Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Starting a routine

I am writing this at eight thirty at night. Olive is asleep and has been for the last hour. If the past couple of weeks are anything to go by she will now sleep until some point between 2 and 4 in the morning. She'll feed quickly and then go back to sleep until about 7 in the morning.

(I write this knowing full well that having set it down in black and white she will probably wake up on the hour every hour from now until 5am.)

I am sure there are many parents of three month olds who will be incredibly envious to hear that the husband and I have already got our evenings back, and that I get decent chunks of sleep throughout the night.

I was pretty happy too.

I've made a conscious effort to get Olive into a bed time routine. She has a bath at the same time every night which, despite the trepidation exhibited in this pre-bath towel-wrapped photo, she enjoys.

After a splash (and often a poo) in the bath I feed her in semi-darkness until she drifts off to sleep. I place her in her cot with skill and dexterity honed from years of playing Operation and creep out of the room.

The daytime is significantly less regimented but I was fine with this as every day was different anyway. I didn't worry about this as I have a busy social life what with baby yoga, meeting a bunch of different folk for hot chocolate, and even mummy wine tasting cluttering up my maternity leave. I didn't want to be tied to a routine so as long as Olive slept at some point during the day and continued to thrive I was happy.

WAS happy.

Until I decided that I should start to get her into a routine that enables her to sleep, in a cot, during the day.

I bought a couple of parenting books. I've finished one and am half way through the second. 

And I have cried a lot.

The first book was written by a famously litigious (and hence unnamed here) author who advocates a strict timetable and leaving the baby to cry for up to twenty minutes whilst you wait for them to settle themselves. 

I'm not sure I can do that.

The next book, the Baby Whisperer, was recommended by a friend - which is a good start. I'm only half way through it but so far there is a lot to like. The idea is more about a routine - an order of doing things rather than a to-the-minute schedule. The author has already categorically stated that she does not believe in letting that baby cry themselves out.

However even this book has caused me to burst into tears when I read that the routine should start at 6 weeks and whilst you can always change your baby's routine the longer you leave it the harder it will be. Olive is almost 14 weeks - I feel like I have lost eight precious weeks already. 

Part of me wants to say 'fuck it' and continue as I am, happy with feeding Olive to sleep and not to worry too much about things. But then I imagine having a baby morph into a child who still needs to go on the tit before bed, and frankly I don't want to be breast feeding her to sleep when she is a teenager with braces and the ability to answer (and bite) back!

So I am starting to change some habits. This is bound to impact on what is currently a wonderfully calm night time pattern, and I know there will be times when I will regret upsetting the status quo. But hopefully, eventually, the daytimes will become as easy as the nights, and maybe it will enable me to rid of the 4am feed as well. 

If any of you have any tips how to put a baby in a cot for a daytime nap, whilst she is awake, do share. 


  1. Personally I think day time napping in a cot is a thing of the devil. None of my three ever did it and all 3 can put themselves to sleep. It ends up with people tied to the house and babies incapable of sleeping anywhere else if my friends are anything to go by. This way madness lies. You and Olive sound like you are doing just fine to me. If sleeping in a buggy is working then sleep in a buggy and sod everyone else's advice. Good to hear from you by the way!

  2. Whatever you are doing now works for Olive. Chuck books away, smile politely at advice from others and do whatever your mummy instinct is telling you.... If it's not broken why fix it! My baby never napped in her cot.. She is 18 months old, sleeps 7 - 7 and settles herself... They learn once they are old enough... If she was 4 I'd worry but at 3 months give the girl a chance to work things out for herself! You had too!!

  3. Remember - you are Olive's mom and you know what is best for her and you both. I got lots of books too as gifts, but really haven't used any of them. I think sometimes we can get too structured and too focused on what everyone else is doing and what we "should" be doing (according to society) and forget that we need to do what is right for our family. Just my two cents worth. By the way, Olive is beautiful!


    I nursed both of my boys to sleep every night. Every nap. And they are FINE. By 10 months my first had outgrown it and put himself to sleep just fine, never crying more than 10 minutes. My second I nursed to sleep just the same and he stopped doing it on his own too, though it was longer, probably 11 months. He now falls asleep on his own too, with little to no crying.

    She is three months old. She can't settle herself to sleep yet. She is learning an incredible amount of information every single day she needs help processing all of that and settling in. You won't get to rock her to sleep forever. Notice I said "get." At some point she won't let you. Nurse your baby / rock your baby / cuddle your baby as much and as often as you want and let that baby sleep in the stroller.

    Both my kids sleep 7 - 7 now. She will learn to sleep on her own, as long as you give her every opportunity to try. I swear it. I also swear it's developmental and not something you can force.

  5. Whatever works for you (and her!) If you want her to be able to get to sleep herself, you can put her down a teeny bit more awake over time so she handles the falling asleep on her own.

    Only waking up once at night is fantastic, so you're clearly both doing something right! :)

    We sleep trained at 3 months for naps and nighttime and it worked great for us and our son, but don't do it because someone else told you that you should - only do it if there's a problem you believe needs to be fixed.

  6. It doesn't sound like you're a failure at all -- you've got a good solid night routine that appears to be working marvelously for you, and it sounds like you _do_ have a daytime routine (napping while going on a walk), it's just not the one your step mom thinks you should have.

    I found that it worked much better for us to have a rhythm rather than a schedule or a routine: We'd do the same things in the same order, but when they happened depended on when Gwen woke up, when she seemed tired, etc. The trick is to watch for the sleep cues and catch them early. Until about 4 months, Gwen still slept in a Moses basket, but around then we bought her a crib (which converts into a toddler and then child bed), and for daytime naps, when she started giving sleep cues I'd put her down, make sure she had her lovey, snuggle her a bit, shut the curtains, and leave. She'd sometimes cry for a bit, but never more than 5 min. or so before falling asleep.

    But I totally agree with what the person above me said: if you think what you're doing is working, then don't change it. There is no One Right Way for all babies, and taking your cue from them will make everyone happier.

  7. Get yourself a copy of Penelope Leach Baby and Child... it is the perfect antidote to all this timetabled controlled crying nonsense and the idea of their being rules or a right way!

    It offers open advice that helps you understand why your child is doing what she is doing, and offers some suggestions that you might try if you want to change things.

    As everyone else has already said, certainly don't go and change things when it is going so well.... A good night's sleep is gold-dust!

  8. OMG she's so cute! Okay, that aside, you listen to your heart! If what you're doing is working for you, don't listen to anyone! I do sometimes cry it out with my kids, but I wouldn't do it until they were older (9-12 months probably). I am not saying that babies don't need to self soothe, but there is a balance between that and letting them cry for long periods of time when they are too young to even figure that out. It's a personal choice, but I see NOTHING wrong with how you've been doing things. Have confidence in your choices as a mommy, as long as you and baby are happy and healthy, they will never be wrong!

  9. http://www.delightfulmomstuff.com/2012/02/newborn-sleeping-through-night.html

  10. Point a) could Olive be ANY cuter? I think not. Point b) this is, by far, my greatest grievance with parenting. My John is 17 months old now, and only recently was I really able to put aside all of the thoughts/input/advice/ridicule of my parents, peers, coworkers, etc. My theory is this: that you do what is right for you and your baby in the moment, and adjust accordingly. What's best today might be a complete and utter failure tomorrow. I nursed my boy to sleep on most occasions when he was small (up to 5 months or so), but he would also sleep happily in his swing, stroller, or in a baby carrier when I wore him while out and about. At six or seven months, he was sleeping through the night and was fine either being nursed to sleep or laid in his crib. I am ALL about flexibility and I hoped that our baby would be, too. Now he is a champion sleeper through the night, asks to take his nap during the day, and goes to sleep with happy babbles and wakes up the same way. You are a rock star, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise!

  11. You are doing a wonderful job, and trusting your mamas instincts is always the best policy in my personal opinion.
    Levi slept in a swing until 4 or 5 months - against all the books advice. He took great naps and it was an adjustment to get him to sleep well in his crib after that but we did it and it worked for us. Personally, I think having him be older when we started him sleeping in his crib during the day made it easier for him to understand what was going on. I ready 'healthy sleep habits, happy child' (if you are looking for something else with the potential to make you cry(!)) and that also promotes a sleep wake eat routine. but also has suggested windows for when naps and sleep should happen - what I liked most was that it was written in age categories so even though I didn't read it until Levi was probably 6 months I could start at where he was and not feel as though I was playing catch up. It worked for us, but I think you figure out what works best for you as you go. Sounds like Miss Olive is a great little sleeper.

  12. Easy/Hard.
    Do not do anything, ever, to get Olive to sleep, at any time, that you are not prepared to do 5 times a night, all through the night...
    I learnt this, Oh God almighty yes I did, the hard way...

  13. Do what makes you and Olive happy! She's a tiny baby and the first year is about SURVIVAL. Do you think where she took her morning nap will matter once she starts kindergarten?! NO. The book I read said babies should never sleep with movement going on, aka the car or a swing. The only 2 places she napped for her first 12 months. She's now 4.5 and still naps, in her bed, just fine.

  14. Don't listen to anyone else....I was a nanny for newborns and infants for years and have had two babies of my own....really..there is no such thing as a regular nap schedule before 4-6 months!!!! If you have established a good night time routine.....that is waaaay more important than anything in the daytime. She will fall into a natural pattern without much help from you as long as you keep that night time routine pretty consistent. I did the same thing with my babies...I anchored the night with a bath and nursed to sleep in a dim room and layed them in their beds. I then also got them up about the same time every morning....my first baby slept longer stretches starting around 8 weeks and was a 12 hour baby by 14 weeks. My 2nd baby suffered from ear infections very young so we didn't have the same great results as her brother...but we had a very consistent night time routine by around 14 weeks. She was never a 12 hour baby...but I consistently got 6-7 hours and that was okay. As for naps....I pretty much just let them nurse and nap as they wanted...often in the swing, stroller or car. don't worry about what books or parents say...it is not their baby. AND....I ALWAYS nursed and rocked my babies at night. It was and is AWESOME. Your babies are only babies for a short time.....they are meant to be held and cuddled. Right around 8 months with both of them...we would start reading books and snuggling after bath and before bed. It was then that I started letting them get really sleepy and then just layed them in their bed awake. Sometimes I would have to pat their back for awhile but they got used to it. Now they are 5 and 3. We still do books before bed and have cuddles with the lights off...but it is only 5 minutes or so of cuddles and then I leave the room. They are fine....don't change anything if you are happy with your routine....that may actually mess with it. Let things happen naturally and do what feels right for you. You are not behind at all. You are doing what works for you and Olive.

  15. In my opinion you should never, ever read a parenting book until you've passed the stage they are apparently aiming to help you through. These books are only best sellers because they feed on our paranoia and anxiety. After the event you will laugh about the fact you didn't do it by the book but nevertheless your kid is actually OK and has actually turned out to be well-rounded individual even with your poor parenting.

    I’m sure you are not raising a robot or trying to train Olive to do tricks on command as you might train a dog. Babies are as individual as any adult. All you can really aim to do is to raise a pleasantly loveable and decent human being, not lacking in self-discipline a bit of empathy, and, with a bit of luck, in possession of a firm grounding of common sense.

    Plus, poor mites, they’re forced to learn to live with you and all your quirks of individualism...so unless you are planning to rewrite your own personality to fit with the book, why struggle to make your daughter fit with the manual.

    I ditched all parenting books and stopping reading mummy and baby magazines and articles when I realized my ‘special’ child was making the milestones and the first child experience is fraught with enough daily anxieties as it is. Only with child two did a routine – of my own design - begin to form.

    Enjoy it, treasure the journey, listen to other mums’ experiences and cherry pick what you like and parent by your own instinct. Say ‘fuck’em’ to anyone who tells you what you (and Olive) should be doing, even if only under your breath.

  16. Sorry I have been MIA! Congrats on the birth of Olive! X

  17. I liked the Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child (Weissbluth) because it has advice for all parenting styles. It gives info about average sleep needs at various ages.
    I think you are doing an awesome job. I agree with previous commenters that there is no real pattern with naps etc until maybe like about 5 months? But sounds like night-time sleep is going well and basically I'd say you are living the dream as far as sleep goes for a mum to a little baby!
    Advice re: what should a 3 months old be doing: I love the website Troublesome Tots, it is SO sensible and she gives very grounded advice about sleeping habits. Relief!!

  18. That is great post. It's very nice. Thanks for sharing it.

    About Health & Food

  19. OK, for what it's worth, this is my two-penneth worth.

    The most helpful advice someone gave me is to separate feeding and sleep. Otherwise you may end up in a situation where they won't/can't go to sleep without a feed, and doing that 6 times a night is not fun. So in the evening we used to bath, breastfeed in bedroom, into grobag/swaddle, bedtime story then into bed. Initially we rocked her to sleep, but that became more difficult so we put her down awake. She cried, we gave her a few minutes, cuddled her, put her down then left again. Repeat as necessary. Often took an hour, but it got better very quickly and within a few weeks we could put her down awake and she would go to sleep by herself.

    Night feeds are different, I think. Feed then back to bed. If she falls asleep feeding don't wake her. I don't think it matters so much it's the evening feed that's the important one.

    When you can put her down awake at night then start daytime naps. I don't think E was sorted properly with both daytime naps till about 6 months though. We started with the morning one, the afternoon one took longer and is still moveable, depending on when she wakes from her morning nap.

    Babies often need to go back to bed about 2 hours after getting up, so just do the same, feed if necessary, then grobag, we didn't bother with a story at this one just a cuddle, into bed and leave the room. Go downstairs as they can tell if you're hovering. Go back and cuddle if necessary. If no success after a while then give up, bring her downstairs and do whatever with her, don't worry too much tomorrow is another day. She'll get it eventually.

    I have to say I don't think we started daytime naps in a cot till at least 4 months, you have to be prepared to let them cry a bit. I didn't want to just let her cry endlessly, hence the going back in to reassure.

    The only parenting book I'd recommend is "French children don't throw food". Funny and written by a normal person!

    Above all, though, you have to do what's right for you and your baby, not what other people say, and pram naps are great, just shove the pram in a darkened room when you get in. We used to get hours of sleep that way!

  20. The 90 minute sleep solution worked best for timing iPod naps. I rocked E to sleep almost for a full year. At some point, I just gave her her bunny and let her sort it out a little at a time. Decreasing the rocking gradually. It was what worked for us. The sweet baby snuggles were hard won, why would we want to end that as soon as possible?

  21. I agree with much of whats been said above - do whats right for you. I rountined my little one and it helped me plan and organise my days better and she always slept very well in the day (both in the cot and in the buggy) and at night. She is two now. And everything has changed! She usually just yells 'No Mummy - I run around' when I attempt to get her to sleep! Do I regret bothering to get her in a routine - no as it was beneficial in other ways for me. However they will always keep challenging you in ways you couldnt have imagined! Just try not to worry too much and enjoy it. xxx

  22. I have 2 little ones- the first one I tried to get on a schedule the day he was born.. all naps in the crib, at a specific time, etc. With the second one, that just didn't happen. We were out and about all the time and she slept in the carrier during most naps. She eventually got on a 2 nap schedule at 9 months and it wasn't because I put her on the schedule, she just fell into the same routine every day. I will say that at some point, the baby will need to learn to fall asleep on its own and I personally feel the sooner the better. Don't think you're a bad parent because you've been nursing to sleep, that is fine if that is what you want to be doing right now! We waited until my son was about 4-5 months to try to teach him to fall asleep and for him, it was really hard because he had gotten used to being "bounced" to sleep around the room. With my daughter, we started way earlier and it did involve a little bit of fussing, but usually not more than 5-10 minutes and she has always known how to fall asleep. Give yourself some grace, she will not be nursing with braces :)

  23. Hello, my daughter is 18 months. I always fed her to sleep - daytime naps and at bedtime - until she grew out of it at 14 months or so. She puts herself to sleep no trouble now. I say if it works just do it. Either you or olive will get to a point when it no longer works (you're sick of it or she grows out of it).


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