Can you explain more about the timing of the routine and how to move my baby into it?
In our last ‘Question of the Week’ we discussed how to get our babies off to sleep and how to create a routine that your baby recognizes. In terms of setting a routine, the first thing you need to establish is the frequency of feeds your baby requires. As an example, your baby might be into 4hrly feeds. An example of your day ideal routine might go as follows:
8am Awake time
12 midday Awake time
4:30pm Awake time
5pm Possible nap (if your baby is young and needs it)
5:45pm Wake/Awake time
11pm Wake for a feed
3am Your baby may wake for a feed
Although these awake/sleeping times are good, you can adjust this kind of routine to suit your baby and your household, for instance you might have school children to pick up at 3pm, so you may have to put the baby down for their 2hr afternoon nap a little earlier so that you can pick up your other children.
As your baby gets older and requires less feeds, you may increase your morning nap to 2hrs (later you’ll reduce this morning nap until your baby is just having an afternoon nap - relish the afternoon nap as long as possible!) and drop the 5pm nap. And when your baby is sleeping through the night, you can drop the 3am and 11pm feeds so that baby sleeps approximately 12hrs.
Things that influence your baby’s sleep patterns: growth spurts - so that your baby is waking more often and needing more feeds at that time (go with it - your baby needs it!), starting solids, colic, reflux, a change in routine - such as family coming to stay, outings you might plan that interrupt the routine and so on. Your baby’s routine is not fixed in concrete! If you or your baby needs to change things temporarily, that is part of life! But aim to get back into baby’s routine once everything has settled down.
Tips for helping baby into a routine such as this one:
1. Gradually move baby into the routine, even if it is simply 15-30mins each day moving into the routine you have chosen based on baby’s feeding and sleeping needs
2. Keep a record of baby’s sleep/feed/wake times to help you to gradually move them into that routine
3. If baby is hungry, try a bottle of warmed, sterelised water to keep baby going even if it’s just for 15 minutes. But be prepared: baby might get cross at this! Obviously don’t keep a baby hungry for the sake of a routine, an empty belly is not a nice experience for a little baby!
4. Don’t be afraid to put them down a little earlier or a little later for sleep to get them heading towards their routine. And don’t be afraid to wake them so that they will settle into a routine. Try opening their door and leaving it open when it’s time to wake so they may wake naturally - but if that doesn’t work, it’s okay to pick them up. This is part of helping baby into a routine, and is necessary if this is the way you have chosen for yourself and your baby.
The benefits of having a baby in a routine are:
Ÿ as a mother, you feel more on top of whether your baby is getting sufficient sleep and sufficient feeds
Ÿ when your baby is crying or grizzling, it is not such a guessing game as to what they need
Ÿ you can plan your day more easily, knowing your baby’s needs and sleep patterns
Ÿ you can find time for a nap yourself because you know how long baby might be asleep for, and your sleep will be less broken - you’ll feel more rested