Hello you lovely lot! About a week ago, JOHNSON’S® set me the challenge of trying out their 3-step bedtime routine in a bid to get not only Jenson but myself and Pete a little (or a lot) more sleep during the night. I posted at the beginning of our challenge so to find out what we were dealing with and why we needed to try this challenge please do check out our initial post here. The 3-step bedtime routine is clinically proven to help your baby to not only fall asleep easier and quicker but also to stay asleep for longer.
The routine consists of 3 main stages, all super simple and easy and when put together – oh so effective. We were sent a lovely hamper of JOHNSON’S® bedtime products to use alongside the routine which are all gentle to your little ones skin – perfect for a mama of a baby who suffers with eczema. We were also instructed to download the JOHNSON’S® BEDTIME Baby Sleep App to assist us along the way.
To recap, our sleep problems have never really been with settling, Jenson has always self settled; however he wakes A LOT during the night and that’s the area I really wanted to work on. He has given us the odd full night sleep way back when but recently he wakes anything from 1-3 times a night for a feed. Jenson sleeps in our bedroom in his bedside crib and self settles after having his bottle. He does use a dummy sometimes if he’s still wide awake after his bottle but he doesn’t rely on it and we never give it to him if he wakes during the night.
Now that you’re up to speed on our sleep situation here are the 3 steps of the routine that we’ve been trying out over the past week, and how we’ve been getting on!
Step 1 – Warm Bath
We don’t usually bathe Jenson every night, as like his brother his skin is so sensitive and I find that even using just water can dry their skin when bathing daily; so for this step we bathed Jenson every other night and then the nights between we gave him a little wash down with a sponge and the JOHNSON’S® bedtime baby wash. Doing this hasn’t made his skin dry out any more than usual so perhaps going forward I could bath him daily although every other day does seems to work really well. The JOHNSON’S® bedtime baby bath gives the water a lovely amount of bubbles (enough for Jasper to make a bubble beard) and the product has a relaxing NaturalCalm aroma which just smells delicious. From the packaging all of the range looks like it would smell like lavender but it’s more of a mixture between a new baby and a spa smell – scrumptious! If the boys are particularly messy from a nursery day for Jasper or a poo explosion and weaning face mask from Jenson then I’ve used both the baby bath and baby wash but if it’s a day that we’ve been at home and they’re not too grubby then I tend to just use the baby bath in the water and then wet the flannel in there to give them a wash down.
Jenson loves having a bath, I try to dim the lights, light a candle that’s not too strongly scented and only give him one toy to hold as I never want to overstimulate him and get him all excited before bedtime! Most of the time though he’s more than happy to just hold a bottle or flannel or sponge – he’s so easily pleased which saves me a fortune!
I try to bathe the boys together when possible as it saves not only time but water and product and luckily Jasper and Rhys love getting in the bath with their baby brother. I did worry that this would get Jenson all hyper but he kind of ignores them whilst they splash around behind him!
Step 2 – Baby Massage
The next step is probably Jenson’s favourite as he loves having his chubby thighs squeezed! I mentioned in my previous blog post that I’ve always done a massage on him to an extent but it’s never really been to a particular method, it was always just to rub cream on him. I never really focused on pressure or technique or anything like that so this step has been really useful! I went to the JOHNSON’S® website where they have a whole host of baby massage advice for different ages and now that Jenson is 6 months old and sitting he loves having his little back rubbed!
Whilst I’m running the bath I get everything ready for this stage so that once Jenson is out I don’t have to rush around grabbing everything I need whilst trying to keep him warm. I close the curtains, dim the lights and pop a cosy blanket on my bed as it’s recommended to lay them on a warm and comfortable surface. I lay his nappy, wipes and pyjamas on the bed and make sure that his bed is ready with his sleep bag open for me to lay him in it. I then, of course, grab what I need for his massage and for this we have two options that were sent to us from JOHNSON’S® – The JOHNSON’S® bedtime baby lotion and the JOHNSON’S® bedtime baby oil. I haven’t used both in one night as I feel it may be too much product for him so I’ve done either/or. Both are as easy to apply however I think psychologically I associate oil with massages so I have ended up using that one more. I always warm it up in my hands first as our house it quite chilly and I don’t want to put cold oil on his little naked back! I spend a lot of time on his legs as he loves that and goes from kicking out excitedly to just laying there staring at me and smiling which is oh so adorable and shows me how relaxed he feels.
We were also sent the JOHNSON’S bedtime baby cream which we haven’t used just yet as we’ve really been enjoying using the oil and lotion, but we may squeeze that one in every so often too!
Step 3 – Quiet Time
This is a stage that admittedly I always rushed before. Once Jenson was massaged and in his pj’s I would give him his bottle in his bed and leave him to drift off to his projector mobile lights and music. This was never a problem because he’s always gone off to sleep fine but I realise now that this could have had a negative impact on the duration of time he stayed asleep for. I mentioned in my previous post that he could go from 7pm-1pm or he could be up again wanting a feed at 10pm so although I knew he could do long stretches, he didn’t always do them.
As part of their 3-step bedtime routine, JOHNSON’S® recommends having a little bit of quiet time before putting your baby down for the night. Having close contact between you and your little one can help to calm their breathing making them more relaxed before bedtime. I’d always steered away from this as I didn’t want Jenson to fall asleep on me and use me as a sleep association, plus by the time bath time was over I was just so ready to get downstairs and relax; however since adding this step into our bedtime routine it’s been so wonderful.
I lay on the bed with Jenson next to me tucked up nicely under my arm and feed him his bottle. He’s quite independent and likes to feed himself but he does allow me to put my hand over his! I then use the JOHNSON’S® BEDTIME Baby Sleep App on my phone to play him lullabies and ambient sounds. You can customise your own playlist, selecting which lullabies you’d like to listen to rather then having to select a new one after each has finished. You can also put the same one on repeat if you find that magical lullaby that does the trick! The ambient sounds can be grouped together into four and include things like a vacuum cleaner, cricket, drums, water and a heartbeat and you can make some really soothing combinations.
Once Jenson finishes his bottle, still awake, I lay him in his bed, put his sleeping bag on (if he’s already fallen asleep this wakes him up which is good because I want him to fall asleep by himself); I then give him a goodnight kiss and leave the lullabies or ambient music in the room while he drifts off. He has had a couple of nights where he’s not settled and I think this was because he napped quite late in the day so I did have to go and pop his dummy in, which I know is a sleep association but he never wakes up when it falls out so that’s a plus!
Once he’s asleep I then take my phone back (itching to get back on Instagram) and that’s our bedtime routine done!
Now for how we got on. The routine didn’t make Jenson suddenly sleep all the way through the night but it did really improve the quality of sleep that he’s had. As I mentioned before he was sometimes waking around 10:30-11pm and then again around 2am, 5am and 8am whereas other nights he was going straight through till 1am and then maybe waking again at 4am and 7am. It was all very hit or miss and each time he was waking for a full bottle. He used to always go back off to sleep straight after his bottles but we had started to have a few wakes where he would just be wide awake and ready to party; so I was really keen to get this challenge underway!
Monday: Slept 7pm-6am | Woke twice at 11pm and 2am
Tuesday: Slept7pm-6am | Woke twice at 11pm and 2am
Wednesday: Slept 7pm-6:30am | Woke once at 2am
Thursday: Slept 7pm-6:00am | Woke once at 2am
Friday: Slept 7pm-6:30am | Woke twice at 10:30 pm and 1:30am
Saturday: Slept 7pm-7am | Woke twice at 11pm and 3am
Sunday: Slept 7pm-6:00am | Woke once at 3am
So after two days of the routine we’d already seen Jenson drop from two night wakes to just one so that was amazing! We then backtracked on Friday and Saturday night when he woke twice. We then went back to one wake on Sunday night so overall in the space of the week we had more good nights then bad. Jenson showed that he could sleep for longer stretches and go through the night with only one bottle and this was a real confidence boost for me as it showed me that he didn’t really need the 2-3 bottles he was usually having.
Since completing the challenge we’ve continued with the 3-step bedtime routine and although last night was a bit iffy with three wakes (he had quite bad gas so I’m putting it down to that) we have had mainly great nights with just one wake up at around 2-3am.
Not only did the routine and products help me to feel a bit more in control of Jenson’s sleep but the app was a massive help in not only tracking his sleep but in giving me advice too. The app allows you to log sleeps and it also offers you a sleep analysis whereby you answer a few questions about your little ones routine, how well they sleep, what methods you use etc and it gives you not only an overall sleep score but it breaks it down for you. It’s broken down into categories including falling asleep, sleep routine, sleep duration, night waking and family. Each of these categories then offer you advice based on your answers for example I answered that when Jenson wakes in the night I give him a bottle, so the advice was that where Jenson is over 6 months, unless I have concerns for his weight gain, he probably doesn’t need those feeds, so to try and settle him without. What’s also great is that the app congratulates you on what you’re doing right; so for example I don’t always give Jenson his dummy to fall asleep with and the app stated that this was great for his sleep routine. This was a real confidence boost as well and din’t make me feel like I was doing it all wrong.
Now that I’ve tried one week with the challenge and it’s become more routine I’m going to implement the advice from the app. I’m going to try to cut out bottles during the night and monitor his sleep during the day better as at the moment I’ve only really focused on night time sleep and that’s only half of the equation.
I’m really pleased with how implementing the routine has improved Jenson’s sleep duration and I’ve loved that it’s given me back that sense of closeness with him at bedtime. It’s brought a lot more structure to our evenings and every night the bathroom and bedroom smell delicious!!
If your little one is having troubles with their sleep, whether it be falling asleep, settling, night wakes or anything else then I’d definitely recommend trying out the 3-step routine and also checking out the JOHNSON’S® website for all of their info on sleep, massages and more. Also don’t forget to download theJOHNSON’S® BEDTIME Baby Sleep App, it’s free and is a great way to log your babies sleep and find out exactly what you could be doing to improve it!
Thanks for reading,
*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.