Our Healthcare Professional gives us her top tips for getting your baby into a routine.
A baby routine can be as relaxed or as firm as you want. A good definition of a routine is the structure to a baby’s day, which takes into account and fulfils their feeding and sleeping needs during the day and night. It means that both you and your baby know vaguely how the day is going to go so you can plan activities and keep your baby content.
Get the elements right first before trying to combine them into a routine. Establishing breastfeeding comes first. Early, frequent, good feedings in the first few weeks promote a good supply of milk for your baby. Initially babies need to feed frequently and on demand. Later, if you encourage your baby to take full feedings they should start to have longer spacing between feedings. This makes a routine easier and won’t affect your milk supply.
Good sleeping habits are essential to a successful routine. Again, it can be easier to work on these before embarking on establishing a timed routine. Good sleep is essential for the whole family’s benefit, so teaching your baby good sleep is important not just for a routine but for the well-being of the whole house.
Start the day with a feeding when your baby wakes. Your baby may be ready for the first nap an hour or two after they first wake, depending on their age.
Another good ‘anchor point’ is introducing a regular early evening bath time for your baby by around 2 or 3 months. A bath, massage, feeding, familiar soothing lullaby and environment will signal to your baby that it’s bedtime and is a lovely way to end the day.
Younger than 6 months, the average amount of time a baby is able to stay awake for is 90 minutes. Use this as a guide to help you work out when your baby is tired rather than the time of your routine. Your baby may struggle to settle if you put them down too soon, or too late. Newborn babies in the early weeks may stay awake only long enough to feed (45-60 mins maximum), then go back to sleep.
If your baby is lasting 3 to 4 hours between feedings, aim the feedings for early morning, mid-morning, mid-afternoon, early evening and late evening. Leave your baby to wake naturally in the night for their feedings.
Encourage playtime/awake time after your baby’s daytime feedings once they start to show a natural alertness (around 3 weeks). This awake time at first will involve little more than a chat and singsong as they have a diaper change. By 3 months, most babies will enjoy time on a baby gym, bouncy chair, out in the stroller or on your lap for a little while before being ready for a nap.
Babies love the consistency, familiarity and security a routine gives them. By managing your baby’s sleep especially you can avoid too much of the overtired grumbling and crying.
If you’re breastfeeding you should make sure that you always offer your baby a feeding if they seem to need it, no matter what their routine is. This will protect your milk supply and fulfill your baby’s needs for milk. The odd snack or early feed will make no difference to the routine overall.
Please be aware that the information given in these articles is only intended as general advice and should in no way be taken as a substitute for professional medical
advice. If you or your family or your child is suffering from symptoms or conditions which are severe or persistent or you need specific medical advice, please seek professional medical assistance.
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