Routine Shmoutine

I commented over on Lulu’s blog, when she asked about getting a newborn into a routine.

A routine you say? HA! But she’s right, when you have a little one it is tantalising to imagine a day when you know what’s coming up. So you can plan a market shop, a visit from a tradie, a nap or just some guaranteed headspace to be s.t.i.l.l.

A friend of ours gave us the Contented Little Baby book early on. Again, I’ll remind you that my ‘parenting’ (ha) approach is Whatever Works – so I have no strict rules for or against enforcing a routine, or conversely, feeding on demand. But the book freaked me out with its strict approach. Over the past six weeks I’ve found feeding on demand a lot more comfortable – but again – I’ve been developing my own version of feeding on demand. Which, from two weeks old basically meant feeding her when she’s hungry, but also trying to keep her to a loose three hour schedule.

This is all we were doing, but it has meant that we fell into a routine around 4.5/5 weeks. And by routine, I mean every day has similarly-timed feeding and sleeping periods. It’s not the same every day, but it’s close enough that it works. For now.

Another friend lent us The Baby Whisperer. I didn’t even open this until a few weeks ago – but in skimming it I saw that the EASY method was one that I was loosely doing already. And I liked the more relaxed approach. Again, I didn’t immediately start following the book to the letter. But I found my own routine was supported by the EASY method – and I picked up a few extra tips to boot.

So – for day feeds, I wake her every three or so hours to keep her fed (as recommended by our maternal health nurse), and on schedule. Overnight, I let her go as long as she wants. We basically follow the routine of Eat, Play, Sleep. Importantly, I’ve found she has to be back down in bed within an hour of waking, or she gets totally overtired and doesn’t sleep at all.

While I am still happy to feed on demand, this one hour turnaround time was the single biggest change I made that assisted with a schedule. Before I list it out, there are some things I didn’t realise (this is all probably DUH stuff to you, but I had no idea):

– When ‘they’ talk about three hours between a feed, it’s counted from the beginning of the feed. So, a ‘three hourly feed’  that takes from 9-10am means the next one would be due at midday. This isn’t long at all if bubba doesn’t settle quickly (or at all)  …

– The terms ‘Play’ or ‘Activity’ time are pretty laughable. They should be termed, ‘Staring’ and ‘Gurgling’ time. Little Bun’s activity time can include staring out the window, having me chat to her with crazy-lady-baby voice, or lying on the mat staring at … something. We’ve already invested in a play mat with toys that hang down, but she’s just as likely to become transfixed by a windowframe or lampshade

The day may roll like:

  • 7am Feed, change, back to sleep (I don’t wake her for this feed, and it’s often been four hours after the previous feed)
  • 10am Feed, change, play, back to sleep
  • 1pm Feed, change, play, back to sleep
  • 4.30pm Feed, change, play, back to sleep (she often wants to sleep longer here, but by trial/error I’ve discovered a longer nap here means Arsenic Hour is extended to Arsenic Five Hours, later on)
  • 7.30/8pm Feed, change, ‘sleep’ … cue Arsenic Hours! (still really struggling to get her to sleep after this feed. On good nights, its grizzling and crying until we pick her up and settle her in our arms on the couch. On bad nights, it’s blood-curdling screaming until the next feed)
  • 11pm Feed, change, back to sleep
  • 3am Feed, change, back to sleep (As with the 7am feed, I don’t wake her for this. Sometimes, it’s earlier (yuk), the other night, she went five hours until 4am).

As with everything with a baby, I’m learning that EVERYTHING CHANGES ALL THE TIME ALWAYS. I actually wrote the majority of this post a few days ago, when all of the above was true. Little Bun clearly read through my Drafts when I wasn’t looking, as the past 24 hours has been a rollercoaster of fuckups wildly flailing from a refusal to wake up at all (Oh god my baby is limp and sleepy what’s wrong) to a refusal to sleep at all (Oh god my baby will never sleep again, I’m so tired). I think it’s a six week growth spurt?

Either way, it’s clearly nature’s way of telling me off for being a smug cow who wangs on about routines with a six week old baby.

Good luck! x

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