Establishing a routine for you and your baby
Routines are simply things that are done at the same or similar times every day and firstly I want to say that for the first 6 weeks or so, it is difficult to establish much of a routine as you adapt to the demands of being a new parent and getting to know your baby.
Here’s my thoughts on routines from a mothers perspective with a sprinkling of fact too.
- As soon as your baby is born people will start talking to you about whether or not you’ve got your baby into a routine and whether or not they are ‘good.’ Essentially what they are asking you is if your baby is sleeping through yet. And chances are they wont be and THAT IS ABSOLUTELY FINE.
- Firstly – all babies are different – some will sleep through and be in a ‘routine,’ really quickly as was my first who slept through at 6 weeks old (yes I was a smug mum.) My second Jessica took til 4 months to sleep through – at the time Id convinced myself I was a bit of a failure as it wasn’t as quick as Harry – what was wrong with my routine?? Gracie slept through when she was 20 months old and they all had the same routine.
- The routine you follow needs to work for you and your baby but a good routine unfortunately will not bless you with a baby that sleeps through just because you’re following the routine and I am here to tell you not to feel bad about that or like you’re doing something wrong you aren’t. And your baby will sleep through it will happen!
Sleep Routines and Managing your Expectations
I think the more we can manage our expectations around sleep in the early days as parents the better. I’ll be writing plenty more on this subject over the coming weeks too.
- Be realistic about your sleep expectations – a newborn will generally sleep 14 – 16 hours per day taking short naps of 2-4 hours on average.
- By 6 weeks a babies 24 hour body clock will be more established. They will gradually start to have their longest period of sleep over night time. By 6 months, this should be fully established but its not always the case. They will still need 14 hours sleep per day
- By 6 months babies should have developed a pattern of 1 long sleep at night and 1-2 substantial daytime naps. They should have between 12-14 hours sleep per day
We must remember though – all babies are different and in fact at 12-18 months old 50% of babies still need a parent to fall asleep and only at 18 months is night weaning developmentally appropriate.
What I am trying to point out here is that babies are supposed to wake in the night, babies are supposed to need support falling back to sleep and this is developmentally appropriate. So don’t beat yourself up if this is the case.
So what routine can I put in place?
- In the first few weeks, you’ll basically be getting to know your new baby – DO NOT STRESS ABOUT A ROUTINE! Your baby will automatically have a bit of a routine anyway – you’ll know when they need feeding for example based on hours since their last feed and before a feed you’ll change their nappy.
- A very simple routine you can start with is helping your baby to distinguish between day and night. Babies have no idea what day or night is so during the daytime, place their moses basket by the window whilst they sleep, don’t close the curtains, keep noise levels normal, don’t tiptoe around go about your daily business.
- Come night time, you’re aiming for a very low stimulus environment. Keep all lighting to a minumim – I can do everything by light of the iphone torch now! Keep interaction to a minimum and feed baby putting them back in their cot as soon as possible
- Another good thing to add to the ‘routine,’ is a bath time. Babies do enjoy a routine and they do come to associate certain things with certain times of the day if they are done regularly. Bath time is a great way of signalling to your baby its time for bed soon.
- A warm bath, fresh babygrow and feeding baby a bottle in a dimly lit calm and quiet environment like the bedroom signals to them that it is bedtime and the day is over. This will not happen overnight but doing the same things around the same time helps your baby to settle and can help them to get a better nights sleep.
Your newborn will need lots of naps and this is ok! By the time your baby is a few weeks old you’ll have worked out when they need to sleep and what works best for you! Go with this and remember they’re only teeny tiny once, don’t waste all your time and energy stressing about a routine – you cant spoil them and you cant get this time back.
If you need a supportive group of mums and some reassurance from professionals and other mums who’ve been there our group online classes for babies is for you! Feel free to join via facebook