Forget Schedule, Think Routine
Ahh, to hear that soft breathing and those wonderful sleep noises on the baby monitor is a lullaby to any new parent’s ears. But wait, do you hear crying? Oh no, the baby has only been asleep for fifteen minutes and you’re so tired!
Sometimes you can stand on your head, bring in a violinist or a whole floor show and your baby will not eat, go to sleep or stay asleep for very long. Not having your baby in a good routine can be enough to put any sleep-deprived parent over the edge.
But let’s face it, babies can’t tell time. And everything is so new those first few months. Their days consist of eating, sleeping and pooping and certainly not scheduled. But the good news is that by three to four months, most babies will be on some sort of a schedule. By then you will know how long she nurses or how much formula she takes, how long she will be awake between feedings and how long naps usually last. While there can be surprises, the getting-to-know-you period is over.
Here are some tips to help you and your precious little bundle get into a routine.
- Don’t keep your house quiet. Remember, the womb was a noisy place. You want your baby to be able to sleep no matter what’s going on.
- After the first month, wake your baby for a feeding every three hours during the day. This will start to establish a good routine and should help her sleep longer during the night.
- If you’re bottle feeding and using powdered formula, fill the bottles with water in the morning so all you have to do is pour in the formula and shake. Most babies are fine with room temperature bottles. And remember, you don’t have to feed her the minute she wakes up. Give her a little time open her eyes, stretch and give you a smile.
- If your baby is drowsy and too tired to eat, try changing her diaper, singing or gently tickling her feet until she’s awake and alert. It may take a few days to get her body used to mommy waking her up.
- Make sure to complete a feeding and not let your baby graze for the next few hours. She will never get enough to fill her tummy and take a good nap. And those hunger signals will come sooner than later.
- Establish a play-time ritual after each feeding whether it be tummy-time or just a walk outside to see the flowers.
- While it may be tempting to let her sleep in the swing for hours on end, it’s not a good idea. You don’t want awake time to start at midnight! Use the three hour rule above.
- When it’s time to go back to sleep, lay her down while she is awake and drowsy. Teaching your baby to go to sleep on her on will make everyone’s life much easier.
The most important thing to remember when trying to get your baby on a schedule is to be consistent. Once you find what works best, do it the same way each time. Every baby is different and there is no right or wrong way to do things. Trust yourself. Before you know it, your baby will be on a schedule that will make your heart smile.
Blythe Lipman is the president of Baby Instructions. She is passionate about babies, toddlers and their parents. After working in the field for over twenty-five years, she wrote her third award-winning book, HELP! MY BABY CAME WITHOUT INSTRUCTIONS which is available at www.babyinstructions.com,Amazon.com and all major bookstores . You can hear Blythe’s weekly radio show on Wednesdays, 11am EST @ http://www.toginet.com Blythe is available for in-home, video and telephone consultations. Become her Fan on Facebook and Twitter at Baby Instructions.
©Blythe Lipman 2011
The first thing to do is give yourself a break. “From birth to two months, just throw the whole concept of scheduling out the window,” says Ari Brown, M.D., coauthor of Baby 411: Clear Answers and Smart Advice for Your Baby’s First Year. Your infant is going to reverse day and night; she’s going to sleep through feedings and feed when you think she should be sleeping. She’s still trying to adjust to the world outside the womb. Trying to get a little baby to adhere to a timetable is a recipe for frustration.
Kim West, author of THE SLEEP LADY’S GOOD NIGHT, SLEEP TIGHT: Gentle Proven Solutions to Help Your Child Sleep Well and Wake Up Happy with Joanne Kenen, says;
Even very young babies benefit from scheduling and consistency at night time and nap time. It cuts down on their crankiness and crying, and lays the groundwork for learning how to sleep through the night once they’re a little older. but even around two weeks you can start gradually laying the groundwork by developing a flexible routine and expanding your soothing repertoire for your baby.
Don’t forget comfy pajamas from My Baby Pajamas for your little one. Being comfortable while sleeping makes a world of difference when establishing a routine.