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Bedtime routines can either be your favorite time of the day (hello, quiet time!) or the most dreaded. Some little ones go to sleep before we can even get them to their beds, but for others, it's an ongoing saga of procrastination—asking drawn out life questions and suddenly needing *all* of the water, then needing the bathroom stat. ?


We asked #TeamMotherly to share their bedtime routine with the kiddos and found that there's no right or wrong way to put your children to bed. Routines will change with age and need to be updated in different seasons, but some mamas do have a nightly schedule down pat. Other mamas are winging it each day, doing whatever it takes to get some shut eye.

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Here's what they had to say.

1. Snuggles are a must

“Pajamas, brush teeth, read one or two books, snuggle for a bit. Been our routine since he was 2 years old and he will be 6 this summer!"—Constance Mara

2. Nightly song

“Baths every three nights or so. Jammies, diaper, teeth brushing, read three books, sing a lullaby and rock, pray, and put her to bed by 8 pm at the latest. She sings to herself in her crib sometimes for 30 minutes or so before falling asleep. ?"—Audrey Myers

3. Family time before bed

“My daughter is 6 months old. Her daddy gets home from work at 7 pm so we have family time till 10-10:30 pm then the nightly routine begins. Bedtime starts with her daddy carrying her up to her changing table and says goodnight. After I change her diaper, I give her a warm bottle while rocking her to sleep while singing a lullaby. Once bottle is finished we snuggle in the rocker for about five minutes. I then move her into her crib where she sleeps soundly for the next 10-11 hours. She usually sleeps till at least 9:30am and then my day begins again."—Lisabeth Kristin

4. What routine?

“Routine... haha! You're funny! ?"—April Drake

5. Mom + dad tag team

“Our first baby girl turns 1 on the 12th ? After dinner it's bath time by 7 pm (every other night unless absolutely needed), play with Daddy & Mommy until 8 pm, baby girl starts rubbing her eyes and showing us she's sleepy. Mommy warms up her bottle while Daddy changes her diaper and puts her sleep sack on, Mommy or Daddy feeds her (we alternate every other night). She is passed out & in her crib by 9 pm, sleeps until 8:30-9:00 am and wakes up happy as can be! ??"—Casey Brown

6. Two minute warning

“My 5 year old has had the same routine for the last three years: At 7:30 pm, she gets a two minute warning. My husband sets a timer for her. She pushes the start and when it's done, she shuts off the alarm and then goes up stairs for book read and then bed. No fuss every night!"—Sarah Gillespie

7. Review the highlights of the day

“Bedtime music goes off. PJ's, teeth brushing, glass of milk, read two chapters while snuggling as a whole family. First chapter, kid gets a toy to fiddle with if needed. Then we talk about the highlights of our day and things we're looking forward to tomorrow. Then snuggle to sleep. We have a definite start time for bedtime, but it ends when it ends."—Christine Bruseker

8. Keep it simple

“It used to be like a reverse hostage situation. 'I'll take you to monkey jumping this weekend if you please just stay in your room and sleeeeep.'Now it's quite nice. Bath. Book. Bed. ?"—Clarisse Espiritu

9. But mom, I need...

“Bedtime routine with my 6 year old? Let's see… first there's the struggle of getting him upstairs, undressed and cleaned up. Then I get him into bed and read him a story, at the end of which he always wants another story, starts jumping up and down in bed and threatening me with whatever he'll do if I don't give him another story—which I never give in to and he knows it. When he finally settles down again, I sing a song to him and say goodnight. Then it's “mom I need the toilet." Okay, go to the bathroom. 'Mom I'm hungry.' No you can't be hungry, you had two helpings, dessert and a banana. 'But I'm hungryyyyyy!' Nope, not buying it. That goes on for at least five mins. Then he's too unsettled to fall asleep, he's tossing and turning and still thinking about stuff he wants to do tomorrow. If we're lucky he'll be asleep half an hour later."—Marieke Ayoub

10. Questions, questions, questions

“Time to brush your teeth and go to bed. 'Can I have a snack? I need to brush my teeth again because I had a snack. I'm thirsty now, can I have water? I need to go to the bathroom! These jammas are itchy. I need to change. Will you wake me up extra early? Will you sing a song mommy? I forgot to pray.'"—Athena Elliot

11. Flexible bedtime

“I have a 1 month old. Right now we start off with a bath if it's bath night or just washing her face, diaper change, jammies, nurse during which I read her a story, then prayers and finally a lullaby. We then cuddle as her pediatrician wants her upright for at least a half hour because of her reflux. I tell her what we are doing next (not that she can understand it, but I'm hoping she'll associate the words to the action). It's just hard trying to do it around the same time every night. My goal is 9 pm bedtime but something always throws us off lol"—MaryBeth Klimek

12. Breastfeeding + bottle combo

“Or my 5 month old: 6 pm, warm formula bottle, change diaper, clean onesie, get into bed and cuddle while feeding. Then when she is finished the bottle (around 120ml), I breastfeed her until she falls asleep. The formula digests slower and gives us both more sleep, and she breastfeeds until empty most of the time too, so I'm not going to bed full."—Scarlette McIntyre

13. No bath zone

“I may be the only one who doesn't do baths at bedtime? My daughter hates them and it turns into a disaster so those are usually morning adventures.We started our bedtime routine three weeks ago for our three-month-old. We turn off all the overhead lights and most of the lamps between 6:30-7 pm. Around 8 pm she eats then we read and rock until she falls asleep! Next month we're going to try putting her down and letting her self-sooth eeeek!"—Mauri Weidenaar

14. Techy bedtime

“Our new bedtime routine includes plenty of outside playtime to burn off some steam, followed by the usual: dinner, bath, pjs and brushing teeth. Teeth brushing and getting my 3 year old into bed used to be a major chore, including tantrums. Until we started using a cell phone projector story app! He easily cooperates with brushing his teeth as the story for his reward! At his age, regular books are boring and he didn't want me to read them, but he loves Moonlite! It makes everything easier! I project the pictures on the wall so he can touch them and the app has fun sound effects on each page."—Trina J Blackwell - Franco

15. We stick with what works

“For my 16 month old—Upstairs at 6:45 pm, quiet play time in her room for 15 minutes, bath time at 7 pm, bottle, and down at 7:30 pm! The 'schedule' has evolved timing wise, but the process has remained the same!"—Erica Moreno

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As a former beauty editor, I pride myself in housing the best skincare products in my bathroom. Walk in and you're sure to be greeted with purifying masks, micellar water, retinol ceramide capsules and Vitamin C serums. What can I say? Old habits die hard. But when I had my son, I was hesitant to use products on him. I wanted to keep his baby-soft skin for as long as possible, without tainting it with harsh chemicals.

Eventually, I acquiesced and began using leading brands on his sensitive skin. I immediately regretted it. His skin became dry and itchy and regardless of what I used on him, it never seemed to get better. I found myself asking, "Why don't beauty brands care about baby skin as much as they care about adult skin?"

When I had my daughter in May, I knew I had to take a different approach for her skin. Instead of using popular brands that are loaded with petroleum and parabens, I opted for cleaner products. These days I'm all about skincare that contains super-fruits (like pomegranate sterols, which are brimming with antioxidants) and sulfate-free cleansers that contain glycolipids that won't over-dry her skin. And, so far, Pipette gets it right.

What's in it

At first glance, the collection of shampoo, wipes, balm, oil and lotion looks like your typical baby line—I swear cute colors and a clean look gets me everytime—but there's one major difference: All products are environmentally friendly and cruelty-free, with ingredients derived from plants or nontoxic synthetic sources. Also, at the core of Pipette's formula is squalane, which is basically a powerhouse moisturizing ingredient that babies make in utero that helps protect their skin for the first few hours after birth. And, thanks to research, we know that squalane isn't an irritant, and is best for those with sensitive skin. Finally, a brand really considered my baby's dry skin.

Off the bat, I was most interested in the baby balm because let's be honest, can you ever have too much protection down there? After applying, I noticed it quickly absorbed into her delicate skin. No rash. No irritation. No annoyed baby. Mama was happy. It's also worth noting there wasn't any white residue left on her bottom that usually requires several wipes to remove.


Why it's different

I love that Pipette doesn't smell like an artificial baby—you, know that powdery, musky note that never actually smells like a newborn. It's fragrance free, which means I can continue to smell my daughter's natural scent that's seriously out of this world. I also enjoy that the products are lightweight, making her skin (and my fingers) feel super smooth and soft even hours after application.

The bottom line

Caring for a baby's sensitive skin isn't easy. There's so much to think about, but Pipette makes it easier for mamas who don't want to compromise on safety or sustainability. I'm obsessed, and I plan to start using the entire collection on my toddler as well. What can I say, old habits indeed die hard.

This article was sponsored by Pipette. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Military families give up so much for their country, particularly when they have small children at home. Those of us who have never witnessed this kind of sacrifice first-hand could use a reminder of it once in a while, which is just one of the reasons we're so happy to see the beautiful photoshoot Mary Chevalier arranged for her husband's return home from Afghanistan.

The photoshoot was extra special because while James Chevalier was serving a nine-month deployment, Mary gave birth to their second son, Caspian.

Getting ready to meet Dad

"During the laboring and birthing process of Caspian, I was surrounded by family, but that did not fill the void of not having my husband by my side," Mary told InsideEdition.com. "He was able to video chat during the labor and birth, but for both of us, it was not enough."

While James had yet to meet Caspian, their 3-year-old son, Gage, missed his dad a whole lot, so this homecoming was going to be a big deal for him too. That's why Mary arranged for her wedding photographer, Brittany Watson, to be with them for their reunion in Atlanta.

Gage was so happy to see his Dad 

"[He] had no idea he was going to be getting to see his daddy that day," Watson wrote on Facebook. "The family met at the Southeastern Railway Museum for Gage to go on a special train ride... little did he know, he'd be doing it with daddy!"

Watson did a beautiful job capturing the high emotions of every single family member, from Gage's surprise, to the delight on baby Caspian's face. It's no wonder her Facebook post went viral last week.

"Caspian is natural, a very happy baby, but both James and I felt like Caspian knew who his father was almost immediately," Mary told Inside Edition. "He was easily comforted by me husband right off the bat and seemed to have an instant connection. It was very emotional."

The moment this dad had been waiting for 

If we're sobbing just looking at the photos, we can't even imagine what it was like in real life.

"We are all so blessed and take so much for granted," Watson wrote. "I cannot contain the joy I feel in my heart when I look at these images, and I hope you feel it too!"


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During both of my pregnancies, I was under the care of an amazing midwife. Every time I went to her office for check-ups, I was mesmerized by the wall of photos participating in what may be the most painfully magical moment of a woman's life: giving birth. But there was a painting that always drew my attention: a woman dressed in orange, holding her newborn baby with a face that could be described as clueless. The line above the canvas read, "Now what?"

I felt like the woman in the painting as I kissed my mother goodbye when my daughter was born. She came from my native Colombia to stay with us for three months. When she left, I realized that my husband had been working as usual during those first 90 days of our new life. My baby was born on a Friday and on Monday he was back at the office. (No parental leave policy for him.)

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Now what? I thought. The quote "It takes a village to raise a child" suddenly started to hit home, literally.

After a few years in Miami, I had some friends, but it truly didn't feel like I had a village. Some were not mothers yet, most of them worked full-time and others didn't live close by. My nomad life left my best friends spread out in different places in the world. I found myself signing up for "mommy and me" classes in search of new mothers, immigrants like me, alone like me.

It seemed like a utopian dream to think about when my grandmothers became mothers. Both of them had 6 and 10 children and they were able to stay sane (or maybe not? I don't know). But at least they had family around—people cooking, offering help. There was a sense of community.

My mother and father grew up in "the village." Big families with so many children that the older siblings ended up taking care of the little ones; aunts were like second mothers and neighbors became family.

When I was about to give birth to my second baby, my sister had just had her baby girl back in Colombia. Once, she called me crying because her maternity leave was almost over. My parents live close to her, so that was a bonus. Hiring a nanny back there is more affordable. But even seeing the positive aspects of it, I wished I could have been there for her, to be each other's village.

The younger me didn't realize that when I took a plane to leave my country in search of new experiences 19 years ago, I was giving up the chance to have my loved ones close by when I became a mother. And when I say close by, I mean as in no planes involved.

It hasn't been easy, but after two kids and plenty of mommy and me classes and random conversations that became true connections, I can say I have a mini-village, a small collection of solitudes coming together to lean on each other. But for some reason, it doesn't truly feel like one of those described in the old books where women gathered to knit while breastfeeding and all the children become like siblings.

Life gets in the way, and everyone gets sucked into their own worlds. In the absence of a true village, we feel the pressure to be and do everything that once was done by a group of people. We often lose perspective of priorities because we are taking care of everything at the same time. Starting to feel sick causes anxiety and even fear because it means so many things need to happen in order for mom—especially if single—to lay down and recover while the children are taken care of. And when the children get sick, that could mean losing money for a working mother or father, because the truth is that most corporations are not designed to nurture families.

In the absence of that model of a village I long for, we tend to rely on social media to have a sense of community and feel supported. We may feel that since we are capable of doing so much—working and stay at home moms equally—perhaps we don't need help. Or quite the opposite: mom guilt kicks in and feelings of not being enough torment our night sleep. Depression and anxiety can enter the picture and just thinking about the amount of energy and time that takes to create true connections, we may often curl up in our little cocoon with our children and partners—if they are present—when they come home.

Now what? was my thought this week while driving back and forth to the pediatrician with my sick son. I can't get the virus, I have to be strong, my daughter can't get ill, my husband needs to be healthy for his work trip next week, we all need to be well for my son's fifth birthday. And so, it goes on. I texted one of my mom friends just to rant. She rants back because her son is also sick. She sent me a heart and an "I'm here if you need to talk."

I am grateful to have talked to her at that random postpartum circle when I first became a mother. She's a Latina immigrant like me and feels exactly like me. I will do it more, get out of my comfort zone and have—sometimes—awkward conversations so I can keep growing my own little village.

It may not look like the one I'd imagined, but still may allow me to be vulnerable even through a text message.

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Life

Halloween is around the corner, but if you are like me you are still trying to figure out what to dress your family (especially the little ones), so here are some cute ideas inspired by famous characters. There's something for everyone—from cartoon lovers to ideas for the entire family!

Here are some adorable character costumes for your family:

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