The EASY baby routine from The Baby Whisperer Tracy Hogg has been by far the best that I’ve come across.
I found the Gina Ford routines a little too rigid, and they just didn’t fit my baby’s day quite the same.
The reason EASY worked for me was that I could just adapt the timings to whatever worked for me, as long as I followed the basic principle of Eat Activity Sleep Your time.
One of the key messages behind the EASY routine is that it separates eating time for sleeping time.
This was one of my key struggles in the first year with both of my kids. I would feed them to sleep, then they would be asleep on me and if I moved, then they would be awake again.
A baby routine disclaimer
Now, before I go any further, I want to emphasise, as with all advice and tips I offer on this blog, what works for one mama does not work for another. There is no one-size-fits-all style of parenting.
The EASY routine worked for my eldest child from around 8 weeks. However for my youngest it took so much longer to crack her naps so that she wasn’t feeding to sleep.
My ultimate advice if your child resists a routine and you need to feed/rock/hush to sleep is this:
Do not panic. Your child will not do this forever. Get through the days by any means necessary.
I remember stressing myself out so much when my youngest just would not conform to this routine. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get her to separate feeding from sleep. It took a while to get the naps right. I think the turning point was when she calmed down in the evenings. She stopped being as fussy, and she settled down to sleep in her own bed much easier. This was at around five or six months.
Once her nighttime sleep has improved, she then settled in bed for naps much easier. I made sure I followed the same bedtime routine at every nap, and eventually she got the message. It seemed to take forever though!
Is there a perfect routine?
The answer to this is no way! You do what works for you. I’m going to share the EASY routine with you because I loved it. I didn’t necessarily follow the exact timings recommended by Tracy Hogg, but I did keep her tips about a three-hour cycle in my mind.
You might be someone who prefers to follow whatever routine fits your day best, which may change weekly or even daily. That’s totally cool.
Of course, we all know that babies can be a total nightmare when they haven’t had enough sleep, or get hungry. I don’t know about you, but a crying baby (especially your own crying baby), is one of the most stressful things in the world. Sometimes babies cry for zero reason, such as the witching hour which is that awful time in the evenings when babies just scream and scream. It’s a developmental phase – painful but normal. However if babies are crying out of hunger or tiredness, it’s stressful because we feel like we should be fulfilling their needs. For me it got even more stressful when I didn’t know whether it was tiredness or hunger that was making them cry.
So the reason for a routine is to respond to your baby’s needs before they get too fussy. You know it’s time for them to sleep, because they’ve had a full feed recently. You know it’s time for food because they haven’t fed in a couple of hours. It makes everything that bit more predictable, and I much prefer predictable!
How to introduce the EASY routine
You can start whenever! I don’t think it’s possible to get a very small baby onto a routine, I don’t think it really happens until about six weeks.
Any new routine is going to take at least one week to establish, probably two. You need to follow the routine you have decided to use, encourage your baby to settle in to those timings and not stress out when you have an off day. There will be days when your baby was up all night and didn’t go to sleep until 6am. On those days, don’t even think about a routine, just think about surviving.
The key to our routine was being consistent, making bedtime nice and quiet and separating feeding from sleeping. This is what really helped me to be a lot less stressed, because I felt like I had taken back control of the situation.
How does EASY work?
The EASY routine is initially based on a three-hour cycle and then moves on to four-hourly as your baby grows older and is able to stay awake for longer. In short, your baby wakes up, feeds, has a short activity time and then goes to sleep. Here’s an example schedule for the routine which is suitable for a baby of around three months old:
EAT – 7am – Wake-up and feed
7.45am – Mama has shower/wash/gets dressed and has breakfast
ACTIVITY – 8am – Playtime
SLEEP – 8.15am – Nap
E – 10am – Wake-up and feed
A – 10.45am – Play or go for a walk
S – 11.30am – Nap
Y – Try to get some rest!
E – 1pm – Wake-up and feed
A – 1.30pm – Play or an outing
S – 2pm – Nap
E – 3.30pm – Wake-up and feed
S – 5pm – Short nap (no more than 30 minutes)
E – 7pm – Feed
A – 7.30pm – Bathtime
S – 8pm – Bedtime
You’ll notice towards the end of the day that there’s a little catnap squeezed in which most babies need so that they aren’t overtired for their actual bedtime. It sounds a bit daft to let them sleep so close to their bedtime, but I actually found my babies slept the best on days they had proper naps.
Some babies may struggle to stay awake for more than an hour, while some may be able to manage 90 minutes. It’s about using the principles of the routine while adapting it to suit you.
This schedule will not fit all babies exactly. Some may demand food every two hours, especially those who were born prematurely.
One of my biggest issues with this routine was that my baby would suckle away on her bottle, or my boob, for five minutes and then nod off. I was sure she hadn’t had a full feed (in fact I knew because my boobs were still full).
She then woke up 30 minutes later feeling hungry again. This turned into a bit of a vicious cycle on some days.
Tracy Hogg’s book The Baby Whisperer Solves all Your Problems taught me that feeding to sleep isn’t the end of the world, but it’s a good idea to encourage your baby as much as possible to stay awake so that they get a decent feed.
This includes stripping them down to a vest so they aren’t too warm and tickling their feet to keep them alert. Hogg then says to try to keep your baby up for a while after a feed, even if they only manage five minutes.
I’ve made a handy cheatsheet featuring four EASY routines from a few weeks old to six months, which I can send to your email address. All you need to do is sign up to my mailing list (I promise no spam).
I hope you found this post useful, is your baby on a routine? Has it been hard to implement?
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