There are loads of awesome things about newborn babies. There are also a few – how should I put this delicately – not so awesome things. During those first few months, there is no bedtime routine. A baby sleeps and wakes whenever they want, with no awareness of day or night. As such, bedtimes can often feel like hell on Earth – a very sleep-deprived hell on Earth.
Things get better, but man those newborn nights are a killer – believe me, I’m currently six-weeks into them. If it’s not the constant feeds during the night, it’ll be the frustration of trying to settle an upset baby who doesn’t know why he’s crying or the fact that you’re likely to get no more than two consecutive hours sleep. It’s a baptism of fire for any parent.
With this in mind, I thought I’d share what a typical bedtime routine looks like with a newborn baby. I’d love to say it’s deep sleep from 8pm to 8am, but that’d be fooling no-one. So, for those parents currently with newborns, I sympathise. For those with older kids, please sympathise with me as you cackle to yourself. For those thinking about kids, it’s not too late to reconsider…
Bedtime Routine With A Newborn
9.30pm – Time for bed. Earlier than normal to try and catch up on a few zzzzz’s. Or at least that’s the hope…
9.31pm – 9.34pm – Change the baby’s nappy to a chorus of screaming (his not ours…yet).
9.34pm – 9.36pm – Swap his current baby grow for a new one after he decided to piss on himself.
9.36pm – 9.38pm – He feeds for all of two minutes before falling fast asleep.
9.38pm – 9.39pm – Put baby into Moses Basket. He immediately wakes up crying – the rooting suggests he’s still hungry. Typical.
9.39pm – 9.50pm – Feeds and falls asleep continually.
9.50pm – 9.52pm – Put baby into Moses Basket. Cries.
9.52pm -9.56pm – Pick up baby and try to comfort with some back patting and shushing.
9.56pm – 9.58pm – He lets out a big burp, quickly followed by some milk puke. Wipe up with one of the hundreds of Muslin cloths in the bedroom.
9.58pm – 9.59pm – He goes back into the Moses Basket. Cries again. This time we bring out the big guns – the dummy.
9.59pm – 10.04pm – Silence. In fact, too much silence. Is he asleep? Shit, what if he’s stopped breathing? Better go and check…
10.04pm – 10.22pm – Shit. Shouldn’t have checked. Baby wakes up screaming after accidentally scratching his nose with a finger nail when attempting to feel for breath. More comforting and shushing to calm him down.
10.22pm – 10.25pm – Put back into Moses basket after he knackers himself out with cries. He begins to make a weird gurgling noise. You resists the temptation to check what’s happening. Baby let’s out a massive fart that actually moves his Moses basket.
10.25pm – 10.31pm – The faint, rhythmic breathing suggests he’s fallen asleep. Try to fall asleep yourself.
10.31pm – 10.32pm – He starts crying because he’s spat out his dummy. Quickly finds it and plugs the gap. Crosses fingers.
10.32pm – 10.53pm – Sleep. Well, at least baby is asleep. You can’t. Is it possible to be too tired to sleep? The sound of that bloody incessant white noise doesn’t help either…
10.53pm – 11.23pm – You sleep – a good, solid half an hour.
11.23pm – 11.27pm – Alerted to the fact that the baby is crying…again. Get up too quickly, trip over clothes strewn on floor and hit elbow on radiator. Shush and pat baby whilst swearing under your breath at your (probable) broken elbow. Say goodbye to the tennis career.
11.27pm – 11.29pm – Back in Moses Basket.
11.29pm – 11.34pm – Back in your arms.
11.34pm – 11.38pm – Back in Moses Basket.
11.38pm – 12.01am – Back in your arms. Maybe he’s hungry. Give him a feed.
12.01am – 12.22am – Asleep in Moses Basket. Time for you to hit the sack. Eyes slowly close…
12.22am – 12.31am – He’s crying uncontrollably. Put on the light. Take off swaddle. Change nappy. Surely that’ll do it?
12.31am – 12.36am – Back in his Moses basket. He’s awake, but isn’t crying. Can baby’s sleep with their eyes open? Not sure. anyway, just stay very still and hopefully he’ll close them soon…
12.36am – 12.37am – Eyes closed. Get in! Turn lights off.
12.37am – 12.39am – Baby cries. Turns light back on. Baby closes eyes.
12.39am – 12.41am – Baby is asleep. You’re not though – the bloody light is too bloody light. Picks up phone. Googles ‘can baby’s sleep with their eyes open?’. Ah, they can, it’s called nocturnal lagophthalmos – interesting. Turns lights off.
12.41am – 01.52am – Everyone sleeps. Hurrah.
01.52am – 01.54am – Wakes up. Everything is quiet. You decide you need the toilet. Quietly curse your ageing body that you can no longer go through the night without one toilet pit stop.
1.54am – 1.55am – Celebrate having successfully got back into bed without waking the baby. Snuggle into the covers and close your eyes.
1.55am – 1.56am – Baby wakes. He appears to have somehow got his arm stuck like a tiny contortionist.
1.56am – 2.03am – Pick him up. Shushing and patting whilst you keep your eyes closed to have a micro-nap.
2.03am – 2.31am – Back in Moses basket. Everyone sleeps.
2.31am – 2.42am – Baby wakes and needs feeding.
2.42am – 4.23am – Sleep.
4.23am – 4.31am – Baby wakes and cries uncontrollably. Changes nappy. Gets some baby crap on finger. Too tired to give a shit.
4.31am – 4.42am – Baby continues to cry. Tries feeding.
4.42am – 4.56am – Baby continues to cry. You cry. You try rocking, shushing, walking, singing, lunges, David Hasselhoff impressions and any other random methods to attempt to comfort. Gives up and eventually puts baby in bed with you. It’s fine, it’ll only be for a few minutes…
4.56am – 5.01am – Baby sleeps in bed. Decide to move him back to Moses Basket because he’s in snoring and in a deep sleep.
5.01am – 5.02am – Baby cries. You’ve been rumbled. How the hell do babies know the difference between your mattress and the Moses basket mattress?
5.02am – 5.06am – Move him back to your bed and he instantly falls asleep.
5.06am – 5.07am – Back to Moses Basket. Cries.
5.07am – 5.08am – He’s back in your bed and sound asleep again. You give up, to to sleep and mentally prepare for wrath of the Health Visitor for co-sleeping.
5.08am – 5.18am – Sleeps.
5.18am – 5.19am – Wakes to check on baby in your bed. He’s fine.
5.19am – 5.34am – Sleeps.
5.34am – 5.35am – Wakes to check on baby again. He’s still fine.
5.35am – 6.03am – Sleeps.
6.03am – 6.04am – Wakes to check on baby again. He’s still fine. Your neck hurts from laying in an uncomfortable position to ensure he’s safe in your bed.
6.04am – 6.26am – Unable to get back to sleep as it’s now getting light outside. How can it be morning already? Lay there mentally preparing for the onslaught of the day ahead.
6.26am – 6.31am – Drifts off to sleep.
6.31am – 6.33am – Baby wakes up crying.
6.33am – 6.48am – Feeds.
6.48am – 7.03am – Baby lays staring at you. He looks well rested. At least that makes one of us. You try to snooze but he makes a weird noise whenever you close your eyes.
7.03am – Your other kid storms in from the room next door with a “Good morning. I’m hungry. Let’s go down for breakfast”. That’s the not so subtle signal to get up after a ‘refreshing’ night’s sleep.
Does any of this bedtime routine sound familiar with your newborn? Or was it such a sleep-deprived, zombie-like state of your life that you can’t remember? Let me know below!