February 01, 2023

3 things I wish I knew about developing my baby’s sleep routine!

Harvey is turning 2 years old this May, which is just crazy – where has my baby gone!

The haze of the wild newborn days are definitely lifting. Not to say this wasn’t the most incredible, fulfilling and magical experience, but mums know all too well just how all-consuming being a new mum is, and now, it finally doesn’t feel as heavy.

Reflecting back on the newborn days, there are few things I wish I knew – hindsight is a great thing, when you can share your learnings with others!

If you’re a new mum and you’re reading this, firstly, congratulations. I hope the below will help relieve any pressure or uncertainty you might be feeling.

Please remember, as parents, nobody really knows what they’re doing, you just embrace all the new experiences coming your way!

1. Basic routines can start early

Josh and I had no idea what we were doing in the early months, like most new parents, heck we still don’t know what we’re doing half the time and he’s almost 18 months old!

I distinctly remember having a Maternal Health Nurse appointment around the 4 month mark and she asked how we were going with the ‘sleep, eat, play’ routine and I was trying to hold back my confused expression, pretending I knew exactly what she was talking about.

Between all the mum chats I had, this basic routine had not come up in conversation, so I had no clue. But if you choose to, from as early as 2 months you can start to implement a bit of a sleep routine.

Prior to this Harvey’s awake windows were way too long, and his naps were absolutely all over the place, which meant his night wakings were quite frequent too.

2. It's okay to reach out for help

There are a lot of conflicting opinions out there about babies’ sleep.

However I think one fact that we can all agree on is, if you (the parent) are sleep deprived, you’re not functioning at your full potential… in fact you’re barely functioning at all. And we’ve all been there, sleep deprivation is the absolute worst.

So try not to wait for rock bottom to reach out for help. Ask for help in any form you’re comfortable with. For me that was communicating with my partner and finding ways he could help with some of the overnight wakings, and it also meant reaching out to a sleep consultant and working on some foundations for Harveys sleep routine and schedule.

For another friend of mine it meant sleeping in a separate room to her partner for a period of time, so that he could do the early morning shift while she slept in, and he got a good stretch overnight so he was able to do this and still be energized at work that day.

There are going to be different techniques and different schedules that feel right for you, that may not feel right to someone else and that’s okay. Whatever the routine, or the assistance you decide on, you will live it, so it has to work for you and your family. Just know help is out there, and you’re not alone.

3. Sleep schedules can be incredibly consuming.

After Harveys 1st Birthday I made the move to deleting the app I used to track Harveys sleep. It’s an app I’ve manually recorded his sleep since he was 4 months old, back then I even recorded nappies and feeds as well!

It’s crazy to look back and see how his routine has changed overtime. However seeing as he is on one nap a day now, I decided I needed to stop tracking his sleep. It’s all consuming, particularly when something is a little off. I found myself getting way too attached to the total hours stretch overnight, or his awake hours in the day and forgot to just tune into his natural tiredness cues.

Tracking was incredibly helpful in the beginning for me, as I had no idea how much sleep he was meant to be getting, but there comes a time where you know your baby, and it’s okay to let go of the pressure of a perfect routine.

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Steph Claire Smith