Human beings are creatures of habit and we all have a routine. Some routines may be more flexible than others. We have routines that dictate our mornings, workdays, mealtimes, and more. For adults, routines save us the mental energy of making a thousand different decisions throughout the day. If you have a routine, there’s no question about what you’re going to do in the morning… it’s likely the same thing as yesterday!
Anytime we introduce a new person into our household, that routine will change - this is especially true when you bring a new baby home. Having a good morning baby routine can provide structure to your day and get you both started out on the right foot. Having a set bedtime baby routine will eventually cue your little one into sleep. So how do you go about successfully creating a routine for baby?
Creating Your Own Routine for Baby
Here are a few simple steps you can take to incorporate your baby into a routine.
Recognize that newborns are on their own schedules, and we must adapt to them. It’s important to follow their cues. Babies need to eat often, have frequent diaper changes, and get a whole lot of loving cuddles. These things are mostly done on demand and not according to any schedule. As illogical as it may sound, the most important part of creating a baby routine is to be FLEXIBLE!
Keep your routines short. Babies get overstimulated easily which can lead to fussiness, which might keep them awake when you want them to sleep.
Naturally falling asleep while nursing is okay and shouldn’t be discouraged, especially in the evening hours. Breastmilk during the evening and nighttime has more melatonin in it and aids in helping your little one fall asleep. Plan for this and take advantage of it when creating your routine for baby!
Stick with it. Even if you’re struggling to get into a solid baby routine, your effort will be worth it for both you and the baby. “For a newborn, who can't yet tell morning from evening, routines are especially helpful in establishing her circadian rhythm, an inborn biological clock that helps her distinguish night from day, says Rose Kavo, PhD, adjunct professor of child development at the Bank Street College of Education in New York City.”
Need a little more guidance? Here are some of my tried-and-true tips when creating a routine for baby.
IDEAS FOR A MORNING BABY ROUTINE
IDEAS FOR A BEDTIME BABY ROUTINE
Start with a diaper change and feed.
In my house we have the “dinner-bath-bed” routine. Dinner first, then straight to a bath, followed by reading and bed.
Infant massage is a great tool to relax your baby and get them ready to sleep. Do it after bath time when you’re applying their lotion.
Room in. You’ll both get more sleep. Room sharing is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics as one of the tools for preventing SIDS. Keeping sleeping babies next to you while you sleep also allows you to tend to them quickly when they stir and it allows you to avoid getting out of bed when it’s time to nurse.
Eat again then nap
Stay away from sleep training programs. An infant’s sleep will progress naturally over time. 85% of infants will be sleeping a 5-hour stretch by seven months of age.
If you have errands to run or want to get out of the house with baby –mornings are the best time to do it.
Utilize white noise. White noise reminds them of being in utero and helps them fall asleep faster.
Keep the home cool, between 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit. When the temperature drops, melatonin increases in the bloodstream and helps the baby (and adults!) sleep better. You can read more on that here.