Oh my sweet Baby Max. He’s wild and calm all the same time. He’s a bundle of joy and a ball of destructive energy in one.
From the time that Max was born up until 6 months- life was not on any kind of set schedule. I had no idea that babies take about 100 naps a day when they first come home, they wake up even more times during the night (or you have the gawd awful duty of waking a sleeping baby to eat, until they gain enough weight) WHO KNEW? Not this new mama.
At Max’s first appointment with his pediatrician (Dr. Smith who I very highly recommend if you are local to Richmond) she told me that I needed to implement a 3 part routine for him every time he went to sleep. YOU GUYS… if you could have seen the look I gave her?! Are you serious? EVERY SINGLE TIME? I think I cried. Her response was, “you chose this role. Yes, every single time”.
So let me get this straight lady– I was just filleted in half, sewn back together, had a human pulled out of me, I don’t sleep for more than an hour at a time, my boobs are enormous, they leak, I bleed through what I would basically call a diaper- several times per day, and YOU think it would be a good idea for me to implement a routine, gawd knows how many times a day for a baby that doesn’t even know his days from nights?
I don’t even think she responded. Maybe she did. It was all an overwhelming, sleepless blur.
I wanted to rebel. I wanted to say that that was a stupid idea and that I didn’t have it in me to create a routine in this state of sleep deprivation and information overload. But I paid her for that advice, I chose her to guide me in the care for my baby and something she said stuck to me and will always stick to me:
” You wouldn’t keep food from Max so I know that you won’t keep sleep from him either, they are both equally important for his health and development”.
Mic Drop. Dr. Smith wins.
Mind you- the only thoughts I had about food and sleep at that point were the fact that my body was making all of the food for this human who was the reason behind losing all of my sleep. WELCOME TO MOTHERHOOD. But I digress.
Eight weeks into motherhood, Max slept for 10 hours. She said that once he did it, he could do it every night. TALK. ABOUT. EXCITEMENT.
The routine paid off. The consistency of our 3 part schedule was no easy feat, it was exhausting, but week by week– Max began to get closer and closer to a schedule. Before 3 months, Max was sleeping through the night. We found that 6:30pm was his sweet spot. He went through the usual regression when it came time to roll over and then when he got sick it would set us almost all the way back to square 1 with sleep training. The 2 weeks of inconsistent sleep would feel like months and then one morning we would wake up and think… WE MADE IT. Back to normal.
Although he was on a night sleep schedule, his daytime schedule was not consistent until 6 months. I felt like the 6 month mark brought back a lot (or at least some) normalcy to our lives.
That was a super long intro, but I wanted to be clear with the what led us to where we are today. Consistency, routines, schedules. I believe in my heart of hearts that babies thrive on routine. They love it. And this is coming from the most, fly by the seat of my pants person you’ve ever met. The most non-scheduled, my baby will go by my schedule, kind of mama there was. And then I had a baby. Insert foot in mouth.
I had coffee with a friend when Max was 4 months old and really starting to build a nap time routine. She told me that she allowed her child to stay up until they wanted to with her first. She didn’t know any better. And then one day she realized that giving a toddler that kind of responsibility, was a lot of pressure to put on a kid. I had never thought of it that way. Kids were never meant to lead the household. Wise women, these seasoned mamas and Pediatritians are.
At 6 months old we changed to a very scheduled routine from wake up to bed time. It’s overwhelming to think about and I know some people roll their eyes and think I’m crazy. But you guys… I know what to expect. Max knows what to expect. I get to enjoy my husband every night, eat dinner together, watch a movie, WHATEVER WE WANT. Well… kind of. We can’t just pick up and go out anymore, but we pay our sitters a pretty penny to sit and watch tv when we do go out.
Another piece of amazing advice that I was given when Max was just days old- worship with him. I can’t even begin to tell you what this has done for my life. My child knows worship music at 11 months. He calms down at the sound, he raises his hands. I can’t even…
We go by a 12 hours of sleep, 2 hours awake then nap, 3 hours awake then nap, 4 hours awake then bed, schedule– with a bottle every 4 hours and meal every 4 hours (ish)
Here’s a snapshot of our day:
6:30am – Max wakes up
6:45am – Bottle
7-7:15am – Play / Mickey Mouse Clubhouse
7:15-8am – Walk & Worship
8am – Breakfast
8:30am – Worship (reckless love – he knows the song and now “sings” along) and Nap
9:30/10am – Wake and play
10:30am – Bottle + Out of the house errands
12:30pm – Lunch
1pm – Worship, Book, Nap
2/3pm – Wake & Bottle
3pm-5pm – Play
5pm – Dinner
5:30-6pm – Play with Dad
6-6:30pm – Bottle, Book, Prayer, Bed
Once Max was 6 months old we started feeding him dinner at 5. We added lunch at 7 months and then breakfast at 8 months. It’s an ever evolving scenario, but the bones are the same. Naps have slowly decreased from 2 hours each to 1 or 1.5 hours (with phases of 40 min 😭) and I know that at 12 months, he will need to switch to 1 nap. I am already stressed about never getting anything done with only one nap.
Yes this schedule is rigid and yes it means I must be home at certain times. It means I have to say no to a lot. But this is my season, it doesn’t last forever. There are days that I am more flexible, but Max gets grumpy and it makes me feel awful. But life. So… thank you Jesus for grace.
The structure also means I know when I can shower or fold laundry or make phone calls or get work done. It reassures me that I have FREEDOM after 6:30pm so that I can focus on my marriage. And those are the things that make me feel like ME. I need to have some sense of normalcy or I will go crazy. We’ve enjoyed getting creative with our time at home. My favorite right now is enjoying conversations by the fire in the backyard (with the monitor of course). We cook meals together, watch movies with popcorn (hubs fave to make at home), and get to read actual books.
I also have Max in daycare twice a week. Judge me, it’s fine. He goes after his morning nap because those sweet morning cuddles and that precious worship time is so important to me. Also… daycare = no nap, so I want to make sure (until 12 months) that he gets a good morning sleep in.
This week I was reminded of how wise Dr. Smith’s words were and of how important routine is at every single bedtime. Max was extremely tired 30 minutes before his usual morning nap time. So we skipped the routine and I just brought him and put him straight to bed. He woke up TWENTY MINUTES later. Oh hello, dry shamps and yoga pants. Say WHAT?! So after his next bottle we did the walk, worship, sleep routine and my boy slept LIKE. A. CHAMP.
A few schedule tips that have helped me along the way (mostly have my sis in law to thank for these!!):
Use a night diaper that is one size larger than their regular diaper- this stops leaks and makes helps them sleep ALL NIGHT
Switch to 4- 8oz bottles a day at 6 months. It made life so much easier
Spacing nap times at 2 hours, 3 hours, and 4 hours worked really well for us
I stopped heating bottles on the go at 6 months. I put the formula into his bottle and carried a water bottle. No more extra containers and water heating thermos’ to carry
For Max’s nursery set up and everything we use you can read about it and find all of the links HERE
I’m curious to know your routine, especially if you have more than one kiddo. Oh hey there, SUPER MOM, I see you! Or if you have any tips or tricks you would like to share, please do! 👇
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