When not using a baby sleep routine, you may face some major problems that can be avoided. Don’t miss this list, especially if you don’t get enough sleep. Plus, get your free “How to Declutter” checklist to get control of all your new baby stuff!
This is the seventh post in my “Newborn Sleep” Series. Be sure to check out the other posts in the series.
My jaw dropped in shock when I heard my friend say it: “I didn’t get a complete night’s sleep during my baby’s entire first year.”
As a pregnant mom figuring out how to approach caring for my new baby, that sounded exactly like something I wanted to avoid at all costs.
Getting woken up in the middle of the night multiple times, every night for over a year?
Thankfully, I already knew plenty of moms who had successfully helped their babies sleep through the night at an early age. I made a point to pick their brains and learn what resources they used.
After all, my husband was about to leave on deployment, and I couldn’t imagine parenting without him on top of being sleep deprived for months on end.
Table of Contents
Making A Plan
That conversation led me to continue down the path of researching and learning about how to use a newborn sleep schedule in a gentle, safe way.
And in light of what I learned both during that time and after helping my three daughters all sleep through the night in the first two to four months, I wanted to share a few more jaw-dropping pitfalls of not using a gentle newborn baby schedule.
13 Major Problems You May Face When NOT Using A Baby Sleep Routine
Keep in mind, this post does NOT constitute medical advice, so always consult your medical professional when it comes to your baby’s health.
1- Going 6 Months To A Year Without A Good Night’s Sleep
As I mentioned, without a routine, it can take a baby a LONG time to figure out how to sleep through the night. It’s normal to have some sleepless nights with a baby, especially in the first couple of months. But thankfully waking up doesn’t have to be the norm for an entire year.
To find out how to start an infant sleep schedule, download my free guide here.
2- Baby Eating Every Hour
When you’re not on a regular routine, baby can get into the habit of eating every hour. Nursing can be a huge challenge for new moms, especially in the beginning. Bottle feeding can as well, especially with the added tasks of cleaning and preparing bottles, heating them, and potentially pumping as well.
So feeding every hour can pretty much take over your entire life. Forget about sleeping or eating your own meals. You have to become an endless conveyor belt of food and food prep.
While the first few weeks are rough for everyone, there’s no need for that to go on for months unless there’s a medical reason.
The trick is to help baby eat a full feeding every time they eat, instead of “snacking” constantly.
3- Baby Staying Up All Night
Without a gentle routine, babies tend to continue to eat at all hours, long after they could be sleeping more at night.
Some moms take this as a badge of honor, lifting up how self-sacrificing they are for losing so much sleep over the course of months or even years. And they definitely are very self-sacrificing. And amazing mothers, I might add.
But what those moms may not realize, is that there’s a better way.
You can be a self-sacrificing mom, AND use a newborn sleep routine which can help you get a lot more sleep during those first couple of years.But what some moms may not realize, is that you can be a self-sacrificing mom, AND use a newborn sleep routine which can help you get a lot more sleep during those first couple of years. #newbornsleep #babyroutine Click To Tweet
I’ve spent plenty of nights up for hours with a child, comforting, soothing, feeding, snuggling. The difference is, using a baby sleep routine can make getting up at night a rare thing instead of an every night event as baby gets older.
4- Never Knowing What Is Bothering Baby
When you don’t know whether your baby is hungry or tired or has gas or needs a burp, or a bazillion other things, then it’s easy to start feeling panicky and unsure of yourself.
If you don’t have a baby sleep routine set up, you are left wondering what to do next and how to move forward when baby gets fussy.
For example: If your baby ate a full meal 30 minutes ago, then he could be tired or hungry again or have gas or just want snuggles. But how would you know?
On the contrary, with a regular eat-play-sleep routine in place…
- you know that since your baby just finished a full meal, you can be pretty sure that he’s not hungry.
- You’ll also be familiar with his typical wake times, so you’ll know whether or not it’s close to his nap time and if he’s probably just tired.
- If you put him down and he’s still fussy and won’t sleep, then maybe he has gas or some other issue.
- Or, if he’s not tired yet and isn’t hungry, you know it’s something else such as gas or needing a burp. Or maybe just needs a snuggle or some time in the swing.
When you have a schedule, you have an easy way of eliminating potential issues and can solve baby’s problem much faster.
5- You Won’t Know When You’ll Get A Break If Not On A Baby Sleep Routine
If you are constantly giving your baby the boob whenever they make a fuss, how do you know when you can even use the restroom or take a shower?
Motherhood is hard, and every mom deserves a break. But the lack of a schedule or routine makes sure you have no idea when you might get a bit of “me-time.”
Instead, a baby nap schedule gives you a good idea of when your next break will be. What’s even better is that you start having regular breaks every day around the same time.A baby nap schedule gives you a good idea of when your next break will be. What’s even better is that you start having regular breaks every day around the same time. #newbornsleep #newmom Click To Tweet
6- Inability To Plan For Social Visits Or Appointments
What if you need to head to a doctor appointment or you want to have a friend over? Those are important activities, but things get complicated when your baby needs a meal right when your appointment starts.
Babies can always throw a curve ball, even when you use a baby sleep schedule. If you’re friends are true friends they will totally understand, as will your doctor.
However, it’s nice when you can plan to have someone over when you know baby will be down for a nap.
And it’s great to be able to focus on you during your doctor’s appointment and actually hear what she’s saying, rather than be talking over a fussy baby.
The Benefits Of A Plan
A gentle schedule allows you to plan ahead and scoot out for a quick appointment right when baby goes down for a nap. Or, you can even bring her with you right after you’re done feeding her.
That way, you have a happy wide-eyed baby for a bit until she nods off to sleep in the stroller, all in time for you to get back home for the next feed.
Those little appointments, friend visits and quick getaways into town can make you feel like you just broke out of quarantine and you’re finally FREEEEEEE!! Even if it’s just for 45 minutes, you’ll feel like a new woman!
7- Lack Of Sleep For You And Your Partner Can Be A Direct Result Of No Baby Sleep Routine
This probably doesn’t need to be said, but when your baby is not on a schedule, mom and dad get WAY less sleep.
Baby’s night sleep can take months to lengthen out, leaving you groggy in the morning, stumbling blindly around the kitchen for the pot of coffee… only to find you forgot to set the machine because you’re so sleep-deprived.
And not only do you not get a good night’s sleep, it’s harder to find a time to nap because you can’t predict when baby will go down.
In contrast, an infant sleep schedule helps baby to start lengthening night sleep right away within the first few weeks. That way, mom and dad are getting longer stretches of solid sleep at night, which does wonders for the brain fog.
Imagine that pot of coffee is now full and hot, with the smell greeting you in your bed as you awake to a happy, cooing baby.
Need I say more?
8- Baby Snacking Instead Of Getting A Full Feeding
If a baby is constantly being fed when they start crying, instead of problem solving for other possible issues, he or she can get used to having small, light meals or “snacks” instead of a full feeding.
That sets up a pattern for baby to need food more often, putting a lot of strain you whether you’re nursing using a bottle.
Babies who snack have a lot farther to go to lengthen out the time between meals. That means the amount of feedings per day and the length of time feeding baby stays higher for longer, which is a strain on you.
9- Baby Not Getting Enough Sleep
Studies show that babies’ brains need solid, uninterrupted sleep.
As I mentioned in my post about how to start a newborn sleep schedule, Alice Callahan, PhD of Scienceofmom.com says, “Sleep has been shown to be important for maturation of infants’ brains and consolidation of their memories. Several studies have shown that babies with more efficient nighttime sleep (greater percentage of time spent asleep during the night) had higher cognitive scores.”
So, the benefits of good and lengthy sleep include helping with memories, maturing of the brain, and improved cognition, which any parent would want for their new bundle of joy.
But with a random, “should we put her down now?” approach, babies may struggle to go down and may not get the sleep they really need.
Or if they do get a long stretch during the day, you can be sure they’ll be up all night partying while you’re trying to get some much-needed zzzz’s.
10- Spending Hours Getting Baby To Sleep
Speaking of the “should we put her down now?” approach, if a baby isn’t used to going down at a certain time, or if they don’t get regular naps, they can get overtired super fast.
And an overtired baby is REALLY hard to get to sleep. Like agonizing-for-mom-hard, spending the good part of an hour trying to just get her calm enough to maybe fall asleep.
Newborn sleep cues can help a lot with figuring out when baby is tired, but they work especially well in tandem with a baby sleep routine. That’s because not only do babies show cues when tired, but when put down to nap, they’re primed and ready to fall asleep right away.
11- Guessing At What To Do Next During The Day
As a new mom, I felt like I was figuring it all out as I went.
I had read a lot of books and articles, but there’s nothing like actually having the baby in your arms to make you realize, “wait, how are WE fully responsible for this child? We have no idea what we’re doing?!”
If I didn’t have any plan in place for how to help our first daughter start to get some good sleep, I would have had no confidence in what I was doing.
When should she go to bed? Is she hungry? How long should I expect her to be awake before she goes down for another nap?
Instead, amidst the weariness, the steep learning curve, and the new high and low emotions, I at least had something to structure my days. I had a plan with a goal to work toward, not at the expense of my baby, but in step with her needs and desires. (she usually let me know right away with loud wails if she wasn’t getting her way!)
12- Lack Of Confidence For Mom
If baby isn’t sleeping well and you can’t figure out how to soothe her, it can lead to a lack of confidence in yourself.
Without a plan, you might not know what to try next, and that feels downright terrifying.
A baby sleep schedule is a big help in this area simply because it gives you action steps to try. You start to eliminate what is not bothering baby, then you can figure out what IS the issue.
For example, if you just fed her and she’s not hungry, then she may need to burp or maybe she has gas.
I think it’s really important to let you know that no matter what style of parenting you choose, or what works for you, you can be confident in yourself.
Confidence doesn’t come from our outside situation, but from who we are and who God made us to be. He gave you a precious life to nurture, and He can give you the strength and wisdom to parent that child in the best way you can.
Just know that whatever is going on now, you can always try something new, start a new path, or take some time to reevaluate your plan.
13- Slower Healing For You After Delivery
Sleep is an important part of healing and can also impact hormone levels. If you’re not getting enough sleep, your body may not heal as fast as it normally could
It already takes a while to start feeling like yourself again, which can be discouraging. Your body takes 9 months to grow a child! You gotta give yourself at least that long to feel like your normal self again.
During those 9 months your body will be working extremely hard to heal, repair, and put back together everything that it used for growing a baby. Not to mention to provide the energy you’ll need to care for baby when you’re awake.
Imagine how much faster the process can go when you’re getting a healthy amount of sleep.
You start to think more clearly, move more easily, and feel back to your old self faster than it takes to unwrap a Reece’s Peanut Butter Cup.
Ok, maybe not that fast.
What’s Your Solution?
A baby sleep routine may not be for everyone. That’s totally fine, because it might not suit your personality or work for your family. Or, your baby may need a different plan due to health or medical issues.
Trust your mama gut, and spend a lot of time praying for wisdom!
Just know that in most cases, a baby sleep routine can be a HUGE blessing to your entire family. You can eliminate the common struggles that new parents face, and everyone will think you’re just lucky!
Getting more sleep, reducing the stress of knowing what to do, and being able to have some quality “me-time” moments make using a newborn baby schedule an awesome way to go!
What do you think? Will you use a gentle baby routine?
Ready to implement a schedule but aren’t sure how? Grab my free guide, “How To Start An Infant Sleep Schedule.” Click this button to download:
The “Newborn Sleep” Series
This is the seventh post in my “Newborn Sleep” Series. Be sure to check out the other posts in the series and stay tuned for new additions!
- When Is The Best Time To Start An Infant Sleep Schedule?
- 5 Reasons To Start A Baby Sleep Schedule By 3 Weeks Old
- 7 Newborn Baby Schedule Mistakes To Avoid
- 17 Insanely Powerful Tips For Getting Newborn To Sleep At Night
- Baby Never Sleeps? You Might Be Missing These 15 Newborn Sleep Cues
- How To Start A Newborn Sleep Schedule: 9 Expert Hacks +Free Download
- 13 Major Problems You May Face When NOT Using A Baby Sleep Routine (This Post)
- Does It Work? How I Used A Newborn Sleep Routine With All My Girls
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