One of the most difficult aspects of being a mother for me was the complete lack of independence. My husband and I had spent 5 years together before having baby, doing precisely what we wanted, when we wanted. Have you ever wanted to go to the movies? Done. Have you ever wanted to have a wonderful dinner at one of our favorite restaurants? Booked. Fancied nipping out to do some shopping? In the car already! Want to binge on box sets of TV shows? Pass the remote!
Having our son, meant that suddenly none of these things we were used to doing were an option. We were surrounded by nappies, bottles, sterilizing equipment, baby clothes to wash and dry, and not to mention the beautiful crying and napping baby we had to look after! It was all so overwhelming – and tiring.
After a few weeks I decided to browse Amazon for some books about getting babies to sleep at night. At this point my son was 4 weeks old and I was determined to get some sort of routine going, so I could reclaim at least one or two hours every day (I mean, let’s face it – forgetting to eat and go to the loo isn’t attractive after a few days). I discovered Gina Ford’s Contented Little Baby books and, after reading the reviews, I ordered them there and then.
I ordered two books. The first book was Gina Fords ‘The New Contented Little Baby Book’ , an all-encompassing approach to bringing up happy babies. The second book was Gina Ford’s ‘The Complete Sleep Guide for Contented Little Babies and Toddlers’ which dealt specifically with creating a routine that was sleep friendly.
Both Gina Ford’s books are incredibly helpful and useful, but ultimately I have come to use the ‘Sleep Guide’ daily and it has become a sort of routine bible… I even have a photo of the routine timetable stored on my phone.
Without detailing the routine in full (you will get a much more reliable and comprehensive explanation of this in the books themselves), essentially the routine works on a 7am – 7pm day, with regular naps in between to ensure baby is getting the sleep they need for growth and development. Here is an example of the daily routine baby Jake is currently working to:
- 7am to 10am – wake up, change nappy and get dressed. Feed & play. Nap for approx 1 to 1.5 hours.
- 10am to 2pm – this is the busy section of the day. There is play, ‘alone time’ so that he learns to amuse himself. Feed. Nappy changes. Nap for around 1.5 to 2 hours.
- 2pm -to 5pm – Again, a feed, nappy changes, play time and alone time and a short nap of around 45 minutes to 1 hour.
- 5pm to 7pm – this is your bed time routine. Bath, read a book, changed for bed and then feed at the end before putting to bed.
- (At around 10pm/ 10:30pm I do a Dream Feed to help him last the night).
Following this routine has led our little man to wake up only once in the night (around 4am), if at all – and he’s only 9 weeks old at the moment. But more importantly than that, it has really allowed my husband and I to claim some time back. We know that come 7:30pm we can sit down to watch TV programmes we’ve recorded, or a bluray we have bought to watch.
During the day, I know that at around 9am I can have my shower and get dressed, and at around 1pm I can read a book, or do some chores. The realization and discovery of Gina Ford’s routine has changed my life as a mummy – and soon enough our little man will be sleeping 7pm until 7am. I can’t tell you how happy and hopeful this has made my husband and I.
But – don’t just take my word for it…
I was incredibly lucky to stumble across a wonderful support group on Facebook which is dedicated entirely to those mum’s using the Gina Ford routine. The group is called ‘Fans of Gina Ford – Support and Ideas for Contented Little Babies’ and you can join here.
This group of incredibly kind, helpful and friendly women have been so supportive throughout my implementation of the routine (and other questions a new mummy needs to ask) and I could not have done it without them. I asked them to share some tips and ideas for this post, to help any other mum’s out there, or mum’s who might be considering a routine themselves. this is what they had to offer:
- “The routine suits me and my personality, but a word of caution – a bit of common sense and flexibility is needed, as not all babies are going to fit the routine all of the time, so don’t take it too literally” – Meg.
- “Remember that babies teeth, have growth spurts and ‘wonder weeks’ which can change their routine; just go with what they need”
- “Always try to stick to the wake up times and fit everything else in the time slots in a way that suits you”
- “Split the feed in the bed time phase – so give some milk before bath and then the rest after, when ready to put to bed”.
- “It’s a great guide. I recently recommended it to a friend and told them it’s a bit like when your Nanna gives you advice – you take on board the bits that suit you” – Cas.
- “I discovered GF quite late on as was scared off it by other mums. Since starting it I have found I have a very contented little baby and it works for us – hurrah! […] read a month ahead of where you are as some babies are slightly ahead of their numerical month” – Rebecca.
Finally, after 9 weeks, establishing this routine has made such a difference to my life and is really helping me as I prepare to go back to work in a few months. I know that my mum, husband and the nursery will have a clear routine to work to and this will create consistency and security for my little man, even when his mummy isn’t there.
What routines or techniques do you have to ensure you have time to yourself and that your baby gets into good sleep habits?