A few week’s ago we were asked to try out the Johnson’s 3 step bedtime routine and see if it helped Gabe to settle more easily at night, and to stay asleep for longer.
In week one we followed our usual bedtime routine and recorded how we got on in a sleep diary. Our normal bedtime with Gabe starts at about 6pm. I take him upstairs and get him changed for bed in Toby’s room. We then go into our bedroom (Gabe still sleeps in a bedside crib) with only the night light on. Gabe has his bottle of milk and usually he falls asleep whilst drinking it, or shortly after. Because of his reflux I will then sit holding him propped up for between 20 and 30 minutes before putting him into bed. He doesn’t usually wake up when I transfer him into bed, or if he does it only takes a bit of shushing and a back rub to settle him again. Twice a week we will add a bath into the routine but don’t usually do it any more often than that.
Once he’s in bed Gabe usually then sleeps until somewhere between 4 and 5:30 am. He sometimes wakes up once in the early hours of the morning but because he’s right next to me I can usually get him to go back to sleep within a few minutes by putting his dummy in and giving him another rub on the back.
Until fairly recently, when Gabe woke up I would bring him downstairs, give him a bottle, change his nappy and within an hour he would fall asleep and I could get him back in bed for another hour or so. The last few weeks however he has been waking up and then refusing to go back to sleep until 8 or 9 am by which point Toby is up and there is no chance of me getting any more rest.
During the first week of the challenge, when we were just following our normal routine, bedtime took between 25 and 50 minutes. I have only counted up to the point Gabe fell asleep – as I mentioned there is usually an additional 20-30 minutes before I actually put him in bed but this is only due to his reflux. Most nights it only took 5-10 minutes for Gabe to fall asleep after he had finished his milk. There was one night when it took 20 minutes but that was because he had had a late nap that day.
In that first week I was up with Gabe between 5 and 5:30 most days. There was one day when he woke at 4:30 but I did manage to get him back in bed about 6 and we had another hour’s sleep. On 5 of the 7 nights he did wake at some point during the night but I was able to get him back to sleep within a few minutes without getting out of bed. There was only one night where he had a bath and that didn’t seem to make any difference to his sleep that night.
For the second week of the challenge we were to follow the Johnson’s 3 step bedtime routine. The three steps are:
- Bath – using Johnson’s Bedtime Bath or Wash.
- Massage – using Johnson’s Bedtime Oil or Lotion.
- Quiet time – either reading, singing or playing music is suggested.
We started our bedtime routine slightly earlier in the second week so that we could fit everything in. By 6pm Gabe is really ready for his bed and I didn’t want to end up with an overtired and grumpy baby on my hands! I gave Gabe a bath using the Johnson’s Bedtime Bath. It smelled lovely and made plenty of bubbles. Gabe quiet enjoys being in the bath but he doesn’t really like getting undressed to get in, and he definitely doesn’t like getting out! He did enjoy looking at the bubbles in the bath and I tried to spend a bit longer than my usual quick dunk and wash with him so he got a chance to experience a bit more of the fun of bath time. There was one night when we skipped the bath as Gabe was really tired and grumpy and I decided a bath would only make this worse.
After his bath I took him into Toby’s room for his massage and to get dressed. I kept the lights quite low and used this time to calm things down. I used the Johnson’s Bedtime Lotion (mostly because I didn’t want to get oil on Gabe’s cloth nappies). I haven’t really done any baby massage with Gabe before but I went to classes with Toby so I used some of the techniques I remembered from there. Again the Bedtime Lotion smelled lovely and it left Gabe’s skin nice and smooth. Gabe seemed to quite enjoy his massage although I only spent about 5 minutes doing it each evening. If you’ve never done baby massage before you can find more information here.
When the massage was done and Gabe was dressed for bed I took him into our room and gave him his milk as usual. We always have this quiet time, although usually I just let Gabe drink his milk and don’t really do anything else. Johnson’s sent us a lovely book to read but I decided that as we’re usually in the almost dark for Gabe’s quiet time that I would just sing to him while he had his milk instead.
So to the bit you’ve been waiting for – did the Johnson’s 3 step bedtime routine make any difference to Gabe’s sleeping habits?
In the second week our bedtime routine took around 15 minutes longer than our usual routine. I was a bit concerned because once Gabe is ready for bed I don’t usually have a lot of time to get him ready before he starts getting massively grumpy but he seemed to tolerate the extra time really well. The time it took him to fall asleep after finishing his milk was roughly the same, but then it was already pretty quick so we couldn’t expect much improvement there.
The night wakings were pretty much the same too – although we did get two nights with no wake ups in the night. The early starts continued though – we had a couple of 4:30 am get ups but in the last two days of the challenge Gabe didn’t wake up until 5:30 and then 6 am so we were definitely heading in the right direction.
I think though we probably didn’t see a huge amount of difference because our bedtime routine was already fairly similar to the 3 step routine suggested by Johnson’s. From now on I think we’ll be adapting a bit of the Johnson’s routine and working it into what we already do. I don’t think we’ll be moving to a bath every night – Toby only has a bath twice a week too and that seems to work for us. I enjoyed the massage though and I think Gabe did too so we’ll be trying to keep that going most nights if we can. I definitely be keeping up the singing – it really did seem to help Gabe settle after his milk. And we’ll still be using the Johnson’s Bedtime products too – I’m not sure how effective they really are but they do smell nice and that’s enough for me!
**Sponsored blog post by the JOHNSON’S® brand. I have received payment incentive and samples but all opinions are my own. JOHNSON’S® clinically proven bedtime routine consists of bath, massage and quiet time, tested on babies 7 months+, 1 week+ use.