Getting your baby into routine can make all the difference to your life when you have a young baby. Being able to plan your days makes everything so much easier.
Just remember that a newborn baby won’t follow a routine. A newborn will sleep for about 2 hours and wake up for feeds and a nappy change before going back to sleep. It is only when your baby starts having more awake time that you can start with a routine.
Follow these steps to get your baby into a routine:
1. Night Routine
Start with a basic night time routine by doing the same thing at the same time every evening. For example every night at 6h15pm play with baby, then bath him at 6h30pm and then swaddle him and breastfeed or give bottle before putting him down to sleep.
2. First Morning Nap
Watch your baby during the day for a while and see when he starts getting tired every morning, it should be around the same time. Start putting your baby down at the same time every morning. This should be baby’s longest day nap.
3. Awake Time
See how much awake time your baby should need at his age and keep him awake for approximately that amount of time watching for signs of tiredness. Do more stimulating activities (shopping trips, visiting friends, games etc) with baby when he first wakes up and quieter, more calming activities (a walk in the pram) for just before his next nap when he is tired.
4. Second & Third Day Naps
Depending on baby’s age he may need up to 3 naps during the day. Follow the same procedures in steps 2 & 3 to find the best times for these naps. Baby’s 2nd nap should be shorter than his 1st and if he has a 3rd nap it could be as short as 20 minutes.
5. Once you have baby’s sleep routine times you can slot in activities and feeding times to suit.
Try and plan trips around his nap times and activity times as baby will often fall asleep in the car and this can throw his routine out the window for the day! Be prepared that not every day will work out according to “plan”.
Little things to remember:
- A new born will most likely not fit into a full routine no matter how hard you try! You can possibly start the night time routine from birth but just go with the flow for the rest until about 3 months of age. The first few months are usually just a whirlwind of 2 hour naps day and night, nappy changes, feedings, burpings… relax and things will sort itself out in time.
- All babies are different, use the information as a guideline and adjust as needed to suit yourself and your baby
Remember babies needs change all the time so refer back as soon as baby’s routine goes haywire (which it will!), as baby gets older he will need more awake time and less naps and you will need to adjust your routine to suit his needs. Every time there is a routine change it is usually a rocky week or two!