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Whenever I have helped someone implement this cycle schedule, there always seems to be a misunderstanding somewhere along the line. And why wouldn't there be? It's a lot of information and babies aren't robots! So today, we're going to address one of the biggest problems I see when parents implement this schedule: they use it like an actual TIMED schedule.
Let me explain further. You, the parent, look at your watch, realize it's 9 a.m, wake up your baby, feed your baby, change his diaper, play a little bit, and put him back to bed. Suddenly, it's already 12 p.m, he didn't wake up on his own yet, so you go and wake him up, feed him, change his diaper and play a little bit, and put him back to bed. You then look at me and tell me you're doing everything right. (Face palm)
Babies need routines, they need schedules, but not in the sense that the same thing happens at EVERY time EVERY single day. Heavens no. You would go crazy if that were the case. You need to let the cycles (remember, a cycle is "eat, awake, sleep") flow throughout the day. They should last anywhere from 2.5 - 4 hours. So if your baby takes a rather long nap, let her! If she is still sleeping and it's been 4 hours since she last woke up and ate, WAKE HER UP. But, if it's only been 2.5 hours since she last woke up and ate, and she wakes up... get her back to sleep in whatever way you know how to. Does that make sense? Am I getting through to you?
Why is this so important you ask? Next week we will go over a more in-depth explanation, but for now, you must know that this is EXTREMELY important so a baby can merge their cycles together. Eventually, your baby will stop taking several naps a day, and take just two, or even one, and then one day they will be non-existent and you'll want the napping days back.
For this to happen, the cycles need to MERGE. When a cycle merges with another cycle, it means that the schedule is going to change. And the only way for that schedule to change is if you have flexibility from 2.5-4 hours between being awake and eating, to doing it again.
Babies will naturally merge their cycles together because they can stay awake longer, and they can sleep longer, and their needs change. Just like your needs changed when you went from a baby, to a toddler, to an adult. And you need to let it change, you need to let it happen, because it's just going to happen.
So remember to keep that baby asleep if it's only been 2.5 hours from the start of one cycle to the next, and wake that baby up if it's been 4 hours. You're doing great mama and I hope this helps you get some sleep!
- Mama Jackie
*Sleep is essential. We need sleep to function, to take care of our children, to keep up on every single task life throws at us, to keep our sanity. Are you getting your 8 hours or do you ave a baby who is keeping you up? Let's remedy that! In the "Rested Mamas are Happy Mamas" series of our blog, sleep expert Jackie calms all of your sleep woes. Have a question or problem that needs fixing? Comment on the series, and Jackie will address your specific issue!*
Featured Image PC: @tabithablue