It’s a tough one, babies and toddlers grow at such a rapid rate, it feels like you just start getting into the newborn rhythm and within the space of months your baby has grown to an infant and then flown on through to toddler town in no time!
Routines can also be tricky- you feel like you’re just getting the hang of this routine thing and then Bam! Your baby has a leap, a major growth spurt or reached a developmental milestone which can make any new changes in routine feel unfamiliar, unpredictable and often unravelling!
Why do we have to change up routines as babies and toddlers grow? No matter how structured or flexible your day to day routine is, development plays a huge part in exactly how long your baby should sleep and be awake for in a 24 hour period- commonly known as a wakeful period. Falling short in your baby’s wakeful period can lead to unsuccessful naps, and letting wakeful periods lapse throughout the day can lead to unsettledness, changes in your baby’s mood, overtiredness and night wakings.
A newborn – has a wakeful period of about 45 minutes to an hour and is very much FEED- CHANGE- SLEEP- REPEAT. Toddlers on the other hand can well and truly last the distance with a wakeful period of about 5-6 hours, usually a midday-ish nap and are successful in sleeping throughout the night.
How do you know if your baby is developmentally ready to change up their routine?
From a mama perspective, you get the feeling that your baby’s rhythm is off. Signs include shorter naps, fussy feeding habits, overtiredness, long settle periods, heightened emotions and an overall sense of regression.
What can you do to successfully change up your baby’s routine and sleeping habits?
Start slowly – changing your baby’s routine in 15 minute increments can help determine whether the change is necessary. If unsuccessful perhaps your baby is not yet developmentally ready for the change or the time needs to be moved by a further 15 minutes in the coming days to reach that end goal.
It always helps to write down a plan. By making small changes each day, you can ensure your baby is ready without changing too much too soon.
About the author: Nicole is a Sunshine Coast Sleep Specialist and she helps local families with baby and toddler sleeping challenges. After working internationally for many years as a Specialist Care Nanny, Nicole became a Certified Gentle Sleep Consultant and started Sleep Play Grow on the Sunny Coast. She describes her style as holistic and does not endorse any ‘cry it out’ or ‘controlled crying’ methods. She can be found at www.sleepplaygrow.com.au