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how do you get a baby into a routine??

(34 Posts)
Tumtitum Tue 28-Jun-16 14:23:35

I can't get my head around how to get a baby (5 mo DD) into a routine of sorts. What if she refuses to nap at nap time? Do I just let her stay awake until the following nap time? Overtiredness is I think a big problem for us so the idea of that panics me, but she does seem to get upset by changes eg visiting family so I'm wondering if she might benefit from a more scheduled routine?

BexusSugarush Tue 28-Jun-16 14:52:05

Many people swear by routines, and to some extent they are important. But my baby is 6 months and has never been given a strict routine, as she is constantly changing her own routines around, everytime we settle on one. At 6 months she seems to be settling into her own routine, to be honest.

We let her nap whenever she wants in the day, and we find she takes them around the same time every day now.

We tried putting her to bed every night at 8pm after bath and book; for 3 weeks while we did this she screamed every night until she wanted to actually sleep. 3 WEEKS. Now we do messy food play, then bath, then book and last feed and she's calm after that, puts herself to sleep around 11pm. That's late, yes, but if we put her to bed before that we know it's just hours of screaming. 3 days it's supposed to take for a routine to settle, apparently.

The evening routine of messy play, bath and book only started happening about a week ago when we started weaning, and it happens between 6 and 8pm each night.

Some people might say that perseverance with routines would make our nighttime's a bit easier, but we persevered for 3 weeks and all we became was more stressed and upset. Letting our 6 month old set her own routine means we're all alot calmer and she has settled herself into what she's comfortable with.

My point being that while a routine WOULD be helpful and will be important as she gets older, at this point, based on our baby, we know there is little point trying.

As to HOW, well, we did try bathing her every night but couldn't find a reason for it; she doesn't get dirty. So allowing her messy play means she needs a bath afterwards, and that system of one following the other is, in itself, a routine. You just have to do things in the same order every time. Not necessarily at the same time every day, just in the same order, so they learn what to expect.

Hope this helps, best of luck x

Squaffle Tue 28-Jun-16 18:39:58

We are doing the same as Bexus, although our DD is slightly younger. I was absolutely agonising over it, I felt so much pressure (and confusion) from books and friends, and we've all been so much happier since I stopped taking notice of both and just let her do her thing. I use the 'Baby Tracker' app to log her feeds/sleeps/nappies as it's quite helpful to see if there are any patterns or to look back on days that worked well to see what happened. I know she can only stay awake for about 2 hours (sometimes more sometimes less, depending on the time of day), and if she stays awake for longer than this she gets overtired, so I settle her after 2 hours if she's not asleep already. Together with feeding every 3 hours during the day (she is ff), that kind of puts a rough framework in place... of course she likes to switch it up every time I think we've nailed it, just to keep me on my toes!

Good luck and please don't worry about it xx

Caterina99 Tue 28-Jun-16 19:55:06

We used the EASY routine when DS was small. Eat, awake, sleep, (you time) and it was all based on wake times rather than the exact time of day. It did usually work out about the same times every day though.

KatyN Tue 28-Jun-16 21:34:53

If you write everything down for a few days I suspect you will start to see a pattern. Then you can try to preempt what she is going to do before it happens, ie before she cries for food, feed her or before she cried to go to sleep pop her in her cot.
Also if you know it is nearly nap time you'll pick up on the signals quicker, one yawn or eye rub and you pop her to bed. And so on.
Once you know how she works you can adapt when something goes off, for example my 6 month old woke early this morning so went down for her first nap early. I was then aware she would want her lunchtime nap earlier than normal so could put her to bed earlier. (Her feeding schedule was off though so I've been playing catch up on that all day).
I would never make mine stay awake when she was tired, even if it was just before bedtime. It's not worth the tears. You can find various routines in books they all say similar things but I suspect you'll find you daughter is similar to all 5/6 month olds although the times might be different. So my routine is:
6 wake
6:30 bottle
7:30 nap
8:30 ish wake up
10:30 bottle
11:30-12 nap
1:30-2 wake up
2:30 bottle
(Sometimes a sneaky nap in the pushchair)
5:30 bath
6 bottle
6:30 bed time

And finally your specific question about napping and missing naps. I would put my daughter down to sleep awake, she will then faff about until she drops off (I go up every 5 minutes). Today it took over half an hour for her to go to sleep and I ended up feeding her. So we were off schedule but she still slept for 2 hours. On Saturday she missed her lunchtime nap completely because we were out. I tried to encourage cat naps in the pushchair or my arms but failed.. We just accepted that she would sleep in the car on the way home and bedtime might be a bit fraught.

dinodiva Wed 29-Jun-16 07:35:24

I didn't really develop a routine until weaning began to take off - I found it really helped to schedule the day in and DD (EBF) wasn't ready for it before then. It was probably around 7ish months that it all began to fall into place. I now work roughly on 2-3-4 (2 hours from morning wake up to first nap, 3 hours from morning nap wake up to afternoon nap and 4 hours to bedtime).

At 5 months we probably had an established bedtime routine and that was it! We did songs/bath/milk/white noise/bed, and we still do. DD didn't nap regularly in her cot until 7ish months and before that it was generally on me/in the pram.

I agree with PP that EASY is a good starting point when they are little, although I found there was a lot more E and precious little Y!

Tumtitum Wed 29-Jun-16 15:02:04

Thanks for your replies everyone! I tried to post yesterday but for some reason my phone wouldn't let me.

Tumtitum Wed 29-Jun-16 15:12:33

Maybe I should start to write things down or use the baby tracker app. In my head she is all over the place but maybe something rough will emerge! I try to stick to 2 hours max awake at the moment but try to put her down sooner if she displays any tiredness signs (however it doesn't seem to get her down any quicker !). For a rough idea here is today so far, from last night:
6.30pm - bath, feed, bed. This was an extremely good night where I put her in her cot ( she does her first stretch of night sleep and all naps in her nursery) and she fell asleep by herself listening to lullabies!
11.30pm - woke and fed
I think she then woke around 2am but I managed to fob her off with the dummy and a bit of patting ? Memory is a bit hazy!
4/4.30 woke and fed in bed, dozed next to me until 6. Put her back in her bed for half an hour then it was clear she wasn't going back to sleep so hot her up at. 6.30!
7.30 - feed
8am - put to bed
8.20-9.30 - slept. This is a long nap for her!
10- feed
10.50 seemed tired so put her down for nap. Took until 11.30. Wouldn't self settle and woke every time I put her down. Had maybe fifteen min catnap in my arms. Stopped trying at 12!
12.30 - feed
13/13.30 - tried buggy nap but started raining so we came back ( I have a bad cold) and commence nap battle in cot.
14-14.30 - slept
14.30 feed, fed her back to sleep but woke when I tried to move her. Fell asleep again feeding at 15.00 and now I'm torn between letting her sleep on me and get a decent sleep or trying to put her in buggy where she may potentially wake!

Other days she may refuse to nap completely and be up for 4 hours... On Sunday she surprised me with two 1.5 hour naps... I can't make head nor tail of it!! confused

YBR Wed 29-Jun-16 16:05:12

Flexible routine: Have an outline and nudge her towards it each day. Don't force her to comply, and follow your instinct on nap times/lengths.

Start with having a fixed order in the evening
we did Tea 6 to 6:30ish followed by bath, stories, milk-feed (until weening takes hold), sleep in cot.

ZZZZ1111 Wed 29-Jun-16 17:40:10


I also have an almost five month old. We have had a bedtime routine for a while now, which consists of-
5pm bath, followed by story, feed, bed (aiming for 6pm bedtime)

We have only just been getting into a napping routine over the past few weeks. We also have the overtiredness problem like you. My son doesn't display any tiredness signals until he gets "shouty" which is probably when he is overtired. Set nap times wouldn't work for us as he wakes up at varying times in the morning (6-7am) and naps themselves can last for variable amounts of time.

Due to my concern over him becoming overtired, I aim to have him napping 2 hours after he last woke. It ends up being similarish times each day, but not exactly. For example-
Woke at 6am
Nap at 8am and woke at 845
Nap at 11-12
Nap at 215-440 (broken)
Bed at 6

Today he woke at 645 so I put him down for his first nap at 830.

Naps are either in the pram top, on me (we get a longer nap that way), or in car.

I either just put him in the pram top and put dummy in until he stops fussing and sleeps (can take up to 20 mins) or I rock him and put up with him shouting and squirming for up to 20 mins.

Hope that helps.

Kiwiinkits Thu 30-Jun-16 08:56:20

One way to start is to always get her into bed at night at 7, and never let her sleep beyond 7 in the morning. Start by getting your beginnings and endings right and the rest will fall into place. Always do bedtime the exact same way. ie dinner, bath, boob/bottle then bed.

At five months I would expect 7am feed, 9 ish nap, 10.30am feed, 12 ish nap, 2.30pm ish feed, 4.30pm short nap, 6pm feed, bath, feed-to-sleep for 7pm bed.

ODog Thu 30-Jun-16 21:54:34

I prefer a rhythm to your day rather than a schedule or routine. I have forgotten how many naps/feeds an average 5mo has but something like this could work.

Wake up
Breakfast (for you and baby once weaning starts)
Get ready for day
Out to an activity/shopping/walk/park
Play/potter/do jobs at home/pop out again

No set times and it can be flexible to suit different days. Naps can be at home/in car/pram/sling whatever.

I do similar with a 2yo and a newborn. Just have a normal rythmn and you will probably find a sleep pattern naturally emerges.

Tumtitum Fri 01-Jul-16 17:16:43

I'm starting to give up on the idea of a routine until little madam decides it's time herself! I've been trying the bed at 7, up at 7 thing for weeks now and it's not made any difference. The last two nights she's been up and down like a yo yo and I've been so tired that when she's finally fallen back asleep in bed with me I've let her sleep until 9am :/ naps have been awful the last two days (1hour or less total) so ive ended up starting bedtime early.
I'm lucky in that she's not grizzly when she's tired, but by the end of the day she's knackered, red eyes, rubbing at her face, and I'm sure this contributes to her waking up a lot in the night sad oh well will just have to keep trying I guess!
Thanks everyone who's posted and sorry for the slow response, I find it hard to type on my phone and seem to spend most of my time trying to coax a certain baby into having a sleep! ;)

Laquila Fri 01-Jul-16 17:26:54

This is an interesting thread. Can I ask how many of the above posters also have an older child? I'm only asking as I have a 2.10yr old who, God love him, makes it pretty tricky to maintain any sort of routine for my 4.5mth old, and also second time around, a routine at this stage is pretty far down my list of priorities! Interested to read other people's experiences though.

Tumtitum Fri 01-Jul-16 17:34:42

I'm simultaneously dreading having two (we want to have another probably in the next 18 months) but also thinking I'll be far too busy to care! 😆

underrugsswept Fri 01-Jul-16 17:38:07

Mine fell into his own routine naturally around 5 months. I wouldn't force it, it'll happen.

PumpkinPi84 Fri 01-Jul-16 21:53:21

I worried about this so much but it was so needless. Once your baby has fewer naps, the day will have a more predictable shape. My DS dropped to two naps around eight months and everything has been so much easier and more enjoyable since. My advice would be to continue focusing on awake time between naps (to help pre-empt tiredness) and just accept the exact times will change. Also my son would only nap in the pram for ages, I walked miles! He's now 11 months and naps happily in his cot. It will all get easier with time, I know it's hard to believe when you're in the middle of it!

Tumtitum Fri 01-Jul-16 22:01:52

One routine we've actually managed to master to some extent now is a nap/bedtime in her cot. Sometimes anyway.... If she sleeps she sleeps longest in there, but she will still protest very vocally sometimes and resist to the point where I just have to abandon the nap! It's just so difficult to pre empt anything eg timings for going out. The amount of times I've had to wake her for a nap or drag her out when she's due a nap, then I feel really bad and as if I'm preventing her from developing her own routine !! I know some mums, including my SIL, who will make sure they are at home at certain times of the day or for all naps, but I think I'd go crazy if I did confused

BertieBotts Fri 01-Jul-16 22:07:21

A good idea is to use an app or just a notebook and pen to write down what she's doing naturally over the course of a week or two and see if she already has a rough pattern. Then you can manipulate that to your advantage by making small changes.

Another approach is a formula based routine like the Baby Whisperer "Eat, Activity, Sleep, You time" EASY routine. So you just always follow a feed with an activity and then a nap.

I didn't really have a routine until DS was on 3 meals a day because it just seemed pointless but he was good at sleeping whenever, wherever.

KatyN Fri 01-Jul-16 22:29:39

I have an older child as well. He's 4.5 so no naps for him. On the days he's not at nursery we try and be home for the 6 month olds naps. Morning nap we get dressed and he has a third breakfast. We come home for lunch and then potter around at home for her big lunchtime nap. On days when we are out all day, I try to encourage her to follow her nap routine in the pram or my arms but it is much harder.
I guess it would be different with a smaller age gap.

polkadotdelight Fri 01-Jul-16 22:36:19

I thought DS had no routine at that age but after a few days of jotting down feed and nap times it was very clear he did. Its worth a go, even if it means you find out that she isnt a routine led baby.

Tumtitum Fri 01-Jul-16 23:13:29

Ok, I might do it, but will post on here so that you lot can egg me on if I don't and can spot the patterns for me!! grin

Tumtitum Sat 02-Jul-16 19:33:46

Okay first day of noting nap times etc...
Bed last night at 18.45
Up 21.30 - feed
Slept 22.00 - 00.30
Awake 02.30 - feed
02.45 - 4 slept
4am - feed
4.20- 5.50 - awake. gave dummy but awake so got up to play
7 - feed then play
7.40 - nap time, fed to sleep (not usual but had vomited on playmat and done huge burp)
8 -8.40  asleep
9.45 feed
10.30 nap time, DH rocked to sleep
10.55 - 11.30 asleep
12.15 feed 
12.45 nap time, seemed tired, tried to self soothe but ended up rocking to sleep
13.25 - 14.05 sleep
14.05 still seemed tired, tried to feed to sleep then jiggle to sleep, didn't work!
16-17.15 walk in sling. Slept 10 mins then woke, slept again at end for 20 mins approx. Woke her up still tired as didn't want bedtime to be late
18.15 bath, feed and lullabies, bed. Tried to self soothe for 40 mins, not crying but grizzling at times, other times happy. Went in 3-4 times, only picked up, other times put in dummy etc. Fell asleep with dummy and hand on tummy shhhing.
19.30 asleep

Sorry for all the extra detail, more for myself to remember what works!! ;)

Twinklestar2 Sat 02-Jul-16 19:43:34

Sounds about right to me grin

I did bedtime routine same time every night and followed EASY routine during day and u
I found that worked really well for me.

I am one of those mums that has to be home for my son to take a nap as he doesn't sleep out of the house and gets very clumsy when he's tired! But it works for me cause I can get a 3-hour lunchtime nap out of him in his cot - he loves his own bed!

He's nearly 23 months now.

Tumtitum Sat 02-Jul-16 20:59:25

I dream of a 3 hour nap!! Although I think I'd convince myself that something was wrong if she took one!! ;)

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