Getting into a regular schedule for sleep, feeding and activities can make life easier for you and your baby. But how do you start? Below are seven great guidelines for establishing a routine that works.
Build the routine
Babies know how to let you know when they’re hungry or tired. Your job is to try to anticipate when your baby wants to eat, sleep, or play, and then attend to her needs before she realizes she’s hungry, tired, or bored.
If you record your baby’s naps, playtimes and feedings in a notebook, you can use this record to come up with a timetable for doing all these things.
Teach your baby the difference between night and day
Many babies mix up their days and nights at first, sleeping long stretches during the day only to wake up once the sun has gone down. Helping your baby learn to tell day from night is a key first step to getting into a workable routine.
During the day, keep the house light. Do the exact opposite at night: Keep the room dark and quiet. Let her learn that night is for sleeping and daytime is for playtime.
Get your baby used to a bedtime routine early on
Once you have a consistent bedtime worked out, a daytime routine will fall into place. The bedtime routine is the most important thing to consider when establishing a schedule. You can’t force it in the first few months, but you can start practicing at around 2 months.
When starting out, put your baby’s schedule first
If you’re encouraging your baby to follow a schedule, make this a top priority for at least the first few weeks. Avoid deviating from the routine with visits from families or outings that push naptime back. It’s best to keep your baby’s schedule as consistent as possible while she’s getting used to it.
Things will change at times, especially when your baby is sick or off schedule. They also accomplish so much in the first year. She’ll nearly triple her weight and start sitting up and crawling. During these periods don’t be surprised if your baby diverges from her usual routine. Just try and get back on schedule as soon as you can.
Don’t expect perfection
Although babies do like consistency, you can expect changes from day to day and as your baby grows. Sometimes, for whatever reason, your baby will want to skip a nap, have an extra snack or wake up early. Variation is okay, as long as your baby is getting the sleep, play, food, care, and love she needs to thrive.
Why is a schedule important for my baby?
A baby’s needs aren’t that complicated â€” food, sleep, play, and love pretty much sums it up. But knowing what your baby requires when and how much of it, can be a real challenge. Many parents find that getting into a regular routine or schedule with their baby makes life much easier. As a parent, you’ll have a predictable pattern for your days with your little one.
Schedules also help with establishing trust. The only thing your baby can depend on to tell you how the day and night will turn out is your schedule. Routine can make a baby feel safe and help them know what is coming next.
An added bonus: When you’re ready to try leaving your baby with a sitter or caregiver, the transition will be easier. Your baby will be reassured by her usual routine and your caregiver will be able to anticipate her needs.