Establishing a sleep pattern with baby

poland-slovakia map

It’s been a while since I last posted.  That’s because there have been some changes in our lives.  Currently we live in Warsaw, Poland.  My husband accepted a job in Bratislava, Slovakia (neighboring country).  So he left last Sunday, and from now on will be flying over every weekend, or every second weekend.  We will continue living like this through his 3 month “trial period” at work, after which, if he decides to continue working in that company (which I’m pretty sure he will), we will move to Bratislava just in time for Alexander to start the school year in his new school.

So it’s just me and the boys during the week.  And that’s fine – I can manage, but I had to make some changes to our daily routine so that everything would work…

I have been putting all my focus on little Maxi during the day, and then he and I have been driving Alexander to all his after-school activities in the second half of the day.  While waiting for X, Maxi and I have been going for walks or, on rainy days, hanging out in the car…

Up until now, Maxi’s days have been a mosh-posh of random, short naps and feeding sessions.  Luckily his nights have been quite consistent.  But the randomness during the day makes it hard for me to plan anything since I never know how Maxi will be.

High time for Maxi to have a regular pattern of sleeping and eating throughout the day.  After all, he is 4 months old!  In establishing such a pattern with a baby and/or toddler, there are 2 things we must always keep in mind:

  1. Patience is key.  I learned with my first child that it takes about 2 weeks in order to establish a habit with a child.  If you can manage for 2 weeks, you will have a long time of calm afterwards.
  2. Don’t try to change too many things at once.  For example, I am now working on fixing a set pattern of day-time naps with my 4 month old.  Up until now, he napped at random times, in various places (sometime his crib, but more often in my or my husband’s arms, in his bouncy chair….), and always being rocked to sleep.  So first I am getting him used to sleeping at the same time every day, always in his crib.  Which means that for now I still lull him to sleep.  Once he gets used to falling asleep at the same time each day, I will start getting him used to falling asleep on his own (boy am I not looking forward to that struggle!!).  Small steps moving forward to a bigger goal 🙂

Maxi sleeping in arms

I wanted to use Maxi’s natural tendencies as guidelines for establishing a pattern.  Therefore, I created a 24-hour timeline where I recorded Maxi’s sleeping, eating and awake times.  Nothing too complicated, it’s in 1/2 hour increments, and I use 3 different highlighter colors: sleep = pink, eat = green, awake = yellow.

Note: my little monkey is exclusively breastfed…

The first week I used this (while my husband was still at home), you can see how random Maxi’s days were.

week 1 schedule

But this second week, when I’m alone with Maxi during the days and able to focus solely on him, a pattern is beginning to emerge!  Already!

week 2 schedule

Turns out that he was often waking up from his naps before he was ready – due to gas, or dreams, or whatever.  And now that I help him get back to sleep, he gets proper day naps.

His feeding is still kind-of all over the place, but it will fall into place once we establish the sleeping pattern.

He has 3 naps during the day.  The first one is the longest, and the third is the shortest.

monitor nap

I know how important routine is for children, and that is what we have.

Generally Maxi wakes up between 7:30-8:30.  Upon waking up, I wash his face and change him our of his pj’s (a onsie + sleep sack) into some comfortable footsies.  It’s about 1/2 hour before it’s time for his morning feeding.  After this feeding he is his most active and talkative, so he spends most of this time on his play mat learning to roll over and talking to his toys.

tummy time

Then, throughout the day he’s awake for about 2 hours and then goes down for 1-2 hours, then awake again for 2 hours, etc…  We still have to iron this part out, which is a bit difficult since we are usually driving Alexander around to his various after-school activities and thus Maxi dozes randomly in the car…

Then our evenings are back to a regular pattern: Maxi’s last feeding of the day is around 8:30-9pm, and then he’s down for the night.

I don’t bathe him every day (I believe that it is unnecessary since he doesn’t get dirty and bathing him every day would dry out his skin), but on the days that I do, I bathe him just before his last feeding. On the days he doesn’t bather, I wash his face, clean his hands, etc…

I don’t do dream feeds.  I come from the school of thought of: “let sleeping babies lie”.  Maxi usually wakes around 12:30-1am for his first night feeding, then around 4-5am for his second.

This is difficult, but only after we have a set pattern, I will start weaning him off his night feedings.

Ideally, I’d like him to wake for feeding (and then go back to sleep) around 6 or 6:30am, because then I can start my day before the rest of the house wakes up.  But this is a goal I will work to achieve later.

Now having written it all out, it does seem like a difficult process!  And it is!  But then once the pattern is set, I know that our days will become easy and predictable.




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