What's your baby's sleep routine?

Anna - posted on 10/28/2009 ( 10 moms have responded )

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I wanted to ask the AP mothers about this because I want to work out a gentle approach to get my 11 month old son to sleep. I'm not the kind of person who can follow a routine very easily but I'm starting to think it might be good for Tasman. I have been letting him sleep whenever he wants and eat whenever he wants. He usually sleeps fairly well at night but often gets really grumpy in the evenings. I have started trying to get his day to follow a basic schedule but it's not really working - sometimes he wants to nap at 11am, other days not until 2pm. Sometimes he'll fall asleep for the night at 7pm, other times he's up playing until 11pm. So I'd like to hear what other people do - do you make them keep to a routine or do you let them determine their own?

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Brenda - posted on 10/29/2009

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Well, from the psychological perspective I'll give you some reasons why there's a predominate view that baby's MUST have a routine set by the parent. Babies and young children suffer stress from changes in routine and expectations. So if you normally stay in, and take the baby out instead, they will suffer some stress from this change in situation. ANY change in situation, from having a baby sitter, to going to visit grandma and grandpa causes some amount of stress to babies, especially after the age of four or six months when they start to understand differences in environments. You may notices if you have a sitter for a night out with hubby that the baby is very cranky and upset afterward. This is typical and aftermath of a change in routine. But here's where things get muddled in the general populations. Routine does not me a scheduled set of events that have to happen in order, every night at a particular time. Babies answer to their own biological rhythms, so some nights they need more sleep and some nights less, and some nights they may be tired earlier and other times later. Every baby changes immense amounts in the first year, so this changes big time.



The problem is that baby book writers and doctors have latched onto the idea that a baby becomes stressed when their routine is broken to say that you must enforce a strict bedtime/naptime/feeding routine every day otherwise baby is stressed. This isn't true. While a baby MAY benefit from doing things in the same order every night, as long as things are going to their biological routine, they'll be happy. This is why some people end up using CIO so often. Because they do the Food/Bath/Bed routine, and want the baby in bed by say nine pm. Well that's a good intention, and the order and use of the routine is fine, but if the baby isn't tired after eating or the bath, holding this timed routine is only going to end up with a screaming, cranky baby because they aren't ready for bed. Also, the reverse is true. Starting this set of actions too late makes for an overtired, cranky baby. Either way, frustrated moms who have heard "routines make the baby sleep better" end up using CIO because they can't figure out what they did wrong. The only thing they did wrong was they failed to follow the cues given by the baby and instead watched the clock. I'm a big proponent of watching the baby/child, and not the clock. WIth rapid growth and changes during the first five years of life, their biological needs change almost daily. :)

Francesca - posted on 11/13/2009

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I pretty much let my little Ella dictate our routine no matter where we are or what is planned. But she seems to have set her own schedule. She is about 61/2 months old now and this is her sleep & nap schedule.

She gets tired by about 10pm. We co-sleep so we curl up in bed and cuddle and breastfeed. (at about 11pm I usually get up and tidy up a little because she is out cold) She may wake up a few times to feed, but she never wakes up completely as she just tickles my arm at night when she is hungry. She likes to wake up around 900am...and hates when I make her wake up before that.

She naps 30 minutes before lunch at about 11ish. She naps an hour in the afternoon 3ish. She does another hour nap in the early evening right around 5ish and then another 30 minutes again in evening around 8ish. She is more of a cat napper, but thats what makes her happy. After a little cat nap she wakes up with a HUGE grin.

This is entirely flexible and there are always those days that she sometimes skips a nap, or doesn't sleep as long at night, or she chooses to sleep even longer than I could even imagine. But this is the typical day for Ella

Aleks - posted on 10/29/2009

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Well, my 8 mth old usually likes to go to sleep 2-3 hours after she wakes in the morning (after having a play and breakfast). I tend to feed her off to sleep, though it doesnt always work (not anymore), but I rock her then. She will sleep anywhere between 1 to 2.5 hours and again, will be up for another 2-3 hours ( lunch and play somewhere in there ). Again, i will bf to sleep, where she usually will have a 1 hour nap if the first nap was a longer one. I tend to stretch her out in the evenings as dinner, bath etc, all take a bit of time.... However, this is our evening schedule... it usually starts straight after dinner and which is anywhere between 7 and 8 pm.

So, up to bath, I let my kids (I also have a 4 year old) play in the bath for a bit, and have found that while cranky while we eat dinner (she is usually quite tired by this stage) she seems to be quite happy to sit in the bath and play, especially so when her older brother joins. After I take her out, I moisturise (with organic baby cream, made with essential oils) and massage, get her dressed in her sleep outfit, wrap her and straight on the boob :-) (My man takes care of the 4yo) She has both sides and in most cases drifts off wonderfully ... She is usually asleep 9 - 9:30pm (though sometimes because things warrant it she will be a bit earlier or later).

We have been doing this schedule since early weeks, however, it is only because, having a 4yo who was already in the dinner, bath, story, bed routine (when I was still bf him I used to feed him rather than have the story) and it worked for us and we didn't want to give him too many upheavals with the new baby so we stuck to it, and just incorporated baby into it. She knows the cues and looks out for them - kinda think that she is soooo much happier in bath even tho already cranky tired, because she knows that things are on their way to get her into bed.

Does the routine make her sleep any better? No. She still wakes up for the whole night anywhere between 1 - 2.5 hrs, however, she has a feed and goes straight back down. Rarely will she want to stay awake at night. She sleeps till about 7.30am. Though at times she gets woken up by her older brother up to an hour before that, and she usually is grumpy baby then... for almost the whole day... her rhythm is off.
I believe that the routine gives mostly us, her parents, some comfort, tho she accepts it without too much fuss.
Some people need and like routines, others don't... babies included. Our 1st born son thrived so much more with a routine established, while I believe that our 2nd born daughter is indifferent to routines or there lack of..(though I don't use a strict routine). Where sleep is involved I tend to take cues from baby, though I know roughly that she will be due for a nap 2-3hrs after waking.. and I know that this will change as she grows (those gaps will increase).
Good luck and hope you find your baby's balance point.

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Britny - posted on 11/07/2009

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I have tried to force a routine on my daughter, but it just wont work. She has to set her own time. She has a night owl routine that I have had to adjust too! haha So I let her pick her own, but I know others have been able to make one for their kids! good luck.

Jamie - posted on 10/30/2009

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Oh, have you read the No Cry Sleep Solution by elizabeth pantly? You may find it to be helpful :)

Jamie - posted on 10/30/2009

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We have a pretty general one. Sometime around 8ish, we maybe read a book, maybe don't, nurse, and all lay down in our bed to sleep.

Marcy - posted on 10/30/2009

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We never really did the whole routine thing....J.R. just kind of found his own thing. The one thing that I did do though was make sure that he didn't nap after 4PM. It was hell for me when he was tired and wanted to take a nap that late in the day. I work full time out of the house and I would cringe at the thought of having to be up with him until midnight playing with his toys. We still don;t do routines with him. At school they nap daily from 12-2. he always sleeps. When I pick him up we come home, have dinner, play, bath time and then I nurse him down (still do and he is 3 years and 3 months). It's easy for all of us and he's sleeping in less than 15 minutes and I put him in his own bed.

Weekends, all bets are off. If we are on the road he just falls asleep in his car seat or with me holding him and rubbing his back. I love it...we don't need to rush home because he has to nap in his bed at a specific time.

Just what we have going on at our house.....

Anna - posted on 10/29/2009

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Thanks for your help. I'm glad to hear that all babies respond differently to routine because a lot of other people say babies have a psychological need for the structure. But I'm wondering if it is mainly for the convenience of the parents? Tasman seems happy enough doing things whenever but I am finding it hard to make plans to go out for lunch or anything like that because I never know if he is going to want to be asleep.

Karen - posted on 10/29/2009

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I've been working on encouraging a natural rhythm in my almost 1 year old for about two months - it works about 3/4 of the time and I'm very flexible if the day is one that needs more/less sleep. Basically it's this - two hours after getting up for the day we start getting ready for a nap (new diaper, a few books, nursing, then cuddling). She usually sleeps for 1-2 hours. About 3 hours after she gets up from that nap, we go for a 2nd nap. Every once in a while this turns into an hour long nursing session and no sleep - but usually she sleeps for about an hour. About 4 hours after that we get ready for the night (same routine as nap except Daddy is involved and we read a special book). So I just think 2, 3, 4.
As I said, this seems to be my daughter's natural rhythm which I do my best to encourage and not mess with too much. Since I've recognized this rhythm I've found it a lot easier to schedule activities at times that are good for her. Generally, this means I've got a happier baby.
All that said, she wakes up every 1-2 (on the rare and happy occasion 3-4) hours at night for a little nursing. Every once in a while she'll have trouble getting back to sleep and we're up for hours. How to get your lo to sleep longer at night ... I have no idea!

Brenda - posted on 10/28/2009

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Well, I have no routine whatsoever. Nick sets his own clock, and as long as I respond the way he needs, we're good. But one break in his self set routine upsets the works. I'm a night owl, so I am always up late, but Nick likes to be down at 10-12 at night. Then I usually sit up on the bed beside him on the computer (I have a laptop), and when he stirs, I nurse him back down. If for some reason he gets worked up before I get to him, he won't go back to sleep immediately and we have an hour break or so. But then he goes back down and he's out like that until 2pm. Some nights he gets overtired and I have to sit on the side of the bed and bounce/pat him to put him out, but after that he wakes after an hour or so, and then nurse back to sleep again. I can't say much. My four year old goes to bed with me, which is anywhere between 2am and 5 am...but as long as he sleeps in with me, its all good! I'm the type that cannot sleep if the kids aren't asleep or my husband is awake. :) So yeah, that's us....



I just feel like their clocks drive them. Nick naps sometimes, but sometimes he doesn't. He takes one to two naps a day. Never had any sort of routine with my four year old when he was small either. I just can't remember to do it! :)

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