Now that our baby is 4 weeks old we’re starting to get into more of a routine. I wouldn’t call it a schedule, though – she’s still a bit too unpredictable for that. 🙂
Here’s how things go on a typical day:
8:30 am: The baby wakes up hungry! I get up and change her and feed her. Depending on how things go, I’ll either get her dressed for the day or do some skin-to-skin during the feeding. Her usual clothing for the day is one of those long-sleeved, footed cotton outfits. I think they’re technically pajamas, but since my husband likes to keep the AC at about 70 degrees inside, I find she gets too chilly in just a onesie. I haven’t really dressed her up in anything fancy yet – she’s bumming around the house, not going to meet the queen.
9:30 am: She usually goes down for a morning nap after eating. She’s usually sleepy enough to nap in her footie outfit, or I might swaddle her if she’s fussy. Honestly, I usually sleep during this nap too, since I’m worn out from the night feedings.
11:00 am: She’s up again! Now we really get up for the day. She will usually stay awake for about 90 minutes at a time during the day now. Often she wants to eat as soon as she wakes up, but if not, I work it in there somewhere. We also do some “playtime” – singing songs, dancing, walking around the apartment looking at things, looking at toys, or just sitting and making faces at each other. Her favorite things to look at right now are faces, shiny objects, and high-contrast objects. She loves staring at pictures on the wall and out the window. She has started tracking things with her eyes too, which is a fun development, and the older she gets the longer she’ll focus her attention. She also loves music and being sung to! It’s especially fun for her when I sing and dance her around. She calms right down if she’s fussy. Finally, I try to work in some tummy time. She really doesn’t like tummy time and we can’t do it for long before she gets upset, but we try. Lying down on the ground with her and singing to her helps.
12:30 pm: Time for another nap. I try to put her down to nap at the 90-minute mark even if she’s not super tired, because from what I’ve read they can start to get overtired, which makes it even harder for them to sleep. For this nap I usually put her in her swing in the living room, and she’ll look around for a while before drifting off to sleep. While she sleeps I eat my breakfast/lunch (I know it’s not good to be skipping/combining meals, but I make up for it by eating a lot throughout the day!) and do my “morning” nebulizers and physical therapy. If I was a better person I’d probably do all of this during her first nap of the day but I’m usually just too tired.
2:00 pm: She’s usually up and hungry around this time. She’ll eat again, we’ll do another diaper change, then play for a while. I usually have some stuff to get done around the house so I’ll put her in her Boba wrap so I can be hands-free. She likes the movement and enjoys looking around while I do dishes, cook, or whatever. If she’s up for it I’ll give her some “alone time” in her swing or on her play mat. I’ve read that it’s good for them to play happily by themselves, though she usually doesn’t want to do this for more than 5-15 minutes before she starts crying for me to come get her.
3:30 pm: Another nap. She might nap in her bassinet, in her swing, or on me, depending how the day goes.
4:30 pm: She’s up again! I like to work in a walk around this time, or earlier in the day. The fresh air is nice for both of us. We either use the stroller or the Boba wrap and just cruise around the neighborhood. We might stop for ice cream (for me!).
6:00 pm: Another nap.
7:00 pm: She’s up again. From this point on the evening can go a couple ways. She tends to be more fussy at night, so we kind of follow her lead. There are nights when we’ve tried to put her down to sleep around 8 or 8:30 and she has just screamed for hours despite us trying pretty much everything to soothe her. So, we generally let her stay “up” with us until a bit later at night. I put “up” in scare quotes because she’s usually napping on and off – she’s not really awake the whole time! I usually do my evening nebulizers and physical therapy anytime from 8:00 pm to 11:00 pm depending on how she’s doing. My husband is usually home from work by this time so she hangs out with him while I get a bit of a break.
10:00 pm: This is usually when we do the last feeding of the day. My husband gives her a bottle of pumped breastmilk with added vitamin D and probiotics, which our pediatrician advised us to give her daily. We don’t give her a ton of milk in the bottle in case she’s not very hungry, so usually I “top her off” with some breastfeeding before bed. Once she’s full and happy we do one more diaper change, then swaddle her and put her down in her bassinet for the night. How well she goes down is variable. If she’s drowsy, she’ll usually cry for about 30 seconds, then drift off to sleep on her own. Sometimes she’s up for a while, looking around (in the dark?) and kicking her feet before falling asleep. We’ve made the mistake of trying to put her down when she’s too awake (for the sake of trying to get her on a specific schedule – ha!) and that just doesn’t go well – she screams and gets all worked up. However, once she’s really and truly asleep she’s usually a pretty good sleeper.
11:00 pm: This is usually when I’m done with my evening meds and ready for bed. She’ll wake up about every 3-4 hours during the night to be fed. These days I’m doing all the night feedings myself since my husband works during the day and it’s hard for him to go in all tired out. When she wakes up in the night to eat I try to keep the lights off and just feed her using the nightlight – not always easy, since she still needs help latching a lot! However, they say it’s important to keep lights dim so they start to learn the difference between day and night. I usually try to keep her swaddled, but she doesn’t always eat as well when swaddled, and if she needs a diaper change it’s all got to come off. We play it by ear. She usually goes right back to sleep after a night feeding without any drama. Also – we really try not to interfere with her sleep unless it’s clear she really needs something. I’ve read in multiple places how important it is not to “overhelp” a sleeping baby. She actually makes a lot of noises and moves around a lot while sleeping, and sometimes starts loudly crying – but only for about 10-30 seconds before falling back to sleep. I don’t do anything unless she cries for more than a minute or so. In general, she only really does that when 3-4 hours have gone by and she needs to eat.
So, that’s our routine! One of my goals going forward is to get everyone on an earlier sleep schedule. Unfortunately, we’re a family of night owls – before the baby was born we usually stayed up to 1:00 am or later most nights. I think she has that tendency too, based on how much she resists being put down to sleep earlier in the evening! However, I’ve read that once she starts getting real circadian rhythms around 3 months of age she’ll start getting sleepier earlier in the evening, so I’m not too worried about it yet. These days we’re just doing what we have to do so that we all get some decent sleep. 🙂