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Maybe the most challenging part of being a new mom. The first few weeks are a struggle for everyone. Some are luckier than most but for the most part it is hard on everyone because babies need to be fed and changed so often. It is very important to follow the doctor’s orders and to feed your baby every 2-3 hours as instructed, even if they are still sleeping. Most of the time when a baby reaches a good weight usually 2-4 weeks after birth you can space your feeding out more based on your individual baby’s needs.
Once your little one is able to be fed on demand you can start to work on good sleep habits. A sleep routine is still a bit in the future as your baby is still adjusting to their new world and gaining weight. Let your baby eat when they want, sleep when they want; but keep track of these details (either mentally or physically). I really like the Glow Baby app for keeping track, you can add your partner and family to help keep track. It may seem tedious but this was especially helpful for us to learn our babies habits and eventually establish a solid sleep routine. The No-Cry Sleep Solution was my main source for learning how to set us up for good sleeping habits!
Our little one is just about 6 months old and sleeps regularly 10+ hours a night and naps 2-3 times a day depending on when he wakes up. We are blessed to have an easy going baby but it also helps that we have a routine.
Setting up a Routine
The most important thing about setting up a routine, is that you build a routine around what your baby already does. Trying to pick a bedtime that makes sense to you may not be the best fit for your little one. By tracking your baby’s habits over an extended period of time you will be able to find an approximate time that your little one falls asleep each night. For example, your little one may fall asleep around 9:30 one night, then 10:20 another night, and then 11:30 another night; 10 would be a good time frame to get ready for bed. The next important thing to realize is that your baby may change.
Our little one used to go to bed around midnight or 1, now he is falling asleep around 11. Shift things as your little ones need. A routine is important, structure is important but your little one changes as they grow and it is important to adjust appropriately.
Everyone has their own routine. Some babies love baths and if you bathe every day, a bath before bed may be a great part of your bedtime routine. Or maybe your little one loves music or to be sung to, that may be a great piece of your bedtime routine. The only thing I think is essential for development, bonding would be reading at least one book a night. Your routine can have 2 steps or 5 steps or whatever feels right and works best for you. Simply find something or a few things to do every night roughly around the same time. It may time some trial and error to find what works best for you and your little one.
What Our Routine Looks Like
10:30pm We take Ayden to the bedroom and play around with him. We tickle, we play with toys, we make silly faces, play peek a boo or whatever he is enjoying the most that day. While one of us plays with him the other one preps for bed. We formula feed at night and so we fill 3 bottles and but pre measured formula for each bottle in a container.
11pm We read a story or two and then I lay down with Ayden to give him a bottle. We take breaks to burp him often and feed him until he is full and drowsy.
11:30pm I sing him a little song and then when he is asleep or almost asleep I transfer him to his crib and pat him to sleep. This can take a few minutes or an hour some nights. Then it’s time for us to go to sleep. Sometimes he wakes up early morning for a bottle but he usually goes right back down for the remainder of the night.
Naps are similar. Find when your baby falls asleep naturally each day and what their signs for being tired are. This took longer for us to master than bedtime, the timing varies a lot more. We don’t use books or songs but a consistent setting was key for us. Watch for how many naps and what times of day your little one gets tired and try to take them to the same quiet space when the timing hits to put them down. Again, this can take longer to master and so be patient and flexible!
Feel free to ask me questions and for advice! Good luck!