When your baby is a newborn, they will call all the shots in terms of eating and sleeping. This may mean that days and nights change but for now, that’s okay. When your baby was in the womb they would have had some kind of schedule based on yours and labour would have disrupted that.
Most babies will be awake for an hour or two after birth and then sleep for the next 12 to 24 hours, only waking for food. Around the fourth or fifth day you may start to see a pattern of how your baby eats and sleeps. You’ll want to respect your babies routine but guide them into a day and night routine gently. Encourage them to be alert during the day time with play, eye contact and cuddles and keep your voice and lights gentle and low during the night times.
Babies under three months seem to be driven by internal factors like hunger and tiredness whereas older infants are more driven by environmental factors and what’s going on around them. Each baby is different and there’s no right or wrong way to plan a daily baby routine. Some babies sleep five to six hours every night from early on whereas some take up to nine months to get the hang of sleeping through. Do not beat yourself up if your planned routine changes after you’d been doing it for a while, babies change so often that you do need to be flexible.
How to get baby into a routine?
It is important to teach your baby early on the difference between night and day. Many babies have these back to front at first and helping them learn the difference will create a nicer routine for you both. Introducing a morning routine and a bedtime routine can help the baby determine that one means waking up for play and outings, and the other means settling down and sleeping.
A morning routine might feel like something that can’t be done when your baby is waking up through the night however, if you make sure you get to bed early you should be able to wake up 15 minutes before your baby is up for the day. Trying to wake up 15 minutes before your baby gives you 15 minutes to do something you enjoy. Take a few minutes to sit with a coffee or tea, read a few pages of a book or magazine or catch up with the news. This way when you greet your baby in the morning, he will be greeted by a calmer, smilier mum.
Get baby up and change nappy, have a feed and then get dressed for the day. If you like to exercise, there are plenty of free youtube videos for exercising with baby and this can be a really fun way to keep you in shape while bonding with your little one. Mums always seem to be cleaning and getting a baby carrier so your baby can be around while you’re doing so is a great way to keep him alert, you could even turn something boring like housework into an opportunity to play and be silly with baby.
Make sure to make time for yourself. It can be easy when you have a baby to forget to shower everyday or do things that you love but a happy mum equals a happy baby. You can incorporate your baby into your routine without disrupting their needs too much. Putting your baby in his car seat facing the shower with the door open means you can still entertain – think singing into shampoo bottles, without affecting your routine too much.
After a day of play, feeds, outings and the occasional nap – from both of you! It’s time to get into a bedtime routine. Here are our 5 Helpful Tips For Establishing a Good Sleep Routine.
Remember that whenever you have a routine that suits both you and baby, they will soon grow, change and become interested in new things. Their development is always ongoing so it is important that you adapt to their new routine changes when it gets to that point.