Thursday, 27 June 2013


There is this assumption that, as a new parent, you have to fall into one of two 'camps' - you're either a parent-led routine 'scheduler' (leaving baby cry/forcing a feeding schedule) or a baby-led routine 'hugger' (doing what baby wants). From my experience, you can be both. I still fed on demand and comforted her when she needed it - it was just a matter of trying to draw out a routine from it all.

Nap-time cuddled up in bed
Between the ages of 2 weeks to 4 months old, we had a fairly solid routine established for her (in terms of sleeping and eating). We weren't strict with her in the beginning - I never let her cry herself to sleep for the sake of the routine - we just let a pattern develop naturally, with the help of things like bath-time and the bed-time feed, and then stuck to it once it was established. 

As she got more settled in to the day-by-day rhythm, she seemed to become happier and comforted by it - it was something which helped to anchor her whilst everything was new and unfamiliar. I felt like it was a really good way to show her she could trust us and rely on us. 

Whilst at first I thought the main benefits were that it encouraged her to sleep through the night (which it seemed to do), I now think it was probably the psychological benefits of making her feel secure and safe which were greater.

It was also good for us, because we knew what was going on and we knew we'd have certain times of the day to ourselves. Having the regularity probably also helped our body clocks adjust to the night-time wakings too (although, I have to admit, I've still not got used to it). 

The only down-side that I encountered to having a routine was other people's opinions on it. I don't know why it bothers some people so much - I think it's because you're new-parent mind is somewhere else a lot of the time, and you're thinking of your baby and what's coming next...and perhaps it's also a control issue? ...I'm not sure! But anyway, we stuck to our guns and kept our routine - and we're glad we did!

My experience in establishing a routine:

  • Have a set bath time every evening. Having fun in the bath is a bit of exercise to tire them out before bed.
  • Follow that with a set time to give the last feed/s before bed 
  • Have some strategic playtimes (e.g. we would keep her awake late evening so that she was more tired for bed time)
  • Try to encourage them to see night-time sleep as different from day-time sleep. In the first 4 or 5 months, I never put Lyra to sleep in her cot unless it was night time. I always let her sleep in the living room during the day/on my chest/in the bed with me, where it was still light and slightly noisy from other people. That way, she got used to her night-time sleep as something different from just a nap. 
  • Use feeding/singing/soothing to establish sleeping routine. 
  • If they wake in the night, just take them up, feed them/sing to them. Don't turn the light on or talk/play because then they think its play time in the middle of the night.
  • After a week, you can kind of see a routine establishing, and just observe that and try to do the same things at the same times. 

More cuddles to help her sleep, this time from her Aunty

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