Once upon a time staying up until 2am was something you considered fun. Now? Now you fantasize about putting your messy bun down on your pillow by 9. Don’t stress, mama! An early bedtime is completely realistic, for both you and your baby. Scroll down for our best tips on how you can get to sleep earlier.

Mother and baby sleeping in bed peacefully

1. Set realistic, incremental goals. Changing a midnight bedtime to 8pm isn’t likely to happen magically. Start small, pushing bedtime up in short increments. While this might take weeks (or longer) to implement, eventually, you’ll get to your dream dreamtime.

2. Create a routine right away. Bad habits are hard to break. The sooner you give baby a bedtime routine, the better. As your kiddo grows and develop, they’ll start to expect bedtime cues — if you provide them. Cuddling up to nurse, having a bath, or engaging in any other regularly scheduled activity makes the going to sleep easier.

3. Let your little one nap. It’s tempting to think, “If I keep my baby up all day, they’ll naturally fall asleep earlier!” But this isn’t always so. An overly-tired kid often has trouble sleeping. Pick a naptime and stick to it every day. This doesn’t mean your little one should sleep the day away; instead, aim for limited (but regular) nap times.

4. Wait to work. You may have a gazillion emails to answer before bed, but letting baby rest while you finish your work, only to wake them up a few hours later and try to put them to bed, typically isn’t the solution. An evening snooze isn’t the same as a mid-day nap. Your suddenly well-rested kiddo won’t want to hit the hay at the early hour you’re expecting.

5. Let them cry. The sound of your tyke wailing away is, well, jarring — but it won’t cause irreparable damage. Unless your child is sick or has another issue that’s causing them to cry, letting them cry themselves to sleep may eventually make bedtime easier. Hey, you have a fancy schmancy video monitor to check up on them anyway! (But if you absolutely, positively can’t stand the sound of the sobbing, well, we get it.)

6. Start everything earlier. Maybe you’ve got this whole bedtime thing down, but there’s one problem: The routine starts way too late. Give yourself enough time to get everything done before you put your tot to bed. This may mean you need to change your dinner, bath, story, or any other “time.”

7. Ask for help. It takes a village, right? Ask your S.O., spouse, partner, parent, babysitter, nanny, or anyone else who helps out with your baby to take over a few nights a week. Get in the last feeding of the day, give your kiddo a kiss goodnight, and go to bed. Oh, and don’t feel any mommy guilt about using this technique. A well-rested mommy is a much better mommy than one who can’t even keep her eyes open.

8. Quit late-night caffeine. The Diet Coke you down at 8pm gives you just enough of a caffeine buzz to lull yourself into a false state of awake-dom. This, “Hey I’m soooooo awake!” sense can lead to keeping your baby up later, destroying any semblance of a bedtime routine that you may have going. Limiting caffeine to afternoon times gets you into a bedtime mood, making it easier for everyone to get to sleep.

9. Stop stressing. Yes, this one seems like an almost impossibility. But stressing over your child’s bedtime (or the fact that they just won’t seem to sleep) will only make it that much harder to drift off to dreamland. The late feedings, middle-of-the-night diaper changes, and everything else that comes along with having a baby won’t last forever. (Heck, they probably won’t even last for a year.) Take a breath, take a bath, or do whatever it takes to de-stress. Your little one will pick up on your calm cues too!

What’s your baby bedtime tip? Share your pick and tweet us @BritandCo.

(Photo via Getty)