If there is one advice I could give first-time parents it's….to remember that there is no wrong or right way to raise your baby.
Whilst I am a huge fan of a ‘baby routine’, a baby routine might work for one baby and not another. Or it might not work for you as a parent at all. Every baby is different and every parent is different so with that said, take this with a pinch of salt and use it as your bible. It’s up to you.
That’s the beauty of parenting, it’s totally up to you how you raise your baby. How you set your routine can be tweaked and amended to suit “you”. How’s that for being in control?
Now I know control is a strong word but even babies need to know you are guiding them. They don’t know night from day and day from night, they have been in your belly. Do you think the sun rises in there? No, so you need to teach them the difference. Besides, you want to get some sleep right?
After having three babies, I have stuck to pretty much the same baby routine with all three of them. They have all been great sleepers and slept all night from about 8/9 weeks old. I don’t think it’s luck, I think it’s persistence and consistency from my side.
Depending on the age of the baby you will just need to research a few facts for their age group. For example, how much day time sleep does a 3-month need compared to a 9 month. Those are things you will just alter a little in your routine as they get older like cutting down naptimes.
WHEN TO START:
Don’t shoot me but I start my baby routine the moment they are born. I feed them, swaddle them and put them down for a nap. First-day babies always sleep really long after birth. It is a big journey for them coming into the world. You need that nap too!
I always want my babies in bed by 7pm and work towards sleeping until 7am. Obviously, newborns will wake in the night. I try to get them on a really good feeding routine because sleep and feeding routines work together. If your baby grazes all day and night, it’s going to cat-nap all day and all night, in my opinion.
I get them on a 3 to 4-hour feeding routine. Yes, I breastfed all my babies. So many mothers don’t think they can schedule feed with breastfeeding. I found it great to be able to know when I would need to pop my boob out.
DREAM FEED & NIGHT WAKING:
I also am a firm believer in not picking them up at night, if you don’t need to. For example, if you need to change and feed them, it’s s no brainer, pick them up. No talking! It’s a ‘dream feed’. This keeps them from becoming so alert that after they at they will want to play.
If they are fussing, don’t turn on any lights, or talk to them. Try rubbing their belly or back, try humming if you must make a noise, patting their bottom. This helps them go back to sleep without getting used to you picking them up. Or you will make a pattern of them wanting to be held, scream and picking them up at night. It’s not a circle you want to start.
It also helps to get to the next feed so you can eventually work your way to no night feeds and sleeping all night.
While a full night sleep depends on the baby, make sure you are strict on naptimes during the day and stick to them. This doesn’t mean you have to stay in all day, every day so little junior is in his own bed at 12:30. I am constantly on the go, my baby still has his nap from 12:30-2:30 no matter where we are in his stroller.
Whatever time you choose for their morning naps and midday naps and early evening naps if they are still young enough to need three naps, stick to them. Wake them up if it’s time to get up. If they didn’t fall asleep on time, calculate so you aren’t going over the suggested amount of day time sleep. Ignore me completely here if they are sick or unwell. There are always exceptions to the rules. And rules are meant to be broken at times too.
Baby routines are mobile. They don’t have to tie you to home. You just have to plan your day accordingly.
I bet some of you have a baby routine in place and you don’t even know it. If you want a more controlled baby routine, write down what you and your baby do for 24 hours and see for yourself.
SAMPLE BABY ROUTINE:
See below just to give you an example of my current baby routine with Baby Owie at 18 months old.
7am: I wake him up. Yes, it’s ok to wake a baby. Matter of fact it helps them stay on the same routine every day. Don’t you wake up before your alarm clock most days because your body is programmed that way?
7:30am BREAKFAST: milk in a cup & breakfast cereal.
12:30-2:30pm NAPTIME: I wake him at 2:30 every day.
6:30pm BATH, STORY, MILK
7:00pm BETIME: I lay him awake, no rocking, give him a snuggle bear and say goodnight and walk out of the room.
So when you are creating your baby routine think about things that will help you if his/her routine went around you. Think about things like what time you might have to get up for work or older kids for school. You might need to be up at 6am so put the baby down at 6pm. Or you might come home late and want to see more of them so move their routine from 8pm to 8am. You can always adjust a baby routine that’s the beauty of it.
But the biggest benefit is getting sleep and everyone is well-rested, healthy and happy as a family together. Actually, scratch that its just getting sleep, that’s the main point. We all need more sleep!