Becoming a parent for the first time means letting go of any sort of routine you may have had in your life…at the beginning forget going to the gym three times a week, forget sleeping in till 8am, forget keeping your beautiful house, errrr beautiful, every little routine in your life goes out the window when your little bubba arrives. This eventually can be the most freeing experience you ever go through but in those initial first few months you don’t know what’s going on, when it’s happening or even what day it is!
In the early days, the two of us would spend hours discussing routines and what our ‘baby book’ was telling us we should be doing at certain times. One book (by Gina Ford) would even go as far as telling you what time you should be drinking a glass of water. A strict routine may work for some, but both of us agree it’s about taking the principles from parenting guides and adapting them to fit you family and life. Talking routines might seem a little bit boring to non-mammas, but they are pretty important and believe it or not actually end up giving you more YOU time.
For those mammas looking for a bit of guidance on routines here’s a snapshot of the early days below.
And for the record we are always up for a chat on routines so do drop us a line!
Zoe’s Story –
I remember vividly Luna being two weeks old, I was trying to get her to go to sleep at 7pm because that’s what I wanted, so I let her cry for about five minutes obviously to no avail. Dozza my husband came out of the shower and asked me what was going on? I told him I was trying to get Luna into a routine. He instantly said that she was way too young and this was more about me than her. He scooped her up and let her sleep on him…I’m so grateful he was so honest because from that moment on, I let go of trying to mould her into something she wasn’t ready for. She slept on my chest until she was ok being by herself, she told me when she was hungry, she taught me to go with the flow and not worry about my old life of boring routines.
By nine weeks old both of us were ready to start introducing a flexible evening routine…and here it is!
As I said above – do what your baby needs during these first four weeks…both Georgia and I were massively winging it at this stage! We were both trying to establish breastfeeding, dealing with broken nipples, sleep deprivation and going though endless cans of dry shampoo! We both did however introduce the 6pm bath time which Axel and Luna loved from the get go. If your baby doesn’t enjoy baths, keep going at it, they soon will!
5am-6am – FEED (I then went back to sleep with Luna normally until around 9am)
9am – Feed and change
10.30am – Go for a walk in the pram/slash meet Georgia and drink coffee/work out!
12pm – FEED
1pm – SLEEP
3pm – FEED
3.30 – SLEEP
5pm – Top up feed before the bath (Luna needed this to get her through to her 6.30pm feed…I used to just give her 2 ounces of expressed breast milk to tide her over)
5.30pm – BATH TIME
6pm – GET BABY READY FOR BED – New baby grow and vest. I use lots of good baby oil, lavender is great for sleeping. Luna also loved having her feet rubbed too!
6.30pm – BIG FEED (I expressed here too so that my husband could do this feed…we would get as much milk into her as possible so that she full and ready for a sleep. We always did this bottle away from the TV, in a darkish room so she began to understand it was bed time)
7pm – BED
10.30pm-11pm – DREAM FEED
2am – FEED
AND SO IT BEGINS AGAIN!
I followed the same routine as above but by 12 weeks Luna had dropped the 2am feed and was going from the dream feed at 10.30pm to about 5am. My trick was using formula at the dream feed which filled her up and kept her sleeping for longer. I totally understand if you don’t want to do this and you’d rather keep baby solely on breast milk. This is up to you and only my suggestion. This was a breakthrough time for us as my husband would do the 10.30pm bottle and I would get 6 hours unbroken sleep. Any new mum or dad knows how good this feels! Luna went into her own room at 9 weeks
and I was beginning to feel slightly less zombie like at this point.
During these months we became firmly established in the four hourly feeding pattern. I had to stop breast feeding at 12 weeks because of an infection and not being able to produce enough milk for my very hungry baby. I cried for days after I realised I couldn’t do it anymore but Luna got on really well with the formula feeds and she slept for so much longer once I’d switched her across, so actually it was for the the best.
6am – FEED (We may have snoozed back off for an hour and then it was my favourite part of the day – play and baby babble time!)
10am – FEED
11.30am – SLEEP
3pm/4pm – SLEEP
5pm – TOP UP FEED
5.30pm – BATH
6.00pm – CHANGE FOR BED
7pm – BED (By this time she was always sound asleep in her sleepy head, in her cot)
10.30/11pm– DREAM FEED
And by 6 months, once I had started to introduce solids, she had dropped the dream feed and we were on to 7pm to 5.30am nights. Don’t worry you will get there in the end!
Georgia’s Story –
One of the things I was really conscious about when I first became a mum was losing who I was, and only wanting to talk about all things baby. I didn’t want to bore friends who had older children with all my questions about the tiniest little things that they had probably forgotten about. During my pregnancy, I hadn’t read any books and so when Axel was born I had no idea about getting him into a routine until I started to read a Gina Ford book, which to be honest was pretty scary. I then became aware of getting Axel into a routine and would always ask other mums which babies Axel’s age about theirs. Meeting Zoe was amazing as would constantly chat about timings of bottles, naps and everything
in between without feeling like we were boring the other; we were both going through the same thing at the same time. Neither of us was particularly rigid during the day, but got into a good bedtime routine early one (around 6-8 weeks old)
To be honest we didn’t really have a routine for the first four weeks. Axel fed on demand and slept A LOT. He was a pretty good sleeper from the get go, sleeping in three of four hour blocks and waking up for feeds. I really didn’t have a clue what I was doing at this stage.
I’d never really heard about sleep schedules or routines until this point, I hadn’t read any parenting guides and thought I’d just wing it. Axel started to become more alert and I noticed that getting him to sleep wasn’t so easy. So, I started to set a routine at around 6 weeks and I’ve never looked back!
6.00am- WAKE UP
11.30am-1.00pm- SLEEP ( Sometimes I had to give Axel a little milk here too)
1.00pm – FEED
This was the turning point for us, when Axel started to drop his night feeds. He was around 11 weeks old when we he ‘slept through’ and I remember waking up feeling like a whole new woman and praying that it was a ‘one-off. It was still pretty early days but it already felt like it had been a lifetime of broken sleep.We got there by sticking to the routine and gradually cutting out the 2am and 5am feed. First we dropped the 5am by putting him off milk with the dummy or water in the bottle and then eventually he dropped the 2/3am himself. I had stopped breastfeeding all together by this point and I do think the formula filled him up and in turn he slept better. Our routine started to look a little like this:
10/10.30am- FEED (usually in the gym with Zoe!)
10.30pm- DREAM FEED
The routine had become second nature by this point and we were enjoying a good nights sleep most nights, with Axel sleeping comfortably through until morning from his dream feed. As Axel got to the end of his fifth month I switched his bedtime bottle to hungry milk as I noticed he was waking earlier in the morning, which I thought might be down to hunger.
6.30am- WAKE UP
6.00pm- FEED (He used to fall asleep while we were giving him his bottle, which we had to get out of at this ager. It’s good to try and get them to ‘self settle’ early on as by 4-5 months their sleep pattern changes and they need to do this in order to sleep through the night.
10.30pm- DREAM FEED
At 5/6 months we introduced solids and dropped the dreamfeed, which really was a dream! Axel would sleep from around 6.30pm-6.30am, so for those Mammas thinking they’ll never get a full nights sleep again, keeping peserving and you will get there.