Bedtime with three kids - how do I do it?
Getting just one child to sleep can often be stressful. Here, Chelle McCann shares her experience of how she gets three children - aged six years, 22 months and six months - off to the Land of Nod
When our third baby arrived, we were under no impression that bedtime routines would be easy. What we did know was that everyone in our home needed sleep to feel well and less grumpy.
As a baby, our firstborn wasn't the best sleeper, and we often bed-shared with her so that we’d all get some sleep. We went through sleep training, controlled crying and her shuffling out of her bed across the bedroom floor. She fell into her own pattern eventually and now is a great sleeper (8pm-7am, often later on the weekend).
We had tried everything going with her as we felt that first-time “sleep through the night” pressure. By aged three, though, we’d cracked it with a simple routine of a bedtime story and cuddles to sleep. It would take around 30 minutes to ensure she drifted off. Now, at the age of six, she's asleep in 15.
Our middle son found his own routine. We had a co-sleeper crib and by 6pm, he would often simply drift off to sleep. His routine was simple: a feed in his crib, dim lights and away he would go. From around three months, this was his regular bedtime and, although there were some night waking, it took 18 months for him to sleep through the night. He goes to bed at 7:30pm and sleeps until 6/6:30 am.
We now also have a six-month old who has yet to sleep through the night (we are using a co-sleeper crib). Again, he is so different from the other two. He moans at bedtime, wants to hold hands and have his bum patted while falling asleep. White noise calms him, so that's become part of his bedtime routine. He goes to bed at 6:30pm, settles by 7:30pm and wakes again at 10:30pm/1am/3am/5:30am - each time he is breastfed back to sleep. Sometimes he goes back into his crib and sometimes he sleeps with me.
Each of my children has different bedtime routines - that's because they are all very different! Their personalities aren’t the same, so why should their bedtime routines be?
A few things I've found useful
Staggered bedtimes and wake-ups are very much appreciated. The last bedtime is 8pm, meaning my husband and I get some crucial “us” time to chat, watch a film and eat together.
Not all children sleep through the night. Once you accept your child is unique, you can gear towards what works for them. You'll find that they’ll fall into their own pattern if you let them.
If you have a partner, split bedtimes with them. My husband does our toddler’s bedtime and I do the baby's. Our daughter, who is older, gets alternate Mummy/Daddy nights.
Do what makes you happy. Some sleep methods aren't for everyone. It's no big deal if you cuddle to sleep. Remember, they're little for such a short time that this will quickly pass! Our six-year-old barely has a big bedtime routine now, so it does get better.