Wondering whether your baby needs a routine? These are some signs baby would benefit from having a more structured schedule.
In those early days and weeks, it’s normal to just go with baby’s flow. You’re getting to know each other and working out any feeding kinks, etc. that may come up. Time stands still a bit and you aren’t in a big hurry to get anything figured out.
And then life settles… and the things we didn’t mean to keep doing, somehow keep happening.
When this starts happening, we feel trapped.
These are great signs something needs to give. So let’s dive into the signs your baby needs a good simple age appropriate routine.
You are frazzled.
While mothers never want to put their own needs and wants as more important than their child’s… they are the one caring for baby.
If you can’t cope with life, then you must make a change.
Here are some signs you’re craving routine in your days with baby:
- Nothing ever happens at the same time.
- You feel like life is unpredictable and it is unsettling.
- You want to stop calculating wake windows all day long and have a set time in your head to aim for.
- There’s no time to get household responsibilities, work, or adult stuff done since any breaks are random and unpredictable.
Ultimately, you can meet baby’s needs in a timely manner on a routine, so if you are struggling WITHOUT a routine, then there’s no reason not to start one.
Here’s a handy dandy list of 28 things to try so baby will stop fighting sleep and sleep longer and later.
Baby’s daytime sleep is erratic.
This is a very clear sign that a routine will be helpful.
Here are some signs that baby’s daytime sleep is erratic and in need of a good routine.
- Naps are sometimes super short, sometimes super long.
- Naps don’t fall into predictable times, but are maybe long in morning, no afternoon, or maybe no morning, and long afternoon.
- Baby wakes up with sleep inertia from their naps.
- A lot of fighting sleep is happening.
- Baby falls asleep in the car every time you’re in it.
- Naptimes end up messing up meals and bedtimes.
If baby can just nap anywhere, anytime, and be well-rested then still go to bed, you’re probably fine. If naps feel like a nightmare, then it’s time for a routine.
Easy to implement routines, rhythms and schedules from birth through school-aged kids to help you streamline day-to-day life with kids, including a step-by-step guide for getting started.Learn More
Morning wake times are going off the rails.
Morning wake times really matter. Overtiredness and lack of proper regular sleep do a lot of interesting things to baby’s sleep habits. If baby is overtired going into bedtime, then they may wake up frequently at night.
In fact, the more tired a baby is, the more likely they’ll have early morning wake ups as well. We define early morning wake up as before 6 am. When early morning wake ups happen with frequency, here’s the fall out.
- Naps that come super early (that are essentially continuation of night sleep) and mess with the rest of the day.
- Baby is ready for bedtime at a super early time (like 5pm) since they are so tired from waking early.
- More naps are happening in the day than necessary because baby is waking early. For example, baby wakes at 5am, then goes back to nap at 6:30am.
Without a routine, your baby’s metabolism and meal time clock won’t set. We never advocate letting a baby go hungry, of course, but if your baby is used to feeding at 7am, then they’ll typically sleep to within 15 minutes on either side of 7am.
Note: Letting baby sleep too late is also a sign baby needs a routine. Typically, a 7pm to 7am is great to aim for. Or 6pm to 6am. Baby doesn’t need to sleep into the day when it’s daylight outside as this messes up their circadian rhythm and causes other issues later.
Bedtime is not consistent.
Bedtime is super important. As in, the time you put your baby to bed. This matters because the time before midnight is actually the deepest and most restorative sleep we all have.
So putting baby to bed late results in less restorative sleep.
It also means more night wakings and disrupted morning wake times. Often, babies who don’t have a proper daily routine will either want to go to bed super early because they’re worn out or they will get a second wind and fight sleep for a long time.
This free guide gives you the main 4 reasons little ones won’t settle at bedtime (or stall, keep coming out, cause power struggles, etc.) and what to do!
What’s preferable is a calm relaxing bedtime routine with baby being in their safe sleep space and lights out by a proper age appropriate bedtime.
If bedtime is a nightmare… it’s a sign baby needs a routine.
Learn how to avoid power struggles, constant stalling, drama filled evenings with our simple to implement bedtime routine strategies.Learn More
Night wakings are becoming more frequent.
Night wakings early on are normal, as baby needs to eat. But even 2 or 3 month old babies can take a dream feed and sleep a good long stretch at night. With some cluster feeding as well, that sets them up for success.
At a certain point, however, if babies are waking frequently at night and feeding a lot, they may end up reverse cycling. AKA eating more at night than during the day.
The solution to this is obvious: reverse course.
As babies get to 6 months and onwards, night waking can be a sign it’s time for more solids or more formal sleep training. Babies who are well rested and can settle themselves to sleep with minimal assistance, DO NOT WAKE AT NIGHT to get help from mama!
Create sustainable sleep habits for your little lamb so the whole family can sleep peacefully without the stress, drama, and tears.Learn More
Your instincts are saying… “we can’t go on like this.”
Mothers are driven to deny themselves for their little ones. And this is a normal instinct mothers have.
But at times, we take it too far and we get confused.
We think: I’ll do anything to not make baby pop a tear even while I’m becoming mentally ill and hating my life.
Um, no. If you aren’t sleeping at all then the mental and emotional fallout will negatively affect baby far more than a short term sleep intervention (that bears long term fruit). You aren’t able to attune to baby’s needs when you are zoned out from burnout or breakdown.