How We Set a Routine for Riley ...
We were exhausted going to sleep. Even more exhausted when we would wake up. I thought we were doomed. Shhhhiiiiiiiiit. People were right about not ever sleeping again, what did we get ourselves into?!
We decided to try the whole sleep training thing. This is the method in which the baby soothes himself to sleep. We thought this would be best and we can actually relax before going to bed. I. Wanted. To. Pull. My. Hair. Out. while crying at the same time. I couldn't take the screaming. He would scream for a whole hour. One of us would go in and pick him up. This is where you Mom shamers take the opportunity to tell me, "You should of let him cry longer" and all the other unsolicited opinions you like to share. During this time I cared about not doing things how other moms were doing it. Now, not so much. We have learned to do what works for us.
We ditched the idea of sleep training very quickly. Well THAT version of sleep training. I think I secretly just gave up and let Riley just go with the flow. He was now about 3 1/2 months old. We were now giving him a nightly warm bath with lavender baby wash and then realized he would start getting sleepy right after. This is when I introduced the feeding right after his bath instead of play time as suggested by one of the many baby books I read. According to the book, play time would tire them out. Not Riley though. He was still going to sleep at 12am until we started feeding him right after bath time. We then decided that bath time should be every night at the same time.
Riley would still feed throughout the night but it was now two feedings 1am and 3am. He would eat and go back to sleep. Nursing through the night had me exhausted but I was willing to sacrifice sleep to breastfeed him. (If you have not read my breastfeeding blog, go read it right after this one.) At about 4 months and change he started to wake up FIVE times a night to feed. I was a walking mess. I was delusional because of lack of sleep. I came to the conclusion that he was not feeding right at night and my milk supply was low. This was around the same time we started solids, so I really did not want to put him on formula too but I was desperate for sleep and decided to just go for it.
I had a rule. One bottle of formula a night was the rule. I was fine with breastfeeding during the day being a stay at home mom. Riley slept allllll night waking up between 5:30 and 6 am. I now started feeding him as soon as he woke up and every 3 1/2 hours after that. When I switched to formula the feedings were replaced with 6 ounces if there was no meal and 4 ounces if there was. Started with one meal a day 3 1/2 hours after his 2nd bottle which was usually around 12pm with 2 nap times in between. Now I have added dinner around 6pm and will soon add breakfast. Bath time happens right before his last bottle which is around 9pm. He now goes to sleep for the night between 9:30 and 10pm .
Notice that I say the word "around". I say this because it's a baby led schedule with no set time. As long as there is a routine of doing things in order, your baby will know what to expect. He will know when bedtime is and will start falling asleep on his own slowly. Riley is not there yet but he has nights when I just lay down next to him and he falls asleep in less than five minutes without me rocking him to sleep.
The best thing we decided to do was to surrender to Riley's natural schedule instead of forcing him to be on our schedule. An advice I would give is to start with one or two things either night or day and start a routine without looking at the time. However, do take notice of the spaces in between feeds and naps and then keep adding things slowly as the weeks go by. Most importantly remember that every baby is different and different routines work for different babies.