I thought I’d write out this blog post today, since it’s been so highly requested on my Instagram. However I want to make it clear I’m no sleep expert, no baby expert… hell, I’m winging my way through this like everyone else I know. And all babies are different in a million different ways, so what may work for us, may not for you – and that’s okay! We also don’t expect things to be set in stone with a new baby; just because we have a routine that works for us today, does not mean it’ll work for us tomorrow. Our baby changes all the time, and so we will be changing with him. I really just wanted to be clear that I’m not claiming I have all the answers, I have none! But I can tell you what seems to be working for our little family right now.
About 10 days ago, we decided to try to start to get into some sort of routine with River. We had just been scrambling, and going with the flow since his birth, and thought it was about time we try to find our feet. If not just for the baby, we really needed to feel some sort of ‘normal’ again ourselves. Routine and structure had been totally missing from our schedule, and it wasn’t helping anything. It took us a few weeks of learning how to change nappies, feed him, bathe him, and basically meet the demands of a newborn every hour of the day – before we finally felt like we sort of knew what we were doing. Once we did, we decided to come up with a routine.
I think it was important to allow ourselves those first six or seven weeks to just go with the flow, and I thoroughly recommend this. Take all the time you need and don’t worry about a routine until you feel you need it. Certainly don’t try to go off the same time frame as someone else either! If your friend and her baby are going to bed at 8pm every night and sleeping right through after just a few weeks, while you’re still doing 2 hourly feeds through the night; DON’T feel bad. You’re doing the best you can, meeting the needs of YOUR baby, and things will settle whenever they’re supposed to I bet.
That being said, the moment we put our particular routine into play; River started only waking up ONCE in the night for a feed, and has stuck to this ever since. Thank god, because it truly makes a world of difference when you’ve had a good sleep.
(Just to note: I’m writing all of this from my perspective only, and leaving Gary out completely. This is to account for the days he’s in work, and I’m doing this alone. But on his days off he’s doing every part of this with me, and even on work days doing as much as he can when he’s home.)
Our day officially starts about 8/9am, I’ll give River a feed, wind him, then change him into some clothes for the day (or the hour…). While I’m getting myself ready, I’ll be smiling and talking away to him, carrying him about, letting him see things and generally trying to keep him amused. Then we will go downstairs, and I’ll make up bottles for the day and pop them in the fridge ready for when we need them (I know not everyone does this, and this is a whole other conversation, but this works best for us and our HV is very happy with it).
Each day is different, depending on River. Some days he’s happy to be in his moses basket or his nest near me, while I get some chores done; other days he cries to be held and needs lots of attention (wearing the baby carrier for days like this is so helpful!). I generally let him sleep whenever he wants, and just follow along as he decides – but I do try to maximise his ‘awake time’ by playing or chatting to him as much as possible. When he does sleep (which is generally in-between each feed, and each feed is every 3 hours-ish), I’ll then decide how to spend my time. Since he’s been born this time has mostly been eating something quickly and then trying to nap myself. However, recently this time is more often being spent doing things I love again; like blogging, painting, going for walks, taking photographs. It’s nice to start to feel like myself again! Anyway, I’m basically on a feeding, changing cycle and trying to get stuff done in-between. This is how my day goes until about 6pm.
In the evenings, Gary and I take it in turns to be with River, and cook our tea. Then we’ll attempt to eat together, keep the baby happy, and watch TV. Afterwards I’ll probably clean, sterilise and make up more bottles ready to use. I’ll also probably do a quick sweep through the house trying to minimise the mess.
This is when our new routine really kicks in.
We’ll give River his feed as usual around 8 or 9pm (depending on when he’s due/wants one), and then after he’s had that and been winded; we will be doing everything to keep him awake. We spend the next hour and half playing with him, talking to him, enjoying family time. The aim of the game is to really tire this little fella out, basically. We are not encouraging sleep during this time.
We then give him a bath together, spending 5 or 10 minutes cleaning him and trying to get him used to this part of his routine. He hated baths at first, but is slowly becoming okay with them now. Afterwards we will get him all cosy again, and this is when we start to wind things down for the night (it’s around 10:30pm usually). So it’s dimmed lights, quiet settings, hushed voices. Gary has started reading to the baby at this time, and it’s so, so sweet. I know some might find that crazy since he’s so young; but it really seems to soothe and relax him. Then we will give him another bottle, before hes even cried for one. Usually it’s about an hour before he’s due one, so he won’t drink too much. We call this his ‘top up bottle’ and he usually has half, or even a third of his usual amount (we let him decide how much he wants or not!).
Once he’s had this final bottle, and is all cosy and much more relaxed for the night; we put him in his cot. He has a night light projector we put on for him, and he happily lies there watching it for about 20 minutes.
Then finally, he drifts off to sleep! I’m pleased to say he’s happy to soothe himself and go asleep in his cot, and doesn’t need to be cuddled asleep or anything. We stay right there with him though, and I’ll happily stroke his hair or hold his hand to soothe him if he seems restless; but he doesn’t cry for it like it’s a MUST.
And the best news? Once he goes asleep, he’s asleep for hours now! He wakes up once during the night for a feed, usually around 3am, and then is back off to sleep until about 7/8am. I couldn’t be happier about this, because we are finally getting a much better sleep at night, and things seem so much better than they were a few weeks ago!
It’ll be amazing when the time comes that he sleeps right through, but for now I’m incredibly grateful for the routine we have. I hope this helps someone reading, and I’d love to know any tips other mums having for finally getting that great nights sleep! 🙂
- Make daytime bright, noisy, entertaining.
- When he sleeps, enjoy that time however you need most.
- Regular feeds of a day.
- Make it clear it’s evening by dimming lights, and having quiet settings.
- Keep him awake more for his last 2 feeds.
- Make bath time part of night routine.
- Read to him to soothe and relax him.
- Give him a ‘top up bottle’ earlier.
- Let him settle himself in bed, using night lights.
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