When your newborn comes into the world, the last thing you really want to think about is a schedule or routine. You really are just trying to survive at that point. For the first month, I just tried to sleep whenever I could and I just remember her wanting to eat ALL THE TIME. It was constant. Now, as she is older, she’s starting to know the difference between night and day so it was my job as a mom to help her adjust a little bit. I didn’t want to do anything drastic but I knew she was confused because she wanted to sleep all day and she was up all night. I didn’t want to deprive her of sleep or cause confusion so I went to our family pediatrician (who is amazing, by the way!) and he offered some simple advice. My daughter went from sleeping only a few hours at a time at night to sleeping 7 hours now. A few simple adjustments and we have been on a constant routine for the last week, it’s been great. Here is the advice I was given and what we do to achieve some rest at night:
The ped recommended spreading out feedings just a little bit. Nothing drastic. What was happening before was that she was eating all day (every hour usually) but not really eating THAT much when she did eat.. she wasn’t really hungry, he referred to it as “snacking.” He also recommended not letting her nap past the 2 hour mark each time. She had been taking longer naps which confused her at night. Because of this, she was not really understanding the difference between daytime and bedtime.
Note: This was a recommendation for my newborn at her 9 week appointment. Of course, times might vary on when your child wants to eat. The main goal is to make sure they don’t sleep longer than 2.5 hrs at a time during the day so they know it’s daytime and that was just a nap. This makes transitioning to bedtime easier because you’re letting them sleep longer without interruption. Form your own schedule out of this based on what works for your family.
He suggested the following:
1. During waking hours (usually 10am to 10pm), I feed her every 2-2.5 hours. This means that I have to wake her up sometimes to feed her. The goal is to not let your baby sleep the day away. By spreading out her feedings just a bit (she has never cried when I do this), I found that she’s eating more now at feedings because she’s actually hungry.
2. At night time, I don’t wake her up. Once 10pm rolls around, I just feed her, rock her for a few and put her to bed. She sleeps longer because she’s actually resting. Keep in mind, the earlier you put them to bed, the earlier they are going to get up. I try to time it to where I’d go to bed as well that way I’m also getting sleep.
3. Stick to a routine. I make sure she doesn’t nap past 9pm. Once she wakes up from her final nap before bed, I give her a bath, put her pajamas on her and then feed her either a pumped bottle or breastfeed. I prefer to feed her a bottle before bed because I’m able to see how much she is actually eating and she usually doesn’t fall asleep while eating (that’s a big issue with her… she always falls asleep while feeding)
Otherwise, I was on a constant schedule of feeding every hour and then she would be sleeping all day and up all night. Now she eats every 2 (to 2.5) hours and then she can nap in between. Example: if I fed her at 12pm and she falls asleep at 1pm, I still wake her up at 2pm to eat. Usually she will fall asleep again right after until her next feeding but she’s not sleeping & feeding constantly in smaller increments…. She began eating more because she wasn’t “snacking all day”.
These times might vary by the age of your child. The main points here are: don’t let your baby sleep for long periods of time during the day. Yes, naps are fine but don’t let them go past 2.5 hrs so they know it’s daytime and not bedtime.
Feed them at least every 2-2.5 hours (for younger babes) and don’t let them eat so frequently that they’re just snacking instead of getting a full tummy. For older babes, 2 hour feeding schedule might be a little soon so stretch it out and do every 3 hours… etc. Follow the cues.
This is what our routine looks like some days:
Update: Since posting this, she slept 7 hours the same night. OMG. I am a new woman! :)
The app used here is FeedBaby on my iPhone. They also have an android version. LOVE IT.
Update September 21st:
She just slept 7 hours, 24 minutes. From 10:45pm – 6:10am. Longest stretch yet and I am one happy mom. Still following the schedule I blogged about above but also following her cues. Instead of feeding every 2 hours, she’s now eating every 3 hours and wanting to nap less during the day. She takes about 3-4 naps a day totaling 3-4 hours.