Your health nurse or other professionals may have told you about the ‘eat, play, sleep’ routine or cycle. But hearing about it and practicing it are very different. Admittedly, for the first two months I didn’t want to let bub out of my arms and I was happy if she fell asleep in them or stayed awake all day. But there came a time when I realised it would be best for both of us if we started trying to get into a routine. Surprisingly it was easier than I thought it would be.
My darling went from having one or two 15 minute naps a day to a cycle of:
- an hour of changing and eating
- playing for an hour or so
- sleeping for an hour or so
Make sure your baby is fully awake before you feed her. Otherwise she will learn to always eat as soon as she wakes and will expect it even if it is not time. Also, during the day don’t let baby fall asleep on the bottle or boob and have her nap straight after eating. As she will find it hard to self settle at night without a settling feed every time she stirs.
Some moms prefer to change baby before feeding, some after. Most babies will dirty their nappy while feeding so changing after a feed during the day works well.
The night routine is the complete opposite to day time! At night you want them to go straight back to sleep after eating and eat, sleep, sleep.
So change before feeding at night and let baby get milk drunk and sleepy while you feed her, then straight down to sleep. Also don’t let baby get too distressed and hungry, the more awake she gets the longer it will take her to fall back to sleep. Feed her as soon as she wakes at night, keep it dark and don’t talk to her or make too much eye contact.
If baby uses a dummy, you can slip it in as she slips of the boob and just gently lay her down with dummy in mouth. My husband, who gets up during some night feeds to change baby, re-swaddles her before her feed. So she drinks swaddled, ready to lay down straight after.
The essence is minimal fuss at night. After all you don’t want to get over stimulated either, as you want to go straight back to sleep too!
During the day, encourage the three hour eat, play, sleep routine as much as you can. Some days will be better than others. Listen to baby – if she is extra hungry, thirsty when hot, or going through a growth spurt then it will obviously not work. But try not to let it completely fall apart. Surprisingly, the more baby naps during the day, the better they will sleep at night! If she does not get a few decent day time naps she will be over tired, wont learn to self soothe and so will wake more frequently at night and get grumpier and grumpier day and night.
If you have some eat, play, sleep tips please leave them below.