sleepers with the feet were just for bed.
6. Reading a bedtime story.
7. Saying our prayer: She had this bunny that when you pressed it, it said a bedtime prayer. so every night we said goodnight to the bunny and said our prayers.
8. Getting a Bottle/Nursing: this was done in the same rocking chair, with the same blanket and a stuffed animal to cuddle with.
9. Singing lullabies: she loved this, she would actual "sing" with me until she fell asleep.
This routine took about 2 hours every night, yes its long, but then she was all snug in her bed!
Once your baby is fine with the nighttime routine, you can make a nap time routing. Just let it be very simple and quick. Maybe reading a story or getting rocked to sleep? And let dad or big brothers or sisters help out! Maybe they can help with the bath, sing a lullaby or read the bedtime story?
Good Luck! Comment or Email me for any questions! :)