I have learnt the wonders of establishing a sleep/eat/play routine for my baby because I have quite erratic hours on some days because I am a part time tutor and also a full time stay at home mother. I am all alone with no help from parents or nannies, it is just me or my husband, and I bring my baby along to work. Hence, having a routine helps me to prepare my baby and myself better.
Below are some of the main reasons which I am sharing from my personal experience and I really hope that every parent will have a smoother journey.
1.) Scheduling for Appointments Made Easier
So, you are asked to make an appointment with baby tagging along, how do you arrive at the decision to specify the timing? And remember that you have to make allowance for travelling and preparation time. Do you just decide based on your own convenience, wild guess or take your baby’s cues? I scheduled her weekly swim class at 9am because I know she wakes up usually at about 730am for milk and then her cereal breakfast. We leave at 8.15am to make it on time for the lesson which lasts for 30mins. Her naptime is about 930am which is just in time after her swim. So she will usually be asleep in my arms on the bus while on the way home. This way, I will not have scheduled her swim class to be 930am or 10am which means im delaying her naptime and I will have an overtired baby. I reach home at about 1030am and she continues her nap in the cot.
2.) Regular Mealtimes for Babies
Having a routine means you know when to feed your baby on time, without overfeeding them or making them go hungry for too long. Having regular meal on time is essential for good eating habits to help to prevent health related problems in later life phases such as gastric problems or obesity.
So if you know when is your baby’s next feed, you will also know how much milk to bring along if you are going out, especially if you are not breastfeeding. If your baby is taking solid food, you can prepare on time beforehand. See my sharing on Planning Baby Meals to see how you can prepare better.
3.) Avoid an Overtired and Cranky Baby
When your baby is on routine, you will know when is it that they are already feeling tired and you can prepare them for nap/bedtime. Having delay their sleep for too long will result in them, being overtired and cranky.
My daughter is 8 months old now and never had a pacifier thus far, because when she is cranky, I can predict better her needs and not at a loss of how to deal with it. Dont get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with pacifiers and having one, it is just that we do not want to introduce it and later have to wean her from it and the hassles along with it. My point is, sometimes if you can tune in to a baby’s cranky behavior, a pacifier can be out of the picture.
4.) Baby Sleep Problems Become a Myth
People who know me are amazed at how do I get the spare energy for household chores, my part time job and yoga practices at night when I have a baby on hand. The key essential element is all got to do with your baby’ sleep pattern. If babies have sleep problems, very high tendency for parents to be sleep deprived too because babies wake up at odd hours and parents follow suit. Some of my friends are amazed that my face still look radiant despite being a mother and from this you can tell, many parents from sleep deprivation. It is not my make up or whatsoever because nothing can hide if you are not sleeping well and your face will show it all. No amount of beauty treatment can match to the effects of sleeping well.
We have set the stage for my baby to have a regular sleep pattern and environment since she was born and our efforts pay off really well. Not entirely perfect everytime of course, but good enough to keep us sane and functioning normally. She wakes up at about 730am, Nap #1 from about 9am-11am, Nap #2 from about 1pm-3pm and Nap #3 from about 530-6pm ( short cat nap). Her bedtime is between 8-9pm and normally she doesnt wake up in the middle of night unless she has some discomfort or thirst. She had weaned her night feeding when she was 2 months old plus.
Technically speaking, I “knocked off” as a mother by 9pm or when he is back at 630pm, I will leave at 7pm for my yoga practice while he handles the baby. My husband is not terrified of handling the baby alone because he knows she will knock out by 9pm as he is able to predict based on the routine. At the same time, I can be assured that both of them are doing well and I can concentrate on my yoga.
5.) Efficiency Doubles Up
Now that I can predict better when is my baby’s nap time, it helps me to prepare better for whatever I am going to do for that day. For example, when it is her activity time and she plays by herself in her exersaucer or playpen. I can prepare the ingredients for cooking so that if she cries for me, I can attend to her and leave the veggies half chopped. No problem with that. When she is napping, my ingredients are already all prepped up, I can begin cooking with peace of mind, without having to run in and out of the kitchen and leave the stove on. Really not advisable! Lunch will then be ready before she is up.
I can also get a quick shower and not risked running out half done in a towel. Been there and done that. Her nap time is my best time to take a quick nap too. Or, I can do some last minute diaper bag packing or cleaning before we leave the house. And when she is awake, viola! We are ready to go.
Overview of my baby’s routine on a typical day when we are at home for the whole day
7 30: Wakes up for milk and breakfast
9 00: Nap #1
11 00: Wakes up from nap and have activities
11 30: Milk
12 30: Lunch
13 00: Nap #2
15 00: Wakes up from nap and have acitivities
15 30: Milk and snacks.
16 00: Activities
17 30: Short nap for 30mins
18 00: Dinner
18 30 : Bath and activities
20 00: Last feed to tank her up to get through the night/ brush her baby teeth/ lights dimmed/ bedtime story/ all activities stop to wind her down for bed.
This is not the best and perfect sleep routine as many baby sleep consultants will tell you that babies’ bedtime ought to be 7pm or by 8pm. We have not work to that stage yet due to the nature of my job and this is by far what we have achieved and we are pretty comfortable with it. For more, read the ” The Secrets of the Sleep Whisperer” by Tracy Hogg. It takes time, practice, consistency, hard work and love.