rou·tine: a sequence of actions regularly followed; a fixed program

Now that I really think about it, I remember hearing a lot about establishing a routine from the time you bring baby home.  I also remember that the part that actually stuck with me was to let the baby establish their own routine…Maybe I just imagined that’s what the advice really was.  Although I’m pretty sure that at least some of the advice we got from the hospital classes and other moms and the books was that when babies very new they should be able to eat, sleep, etc as often and whenever they need to or want to.  I guess somewhere between bringing J home and about 2 weeks ago, we forgot to start establishing an actual routine.  All along we’ve pretty much let J eat, sleep, nurse when he wanted to or needed to.  I must have missed the memo on when to make the transition from baby-led routine to parent-led routine.

Since J has been with me all day I have let him lead on establishing his own “routine” or whatever you want to call it.  However since I have him with me at work and not at home, I have found it more difficult to try to establish a nap routine in particular.  I’m in an office all day where I do have a door, but the walls are thin and between the phone’s ringing and needing to work even while he’s sleeping it’s taken until recently for him to be able to sleep long enough and hard enough for those things to not interrupt his sleep pattern.  This is one thing I really envy about stay-at-home mammas – the ability to put the kiddo in their own crib in their own space where it can be quiet and dark all at the same time!  But I’ve worked with what I’ve got and it’s been good enough.

J used to nurse as often as he wanted.  Anytime he was a little fussy, before naps, when he had a boo-boo – he got to nurse.  It goes without saying that when he was really tiny he ate every hour or two – as all newborn should.  But he’s really always nursed often.  He’s just recently weaned down to 4-6 times a day.  Mostly before nap times and whenever he wakes at night.  So, I guess you could call that a routine.  Ok, I guess we managed to figure that one out somewhere along the way!

What about eating?  This one was pretty easy to establish a routine since I pretty much feed him at mealtimes and whenever I’m hungry.  I figure if I’m hungry then he probably is too.  And now that he’s eating pretty much anything, he eats whatever we eat plus snacks when he wakes up from nap.

The hardest one was napping and sleeping.  Our struggles with J’s sleep routine, especially at night, have been going on since he was born.  We though we started off on the right foot when he would sleep 3-4 hours at a time when we brought him home.  But that soon went downhill and he didn’t quickly establish a longer sleep routine.  For the first 9 months we struggled with J waking 3-4 times a night in order to nurse or be helped back to sleep. The good news is that for the last two weeks or so, J has been sleeping for 6+ hours before he wakes, and only wakes once during the night.  He’s also been sleeping until after 6am.  Hooray!   Luckily he has (slowly) managed to wean himself down to 1-2 wake-ups a night.  He still nurses to get back to sleep, but I can handle that many wake ups at least.  With napping, J used to be able to sleep whenever he got a little fussy.  For months he would only sleep for 30 minutes but would need a nap almost every hour or two.  Only in the last few weeks has he started sleeping for an hour to an hour and a half on a regular basis!  He’s also moved to 2-3 naps a day depending on the length of each nap.  We’ve kept his bedtime at 7pm since he was about 6 months.

So in the end I guess we did finally end up with a routine!  Horray!  Now that we’ve been through it all the hard way, we’d certainly do it differently the second time around.  I’m glad that we’ve managed to keep a few things solid (bedtime and meals) and I’m now a HUGE believer that more sleep leads to more sleep.  It wasn’t until J started sleeping a regular 1 to 1 1/2 hours a few times a day that his nighttime sleeping also smoothed out and increased.  I’m also now an advocate for establishing more of a sleep routine (if possible) as early as possible.  I know that it’s sometimes easier said than done though…so let’s hope that when it’s time for the second time around that we can figure it out along the way.  Either way at least now we seem to be on the right path.

This parenthood thing can be more of a challenge than you think sometimes.  But you work your way through it eventually, just like with anything else 🙂