Ah routine or no routine…? That is the question!
This is probably the subject I get asked about the most from new parents, as most new mums are so determined they don’t want a routine but within a few weeks of the baby being born are desperate for some vague outline to their day. A baby’s needs aren’t very complicated, but knowing when to feed, change, love and play with your baby can be very daunting, plus you need to think about your own needs plus those of your partner/family
There are many reasons for starting a routine early on
- To teach the baby the difference between night and day
- So that the mum and baby have some structure to their day
- To establish good feeding/sleeping patterns
- To help keep the baby’s day more consistent if he has more than one carer
Most people think that babies less than 4mths old can’t be in a routine but in my experience that just isn’t the case. Just like us, they like a daily regimen of feeding, playing, washing, sleeping etc. but again like us, it’s likely that no two days will be exactly the same, so instead of clock watching and using timings to guide your day, try using the ‘what comes next’ approach, this way both you and the baby have some idea about the flow of your day and find life a lot easier.
The baby’s day should be split into 2 parts, 12 hour day pattern and 12 hour night, meaning that the day should be light and a bit more noisy and the nights should be kept darker and quieter, especially around the feeds… the baby is unlikely to settle back to sleep if all the lights are on and you’re watching TV! I’m always amazed when doing sleep training that parents don’t “get” that baby is being stimulated by flashing lights and distracting noises!
Babies effectively learn by association so the earlier you can find little pockets of routine throughout the day the better sense of security they have, for instance the bedtime routine is usually a good place to start. So in the early evening if they have had a bit of awake time get in the habit of giving them a bath or just a wash with a facecloth, then a big feed then put them in a darker,quieter place to sleep so they learn to get into a deep sleep quicker.
When you start anything new with a baby it takes 3 days for it to become a habit so this bit of routine will soon become just what they’re used to. Many new parents find using a tracker app or logging everything down easier when starting a routine as they can see a pattern emerging after a few days.
Looking after a baby that is constantly feeding or sleep deprived isn’t fun, so the sooner you can get some structure the better.
If you need help please don’t hesitate to get in touch.