Thursday, 23 June 2011

Baby Days... Routine & Sleep!

Before I had children, I hated doing the same thing over and over again.  I found routine so boring and wanted to be spontaneous as much as possible.  However when I had a baby, this changed.  I learnt that a routine can serve you rather than you serve the routine.  Having a baby in a routine meant you can carve out free time for yourself during the day and evening.  It meant you learnt your baby better as you knew when things were out of sync.  Baby is also better behaved as he's getting his needs met.  Routine is good!

I started to get baby in a routine once baby is around 2 weeks.  The first few weeks can be establishing feeding and you have lots of visitors and husband around, so its harder to implement.  This is my routine:

  1. Start the day, same time everyday - and yes this means I would wake up my baby to feed. Sounds crazy but it works...
  2. Get baby top, tailed and dressed in a day outfit.
  3. Daytime feeds were light, bright and noisy.  There is a difference between day and night, so I taught them this from the beginning.
  4. Change baby after each feed
  5. Baby to have lie down kick around time after changing.
  6. Eventually baby will cut naps down to one a day.  The naptime I wanted to keep I would lay them down in the cot, curtains closed, usually the afternoon nap.  All other day naps would be in bouncer, pram, cat seat or I let them drift off wherever they were.
  7. Feeding - I fed them when they were hungry.  Bottle feeding for us was every 2.5hours.  The aim is to get as much milk in them during the day so they would sleep more at night.  Also to try and get them to take as much milk as possible, during the feed.  This meant feeding, changing, waking, sleeping cycle all happened each 2.5 hours, each day.
  8. Bedtime - bath, change to babygrow, wrap in swaddle, night feed was in a dark room and quiet.  I put them to bed 12 hours before I would like them to wake up ie 7pm for 7am.
  9. Just before I went to bed, I dreamfed.  This means picking them up feeding them in the dark and putting them to bed without waking or changing.  L slept through the night (10pm dream feed till about 5-6am) at 3.5 weeks old - waking a sleeping baby doesn't seem so crazy now!
  10. I never heated baby's milk, he had it at room temperature so when I did night feeds everything was at the side of my bed, I mixed, fed and back to bed as quick as possible with minimal fuss.  Also not heating the milk meant it was always at the right temperature when we went out.
  11. Bottle making.  I had about 8 bottles and we made them up with cool boiled water.  We scooped the feeds and just added when needed.  Bottle feeding guidelines have changed each time during me having 4 children.  This method was correct for baby 2, it worked well for us so I stuck to it. We washed & sterilised bottles at night, boiled the water so in the morning we just made them up and didn't have to think about it again.
  12. I pre-packed the baby changing bag.  This meant we could always just leave the house if we needed to go out quickly.  When we came back I would then add anything I had used.
This routine came from reading a very old sleep book, my mother-in-law and watching my baby.  I always let them set the feeding part of the routine.  I would jot down when they fed, as they naturally set thier own pattern.  I also like cow & gate formula the best.  My babies thrived on this. 

I did read contented little baby book but I didn't like her militant approach to babies and routine - I really believe routine is to serve you not the other way round.  I did try this but it failed miserably as my baby wanted to feed when he was hungry not when she stated.  However I know lots of people have used this book and found it to be helpful.  Another popular baby book is the baby wisperer.  I prefered this book, the approach is more baby led. 

I think the most helpful was having my mother-in-law around to show us the ropes with B.  It was much easier talking to someone, than reading a book.  We then adapted what she said to suit our way of living and the experience of our babies.  The routine adapts as baby grows older and has more awake time, also when weaning starts.  This is what worked for my children but every child is different and you may find a different approach works for you.  With 4 children to look after, L did have to wait for certain feeds, sleeps etc but this is basically the daily approach I followed.

My children have kept thier daytime naps till around 2.5years.  As your baby gets older, it is great knowing you have a 2 hour window of time to yourself.  Routine is good!

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