I’ve had a few people message me lately in regards to me posting pictures on my instagram stories of Dexter napping. ‘You’re lucky’ seems to be the general response when anyone sees him napping happily on his playmat and actually I do feel really lucky that he has learnt to do this. But believe me, like any new mum, sleep is the main thing I talk about when it comes to my baby and it’s taken a lot of patience to get him into a little routine at 3 months.
I am very much aware that all babies are different and that they can change their sleep patterns at any moment so I’m not writing this under any false illusions that we have nailed day time napping.
Like any newborn, Dexter slept like a dream for the first few weeks. He always seemed to be sleeping during the day and it left me with loads of time to clean the house or sort the washing and when we were out and about, it was so easy as he just slept. As the time has gone on, he sleeps less and less during the day and goes for longer stretches during the night (up to 6 hours straight). This means less time for cleaning the house or generally having time to myself to blog or edit shoots.
There was a period of time at the beginning where 4pm would come and Dexter would change into a tiny devil child and I had no idea what to do with him. I still remember how much I struggled during those early weeks when he was screaming his head off whilst I attempted to make a meal for myself. I feel really bad now because what I didn’t know was that he was tired but couldn’t self soothe. I also had no idea that newborns are meant to sleep every 2 hours, and although this isn’t the rule for every baby, it certainly is the rule for Dexter. Once I knew this, life became so much easier. My sister is a big advocate for routine with her children but at first I didn’t like the idea of being too restricted but actually, I really like it now that Dexter has a bit of a routine.
Dexter only cries for 2 reasons– he’s either hungry or he’s tired. Knowing this makes it easy for me to know when it’s time to switch on my sleep genius baby app, turn the TV off and offer him his dummy. He will only take a dummy when he is tired so it’s another giveaway. I know dummy’s aren’t for everyone and in some ways I wish I hadn’t introduced it because now he can only fall asleep with one in his mouth, which is difficult seeing as he drops it a lot as he’s drifting off.
Generally his sleep routine goes as follows, although times vary depending on when he wakes up as currently his night routine still isn’t consistent.
9am morning nap in his cot for 30-45 mins
4/4:30 afternoon nap on his playmat for 30-45 mins
Obviously Dexter will nap more throughout the day but there is no routine with timings because I always make sure we go out somewhere every day and then he will just drift off in the pram or in the car. I think if we stayed in all day he would generally nap every 2 hours. He definitely is a baby who needs a lot of sleep and Rich’s mum did say Rich was the same when he was a baby. Dexter isn’t a big eater either so feeding times can really vary and I never know what size bottle to give him as most of the time he wastes it. During the night though, he will always finish his bottles and they are generally the biggest ones he has.
Having a bedtime routine was really important to me from quite early on because Rich works shifts and I’m on my own a lot in the evenings so I need to make it easy for myself. I used to bath him at 6:30 every night but then realised it was too late for him as he was already super tired by this point so we now bath him at 5:30. I know not everyone baths their babies every day but I do because I don’t go a day without showering so I feel like he should also be washed every day. It also helps to let him know that bedtime is coming. I live by the ‘bath, bottle, bed’ routine and it works really well for him.
It means I am able to have the evenings to myself, giving me time to chill out after being a mum all day. It’s not always easy to get him to go down for the night, he fights sleep like you wouldn’t believe but after he’s fed and he’s let me know he’s tired, I cuddle him on my lap and let him drift off. I then carry him up to his cot where he will either stay asleep or he will wake up and fight it. Generally he’s pretty good though but it can take up to 45 mins of him resisting before he finally stays asleep.
Up until he was about 2 months old, he would sleep downstairs during the evenings in his sleepyhead but for the last month I’ve been putting him up in his own room with the monitor so we don’t have to worry about waking him up. During the night we play white noise to him on this app. He sleeps half the night in his own room but after his night feed we bring him in next to us in his co sleeper as he doesn’t sleep as deeply and it means I can soothe him more easily if I need to. Although this week it’s changed and some nights he’s stayed in his room all night.
I dream feed Dexter at 10pm, which basically means I pick him up, change and feed him whilst he’s still asleep. Sometimes he wakes up but that’s ok as I know he is due a feed at this time and so far he always takes the entire 6oz bottle, which we recently upped to a 7oz. Dream feeding him means we can put him back down to sleep at the time we would be going to bed so that we know he isn’t going to wake again for at least 4 hours. Sometimes it doesn’t work and he’s awake again at 1am but generally he stays asleep till 3:30am. This week we have slept through a few dream feeds and noticed he wakes naturally at around 11pm for a feed and last night he then went a whole 6 hours before waking again. This meant technically we had no night feed to do but it also meant he was awake for the day at 5:30am. I may drop the dream feed now and see if the 11pm feed can be enough for him for the night. I don’t mind waking up at 5:30 as long as I’ve not had to wake up during the night too.
So that’s Dexter’s sleep routine at almost 14 weeks. I know having a routine isn’t for everyone and I have friends who didn’t worry too much about routines. I have friends who co sleep or take naps with their babies and I was always open to this but Dexter seems to like sleeping in his cot or on his playmat so it’s not something we do. I have tried a sofa nap with him once and he did actually sleep but if I bring him back to bed with me in the mornings for example, he is yet to sleep. To be fair to him though, I haven’t really tried doing this when his nap is actually due so maybe I will give it a go and see if he will snuggle with me.
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