Most of us have some kind of routine, be it that we start each day with a cuppa, listen to the radio on the way to work, go shopping at the same supermarket, or watching a certain TV programme. This kind of familiarity can be comforting and the day can somehow feel 'wrong' if we've been unable to follow our usual routine.
Of course, a break in routine can most definitely be a good thing too, and some days events or circumstances can break our normal routine anyway.
Life with a baby/small children is busy... sometimes chaotic and usually anything but boring, whilst you try to juggle all of your responsibilities.
For our little ones, each day is packed with learning, excitement and new experiences, so routines can provide relief from the chaos.
Initially your newborn will be too young to follow any kind of schedule or routine. Starting little habits early such as regularly taking your newborn out in the daylight will help them to differentiate night from day, and this will also help with establishing a routine later on.
Establishing a feeding, sleeping and playing/activities routine can be beneficial to both you and your little one, and the easiest place to start with is sleeping... as it will also help a day time routine to fall into place too.
You probably won't be able to forge a routine for the first few months, but from around 2 months you could start practising a simple bedtime routine of a bath, PJs/nightwear on, a feed, and lights out.
In the early days it's absolutely fine if your baby falls asleep whilst feeding and you put them to bed already asleep, but from 3 or 4 months it's a good idea to start putting your little one to bed while still awake, so that they learn to fall asleep on their own.
As mentioned previously, many babies mix up day and night, so they may sleep for long stretches throughout the day, only to perk up at night!
Teaching our little ones the difference between day and night is a key first step to getting into a workable routine.
One of the best tips I've heard is to make your home/surroundings as light as possible during the day - open the curtains, go out for a walk - and don't be afraid to make a noise. Then do the exact opposite at night - keep your house quiet and dim, not talking much to your baby during night feeds, ensuring a calm and relaxing bedtime environment. Let your baby learn that the daytime is for playing and socialising, but night time is for sleeping ...
Your baby will also guide you into a routine that suits them too ... As you get to know your baby better you'll be able to anticipate his needs - for example, feeding before they get to the point of screaming for food, and knowing when he's getting tired, so putting him to bed before he gets over tired and grouchy. This will hopefully make life more fun for you both!
Just as you feel that you've finally got into a good routine, things may well turn on their head.. and all of a sudden your baby has started waking up more times during the night again.
This deviation from routine usually signifies a growth spurt and/or a milestone being reached.
Hang in there, as your baby should soon get back on schedule, or it may be a sign that you need to adjust your routine.
Each time you feel that you've got into a predictible routine with your little one, it'll be time to change it again! As your baby gers older, they will need fewer daytime naps and more playtime and stimulation.
They will also start eating solid foods - once a day to begin with, but eventually several times a day.
As each of these milestones occur, your routine will need to adapt too.
It's worth bearing in mind that sometimes a routine just cannot be stuck to. For whatever reason your baby will want to skip a nap, wake up extra early, or want more snacks.
Life doesn't always run like clockwork - siblings, holidays, errands, plans with family and friends etc will all come into play in your daily life with your baby - so try not to expect perfection. Variation is absolutely fine, as long as your baby is getting all the care, love, food and sleep needed to thrive.
Did you find it fairly easy to get your baby into a routine, or did you follow their lead? Do you have any tips for other parents? Would love to hear from you ...
Til next time,
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