This nap usually runs about an hour long.

The rest of the day we follow a basic nap/eat/play cycle.  Her afternoon nap usually takes place in the swing and lasts about 1-2 hours.

Her evening nap usually occurs around 7:00 in her bouncy chair.

Upon waking up, I always change Stella, do some Tummy Time, and feed her.  After that, Stella likes to alternate between sitting in a seat (Bumbo, bouncy chair, swing, rocking bed) and laying flat to kick and get some exercise (either on her play mat or on a blanket surrounded by her toys).  By switching it up, I've greatly reduced her fussiness.  Between months 2-3 she was really fussy in the afternoons and evenings.  And then it just stopped.  By sticking to the routine she knew what to expect and it kept her happy!  She likes rest, but she also likes to kick, play and scream.  Again, just listen to your baby!  They can tell you a lot without saying a word.

Bedtime has it's own routine.  I do this every night, no matter how tired I am.  This signals to Stella that it is nighttime, not just a nap.  Around 8:00 (give or take half an hour) we wake her from her evening nap (I could just start bedtime around 6:30 and cut out the evening nap, but this works for now.  I'm sure I'll head that direction before long.).  We bathe her every other night, diaper her (I just use the next size up in diapers since they don't make overnights this small and I always put diaper rash cream on at night since she's in bed so long), massage her with lotion and face cream, and put her PJs on.  While I'm doing this Mark puts the tub away and makes her bottle.  Yes, my husband helps with EVERY SINGLE BATH.  Stella and I are so lucky. 

Next it's time for her bottle.  I always feed her in the rocking chair at night in her nursery.  Then I use a wet washcloth to wipe the formula off her gums (something my dental hygienist recommended to help them adjust to teeth-brushing later on, and it keeps their gums healthy). 
After her bottle we always read a story.  Everyone gave Stella a book at my baby shower, it's so fun to read them to her and tell her a little bit about who they're from.  Since we read every night we've gone through them all a few times...I need to dig out my books from teaching and get them put away!

My favorite part is after story time.  We always rock to 1 or 2 songs on her lullaby CD.  Lately she's started looking at me and smiling while we rock.  I cherish those moments.  After kissing her goodnight, I put Stella to sleep in her bassinet.  Awake.  I never rock her until she's asleep.  This has taught her how to get herself back to sleep when she wakes up in the night.  I hear her wake up anywhere from 2-5 times during the night.  She talks and kicks a bit and then goes right back to sleep.  I do feel that this has been crucial in getting her to sleep through the night.  After saying a prayer for her and turning her Angelcare monitor on, I close the door and she's out after a few minutes of kicking and thumb-sucking.  And we're free to do whatever we want until bedtime.  It's spectacular!  I need 7-8 hours of sleep each night to function.  I don't settle for less.  Creating a routine and getting Stella to sleep through the night was my number one New Year's Resolution.  Check!

Tips & Tricks:

 *Give yourself a month or two after your baby's born before you make any attempts at a routine.  Any earlier and you'll drive yourself crazy (plus your babe is just too little and requires food every few hours).

*Do your research!  There are tons of blogs and books on helping your child sleep through the night.  Pick 1 or 2 and read them.  No need to read them all!  

*Now throw out half of what you just read.  It's been filed in your memory should you need to access it later on.  You have some ideas, now try them out.  Listen to your baby, that's the only person who can tell you what's best for them!

*Don't be afraid to go against the grain.  If it works it works! 

*Put your baby to sleep awake!  This is the one rule that I do think matters.  If your baby doesn't know how to fall back to sleep alone, she will always cry for your help.  Period.

*Don't be a sucker for guilt.  Tough love mommies and daddies!  If your baby is crying during the night, try to press the mobile, music box, or gently rock the bed.  Now, if Stella cried for a long time, sure she might legitimately need something and it's my job to provide it.  But if she's just routinely waking up for attention, it's OK to let her fuss a little.  If you always grab your baby out of guilt, they will expect it.  You will lose sleep and be super crab tomorrow.  This DOES NOT benefit your baby.  Or you.  Sleep is important!  Spend time throughout the day (or evening if you work) snuggling and rocking your baby.  Not at midnight.  (Unless they are sick.  I'd like to think we are all using common sense here.)

*Repetition and consistency are your friends.  A routine for baby allows for a--gasp!--routine for mommy.  You CAN get stuff done and have a baby.  It just takes patience, practice, and persistence.

We are going to move Stella to her crib soon.  This might throw off her routine.  I will adjust.  I'm not perfect, neither is she-although she's pretty dang close ;-).  I hope this gives other parents some ideas, and I hope you don't listen to everything I say...we're listening to our babies, remember?  Happy baby happy mama!
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