I was on the older side when having my first baby at 35 years old and it was observing friends having babies over the years that convinced me a routine was a good idea! Just to clarify I’m not talking about a bedtime routine but a full 24 hour routine of naps, feeds etc. A friend who didn’t do a routine with her first child but had a strict routine with her second baby said how much easier it was…at the same time another friend had a baby and even months down the track couldn’t go out and leave her baby for an hour or two as she didn’t know when it would want a feed. It was then that I decided routine was probably a good idea for me. After making note of that I started asking people and observing and everyone who did a routine said they found it so much easier. A mother with twins even said it was her lifesaver. Later I also had a friend who became a baby sleep consultant and she said they could pretty much guarantee sorting out a childs sleep issues if the parents were willing to follow the plan!
Just the other day I was talking to a mum of an almost one year old an she has been having big problems with sleep and was really struggling. I’m sure we can all share her pain. She said people told her she would need a routine now with 2 young kids but she didn’t want to have to worry about that. An extra thing to worry about and work around and how do you do that when you have a two year old who needs to get out of the house also! Totally get it. But by talking to her I could tell straight away her 1 year old was so overtired by evening that she wouldn’t go to sleep for hours and then waking several times a night also. It would take work to get started on a routine but it would be so worth it for her sanity and her little bubba who would be getting the right amount of sleep that she needs.
So when my little bundle starting growing in my belly I started researching how to go about this routine thing. It wasn’t as easy as I thought to figure out my approach… probably because I read several different books with slightly different approaches. The two I probably got most of my information from where the Baby Sense Secret and BabyWise. The second one is quite hard line and written a while ago and it is a program I know several people who have used and been very happy with. The first book is probably a slightly softer approach and more PC in todays culture. Both are worth a read in my opinion.
I’ll share a few bullet point thoughts from my experience…and please know I was by no means the routine master! But even without getting it quite right all the time and never really having baby who slept perfectly (and still doesn’t) I have definitely found everything I learnt and put into practice so worthwhile. I would definitely do routine again and hopefully with more confidence the next time!
- I started on day one by waking my baby every three hours during the day for a feed and a little wake time…its only around 45 mins at a time for a newborn. At night you feed on demand and hopefully get bigger gaps in feeds as they start to wake less regularly. The idea behind this is to get them adjusted to day/night times as quickly as possible. You want them getting as many calories during the day and getting appropriate amount of wake time during daylight hours so they hopefully wake less during the night. I never had an issue with him waking for any length at night…just a quick feed then back to sleep. I could of been lucky but it does make sense to me. I also was blessed with a great milk supply which I know can be a real struggle for some mums. What would I do differently? I would do a 2.5 hour daytime feed gap initially as I had a hungry horrice and it wasn’t worth the effort of trying to drag it out. I never let him get really upset for a feed but sometimes you do need to try and delay it a bit until they get used to the routine.
- My wee lad would only sleep 45 minutes at a time during the day (1 sleep cycle) and would do this multiple times a day. This didn’t fit the routine I was aiming for and sort of stuffed the feeds up a bit too. I now realised he probably needed a little longer wake time to get him to be tired enough for a longer nap. A longer nap would of been nice for me to get a decent break (45 minutes go very fast!). He did eventually do longer naps once he got much older.
- The Babywise book allows for crying to get your baby on schedule. I never did this with my boy until around 6 months when I wanted to drop a nighttime feed as he hadn’t dropped it on his own. It was minimal crying and much less scary than I had built it up to be. One 40 minute session the first night. One 20 minute session next night and then 5 minutes the next. Don’t fear the tears its just that first time you decide to it and after that it is less daunting then you realise they are fine. Not everyone wants to allow for any crying and you can still do a routine without tears it just takes more work. Note: Crying it out is not recommended under 4 months of age as they aren’t capable of self setttling yet. There are also other methods if you aren’t comfortable with this method they just take more patience and time.
- I had a very settled baby He didn’t get the opportunity to get overtired so I avoided a lot of crying. He slept the right amount of hours over the 24 hour period just not always in the lengths I was aiming for.
- I discovered I’m not as much of a tough love mummy as I thought I would be and theres always something happening with a baby to throw things of course. For me it was a month of sickness in his first winter when he was around six months and other colds at various times. He has never slept well with colds…like day and night when they come and go. Vaporisers are a very worthwhile investment in my opinion!
- It was harder than expected! What do you do when your baby isn’t doing what you have planned. How do you change that! I felt like I needed a mentor for those times. It is harder initially but easier in the long run reaping rewards for any effort you put in.
- I would totally recommend to anyone who is really struggling with lack of sleep to get the help of a baby sleep consultant. They will tailor a plan just right for your babies age and stage and the approach you want to take. Just be willing to fully follow their advice as a half hearted approach won’t work. I was lucky enough to have a friend to ask but I often thought it would of been nice to just employ her so I had that support and back up to help me follow through. Babies sleep really does become your world for that first year of their life and if you can get it so you have some predictability it is a much more enjoyable year 🙂
- Having a routine gives you back some feeling of control over your life when everything thing else has been turned upside down by your little one. Knowing that at 9am you are going to get some baby sleep time to get that load of washing done or have that cup of coffee and put your feet up can be a life changer with a little one. Or knowing come 6.30 or 7pm baby will be in bed and you can unwind from the day is a heavenly feeling after a busy day.
- I have no judgement on whether people decide to try and have a routine or not but its worth researching how routines work so you can make an informed decision as I think too many people put it in the too hard basket or don’t want the effort initially to get established when really it only takes a number of days or a week to get started then you start reaping the rewards.
Well good luck and comment below on your experience of pros / cons of baby routine or lack of them?