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Right from the start, Dessa has had us completely amazed. Granted, I'm pretty sure all new parents live in awe as they watch their baby grow and learn so many new skills. (Hello, rolling over and baby giggles!) Rob and I have been particularly captivated by Dessa's seemingly amazing ability to sleep through the night. She was such a great little sleeper during her newborn phase that I even asked her pediatrician during a weigh-in if I should be concerned that Dessa eats great during the day, but prefers sleep to eating at night. I love our doctor because he looked right at me and said my concern was what every new parent dreams of! I stopped worrying right then and there and decided to enjoy every moment of nighttime rest that our little family of three was able to get.
The teacher in me knows that children (even infants) thrive on routine and predictability. Rob and I started working to establish a bedtime routine with Dessa right away – even when she was a newborn and was just along for the ride. In some ways, we just got lucky that Dessa's temperament enjoys sleep so much. But Rob and I do everything we can to encourage a healthy sleep cycle help her body calm down for extra deep sleep.
Now that Dessa is a little older, out of swaddles, and nearly past her fourth trimester, our bedtime routine is more important than ever for helping our baby sleep restfully through the night.
Our nighttime routine begins around the same time every night with a little white noise, dimmed lights, and a pair of cozy pajamas (like her sweet pink fox pajamas from Jaclyn Smith's new Spencer baby collection at Kmart.) We bring Dessa into her nursery, close the curtains, and turn on our white noise machine before giving Dessa a fresh diaper and clean pajamas. All of these things: the dark room, the white noise, and the pajamas are a signal to Dessa that it's time to start winding down and getting ready for bed. We also turn the thermostat down a few degrees at night so our baby can get warm and snuggly in her pajamas and sleep sack without overheating.
Our baby girl loves spending time on her changing table, so we always linger for a bit to sing songs and read a few books before bedtime. We keep a selection of books right on her changing table just for this purpose.
The downside of Dessa sleeping through the night is that the late night and early morning baby cuddles are mostly a thing of the past. I don't miss the lack of sleep, but I sure did love those baby cuddles. To help make up for this, I'm often the one who gets Dessa changed for the night so we can enjoy a few special moments together before she gets ready for bed. On the nights that Rob gets her ready, I can't help but sneak in and join the fun when I hear her cooing from the next room.
Finally, when all of the books have been read and the songs have been sung, it's time for Dessa's bottle. We often head back into the living room and I hand the princess off to Rob for this part of her bedtime routine. Our Dessa might be little, but she has a very big appetite. Rob turns the lights down a bit and feeds Dessa a few ounces in the living room for a few extra minutes of family time.
I often joke during this time of night that I'm not sure who is more exhausted: me or Dessa. Rob handles the very end of her bedtime routine so that I can get a few things done before I go to bed. It also helps keep our little one safe because some nights I can feel myself on the verge of nodding off when I'm holding my warm little baby in the dim light. Plus, it's only fair to let Rob cash in on a snuggle or two.
After a few ounces of milk, our baby girl always needs a clean diaper. Always. So back she goes onto her changing table. At this point, Dessa is usually pretty drowsy and the last thing we want to do is wake her up any more than we have to. We own all sorts of pajamas in the Gavin household, but I'm extra thankful for pajamas with snaps so that we can get to her diaper without completely having to undo her pajamas. By this time, her nursery is a little cooler than usual and we don't want to wake up Dessa any more than what's necessary.
If you can believe it, these adorable pajamas are from Kmart. They're part of the Spencer baby clothing line by Jaclyn Smith. The woodland animals are so sweet and Dessa looks so incredibly cozy in them. The fact that they snap to close so we don't have to disturb our baby too much when she's beginning to fall asleep is just the icing on the very adorable cake.
After her diaper is clean and she's all buttoned up, she gets her last snuggles of her evening while she finishes her bottle. By this time, our little one is exhausted and often passed out in her daddy's arms. We kiss her goodnight, lay her in the crib, zip her in a sleep sack, give her a pacifier, turn on her monitors, and tiptoe out of the room.
Dessa is often semi-awake as we lay her in the crib, but she goes down easily and lets us leave the room without a fuss. We watch her on the video monitor after we leave and are always relieved to see that she falls asleep within minutes.
Once our little sleeper is down, she is usually down for the night. Her sleep time varies depending upon what time we have to wake her to get her ready and out the door for childcare, but our little Dessa can easily sleep for 9 hours or more. A few days ago she slept for a record 12 hours, which is a great little accomplishment for our 12 week old baby.
When it comes to sleep, babies aren't all that different from adults. Their little bodies rely on cues so they know it's time to sleep and babies rest so much more deeply when they are comfortable. The new Spencer Baby collection from Jaclyn Smith delivers the perfect combination of comfort, practicality and cuteness at great price. The collection is available online at Kmart.com and includes layette options for boys or girls. The best part? Each set in the collection comes packaged in a sweet box that is perfect for giving.
We even own a set of coordinating blankets, which are a great way to keep Dessa warm and cozy cover up in her car seat – especially when we have to drive her to childcare early in the morning.
Each day with an infant seems to bring new challenges and it seems as though there is always a new curve ball thrown our way. When day to day issues arise, Rob and I do all we can to keep our evening schedule and preserve Dessa's nighttime routine. We always go back to the basics: a dark room, white noise, a clean diaper, comfortable pajamas and a bottle. With all of those ingredients, things keep falling into place for a long and restful night of sleep (for all of us!)
Special thanks to Brian from BTW Photography for the beautiful photos.