Some weeks it seems like you can just watch your baby grow right in front of your eyes. And not just in size – temperament, personality, patience, and skills change overnight sometimes. At least, they do for us.
I recently decided to go ahead and try putting Prima (now 4 months old) on a regular eating and napping schedule, or rather, routine. It isn’t a true schedule since we don’t use regular intervals to get her up or put her down for a nap (except for bedtime.) However, she has been consistently waking for the day around the same time for at least a month. I believe her bedtime routine has started at the same time for about three months, although she has gradually moved her “fall asleep” time up an hour on her own. She has also been generally sleeping through the night (with one early morning wake-up) for at least a month. Keep in mind, I say generally. She has her off-nights and days, like any other baby. (We used the French method of sleep training from about two weeks old, as outlined in this book.)
So, since she has been consistent in those two areas, and she is past 3 months old, it seemed like she should be able to get into a regular day time routine. So far, it has been good for her. She is less cranky, naps longer, and continues to sleep well at night.
This is now (roughly) her daily schedule:
- Up for the day around 7:30 – 8:30 am
- Two AM naps
- Two afternoon naps
- Help prep dinner (she sits in her chair and watches while I explain what is going on)
- Bedtime routine around 7:30 – 8:00 pm
- Down for the night (she will wake up once for about twenty minutes in the middle of the night to eat)
To get her onto the schedule, I simply did the following:
- I fed her right after she woke up and had a diaper change, then let her spend about an hour awake and interacting with me, with toys, or just talking to herself in her chair. Once she showed signs of sleepiness (fussing, eye-rubbing, etc.) I swaddled her, laid her in bed, told her it was time to try to nap, turned on her sound machine, and left her to fall asleep. She cried about twenty minutes the first time, and ten minutes the second time. Now she fusses a little before putting herself to sleep, but that is all.
- I changed the “go to sleep for nap time” routine a little because she has started being very distracted while nursing. To make sure she is eating enough, I let her nurse to sleep before some naps now. I lay her down once she is asleep, and although she wakes up for a moment, she goes right back to sleep. Once she nurses better, we’ll go back to the regular routine.
I’m pretty excited that she did so well with being put into her routine, and I hope she keeps it up! I’m fairly confident she will, although I realize it will need to be adjusted as she gets older.