Minimagpie: Bedtime Routines + Sleep Gear.

Mamas, what are your bedtime routines for your minis?  So many of my mom friends and my lovely magpie readers have encouraged me to cement a bedtime routine and stick to it day after day, insisting that it lays an important foundation for good night of sleep.  On a recent visit to Chicago, my sweet sister (mom to a toddler and, soon, a second son!) implored me: “Consistency is so key with kids.  Consistency, consistency, consistency.”  It’s led to multiple conversations with Mr. Magpie on the topic.  We’ve been pretty fluid with minimagpie thus far, following her cues as to when she seems tired or hungry, which has in turn led us to put her on a loose routine that has helped us pre-empt meltdowns.  (We had observed that if we let her go much longer than 2.5 hours without sleep, things got a little dicey, so we have been able to proactively put her down for naps before she over-tires herself.)  That said, we’ve become increasingly structured about bedtime, almost always following the same pattern of activities that I loosely recounted in my day-in-the-life post (what did you think?) and using the same products night after night.  You can see them in the collage below and click on each image to get product details, or read about Le Why in the sleeptime routine outlined below!:

+Bath.  I used to bathe her every other night in fear of drying out her sweet little skin, but I’ve switched to nightly baths in the last week.  (P.S. My favorite bath gear.)

+Dress in jammies.

+Place in sleepsack.  We alternate between a few, including an Aden + Anais silky soft one, which is super lightweight for summer.  I am currently coveting one of these beautiful De Buci baby styles.  I do this primarily for warmth now that she’s no longer wearing the swaddle since she’s started rolling over and it’s no longer safe to keep her swaddled.  (Also, she was starting to resist the swaddle and writhe her way out of it on the regular!)  By the way, we considered using the Merlin Magic Suit as a transition — it sort of immobilizes the baby’s arms so that the startle effect doesn’t keep her awake! — but instead started swaddling her with one arm out, then both arms out, and then just put her in a sleepsack and it all worked fine.  I find that it helps if I’m sort of holding onto one of her arms, keeping it in place, while rocking her to sleep, so both arms aren’t flailing all over the place.

+Turn on sleep sheep.  By the way, I love this travel-sized version — there’s a full-size, too, but the travel size comes with a little velcro strap that you can use to affix it to just about anything.  We tie it to one of the rungs of her crib since you’re not supposed to place any blankets or toys in the crib with baby for fear of suffocation.  Although — people go nuts over this noise machine, too.

+Turn on night light.  I love this little giraffe night light because it never gets hot to the touch and the plug part swivels to accommodate whatever direction your wall outlet is oriented.  If you have a similar safari theme in your room but aren’t interested in dropping nearly $50 on a nightlight, consider this adorable elephant style!  So precious.

+Turn off overhead light and turn on bedside table lamp (by the way, I have this inexpensive but chic Target lamp in her nursery and I LOVE IT.  You tap the base to turn it on and off!  Genius for a mama with her hands full!)

+Hand mini one of these loveys — mini owns the lamb set.  She immediately starts chewing on its face.  One of my friends strongly advocated for the lovey — she said her daughter sees it and immediately associates it with bedtime; it puts her in a “sleep state of mind.”

+Read her a book.  We have lots of bedtime favorites, but I love Goodnight, Moon and Llama, Llama, Red Pajama right now — they’re short, they have soothing rhythms, and they have a bedtime theme.  Plus, both are interesting for her to look at while she’s five months old.

+Say her prayers — “Now I lay me down to sleep // Pray the Lord my soul to keep // If I should die before I wake // Pray the Lord my soul to take” — and then her intentions: “God bless Mimi and Grandpa, Gigi and Doe, etc, etc.”

+Turn out bedside table light and either give her a bottle or rock her to sleep.  Stroll up and down the hallway if she’s crying.  We’re now playing around with sleep-training.  It’s a current source of constant conversation in our household (my, how dinnertime topics have changed!) — what to do, how much of it, why.  Some of the thoughts/words of wisdom I’ve absorbed from loved ones, and the diversity of perspectives should demonstrate that there’s truly no right answer here…

+”You have to commit to sleep training for a week and truly let the baby cry it out every night.  It’s hard for mama, but it’s sort of like ripping off a bandaid.  Do it for a week — it honestly only took us a few days! — and she’ll sleep like a dream.  Just keep your eyes on the prize.”

+”I wouldn’t worry about sleep training until around six months, when your doctor tells you your baby can go for a full night without eating, and then begin to ease into it.  There are gentler forms of sleep training you can play around with!”

+”Go in for a few minutes and comfort her and then, in an adult voice like you expect her to understand, say: ‘Emory, go to sleep.’  Sounds crazy, but my dad [a pediatrician] told me to do that and I think it worked. It’s hard to hear them cry, but the sleep is so good for them!”

+”Sometimes it takes awhile, but I always comfort my baby verbally while standing alongside the crib, occasionally rubbing his back or side, and let him fuss until he falls asleep.  Sometimes I need to come into and out of his room a half dozen times, but I try not to pick him up.  He needs to learn to fall asleep out of my arms.”

+”I let my baby fuss it out for the number of minutes of her age in months.  So, if she’s four months, I let her cry or fuss for four minutes before going in to comfort her.  If she’s five months, I let her fuss for five minutes before intervening.  And so on.  It felt like a more humane approach for me.”

It should also be noted that some moms never “sleep train” and others do so from birth!  I have one mom friend who has had her baby sleeping through the night since a month old, and she literally closes the door at 7 PM and does not open it until 7 AM.  There are lots of approaches here!

OK, mamas: tips? tricks?  must-dos?  Please share in the comments!  I’m curious about what other steps you add to your bedtime routines, and if/when/how you sleep-trained!  Ears are open.

P.S.  I’ve heard good things about these night light buddies for toddlers — they project stars onto the ceiling are apparently very comforting — and also these OK to Wake clocks, which let your little ones know when it’s “OK” to get out of bed.



  1. I’m nothing if not a tactical mom 🙂 haha so he has loved the (brace yourself for the name) Nuk juicy pacifiers since being a newborn, something about the ridge makes it stay put better than others we tried. He is also unimpressed by wubanub these days…so much teething, no time for stuffed animals!

  2. Hi Jen–this is Lindsey, Amy’s little from SK days, love your blog–we have a little Emory at our house as well (my heart) who is 3 and my youngest Whitt is almost 9 months. I have found the baby to be so much happier with a daily nap schedule and strict bedtime, it loosely goes like this: wake at 7, nap at 8:30-9:30, nap 2 (2.5-3 hrs after waking from first) so 12:30-2:30 generally, then nap 3 is again 2:30-3 hrs after nap 2 so 5 or 5:15. I don’t let him sleep after 6 because bedtime is 7-7:15 or so. That has really worked beautifully for us and it’s flexible to cater to different wake times in the morning. Bedtime is diaper change, pjs, nursing, board book, the good old song usually ;), and lay down, turn off lights and turn on sound machine. We started sleep training around 6 months. One trick we did use was a paci in the mouth and one to hold, so he wouldn’t keep pulling it out and get upset. There is no perfect formula, it’s just about doing the same thing every night so she recognizes that it’s bedtime. You’re doing great, she sounds like a doll 🙂 my mantra is–“this is only a phase…” Good luck, oh and I’ve also heard great things about moms on call but never used it

    1. LINDSEY! HI! So good to hear from you and reconnect 🙂 Thanks for sharing this — I really love and appreciate when fellow moms get super tactical in their notes, i.e., instead of “stick to a general routine,” write: “this is ACTUALLY what I do, from a-z.” So thank you for your candor. I like the idea of anchoring around a strict bedtime but keeping the rest a little more fluid because, well, life is fluid. Thanks, also, for the two-pacifier tip! Emory actually loved her pacifier (wubbanub) for a month and now she only likes to play with it but won’t put it in her mouth. I’m contemplating playing around with another brand/shape of pacifier — any recs? What’s worked for your Emory (!!!) and Whitt? xo

  3. I swear by “Moms on Call”. Look them up if you have never heard of them!There is a book, an app, and a super helpful FB group. We are using it for my now 10 week old (since she was 6 weeks) and have had great success! Just ordered some Dutch Hipp (on your recommendation) to use to supplement as I start back to work in a few weeks. Were you/Emory happy with it? Absolutely LOVE your minimagpie posts as your little one is a few months ahead of mine and I appreciate the insight!

    1. Hi Christie! YES, another girlfriend of mine swears by Moms on Call, and yet another one borrows elements of it. I did read the book cover to cover when minimagpie was a few weeks old and felt, at the time, daunted by the schedule BUT am thinking I may need to revisit now that things have settled into more of a routine and I feel more capable (?) of implementing something like that. Thanks for the reminder.

      Re: Dutch Hipp — I love love love it. We tried some of the standard American brands (Similac, etc) but found that Hipp was gentler on mini’s stomach (less gas) and also had the advantages of NOT having that gross formula smell and NOT staining! (The standard formulas left yellowish-brown stains on her bibs. Not the end of the world, but…small wins!) Hipp also does not have any of the synthetic acids prevalent in most American brands, not that I’m an expert or even, if I’m honest, know the pros and cons of synthetic v. not — but I’m sure someone on this blog can enlighten us. Finally, and this is most certainly TMI, several mom friends mentioned that Hipp poops resemble breastmilk poops — I was never able to observe this since we had mini supplemented with formula since like day 3 of her life — but my mom friends took comfort in this observation.

      Let me know what you think!!

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