YES! the answer is YES!I am a firm believer in getting baby on a set schedule and routine. Why? Because just like motherhood, being a baby is very unpredictable and stressful. So getting baby into a routine will make life just a bit less stressful. Now I am not a baby expert and I am just speaking about my experiences, so please do not take what I saw as the be-all, end-all. I will say though, let me toot my own horn, that many family members are shocked with how quickly our baby falls asleep at night, and STAYS asleep (except those night of sleep regression). They always say that they can’t believe it and that she is such a good baby, which I mean she is but that is just personal bias.
There are a few things to remember about creating a routine for baby. First thing, baby will pretty much dictate the schedule. Spend the first couple of weeks that baby is home to learn your baby. It is inevitable that you will lose sleep, you will be exhausted, and there is a VERY high chance that you will cry to your spouse or significant other, that you just want so sleep. I know, I have been there, right Cory. But try to remember that this is such a small part of not only your babies life, but yours as well.
Next thing to keep in mind, routines are not static, meaning they never change. Routines are dynamic, changing. I don’t mean that ever week you can expect something different, that would just be madness. I mean that with every development, sleep regression, vacation, and life event, expect a change in your routine. So it is very important to remain super flexible during this time. So if you are like my husband, and crave never changing routine, this may be slightly harder for you. But trust me, you will get used to it, I mean do you have a choice?
I mentioned sleep regression earlier, if you haven’t heard about them yet let me enlighten you for some fun times. Sleep regressions are periods of time, that usually coincide with milestone developments, where baby does not sleep as well as they use to. For example, at three months Elliott (my daughter if you are new here) went to bed at 7:30 -ish and woke up about 1-2 times a night. Crazy I know, but also the reason why routines are important. During her four month sleep regression, when she was teething, learning to crawl and becoming more aware, she was up 3-4 times a night. The fun part was that I had just returned back to work, so I was EXHAUSTED. But I lived to tell another tale.
When can you expect a sleep regression? There isn’t really a hard or fast rule, but these are the general sleep regressions most babies experience:
- 4 months
- 8 months (can happen from 8-10 months)
- 11 month (or 12)
- 18 months
- 2 years
Like I said these are general times, but it is nice to be prepared. Each one is associated with a specific time of brain development. But enough about that, lets get back to routines.
From the moment we brought our little bundle of joy home, we began the process of getting Elliott into a routine. We started with the nightly routine, because she really just ate and slept during the day. Because she is the boss around here, Elliott really dictated the routine. I spent the first few weeks with her tracking when she slept, wake times, and feeding times. That way I could get an idea of her schedule, and I could plan my day accordingly.
Now before I get the details of the routine, I will mention that even our night time routine has changed. Elliott was born in the fall so it was getting dark early, so that made it easier to get her used to night time. Now that it is summer and the sun is staying out a bit longer, we have had to get her adjusted to the sun filling her room when she sleeps. What I am saying is that we do not use black out curtains, because its not always going to be pitch black when baby sleeps, so might as well get them used to it.
Now the moment you have all been waiting for, what does our nightly routine look like? Our routine does not look much different from Elliott was a newborn, once she gets older and does not need as many hours of sleep, we will need to readjust the schedule.
6:30- Dinnertime, puree or finger food
7:00- Bath time, we make sure she is in the bath at the latest 7:15 depending on how long it takes her to eat dinner.
We use Johnson and Johnson Night Time body wash and lotion. I run her diffuser with lavender, or Balance blend ( from DoTerra) depending on her mood. If she is super fussy I will forgo the diffuser and put the oils directly in her bath.
7:30- Story time, I usually nurse her at this time as well because it helps top her off for bed
7:45- (at the latest), in her crib and lights out. Even if she is not asleep we will still lay her in her bed and let her soothe herself to sleep.
She does have a night light and sound machine in her room that runs all night. The light is mostly for me so when I check on her during that night, I do not wake her by turning the light on. The sound machine helps drown out all of the other sounds in the house and in the neighborhood.
Elliott is 8 months, which means she has started her 8 month sleep regression. So while she was sleeping until 4 am, waking up to eat, and returning to bed. Now she is waking up 3 times a night, and at 5 am she is ready to play. It’s a lot of fun.
I kind of worked backwards starting with bed time, because to me it was the most important. Everyone needs their rest, and this helped to ensure we all got a good nights sleep. But let us look at what I think is a pretty standard day time routine.
5 am- Wake up and Play, she usually just crawl around in my husband and I’s bed for a little bit
6 ish am- Nurse, return her to her crib, after a diaper change, she will fall back asleep
7:30/8 am- Wake up, breakfast, get ready for the day. During the school year my husband would drop her off at daycare during this time as well
8 am- Playtime
9:30- Morning nap
10:45 am- Playtime, nurse
12:30 ish- Naptime
1:30/2- Lunch time, Playtime
6:30 pm- Dinnertime
During the school year, since I am working and Elliott is in daycare, the routine may change slightly, like when she will nap and play time. But her feeding usually stay consistent, for now.
I could go on for longer about sleep training, feeding schedules, sleep regressions, and child development, but I will save all of that for another time.
Like I said, I am not an expert, but this is just what works for our family. My biggest piece of advice for you new moms, is to track your babies habits, create a routine around that information, anticipate sleep regressions, and most of all BE FLEXIBLE. Babies crave routine, in what seems like a chaotic world. establishing and maintaining a routine is the best way to create a comforting environment for your little one.
Good Luck to you and I hope that you are getting the sleep you need! To help you out I have included a link to a daily schedule you can print out and fill in for yourself. This is especially useful for anyone who may be watching your little one while you are away. I would print it and put it in a cheap frame and then use dry erase marker to write on it. Or just write directly on the paper, whatever works for you!
If you have any extra tips for other parents desperate for some sleep, drop a comment and lend a helping hand!