When I shared a “Day in the Life” on Instagram Stories the other week, I was overwhelmed by the amount of questions regarding getting the babies on a routine/schedule so early. As someone who thrives on predictability, I knew that I wanted to get them into some sort of routine as early as we could. So far, they have done really well having a reliable rhythm to their days & it has made the fourth trimester much more enjoyable for me.
For a little context, Liam was not a great sleeper as a baby. In hindsight, we probably stressed a little too much about how much sleep he was getting, when he would nap, his routine, etc., but I remember struggling so much with how unpredictable those early months were. It should go without saying that babies are gonna baby, meaning they’re not going to be able to be on a regimented schedule that they stick to perfectly everyday. There are going to be great days and there will be less great days in regards to how they nap and act, but that’s just a part of having a newborn! I had a really hard time adjusting to that with Liam, but am so much more adaptable this time around. I’m thankful to be enjoying the newborn days much, much more this time!
One of the things that we struggled the most with when Liam was a baby was that he hated being put down. He was our first baby and it was pandemic times, so we held him all the time. He napped on us during the day and we rocked him to sleep every night (and all night long when he inevitably woke up). While I don’t regret all those baby snuggles, I do think that it contributed to him having a harder time sleeping independently of us. It led to months and months of me having anxiety as the sun went down, not knowing what the night would bring. I struggled a lot during his first year of life and I don’t think I really realized it until Cameron & Audrey were born because I’ve had such a different experience this time. As soon as we found out we were having twins, we knew that we wanted to do things a little differently this time around. Not only would our time be a bit more constrained because we have Liam to care for, but we were going to have two babies to put down for naps and tend to during the night. I was terrified that we wouldn’t be getting any sleep at all. 11 weeks in and I’ve slept more in the past 2 months than I did for the last several months of my pregnancy. Things have been vastly different and that’s with two babies.
This time around, we started setting the babies down for their naps really early on, around 2 weeks or so. They would take most of their naps in the twin bassinet we had setup in our living room and some in their bassinets in our bedroom (where they slept at night). We didn’t have any sort of schedule for them, but after they ate and fell back asleep, we would lay them down to take their nap. There were certainly times we would just hold them while they slept (there’s nothing better than holding a sleeping newborn!), but taking care of a toddler and just everyday life stuff made it easier to lay them down so that we could do other things. So, that’s the first thing we did differently – we laid them down to nap, more often than not, from an early age.
At around 5 or 6 weeks, we started keeping a log of their days to be able to establish a routine/schedule for our days based on what they needed. We fed them on a consistent 3-hour schedule and then made note of when they fell asleep for a nap, how long they slept, what kind of nap it was (in a bassinet, on a walk, in the wrap, etc.) in between feedings. We watched for sleepy cues (yawning, redness around eyes, fussiness) and would lay them down to see if they wanted to sleep for a nap. We did that for about 5 days and then compared the days to see that there was some consistency throughout each day. From there, we were able to set up a more reliable routine of when they typically would eat, be ready for naps, how long the naps would last, etc. Every day was different when it came to the exact timing of everything, but only within about an hour variation. Keeping track of this allowed us to set up a more predictable routine that we adhere to today.
The second thing we did this time around that has made a world of a difference is laying the babies down drowsy but awake. We never did that with Liam and he never learned how to fall asleep on his own as a baby. We would spend 20-30 minutes rocking him to sleep, go to lay him down in his bassinet or crib, and his eyes would fly open and he’d start to cry. It was exhausting. We started practicing “drowsy but awake” around 5 or 6 weeks this time and the babies have been doing amazing with it! It is very rare that we need to intervene while they’re falling asleep. When we’re keeping a good routine, they’re tired enough that we lay them down awake and they are asleep within about 5-10 minutes without fussing at all. Occasionally, they will squirm and make noise or start to fuss and we will offer them comfort to help them settle into sleep. We’re spending so much less time putting them down for naps and bedtime than we did with Liam and that’s with two babies to be put down! I really didn’t think it was possible.
I spent so many hours googling “baby sleep”, “baby schedule”, and everything like that when Liam was a baby because I was desperate to figure out why he wasn’t sleeping well. It was especially discouraging when I would see other people online who had babies around the same time as me and they were great sleepers. It’s so easy to get caught up in a “what are we doing wrong?” mindset, but sometimes you’re not doing anything wrong. Sometimes babies just aren’t great sleepers. And while that can make the days and weeks feel like an eternity, they will sleep one day. Liam has turned into a solid, predictable sleeper, which is wonderful. If you’re in the thick of it with a baby or toddler who doesn’t sleep well, I feel for you. I’ve been there. And let’s be honest, I will be back there plenty of times over the next couple years with sleep regressions, sickness, etc with the babies. Just know that you’re not alone and it won’t always be this way!