Routines. You either hate it or love it and no matter which you decide, you are doing a great job! However, I am a routine queen. I believe that routine is the key to life! I am a pretty organised person and I always like to know what I am doing and when I am doing it, so it only made sense that I would get my baby into a routine.
I am hoping to give a bit of insight of how I got Harlee into a routine because it is definitely not the easiest of jobs! Please remember that every baby is different – so if you did your routine differently or tried my routine and it did not work for you, do not be disheartened, you just have to find what works for you!
Harlee was an extremely unsettled baby. She was hard work. She had acid reflux and colic and refused sleep in the first few months of her life – I won’t go into too much detail as I plan to write a blog post on this topic. In the first three months, Harlee was feed four hourly. This didn’t help her sleeping but I truly believe that this is just a hard period of time for most mums and we have to push through because let me tell you, there is light at the end of the tunnel!!!!!! One thing I did find helpful in this time was to have a notebook and write everything down and I mean everything! I wrote down when she had a bottle and how much she had, when she woke and when she went to sleep and even how long she was awake for! Not only does it become a helpful tool but to look back and read it now, I see how far we have come and it is an amazing feeling knowing I’ve done it all by myself.
Harlee started improving with sleeps (still not great though) around the three-month mark and was only waking one or two times during the night so I made the decision to try figure out a routine. After hours of research on good old Uncle Google, I didn’t seem to find one particular routine that was going to work for us. So I tied together a few different routines to make it work good for us.
I took the ‘EASY’ approach, which is the following-
Y OUR TIME!
I started this and I never looked back. Sleeping was not a highlight for us so the most logical thing to do was to sort out feeding, I still tried to sort sleeping at the same time but it wasn’t my main focus. We began a strict feeding routine on the 8th of November. This consisted of having a 120ml bottle at the following times everyday – 9am, 12pm, 4pm and 7pm. She would then have a top up bottle at 8.30pm of 60mls just to get her through most of the night. She was still waking once or twice in the night at 2am-ish and 6am-ish so I would give her a top up of 120ml and then she would sleep again till 9am. Sounds easy right? Don’t be fooled the first week or so is hard work but then it really is that easy! Harlee’s sleeping during the day was still all over the show so I never really knew when she would be awake etc. So we would make her wait it out for her bottles even if she woke up an hour before it was due. I wanted her to get familiar with the fact that she wasn’t getting a bottle until the certain time and that she was only to get bottles when she first woke up.
Tips for waiting it out-
- If you are bottle-feeding – you know how much your baby is getting therefore you know they are not hungry everytime they cry, they are most likely being greedy!
- Do something with them to take their mind off the fact they think they are hungry. Harlee would be happy to go for a walk and look around her room, for you to sit and talk to her or to have you lay with her on her play mat and show her the toys.
- Be persistent. Don’t give in, as hard as it can be you need to stick to your guns because you want to introduce routine and by giving in, you aren’t having any consistency.
- Believe in yourself! Don’t let anyone doubt you but be sure to have your partner on side and aware what the routine is!
So after a few weeks of having the strict feeding routine on lock, Harlee decided to sleep 12 hours straight one night!!! I decided that sleeping through the night was my next mum mission to tackle. It was around the 10th of December and the testing times began. To me, because Harlee had gone 12 hours without a bottle overnight, I decided to use other tools in the night to get her back to sleep rather than a feed. I did change our times up a bit to cater for this though. We were now starting with an 8.30am bottle while still having 12pm and 4pm but then pushed out our last bottles to 8pm and a top up bottle at 9.30pm just before she went down. I know some of you are probably thinking, 9.30pm? Isn’t that late? Maybe for some but my theory is I am a night owl and definitely not a morning person. I would rather my baby be up while I am, this way I still get a decent sleep. You may be the opposite and early bedtimes and mornings are for you – that is cool too! You just have to figure out your times according to you and your baby. Like I was saying though I decided to ween Harlee off her night feeds!
Tips for weening off night feeds-
- Dummy! I know some people hate them but seriously it was such a lifesaver and just gave her that bit of comfort she needed.
- Baby shusher – We used this until she was around five months old. It was a good indicator for her that it was still sleep time.
- Something with lullabies – We have a leap frog teddy – violet, who plays bedtime music and Harlee still has her to this day!
- I found it was easier to go in as soon as she woke up and use the sleeping aids and she would go straight back to sleep and then eventually she would sleep right through from 9.30pm till 8.30am
So now we had feeding and sleeping through the night on lock the last of my mission was day sleeps and self settling. She kind of just figured out self settling on her own at night time but during the day was a different story. I would hold her and rock her to sleep until she was around three months old and then popped her down in bed but even then, there was no guarantees she would stay asleep for longer than 20 minutes, so as you can imagine this was about to be the toughest challenge.
Harlee was a wrapped baby and we only stopped wrapping her a couple of months ago. You are all probably sitting there saying ‘why would you’ but that was how she felt safe and it worked for us. Currently, she is in a sleep sack with one arm in and one arm out as she sleeps better that way. However, I plan to start sleeping her both arms out over this next week as I want to have her fully sorted before her brother arrives!
The first rule for the day sleeps in my book was to have them at the same time every day, in fact we still do this! When we first started, we were home bound. We made bedtime a similar routine no matter what time of the day. She would be wrapped and put down and all the sleep aids I mentioned above were used. It was not as simple as night time though! She would scream and scream and I know how bloody hard it is to leave your screaming baby but you have to do it! It’s better to do it now when they are only a few months old, rather than when they are five! So how did we get past this stage you ask? Persistence and not giving up! We would leave her to cry it out and go in every 10 minutes to reset the sleeping aides and pop her dummy back in. Some days this could go on for an hour even two but we had to stick to our guns. The only time I would get her up is if she had really distressed herself – you as their mother will know what cry this is. I would give her a cuddle and a bit of reassurance that I was still there and popped her back into bed when she calmed down and started again. There was really no other trick to this, it was just a matter of continuing this until she got what we were doing. Sometimes she would only go to sleep half an hour before she was due up again but I would still wake her and give her a bottle if she was due because I wanted her to learn that this was how and when she needed to be awake or asleep.
Believe it or not within three days of beginning this, we had made some massive progress! It was only one sleep out of the three day sleeps she was having, that she would play up and then after a week she knew exactly what we were doing! Don’t get me wrong we still had bad days but every baby does because that’s what they do but 90 percent of the time, everything was good!
We now had the same feeding times, wake times, bedtimes and playtimes. Harlee also knows this and starts giving me her signs of tiredness at the same time everyday. Over time as she has started solids and needing less sleep, we have just adjusted her routine. Her routine now as a 10 month old for anyone interested is-
8.30am – Wake up and 120ml bottle
9am – Cereal for breakfast
10.30am – Morning nap
11.30am-12pm – Wake up
12pm – 120ml bottle and lunch
1.30pm – Afternoon nap
3.30-4pm- Wake up
4pm – 180ml bottle and snack
6.30-7pm – Dinner
8.30pm – 180ml bottle and bedtime!
Don’t look at this and compare it to your routine and think you are doing something wrong or I am doing something wrong because once again, every baby is different! What works for me, may not work for you!
Now remember I am a full on routine preacher! I’ll preach my routine to anyone that asks because I truly swear by it. It has been the best thing for us and I always know where I am at. I know when I need to arrive somewhere or leave somewhere because she is ready for bed. I know when she needs to be fed and I can literally plan my day around her. These little people really do rule your life! However, be aware of this one factor! You will piss people off. It still happens to me now. I am so strict on my routine that if going somewhere or doing something that doesn’t fit in with my routine, I don’t do it. People who don’t have kids and even people that do have kids may not parent this way so they don’t understand why your being so weird about when your child goes down. I’ve pissed off many people including friends and family members but I really don’t care because my main priority is my child and the people that are okay with that, are totally understanding! So don’t be shocked if you offend people – just remember that people who matter (well most of them) will understand if you can’t stay for five hours when visiting for lunch or can’t go somewhere because your baby is due for a nap. They will get over it and will hopefully understand one day!
Harlee’s routine is slightly flexible now which is awesome and may I add I haven’t missed out on much because of my routine! We still go shopping at the mall – she sleeps in her pram, I still can go for a morning walk when she’s due for a nap and as long as dinners are only five minutes from home, we can generally join them and leave by the time shes ready for bed. Routine is my one thing that’s a must as a parent!
I won’t pressure you into having a routine because I know that’s not how some people work but if you have any questions or need some advice about routines, don’t be afraid to ask me! I am an open book and will happily do all I can to help because I know how hard this mum gig is whether you are a first time mum or not! I will add a box below where you can email me or do not be afraid to message me on facebook or Instagram! I hope this has been some kind of helpful to other mums out there! Come back next week for some more of my yarns guys!