When I first had my baby, I asked one of the midwives what her routine should look like. She chuckled and said "You won't get your newborn into a routine." Fortunately, I didn't listen to her advice and went with my gut and what worked with my lifestyle. Having a routine for my daughter is one of the best things I ever did, right from the get go. Of course, in saying this, there are definitely some days that there is no routine at all and some weeks after holidays or Christmas where the routine has completely gone out the window. However, the foundations are there and after a few days, we are able to sink back into our routine.
I want to profess that every baby and family are different however I want to share the tips and tricks that worked for me and everything that I have learnt from my experience.
The night time routine
Bath: Although babies do not need bathing every day, I decided to make this part of the nightly routine to create consistency.
Book: Reading is amazing for your child's development and getting them into the habit of it early will make them enjoy it even more in the future.
Bottle: However you are feeding your baby, feed them before bed so their tummy is nice and full. I always makes sure to give my daughter a nice burp so that she doesn't have extra gas in her tummy while she is trying to fall asleep.
Bed: Finishing the routine with bed.
If you stick to this routine each night, they will be able to predict exactly what is coming next and know when it is bedtime, making it easier for them to settle. Babies love to predict what is going to come next. Try to stick to the same bedtime every night however, in saying that, of course this is not always possible as we have things on. When I first started getting my daughter into a routine, I would be thrown if I had something on in the night and we couldn't stick to our schedule. I began saying no to things but quickly learnt that it made the nights unenjoyable. I now know that it is okay if my baby's bedtime is not the same every day. One day out of routine won't hurt. It is was more important for me to still enjoy life.
NOTE: Always follow safe sleep guidelines.
The day time routine
I won't get into specifics here as because as I mentioned, every baby is different including their awake times and nap times however as a general rule, I try to follow the below.
Feed: Always try associate waking up with feeding. Again, with newborns, they tend to cluster feed so this may be hard to follow strictly until they are a little older and feeding more consistently.
Play: After the feed, your baby is full of energy from their sleep and feed and this is the perfect time to develop their skills. Whether you have a newborn and are doing tummy time or have a baby and are doing sensory play, utilise this time to nourish their learning. If you have a younger baby, this time will only be between 45 mins to 2 hours so make this time count, it's not long before they are back napping.
Sleep: Depending on your babies age will decide how long their nap is however it is important to note that babies often wake up after one sleep cycle and you may think they are ready to get up. They often have not yet had enough sleep and need resettling. It is great to try and teach them to self-settle and resettle themselves from a young age. I personally did this from around 8 weeks and it has been a game changer. More on this in an upcoming blog.
I would like to add that babies are very unpredictable and no two days are the same so if your routine is off one day or changes, that is okay and completely normal. You will never have a perfect routine with a baby and goal here is not to get a perfect routine however to try to implement consistency because your baby will love it. I have plenty of days where things are crazy, these are usually the days where out routine is off, I enjoy the days and then get back into routine.