Kids & Sleep: Charting Baby’s Routine

I told you yesterday that I was a stressed out mamma with my 1st baby as well as all about what I've learned about Why Should Children Have a Nap Schedule. Most days, she's the one I'm stressing over still. Poor first children always end up being the "test baby" no matter what ;o) We noticed all our kids forming a routine around 3-6 months. I am writing these because, though many people may think we are odd for stressing over a baby's sleep, I know all to well this is a real issue for stay-at-home-moms!

During her first year, I had read so much about the importance of her sleeping and then she wouldn't...well, at least she wouldn't stay asleep. One week she would go every day taking a thousand 30 minute naps. then the next week she would do 45 minute naps. With all my research I'd learned that unless your baby was sleeping 1 full hour {hopefully a minimum of 1.5 hours} per nap they weren't really getting the rest they needed during their nap.

My best friend who has kids almost the exact ages of mine was struggling with this as well. With 2 mamma's on the hunt for an answer she finally found someone who told us the key {my friend ROCKS and found this online resource for you: Babywhisperer.com, this book is AWEsome!}:

  • If your baby is waking after only 30 minutes of sleep- they were over tired when you put them down.
  • If your baby is waking after only 45 minutes of sleep- they weren't tired enough when you put them down.

That sounds easy enough, right?!? I wish. I learned the general 30-45 minute naps being over or under tired were very true but learning my baby's cues was hard. This lead to me charting her day for about a week {another suggestion I'd read}. This HELPED! I didn't have a computer {plus I'm obsessed with graph paper} so I simply took a piece of graph paper, a pencil and a ruler and when to town making 30 minute time slots. I dedicated an entire week to trying to stay home and do nothing but focus on her sleep.

My chart consisted of:

  • morning wake time
  • nursing times
  • play times
  • naps
  • wake times
  • bath
  • night time bed time
This is a more resent chart I've done with our, now family of 5. Sorry, I think I finally threw her original ones away. This will at least give you an idea. {note: charting your entire family is good for learning your kids patterns as well as learning where you spend your time and might find some extra wasted time you didn't know you had ;o)}

After doing this for several days I began noticing she actually did have a pattern. Some babies may seem inconsistent but if you chart them for even just a few days you'll notice a routine. I also began noticing her cues for sleepiness as well {more about cues tomorrow}. Some days were 30 minute naps, some where 45 and eventually I hit the perfect mark for laying her down which resulted in an hour and 1/2 to two hour naps!

I've learned from that very first time charting, that my babies seem to have a typical hourly pattern. We don't go down for naps at a certain time of day every day but we do have a set amount of "awake time".

  • Maggie is now 4-years-old and has about 5-6 hours of awake time before she needs to go down for a nap, giving her 1 short nap a day.
  • Izzie is 2.5-years-old and has about 4-5 hours of awake time before she needs to go down for a nap, giving her at least 1 long nap or 2 short ones a day.
  • Jamin is 1.5-years-old and has about 2 hours of awake time before he needs to go down for a nap, giving him at least 2 naps a day, some days 3.

Knowing this also makes it easy to tell babysitters their routine and what to expect rather than hoping they catch their sleepy cues in time. Having a routine makes it easier to plan things like grocery shopping with fewer crabby kids because you know when they should be sleeping and aren't expecting them to be cheerful and ready to run errands. You will no longer be surprised when they pass out in the car or are screaming while you are trying to take a phone call.

I hope this helps those mom's who are having the all to real stress of figuring out your baby's sleep! Questions I didn't answer? Ask away!

This is the 2nd in a series I'm doing on Kids & Sleep. You might also want to read

Why Should Children Have a Nap Schedule,

Environment, and the

"Cry-It-Out" Method.

{These may change a little based on comments and questions as we go}

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  1. […] lets talk about what to do now that we know why children should have a nap schedule, how to chart baby’s routine to figure out when they should nap, and how to set up their environment: methods to get them to […]

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