Starting a Sleep Routine for Your Baby
In those early days of parenthood, I felt as if day and night were one long moment around the clock.
My desire wasn't to just find a sleep routine for my son, but in all honesty, to help me find a comfort level in this new role as a mom. I like to have a plan, and I struggled with feeling anxious and wanting to know what to expect. I remember negotiating with myself:
Will I have time to jump in the shower while he is napping?
What if she only naps for 15 minutes?
Should I fold laundry or try and close my eyes to rest?
Sleep deprived, I knew I wanted a routine but wasn't sure how to go about starting one...until I found the book, On Becoming Babywise. For us, it was a game changer and helped us create our rhythm.
I kept all my notes that I chose to take on feedings, wake time, diaper changes, and sleep. I've included them in baby books for my son and daughter.
Here is what I wish I had known when starting a sleep routine:
1. It's a process, not a test.
It took time to start a routine, but I was easily discouraged at first. We have to cut ourselves some slack. Know that there may be a few good days when it seems to begin to click, followed by a rough afternoon. It's not a setback but a learning process for both mom and baby. If baby struggles with gas or reflux, it may take longer (as it did for my son).
2. Daytime feedings are your friend.
A routine during the day will assist your goals of developing an overall sleep routine. Feedings will not always be spaced every 2-3 hours, but early on, here is how our daytime feeding routine began: 7am, 10am, 1pm, 4pm, etc. If your baby can feed regularly during the day, it will encourage longer spans of sleep at night, rather than long-term around the clock feeding.
3. Adjustments are necessary.
My son had severe reflux, and I had to allow that to guide us. There may be circumstances that naturally require modifications. What does that mean? It's trial and error. What works for you will slightly vary from me. There were days I had to start feeding him earlier than I planned, had to change his onesie at least five times because he spit up so much, and couldn't remember anything (I took those notes so I could remember what times he fed). My daughter and son were completely different. We make adjustments to find what works best, for every baby is unique.
4. Tools that encourage sleep.
These are items I used and loved and have recommended for years:
Swaddle Blanket - Breathable and high-quality material
Sleep Sack - Some kids just prefer sleep sacks. One of mine did, the other did not.
Baby Monitor - Because you'll get rug burn from doing the army crawl out of the nursery if you don't have one of these.
Disclosure: This post represents one mom's perspective on the book "On Becoming Babywise" and provides content and discussion related to health, wellness, and related subjects. The words and other content provided in this blog including links should not be considered medical advice and should not be construed as such. Any health/wellness information should not be considered an alternative or replacement for information given to you by a licensed physician. If the reader or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with a licensed physician.
Linda Scruggs RN, BSN has specialized for over 12 years in reproductive medicine and women's health as a nurse. She is a mom of two young children and her work can be seen on her family health/parenting blog, as a contributor for The Huffington Post, and in one of the top fertility centers in the country. Follow Linda on Instagram @UnboxedMom, and Twitter @MOMtility.