Infant Routines at Our Home – Part 2

This is part two of a short series on Infant Routines. To read part 1, visit here

As I mentioned in part 1, my desire with this series is simply to share how God has led us to most peacefully establish an infant routine at our home while keeping a balance in our priorities. We function on a flexible routine. We want to share thoughts and ideas but encourage you to prayerfully make the best decision for your family. This is grace for your family to adopt the routine that works best for you.

Schedule Sleep Periods around Other Priorities

We believe in having a simple flexible schedule for our family. We all thrive on routine and structure with my personality. I am more productive with a schedule. We have adopted the Eat, Wake, Sleep cycle. Baby wakes up, is fed, and then given a good wake time. They are laid down again as soon as they start getting fussy.

I found it most helpful to arrange my baby’s nap routines around what other priorities I had. I want to invest focused quality time with my older children in the morning doing fun reading and school activities together, so I try to arrange baby to take a morning nap during this time. I also want my kiddos to be able to nap/quiet rest together in the afternoon, because I believe taking a rest period is very beneficial for all of us. It helps keep this mommy energized and happy to have a daily period of rest to read, take a nap if necessary, and have some personal time. Having a daily rest keeps the kids happy as well. So we intentionally set a afternoon nap period each day. This also provides me to time to spend writing, doing small household tasks, etc. So we have a 2 hr rest period every afternoon and I seek to adjust my baby’s to encourage them to nap during these periods as well.

So, in general I try to aim to wake my baby by 8:00am each morning so that she is tired again by 9:30 or 10:00am and ready for a morning nap from 10-11:30 am. With a newborn, this period of wakefulness might only be 30 minutes and will gradually stretch longer, so the naps will start earlier when they are younger. Then, I would wake my baby up (if she didn’t wake up on her, which is more commonly the case), feed the baby, prepare lunch, and then get all the kids down for a nap together by 1:00pm. Usually I will give my baby an extra nursing before this nap to encourage a longer nap period.

As the baby transitions to one nap, I will adjust my older kids to have a nap period slightly earlier and just keep my infant awake to stretch them to lay down at the same period as the older ones.

Finally, we give them a short late afternoon nap (30-45 minutes) sometime between 4-5:30 pm.

In this manner, they are ready to be put down for the night around 7-8pm. We try to put the kids to bed all at the same time. Then I normally wake my baby up around 10 pm to give one final night feeding, change their diaper, and then put them back down again for the night. Between birth and 2-3 months, there will often be 1-2 more nightly feedings. But by 7-8 weeks old, they are usually doing 6-8 hour stretches at night. They normally wake up between 5-6am, and I will nurse them again and put them down again until 8 am, when the other children wake up. This allows Mommy to have time with the Lord or get further sleep as needed.

Of course this is not the same every night and my current baby still wakes occasionally wake in the middle of the night. If she does, I give her just a minute or two to see if she will fall back asleep. If not, I nurse her again and put her back down.

Watch for Signs of Tiredness

One of the keys I have found for peaceful transitions into nap periods, is to be attentive to signs of tiredness in your child. In the beginning, I would feed the baby roughly every 2 1/2-3 hours (which looked like and slowly stretched these periods over time as the baby grew. After a good thorough nursing (trying to keep the baby awake especially as a newborn), we would have a wake period where we would play, ride on mommy, etc. As soon as the baby showed signs of tiredness (crying, rubbing eyes, whimpering, eyes beginning to look red and heavy, etc.), we would lay baby down for a nap. From personal experience, it is far more difficult to put to sleep an overly tired baby. If I keep my baby up too late, it takes twice as long to get her down.

We Keep a Schedule, but Keep it Flexible

But I have been extremely flexible with our feeding routine, especially with each new baby we add. I keep a guideline of 2 1/2 – 3 hrs between feedings but was never limited to this or focused on the clock in any way. If baby appears to be hungry and all other needs are met (diaper changed, not tired, etc), then I feed baby. I don’t believe in enduring a crying baby just to get them to the next feeding time. I want to meet my child’s needs as they grow and develop. I also will often top her off with extra milk or a bottle as needed before her naps and especially before the final bedtime feeding around 7pm. I want to make sure her belly is completely full so she sleeps the most soundly and happily.

Every time baby is laid down for rest, we allow them 5-10 minutes to fuss or cry to wind themselves down as necessary. Normally, if you learn your child’s patterns and signs of sleepiness it is not really a problem. Watch for tired signs: rubbing eyes, crying, laying head down, sleepy eyes, etc. They will want to sleep. Their bodies adopt the rhythm of nap times as well. If after this 5-10 minute period, they do not go to sleep, I will check diaper, burp, or rock for a few minutes to help settle them and try again. If it again does not work, I might then top them off with additional breastmilk or simply nap them in a carrier. I never nurse them to sleep because it never works for us…the moment you put them down they wake back up. The key is to keep them awake so they are tired and ready to sleep when you lay them down. Keep them awake and get their belly really full.

Follow Your Motherly Intuition

So did this work perfectly? By no means. There were many times when baby had their own plan and try as I might, I couldn’t figure them out. I had to follow my motherly intuition. So we’ve had our share of patting them on the back to help them fall asleep, cuddling, placing them in a carrier to comfort and console them, etc. Many late afternoon naps (for some reason this one has been more of a common problem) have been abandoned and baby has taken a cat nap on mommy in the baby carrier while I made dinner preparations. I don’t strive for the perfect schedule, but did the best I could so that my other responsibilities could be addressed as well. Having a simple schedule enabled me to know when I could get my housecleaning done along with setting intervals for interaction with my other children. And ultimately, every baby will be a bit different and so there is grace to learn and adjust as you go along. No method will work perfectly. Give yourself grace to adapt and adjust as needed.

We are currently in a crazy season with my own personal health and my husband’s job position, so we often have days when we throw out the routine and just follow the cues for sleep periods. I’m thankful that God gives grace for such periods of our lives.

I wanted to conclude this part by sharing that as Christians we are free from fear through the blood of Jesus. God’s grace is abundant in helping lead you and your family in the direction that he would have you adopt in your choice of infant routines. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Rom 8:1). I want to encourage you above all, to submit yourselves to the Lord. Seek His direction, communicate and discuss with your spouse, and preserve the unity of the body of Christ. May God give you grace to loving nurture your children in the love and admonition of the Lord.

In Part 3 we will discuss encouraging longer sleep periods, and thoughts on sleeping multiples together…

COMMENT POLICY: As this can be a controversial subject, please keep your comments considerate, otherwise they will be deleted. We do not desire any argument or debate here. We are simply seeking to help those readers who have asked.

About Lindsay

Lindsay Edmonds is first a lover of Jesus, wife, mother of three, homemaker, and writer. She is the editor of Passionate Homemaking since its beginning five years ago. She loves inspiring women around the world toward simple, natural, and intentional living for the glory of God.

61 Responses to Infant Routines at Our Home – Part 2

  1. SwanSwan August 30, 2012 at 6:27 pm #

    Thank you SO much for this. Today is the first day my little one was on a schedule. It was not forced, but i recently changed my diet and now he’s not gassy. It’s funny, he followed your suggested schedule w/in 5 minutes ALL DAY LONG, without me really trying to get him to nap at a certain time, just watching for the signs. I noticed, because I’ve had this schedule posted for awhile, thinking, well once he’s not so gassy we’ll try for a routine :) Thank you!

  2. kelsey April 18, 2012 at 11:27 am #

    My daughter is 6 weeks old and last week we began an eat, wake, sleep cycle. At what age did you start to let them fuss for 5-10 minutes before sleeping? And do you replace a pacifier during this time or let them try to self-soothe another way? Would love to hear what worked for you!

    • Lindsay April 18, 2012 at 4:02 pm #

      We started when they were out of the newborn stage of sleeping all day/falling asleep when they are tired. Probably around 6-8 weeks. We never used pacifiers, simply because they did not take them, but if they work for you I wouldn’t be afraid to use them to soothe them to sleep.

  3. Jen March 27, 2012 at 6:48 pm #

    Thanks for this series!

    Something we have done so the kids are not calling us or getting out of bed multiple times is make “visit cards”. They each get one card to use on either parent (but we are even phasing this out and it is going well). We have a boy, girl, and baby girl and we just separated our 2 older children and they are sleeping better and are much calmer at bedtime.

  4. Jessica G. March 27, 2012 at 2:48 pm #

    My little one is 7 weeks old (my second son) and I am having such a perplexing time getting him on a sleep schedule. Up until this week, he was on a fairly predictable schedule and had no problem sleeping by himself, and sometimes up to 6 hours at night. The past few days have been a real trial as he no longer seems to be able to sleep alone in the bassinet. He only wants to sleep in someone’s arms. As soon as I put him down for bed, he screams and I cannot get him to calm down until I pick him up again. He loves the pacifier, but cannot keep it in his mouth for long so I find it more problematic than anything. I have been trying to let him cry it out some, but he just escalates, not able to calm himself down after 5 mins or 10. And the poor thing is just exhausted, as are we. I feel like his eating is good, though he falls asleep towards the end during most feeds (I am nursing) and I recognize his tired signs, and he certainly is able to sit and be content by himself while awake. Its just the sleep thing. Any tips?

    • Kayla May 10, 2012 at 10:25 pm #

      Jessica G.

      I would suggest you read the book “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child” by Marc Weissbluth, M.D. As a first time mother I really liked what he said because I could she what he talked about happening naturally as far as sleep timing. It gave him credibility for me. Hope this helps. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help for family & friends so that you can rest, shower or eat a good meal.

      :D Kayla

  5. BeccaM March 27, 2012 at 6:20 am #

    It’s good to read another mother’s tips on how to organize multiple children and sleep schedules. I have only one right now, but hope for another baby sometime in the next year or two. We did demand feeding the first 5 months, which was anywhere from every 45 min – 3 hours, then shifted to an every 3 hour schedule later. I am not sorry to do demand feeding earlier on–I think it helped establish supply. And nursing so often throughout the day encouraged longer sleep patterns at night. When he started cutting teeth at 4 – 5 months, his sleep went from sleeping 7 – 9 hr stretches at night back to every 2 – 4 hours. Ugh. That lasted a while, and then he finally started sleeping through the night consistently at 10 months. Night weaning helped also.

    The final answer seems to be, know your child, be sensitive to their needs, but also be sensitive to the Holy Spirit! he will show what is best to do. I had to learn to let some anxiety go during the earlier phase of babyhood, and that was good also :) .

  6. Lauren March 26, 2012 at 5:43 pm #

    Thanks for writing this post, Lindsay. I do think that it is important to note that exclusively breastfeeding mothers may not be able to maintain a full milk supply with such minimal nighttime feedings. Avoiding nighttime feedings for such a young infant poses a risk to mother’s milk supply and baby’s nutritional needs. Kelly Mom and La Leche League websites can provide the specific information about this. Just offering another side. I do very much like your daily schedule with the little ones and think that having such a plan for each day makes it go so much smoother.

    • Mya Martinez March 26, 2012 at 10:24 pm #

      Dear Lauren, I hear this comment about nursing and the mother’s milk supply very often. I do believe that some women deal with this very issue. But I also wanted to share that I believe the milk supply issue must be on an individual mother basis. From my experience of nursing my five children, my milk comes freely whenever my infant is wanting milk after the first month. I can have an older infant who only nurses two times a day and go on vacation and nurse exclusively and my milk comes in when my infant begins nursing. I can also have a set schedule with my infant sleeping through the night and when he/she catches a cold and goes into the cycle where they are up every few hours or so, I can nurse and have never had a problem with milk supply. Quite the opposite. When my children wean from nursing, it is difficult to get my milk to go away. This last time we were down to one feeding in the middle of the night and he began sleeping through the feeding. From one feeding per day, it took me over a month for my milk to go away! My babies are always very chubby when we are nursing and we are thankful to keep to a flexible schedule. I wanted to share with you that not every nursing mother runs the same risk with regards to their milk supply.

  7. Mya Martinez March 25, 2012 at 10:07 pm #

    Thank you for sharing. I have been always rather moderately between the two as well. I have heard many strong opinions from friends going in one direction or the other. I respect their opinions and experiences as well as yours.

  8. EverErin March 25, 2012 at 10:58 am #

    Thank you for posting this. I am not yet a mom, but I think about mothering quite a bit. I don’t hear a lot about this debate, though I know it is there. I have one vocal friend, of the attachement variety. I think she is a good mother, but she is very dogmatic in her speech about her style. While I am naturally attracted to attachment parenting, and see a lot of good in it, it is so good to hear another voice offering grace and encouragement in what ever works for each family and even by child.

    Thank you!

  9. Ariana March 25, 2012 at 9:02 am #

    Thank you Lindsay for posting this! My baby just turned a week old so this is very, very helpful as I consider how to adjust with another baby in the house.

  10. Bri March 23, 2012 at 8:31 pm #

    I wanted to thank you for taking time to write on this subject! I know it can be very controversial and seems to bring debate (usually Babywise vs Attachment Parenting) when discussed, but I think you tackled it very well.

    I think it’s important to remind other moms that the label of your parenting or the way you choose, doesn’t make other people wrong. If you have specific concerns with something (whether it be co-sleeping or schedule feeding) I’ve found much more success in starting a true dialogue with the other mom about those specific issues instead of attacking the entire method. And I think the best way to approach a mom using a different parenting “method” is to remember that you attract more flies with honey than vinegar. Attacking them (even if it’s not your intention but is what they feel) will not win them to your cause. Disseminating information is great! As long as it is openly received and you’re willing to listen to their information as well!

    Both of my sons have been good sleepers from the start (aside from a few months for my 1st son). They both spent about 5-6 months sleeping in our room in a pack-n-play. Around that age they would wake anytime we moved in bed, came in the room, snored, etc. So then we would move them into the nursery. They have most always slept in a room together…and they love it! It actually helped with both of their sleeping! They sleep better when in the same room (not same bed, just same room), go to sleep more easily, and learn to sleep through many different sounds–which makes travel much easier. I know that doesn’t work for every kid, but I’m so thankful it worked for us! I should also note that they are only 13 months apart, so that makes “sharing” rooms/toys/clothes easier as no one had much of a concept of “mine” :)

    I think we all need to remember that each child is different. What works for one might not work for another…and the same is true of families. We want the right to parent our own children with what works for us and we need to extend that same courtesy to others. Again, if you have concerns I think you can take those specifically to that family, but we need to have much more grace in dealing with one another…we’re all on this journey together :)

  11. Crystal @ Blissful Homemaking March 23, 2012 at 7:54 pm #

    When my 4 year old was a baby he was pretty easy at getting to sleep. He slept through the night at 4 months and had great naps during the day. My daughter on the other hand…wow…let’s just say her patterns, sleep schedules, and nursing was so unpredictable. She slept with us several times in bed. I remember sleeping on the rocking chair with her for countless nights. She wanted to be nursed every second. If she wasn’t attached to me, she would scream. I just ended nursing last week after 2 years. She didn’t sleep through the night until about 13 months. If I have a 3rd child, I am a little scared about going through the sleepless nights again if the 3rd baby is anything like my daughter. :) Thanks for your post, I enjoyed reading it.

  12. Bridie March 23, 2012 at 4:45 pm #

    I can only talk from my own experience and decisions with my babies KT so of course this may not work for you, but I chose to use the clock fairly consistently with my newborn in regards to awake time. At 3 1/2 weeks baby would wake, get a nappy change, get a feed, get a cuddle then go straight back to bed making for maybe 30 minutes up. I did watch for cues during that time and as baby gets older it does become more obvious but for the first few weeks having a specific maximum amount of time baby was up helped. I did that with both my babies who were both very different and developed very different sleep cycles, and I’ll do the same with baby #3 due next month.
    As for the feeding cues, if shes quite happy after the first feed then I wouldn’t worry about cues too much at this point. Give her a feed when you get her up, burp her well if she needs it and don’t worry. As she grows her cues will definitely become clearer if you continue to watch her and get to know her. Neither of my 2 cued feeding that early with anything but a grizzle. They sucked on anything that came near their mouths at anytime – its a natural reflex at this age. If shes content then you can be content because you’re doing fine!
    I really encourage you to just relax and enjoy this stage. Its not always easy but it can be easy alot of the time if we just remember to breathe and relax in the grace God has given us. Do your best and let Him take care of the rest. Watch your baby, don’t overwhelm your instincts with what you think you ‘should’ be doing, get to know her and take it easy. It’ll fall into place :) HTH a little…

  13. Angela March 23, 2012 at 2:40 pm #

    Hi Bonnie,

    I too co-slept for years with my husband’s blessing – we love it.

    Would it be possible to buy your little guy a single bed? You can lay down with him and then leave after he goes to sleep.

    My two are older now, but we started reading stories to them and they would fall asleep part way. When he gets to about 18 months, you can explain that you need to leave the room, but will be back to check on him soon. After a few times, they realise you mean what you say.

    8 months is still very little – the season will fly by, I found I stressed a lot less if I stopped caring what others thought and did what was right for us.

  14. KT March 23, 2012 at 11:00 am #

    I am struggling with newborn routines so much right now. My 3 1/2 week old doesn’t give consistent cues for eating – she’ll give the same cues (rooting, sucking on hands, bumping head into chest) right after a full feed as before. She gets sleepy during eating and tugs on her ears, but after one feed will let herself be swaddled and drift off whereas after another she pops awake – sometimes allowing herself to be soothed and sometimes not. I am striving so hard to learn this little one that God has given me, but not finding it at all easy. What does one do to learn these cues, or how does one follow them if they truly aren’t given?

  15. Bonnie March 23, 2012 at 10:39 am #

    HELP!! I have created an aweful habit for my son that now I don’t know how to break!! My son is 8 months old and has co-slept with us since day 1. His crib is attached to the side of my bed, but he hates to lay down on it. I nurse him to sleep, laying down on my bed for every nap and at bedtime. At the time, it was very convenient, but now he won’t sleep without me laying right next to him. He still wakes up several times a night and naps for 20-40 minutes tops. I refuse to let him cry for any extended length of time and when I do manage to sneak away to get some work done, he’ll wake up and crawl til he falls off of the bed. I know this is my fault but I don’t know how to undo this habit. Any mommy advice would be greatly appreciated! God bless you all!

    • April F March 23, 2012 at 11:19 am #

      I highly recommend you read The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley. She has lots of suggestions in her book that you can choose from to help you and your son get better sleep. Don’t fret! With some slow but steady training, you can turn things around…without a ton of tears.

    • Ali K. March 23, 2012 at 11:45 am #

      I had the same with one child. They will outgrow waking up during the middle of the night. We did it successful without neglecting the him and allowing him to cry. Mine are still young, but long past the baby stages and I long for those nights now of when they were little. :-(

      This season of your life will go by in a flash. Cherish those middle-of-the-night awakenings.

  16. Mallory March 23, 2012 at 10:03 am #

    This is exactly how I do things too and it has worked great for us for 2 kids. It’s all about the flexible routine :)

  17. Amber March 23, 2012 at 9:58 am #

    I learned a lot from this post Lindsey! I am finding that if I take the labels ‘Babywise’ or ‘Attachment Parenting’ off my thinking, we mums have more in common than it may seem.

    My five month old sleeps great at night, only waking up once (which I want as part of our natural child spacing plan).
    Throughout the day, though, he often has trouble getting to sleep. I noticed that he does get overtired and this post confirmed that, yes, I can help him with this!
    Your post also makes it clear to me that a schedule isn’t what I thought it was. If I encourage my son to nap at certain times and he does so – that’s awesome! When hearing the word ‘schedule’ I always imagined a parent trying to force a nap on a baby by making them lay there screaming their head off until they go to sleep! Although some mothers do this, I now know it isn’t the definition of the word. :-)
    Now that my son is 5 months old, I can see how he is ready and actually asking me for help to get to sleep before he is overtired ( a problem that began when he was 7 weeks old, and we have usually remedied with the 5S’s from ‘Happiest Baby on the Block’ book).
    If he ends up sleeping at certain times because of my help, I will still not want to call it a ‘schedule’ because of the bad reputation of the word – how funny!? I am also open to the possibility of (gasp!)waking him up if I feel so led…. something I have only had bad experiences with, but maybe there will be a right time?

    I also want to mention ‘Infant Pottying’ as part of the make-up of a baby. Through this practice I learned that many of my sons unexplained fussy bouts were actually him telling me that he had to go potty – yes BEFORE he had to go! I never knew that babies had this ability, but we are born with this consciousness and intelligence and it has been amazing to witness. It has made me closer to my son to understand this. (The ebook EC Simplified was the only guide I needed.)

    BEST WISHES TO ALL THE MOMMIES OUT THERE!!!

  18. Randi Lynn March 23, 2012 at 8:42 am #

    I have always wanted Kiddos, but heard horror stories about years without sleep. I figured if I wanted to enjoy being a momma and my kiddos enjoy their momma we all needed a schedual of sorts for sleep. This is my third baby and at 5 weeks old he is sleeping 6 hrs at night using a similar method as in your post. It has been a complete enjoyment for my husband and I to have kids in regards to sleep, it is not something we dread.
    Our other two boys sleept 10 to 12 hrs at night by 11 weeks old. The sleep, wake, eat schedual works great for us! thank you for taking the time to share this with so many! I think good sleep (for the whole family) is one of the most important things in parenting. Without good sleep everyone is cranky, stressed, emotional and to easily nerved. I am able to be a better parent because I am well rested and have time to focus on the Lord with our routine. I know my 3yr, 2yr and newborn appreciate it too!

  19. Krista March 23, 2012 at 8:34 am #

    Thank you so much for writing this series. I am in the middle of dealing with some serious sleep issues with my 5 1/2 month old and it is so nice to hear what has worked for you and makes me feel a little better about leaving her to work things out on her own a little at bedtime.

  20. Chris March 23, 2012 at 6:54 am #

    This was very similar to the routine we used with my 2nd and 3rd babies. Someone gave me the Babywise book when I was preggo with my 2nd. I read it with an open mind and said this makes sense. Then I read lots of controversy about the book and methods. At first I thought oh no, what have I done? Then after some consideration and the Holy Spirit comforting me, I felt that if you still used your motherly instincts and didn’t let the clock rule your day, the sleep, eat, wake, sleep concept is a great one.

    Also to some of the comments with babies and olders, we have SS or Silent Solitude at my house for at least an hour each day. My youngest is now 5 and sometimes he is the only one to sleep but the others (7, 9, 11) are required to lay either on a nap pad or in their beds. They may Read, Sleep, Think, or Pray but they must be still and silent. This gives a good break from each other and “media” and my oldest loves this silent time to read. Yes, sometimes I do have to sit in their room to make sure they do this but it is worth it!

  21. Ami March 23, 2012 at 6:45 am #

    Does anyone have baby carrier recommendations? I tried a couple different carriers with my first three babies, but they were uncomfortable in them, or uncomfortable on me. I have a big frame, although I’m normal weight, and it really didn’t work to have my petite friends lend me their carriers!

    So has anyone had problems but then finally found a comfortable baby carrier?

    • Amber March 23, 2012 at 9:31 am #

      Hmm, I have never had ‘problems’ with a carrier, but I can recommend the ‘Boba Wrap’ for comfort. It is a Moby style wrap, but a better quality material. It is my go to for walks, and it is very adjustable to all body types. Best wishes!

    • Erin Owens March 23, 2012 at 6:23 pm #

      Have you tried an Ergo? I love mine and find it very comfortable most if the time.

    • Laurie March 23, 2012 at 6:26 pm #

      I have tried a number of carriers with my first two kiddos, and also found that they were not big enough for me. I am an average weight, but am tall, with a long torso. I now have found the perfect carrier for me, the “Connecta”. I ordered it online. I have used it every day for the past year with my third child. It is so comfortable (for me and my daughter), and easy to fit in my diaper bag – I highly recommend it!!

  22. Katy March 23, 2012 at 6:44 am #

    I love this post! My little man is due to make his arrival within the next few weeks and my husband and I had already decided we were definitely going to lean more towards scheduling and this post was the encouragement I really needed! Thank you for sharing it definitely was a blessing to me!! :)

  23. Autumn March 23, 2012 at 5:34 am #

    I really enjoyed reading this well-thought out and concise summary of a gentle and common-sense way to do baby-wise. This is exactly what we did with our boys (who are 4 and 5 now), and it made our lives so much easier to have a routine with them. We’re foster parents now and are using these methods with our foster babies. We currently have an almost 1 month old and thanks to these methods, she naps at the same time my boys have their rest time (= nap for me!) and goes to bed around the same time as the big boys so my husband and I can catch up with each other’s days. We don’t ‘schedule’ really, but just focus on full feedings and pay attention to the routine baby puts themselves on – and then tweak it when we have to.

    Someone mentioned waking up baby to feed them vs. letting them sleep. I’ve done both, but when I let them sleep, I’ve noticed with all of mine that they sleep *too much* and don’t eat enough during the day and tend to wake up needlessly at night. As they get older, they won’t be as sleepy, so they’ll make their own reasonable nap times.

  24. April F March 23, 2012 at 5:22 am #

    First-time mom here… thank you so much for this series! So helpful as I’m navigating these waters for the first time. Question: when you “top them off” before a nap, what does that look like? I often wonder if my 5-month-old son would sleep longer if I nursed before he naps (he’s a very short napper!!), but I was trying to stick to the “eat, wake, sleep” schedule and not feed him until after he wakes. So do you give them a full nursing before a nap and then also after the nap? Or just a brief/partial nursing before the nap?

    • Audrey March 23, 2012 at 7:49 am #

      I’ve done the “top them off” thing with my girls and I’d have to agree that it definitely helped them to sleep better. I’d say do what works for you – you can try just a partial feeding first and if that works then there’s no need to do a full feeding! Otherwise, try the full feeding.

      Also, some babies just don’t take long naps, so don’t worry that you aren’t doing things the right way just because your son doesn’t take long naps. I was lucky if my oldest took a 45 min nap! At first I worried that I was doing something wrong, but no matter what I did she would NOT take a longer nap (with VERY few exceptions). I found that she sometimes needed an extra nap during the day, but tried to follow her cues. As Lindsay said in her post, try to be flexible and do what works best for your family. I hope this helps!

      • April F March 23, 2012 at 11:27 am #

        Audrey, thanks so much for your reply!! All the sleep books I read say he should be sleeping for at least 1 1/2 hrs for naps. But my son only sleeps for 30-45 minutes. An hour and a half if I’m really lucky! (Which isn’t often.) I look at other moms who have kids sleeping so well (during the day and night), and as a first-time mom I can’t help but think I’m doing something wrong and put pressure on myself. But you’re right…maybe my kid just DOESN’T sleep long. Not that I can’t keep trying different things to help him sleep better. But I don’t have to put pressure on myself to make my kid “fit the norm.” Although I have to say…I’m really looking forward to the time when he decides to sleep through the night!

    • Lindsay March 26, 2012 at 12:36 pm #

      I usually just give a partial feeding before naps…just enough to fill their belly without them falling asleep in my arms.

    • Maria March 28, 2012 at 7:31 am #

      April, I did daycare for a 5-month-old who only took two half hour naps a day and only in my arms, IF I was lucky. He was very unhappy and wanted to be held All The Time. The Lord gave me the idea of using a baby swing, which saved my sanity. In the swing he was able to sleep for an hour or more at a time. And with more sleep, he was much much happier.

  25. Rachel March 23, 2012 at 4:36 am #

    I am not yet a mommy, but I am wondering how you keep your infant awake when nursing? I’m just not sure the best way to do this and I was wondering what you all suggest? :)

    • April F March 23, 2012 at 5:25 am #

      Burp them regularly to help wake them. Undress them to just a diaper (the cool air helps keep them awake). Wipe them with a cool washcloth.

    • Lindsay March 26, 2012 at 12:36 pm #

      I usually undress them, change their diaper, etc.

  26. Gabrielle March 22, 2012 at 7:39 pm #

    Yet another wonderful post on infant routines! I completely agree with you. Flexible routines have always worked so well for our family. When mommy is well-rested, everyone’s happy, yet of course, baby’s needs are always primary. You balance that beautifully.

  27. Anna March 22, 2012 at 7:11 pm #

    Wow, I just noticed this series on your blog, and it is like an answer to prayer! I’m actually nursing my baby for about the 6th time in the last 2 hours to get him to go to sleep and stay asleep. He’s 2 months old, very delightful, but a little pill when it comes to sleeping. I’ve been doing more the attachment parenting style, and this little guy loves it, but it’s got him wanting to only sleep in someones arms, and stay there the whole time. It’s ending up that I have Very compromised sleep. Anyway, I am so grateful for all these tips and the encouragement to feel free in Christ to do whatever works best for our family! Thank you!!

  28. Angela March 22, 2012 at 6:20 pm #

    Some questions :)

    Is it common to wake your babies up in America?

    I ask, because we are told never to do that here (in Australia). I did do it once and was rewarded by an afternoon of crying – never did it again, lol.

    How does your baby respond when you wake them up? Are they able to feed immediately?

    Please take this post in the spirit it is intended, I am pregnant with my third bub and feel a little out of touch, it feels like forever since my boys were babies.

    • Stephanie March 22, 2012 at 8:19 pm #

      I live in the US and I’ve seen many different parenting styles. Some of us just let them sleep as long as they want. Others like the stability of waking the baby at a “scheduled” time. For our family, I had to keep a flexible schedule for my first one because I went back to work for another two years. I felt really stressed out if baby didn’t follow a routine because I knew that I would pay in lack of sleep. I was a special ed teacher with a heavy caseload and I was just learning the ropes so it was super stressful for me during that period in my life. Anyway, it was hard, but it kept us sane! After awhile, my first one had the routine down for night time sleep and I just had to lay him in the crib and he knew it was time to sleep. I tried attachment parenting for a time and found that it worked for some situations (like when he needed extra comfort while sick/teething) and did not work for others (sleeping in our bed between my husband and I). Our second child is SO different from our first! He started out taking great naps as a newborn- I’d lay him down in his crib while he was still awake and he’d fall asleep on his own! Now, I sing him a song several times through to help him settle down before his big afternoon nap. When it comes to night-nights, both boys go down easily because of our routine. They just know that it’s bed time after the lights go out. Sure, they wake up during the night here and there, so we just listen for a couple minutes to see if they keep wailing and decide if it’s a major cry for help or not based on the intensity and the length of time. Most of the time, after the newborn sleepiness wore off, our babies would easily nurse after being woken. Even though Babywise talks about staying tight with the eat, wake time, sleep schedule, I threw that out the door with my second. He just didn’t fit that routine. I’m preggers with our third and I have no idea what this little one’s personality will be like. I’m planning on sticking to Babywise principles, but I definitely do not do everything that is recommended by the authors. We discern what is good for our family as the Lord leads :) BTW, I’m finally full time at home, so that has made things for our family a lot more flexible and relaxing, praise God!

      • Ashley Godoy March 23, 2012 at 4:37 am #

        I just wanted to throw out there ‘The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems’ by Tracy Hogg. No, the Baby Whisperer DOES NOT solve ALL your problems but it is a nice tool and can solve some. :) It is VERY similar to the idea of BabyWise but much more flexible. I really enjoyed reading both books and then balancing them. A little from one and a little from the other. And then a little of my own idea! Though, I am gleaned more from the Baby Whisperer. She promotes a predictable sequence of events and routine versus fitting baby into clock, or a ‘schedule’. But still leaves you with a pattern. Just a suggestion. LOVED reading the book, more info, more ideas, and a little more relaxed than Babywise. Hope it helps.

        • amanda April 27, 2012 at 6:50 pm #

          Just wanted to comment that I thought the baby whisperer by Tracy Hogg was one of the worst books I have ever read on parenting! I would however heartily recommend The No Cry sleep solution by Elizabeth Pantley.

    • Ali K. March 23, 2012 at 2:34 pm #

      I honestly have never heard of this technique until reading mommy blogs. This is not common here in America. It seems to be a newer trend for young mothers who don’t want to change their lifestyle to adjust to a newborn. They believe your family shouldn’t resolve around the baby, but rather the baby be forced to the schedule you desire him/her to be on.

      I’m a firm believer the mother’s schedule should resolve around the baby. You sleep when the children sleep. It takes great patience, sacfrice, and dedication to take care of a baby.

      Mothers need to not be selfish with their sleep and personal time – feed the baby when the baby is hungry. Let the baby sleep with the baby is tired.

    • Vinae March 23, 2012 at 6:40 pm #

      Angela, during the day I will wake my baby if he sleeps more than three hours from the last feeding, because I want him to sleep at night. At night, I never wake him, let him sleep as long as he will (which will eventually top 3 hours!! Sigh). With two older kids, my baby sometimes has to be woken just keep our schedule (school, doctor appointments, etc). If I do wake him up to eat, he’s usually ready and is happy as long as he has a full tummy.

  29. Lauren March 22, 2012 at 5:26 pm #

    This series has perfect timing! We’ve been thinking more and more about having a second baby and I’ve wondered how we would work out the schedule. I basically did the same thing as you with my first so this makes perfect sense to me! Thinking about adding another little one to our busy life is scary but I know God doesn’t want me to do (or not do) anything out of fear. It seems as though he used you today to help ease my worries. Thanks for that :)

    • Allegra March 22, 2012 at 5:48 pm #

      Very good post! Before I had my baby I was sure I was going to do attachment parenting. That went out the window as I couldn’t even take my daughter home for 3 months! Then I had to pump breast milk for her round the clock for 7 months. So I couldn’t hold her in my moby wrap all day like I envisioned. Nothing went as planned. Her whole birth story was God’s way of telling me to relax and stop trying to plan everything- to trust Him. I have been humbled my this entire experience. She proved to be a very difficult baby and a friend gave me babywise. It worked wonders for about 2 months. Then I couldn’t for the life of me get her on schedule again. Now I do a combination of babywise and my own intuition. The best advice I have been given from a frend is “enjoy your baby.” That’s what I do now. I don’t let books, friends, or parents make me feel guilty for doing what I think is best. We do have grace! Thanks!

  30. Emily March 22, 2012 at 5:05 pm #

    Thank you so much for this series, Lindsay. I have two who were completely different from each other, and eventually we figured out a common-sense approach that worked, but not without a lot of unecessary guilt and frustration. I especially enjoyed your reminder about making our marriage relationship a top priority. I guess we all know that, but it’s easy to forget when you’re just trying “survive” a challenging baby. I am a routine person, too, and with both babies I waited too long, trying to “go with the flow” and it made the transition into a nap routine very difficult, and I often ended up with an over-tired baby who could not sleep. I really enjoyed your description of how you ease your baby into a routine. Very helpful! If God blesses us with another little one, I hope that some of these ideas (and maybe looking into placental encapsulation) can help make that postpartum time more peaceful. I think that as moms, we naturally want the very best, and have a tendency go overboard with unrealistic expections for ourselves that set us up for discouragement, and can make the whole family miserable (at least I can). My son was 18 months old before we accidentally discovered that a disposable diaper was the only way he would sleep through the night. At first I felt a little guilty, but then I realized our rest was a lot more important to me than being a cloth-diaper purist!

    • Jessica March 22, 2012 at 5:27 pm #

      Wow Emily! I feel like I could have written your comment! We too discovered that a sposie at night was the only way to get some much needed rest!

      Lindsey, thanks again! Transitioning with our 4th baby has been an unexpected challenge. My personality desperately cries out for routine while baby says, no, I am like daddy, go with the flow… Thank you for your reminder that God will give the grace I need and to be patient!

    • Diana March 24, 2012 at 7:52 am #

      Just a note that placenta encapsulation is AWESOME!! It helps so much for postpartum stuff – afterpains, mood, energy, milk production, you name it. I recommend it highly to anyone who is willing to look into it. There are some links on my blog to my experience with it.

  31. April March 22, 2012 at 4:37 pm #

    Super practical and helpful! Thanks so much!

  32. Melissa March 22, 2012 at 4:35 pm #

    Right. on.

  33. Anna March 22, 2012 at 4:24 pm #

    Thank you for sharing your heart on this in such a gracious manner. I have a 25-month-old and a 5-month-old. With the older (my son), I was influenced by the Babywise way of thinking, and I felt like I just didn’t know how else to parent him. And now with the younger (my daughter), I’ve fallen into the guilt trap that letting her fuss for even 5 minutes makes me a horrible mother and will stress her out for life. Thank you for reminding us of the gospel and the fact that we have freedom in Christ to make the best decisions we can. I also appreciate the practical wisdom you shared. I know logically that as long as I’m acting out of love (not selfishness) and a genuine desire for the good of my baby and the whole family, that I can know I am acting in obedience and don’t have to experience guilt. Thanks again for sharing what works for your family.

  34. Sarah March 22, 2012 at 4:23 pm #

    I enjoyed reading your approach to Babywise. so many take it to an extreme and then throw out the whole system…. I like the gentler approach. everything in moderation, watch the baby’s cue’s. You’ve got it, girl! :)
    I do have a quick question: My three are 5 1/2, 3 1/2 and 1 1/2. Baby is down to one nap a day, but the older two have dropped naptime. I am wondering how you get your older 2 to nap still?! My eldest I had napping til age 4 1/2, but then my baby moved into her room and that sort of took up the room during naptime and we have run into troubles now…. and my son gave up naptime at age 3. More because if he took a nap, he wouldn’t fall asleep until really really late at night. And that wasn’t any good!
    So, needless to say, we have a rough early evening at our house and I can hardly wait til bedtime! Not really sure what to do about this dilemma! any ideas? Either from you are any other commenters? :) Thanks!!

    • Jessica March 22, 2012 at 4:42 pm #

      We still have “rest time” with our little girl. She is 6 almost 7 but with homeschooling we find that we both need the break away from one another. She has to lay ideally for one hour on her bed from 2-3 everyday and look at library books. We keep those separate and special that way she has something to look forward to. Sometimes I allow her to listen to books on tape or Adventures in Odyssey, but she cannot get off her bed until time is up.

    • Rachel B March 23, 2012 at 7:18 am #

      Wow! I could have written this comment!! Down to the ages, genders, and the 3yo who won’t go to sleep at night if he naps! I’ve tried “quiet time”, but since they’re all in the same room, it hasn’t worked very well – 3yo isn’t quite quiet enough! The two older ones have been having a puzzle time with me during the baby’s naptime and that’s been nice. :)

    • Vinae March 23, 2012 at 6:33 pm #

      My kids are similar in ages. All 3 of my kids sleep in the same room at night, but I separate them for quiet time. One on my bed, one in the office/guest room, one in their own bed. This works well for my kids.

  35. Mandy March 22, 2012 at 4:14 pm #

    We too follow the eat, wake, sleep, but I say eat, play, sleep…same thing though. It’s worked with my older three & with this newest girly as well. God bless you as you follow your kiddo’s cues & may the Spirit help you understand their needs…that’s what I pray for myself each day. Blessings, Mandy

  36. Jessica March 22, 2012 at 4:11 pm #

    I am not a mom, but I always appreciate mature discussions such as this when addressing controversial topics. I love that you emphasize going to Lord to discover which parenting style and routine will work best for your personality and family situation, yet you also discuss the more “common sense” things such as being flexible with your schedule… that just because you strive for a schedule doesn’t mean you will let your baby starve or cry unnecessarily. You are so right that Scripture doesn’t tell us exactly what parenting style is best, but I love that you obviously integrate Biblical concepts such as love and nurture into your parenting. As a non-mom, that seems to make the most sense to me… when you are a parent, you are in a very important relationship and the while there may be more dynamics in the relationship than say friendships, the basic premise of love and respect should still be there. Let me just say again that I love that you seem to emphasize this… if women strive to live godly lives submitted to the Father, surely your parenting style will be affected and the Lord will guide you in the best way for your children.