9 Top Tips For Building A Baby Routine
I hate the word ‘routine’. In my many years as a parenting advisor, I have seen more tears of frustration caused by the relentless pursuit of a ‘good routine’ than I have seen tears of joy! And when you think how many tears of joy are shed once a baby joins a family, that’s truly astounding
You see, just as adults differ one from the other, so do babies. This concept is so important if you’re struggling to build a ‘routine’ for your baby. I’m sure if I was bold enough to tell you exactly how you should live – when you should go to bed, what time you should eat and when you’re allowed to relax – you’d tell me to get lost! Yet so many moms want me to prescribe something like this for their babies!
The only good way to build a routine is to take your child’s individual nature into account. I understand why you want your child to have a predictable day and night; it will make your life easier. And absolutely, yes – parenting should be as easy as possible – as long as it doesn’t harm your baby or child.
No matter the nature of your child, these tips will help you to build a flexible routine, while sticking to the spirit of ‘sensitive parenting’:
Tip 1: Watch your baby carefully in the first few weeks of life; this will give you a good idea about Baby’s sleep needs, feeding patterns and when Baby’s tummy needs to work.
Tip 2: Build a routine around these natural patterns or rhythms, rather than following a prescribed routine (many clinics and doctors hand these out).
Tip 3: Feed your baby when he’s hungry, and note the times; this will form a pattern, even if it’s not as regular as clockwork. Don’t feed on a schedule, even if you’re using formula milk.
Tip 4: If Baby swaps night and day around, gently wake Baby half an hour earlier than you think he/she would naturally wake after each daytime sleep. This will soon make night sleeps longer and deeper.
Tip 5: Never wake a sleeping baby at night unless there are serious health problems or weight gain is very bad. Babies have a ‘core sleep’, usually pre-midnight, during which time they sleep, well, like babies. A full night’s sleep gradually ‘grows’ from this core sleep, and if this rhythm is broken, it will take longer for Baby to sleep through.
Tip 6: Late afternoon and early evenings are notoriously difficult, so keep Baby busy at these times; go for walks, play ‘touchy’ games, give short feeds, dance with Baby. Minimise the household tasks for this hour by preparing the evening meal earlier in the day. Read Sister Lilian Centre’s basic baby sleep recipe for more tips on planning for this time of the day.
Tip 7: Stick to a wind-down ‘routine’ at the end of the day, as this will send healthy signals to Baby, helping to relax him and you. See my Sleep Recipe for a good example of this routine.
Tip 8: If Dad, Mom or both parents return home from work in the middle of the wind-down phase, take care not to introduce boisterous play again, as this will affect the rest of the evening.
Tip 9: Babies and toddlers will always try to kick against the limits imposed on them; this is how little ones learn. It doesn’t mean that your rules are wrong, but stay quietly confident in your approach and your child will reap the benefits!
I hope you will think of routine in a totally new light from today on – it truly is liberating and makes parenting far more enjoyable!
If you want all my tips on-hand, why not buy my Baby and Toddler Sleep Guide.