When you first start telling people you are expecting a baby, the jokes such as ‘enjoy your sleep now’ start rolling in. And whilst there is definitely going to be less sleep in the household for the next few months, you do not need to be sleep deprived from being up every hour, or let bad sleep patterns continue until your child is in infant school. It really doesn’t need to be like that, and it isn’t helpful for expecting parents to be led to believe that it is, and just accept that it’s a way of life.
Nevertheless, in those first few weeks it will be simply about survival as a family. Your newborn has a small tummy which is the key reason they aren’t able to sleep longer than a couple of hours as they require regular replenishment. Your baby won’t be little forever and you will quickly experience growth spurts which can impact feeding amounts, times and sleep. This will lead to days of feeding non-stop, followed by days of not much feeding and inconsistent sleep patterns – this is all very normal.
During this period because of the inconsistent feeding and sleeping patterns, it is unlikely that you will be able to set a clear daytime routine. It’s important to not get overly focused about daytime routines for the first 6-8 weeks; it is only around this stage that you may begin to see your baby sleeping slightly longer stretches, being awake for longer periods in the day and not need feeding so often. As their tummies get bigger they can take more milk during a single feed, keeping them fuller for longer.
Whilst you will unlikely be able to develop a daytime routine initially, I would recommend that you start to build a bedtime routine within this period. The timings of this bedtime routine may differ night to night depending on the feeding and sleep times of your baby throughout the day. However, you can develop a consistent set of steps that will form part of your bedtime routine in the weeks and months to follow. I will discuss how to do this in Chapter 7.