It has now been three weeks since the birth of my third child. It has been quite the adjustment with three kids, all ages 3 and under. The thing that worries me the most and what brings me the most stress with a newborn, is trying to get him into a routine/schedule (feed, wake, sleep). For most newborns, one of the hardest things to achieve is to establish “wake time” after each feeding during the day. On Becoming Babywise states, “Wakefulness is a goal to strive toward” (page 107). I had to remind myself of this. I was trying so hard to keep him awake to take a full feeding and then wake time after, that if I wasn’t successful, I felt like I failed him and he wouldn’t be able to sleep through the night or be healthy. Goals take time. Therefore, I shouldn’t expect to achieve this goal immediately. It takes work, consistency, and time. I need to not worry, but be flexible and do my best. My son will live. My son will eventually sleep through the night.
I suggest instead of focusing on getting your baby to have wake time after every feeding at first, to start with at least one good wake time a day, and then add a wake time every week. I started with the first wake time of the day (since he was sleeping so long at night, I thought this would be the easiest one to keep him awake – and it was). I also tried to start with at least 15-30 minutes and then tried to increase it to an hour or hour and 15 minutes of wake time before I put him down for a nap. Giving your baby a bath is always a great way to make sure they have wake time. I also change his diaper after I nurse.
On Becoming Babywise tells you to not worry about the first week (Weeks 2-8 is the routine schedule: Phase 1 Stabilization). They tell you to start the routine at week two since it takes one week for life to settle in for both you and your baby. So far, I have to actively be involved in his wake time in order for him to stay awake. If I lay him down on an activity mat, the Boppy, or in his car seat, he will fall asleep. So yes, it is a lot of work to keep him awake. Eventually though, when your child is around 4-5 weeks old, you should be able to lay him in his activity mat and he will stay awake. Your baby will be more alert and staying awake will be less effort.