Finding a new daily schedule for a toddler and newborn

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The book you see pictured above is called “The Contented Little Baby” by Gina Ford, and without it my life with a newborn and toddler might have felt very different.  You see, for our household we have used this book twice now with each child and the difference it has made to our home is incredible. Let me explain.

Currently we have a three year old toddler who is about to go to nursery in a few weeks time and a 2.5 week old newborn.  This book is all about getting your baby into a feeding and sleeping schedule really as quickly as the baby can allow, so that you can structure your life BUT ultimately teach them how to sleep during the night and feed during the day.  This goal being a simple but important one, so that the mother can also sleep as much as possible at night whether breastfeeding or not.  But as our toddler has followed this schedule where Gina structures the day so you all wake at 7am and are in bed by 7pm; our toddler has a similar structure to the day which means I’m not up at all hours of the night then needing to function as a Mama to him during his daytime too.

At 2.5 weeks old, our newborn is basically in the timing structure she suggests for his age – there is regular feeds during the day but includes three set nap times.  I personally use a simple cry-down/affection regularly pattern to help our newborn sleep so that I don’t need to rely on dummies or for me to hold/feed the baby to sleep too.  He is put down for his naps in his own room now (with a baby monitor and regular checks by me each 15-30 mins), and I know roughly how much sleep he needs per nap.  During the night I’m up in total once during 11pm to 6pm roughly, and the day starts usually at half 6 officially for him with toddler following at 7am.  This means I get to take my time and feed little one whilst having a cup of tea or drink of water to slowly start the day in bed.

I’ve also found that as newborn has structured feed and nap times, I’m getting precious time to spend with our oldest just the two of us together to play and relax. Time that will be in short supply once he is away to nursery each full afternoon in a few weeks, but also helps to reassure him that the new baby isn’t getting all my attention.

Some people don’t like schedules, but for us as a family at this stage I can plan each day ahead knowing when newborn needs fed or sleep and life is fairly normal as it was before newborn came along.  This time however, I am also using his nap times to get a little disco nap for myself (if husband is around or someone is watching toddler for a few hours).  Never underestimate the importance of looking after yourself during the early months of a newborn – as sleep depreviation isn’t fun and you can get ill very quickly if you don’t look after yourself as a priority too.  This means having to “tap out” sometimes during the day to nap or have a shower.  Take care of everyone including yourself!

This week my husband is back to full time work following paternity leave, and this time I can definitely say I had confidence that we would be just fine together as we have a basic structure to our days.  With my first child, I found the biggest mental challenge was knowing what the devil to do with a baby in all aspects of feeding, sleeping, waking time – and this book gave me clear and direct information that was exactly what I needed.  Reflecting back, I know that having a toddler who is comfortable with a time structure means that husband and I get back our evenings together, we have a solid sleeper (newborn now included as I can predict roughly when he will need fed in the night now too) and happy children overall.

I can’t recommend this book enough as it worked for me and my children; structure like this to your children’s daily lives isn’t for everyone but for me is saved my mind!

Love MFF xx

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