As a mom of two under two , if I’d be asked to list down the most life saving hacks for surviving parenthood, the first one on that list would be setting up baby routines.
Baby routines help routines make your life organised, and that’s the only way you can get some time on your hands, to run a few errands or take a shower ! i am not talking about a sleep routine or a mere feeding schedule. a baby’s day should be planned. and here’s how….
Why a baby routine ?
Inculcating a baby routine sounds like a lot of work and trust me, it is. But think of it this way, its more like an investment in terms of “Time”. The more you invest now, higher will be the savings later. There are times when parents are totally frustrated and fed up, about continuing their kids routines. You are not alone. Every parent gets these feelings at some point or the other.
Yes sleep time can be a struggle, even after religiously following a baby sleep routine for weeks, that’s because kids grow and their energies increase with time, so do their interest. So bedtime stories might have been a sure shot way of putting your kids to sleep once upon time, but as the reach toddler hood, the magic might not work. That must have been disappointing to read, lets take a look at the other type of parenting, the so called easier one.(which it isn’t)
Without a baby routine? HELP !
The other method of raising kids is “The no routine whatsoever ” method. No fixed bedtimes, no fixed meal times. Forget predictable bathing or play time schedules. Confused? So whats this? its a way of recognizing and doing things according to your child’s cues.
A 2 yr. old decides when he wants to sleep or what he wants to eat, worse doesn’t want to eat at all. Outrageous right? Hilarious too. Its a perfect recipe for chaos. Putting a baby on a routine involves a lot of hard-work. So some chose the easy way out as it may suit some families- spontaneous parenting.
Important Benefits of a Daily Routine for Kids
- Children Learn Mealtime Structure
- Children Learn Bedtime Routines (BONUS: their internal clocks naturally begin to adjust)
- Children Learn Family-Specific Routines like Childcare, Weekends, etc.
- Establish Healthy Habits such as Brushing Teeth, Getting Dressed, Washing Hands, Brushing Hair, etc.
- Create Time Each Day that is Dedicated to Connection and Playing with Siblings & Parents
- Children Will Learn & Understand Time / Time Management.
How to go about establishing a baby routine ?
If you are a first time parent and do not know anything about parenting a newborn, here is my advice- your first few months are going to be a blur, precisely because the baby needs you a lot. So you are going to be very busy tending to his/her needs, which are basically sleeping and feeding. Here are 70+ products and tips for making your post partum journey easier.
Once the child becomes mobile, and starts taking interest in his surroundings, that’s a good time to sit back, relax, take a break and think upon setting up a routine for your household, not the child alone, because whatever schedule you make, it will need the help and involvement of the entire household, not just the mother.
Pro tip : You cant keep nap time, when your maid comes in for cleaning the house and makes noise or feed time when your, husband has to go to work and keeps asking for his wallet or socks.
Basic rules for setting up a baby routine.
When it comes to setting up a routine of any kind, there are some basic rules to be followed, just to make sure you do not go wrong in the first place.
- Consistency is the key: If you follow your routine for 4 days straight and then skip it the 5th day because the baby kept you up all night, then you will be back to square one. Its not some sort of punishment for you mama, its because the baby gets confused. So be persistent in your efforts.
- Its going to be very hard: Know this in advance and keep it in your mind so you don’t give up too soon.
- Have Patience: You may not see any kind of improvement for days, even weeks because every child is different.
Your own personalized baby routine.
Before you chalk out a plan and expect your child to follow suit, in the next few weeks, study your child’s behavior. His sleep and feeding patterns. The best way to come you up with a full proof routine is to go by your child’s cues.
To know that, write down his sleep, nap, feed timings and for how long each of it lasts. Do this for at least 4 days to a week. By doing this, you will get a rough idea of the schedule your child’s biological cycle follows.
Now make subtle changes in this routine, that suits your sleep and rest times, because that’s what a mom needs to do for the first few months of her Postpartum period. Forget running errands or cleaning the house. (Unless of course you are a 2nd time mom like me. Then the words REST and SLEEP get officially deleted from your copy of the dictionary.)
So there you go. You now have a personalized baby routine, chalked out just for you and your baby, customized to your needs and schedules.
There are plenty of sleep schedules and baby routines available for a newborn, on the internet, but this one works almost always. I have followed the same one for both my babies and it has helped me tremendously.
Baby feeding schedule
Let’s talk a bit about baby feeding schedules. I am a doctor and i believe in going by the book. Unfortunately, my babies don’t. I have fed both my babies on demand and i advise my patients the same thing. Then why am I talking about a schedule here?
Here’s why: Babies are inherently on a feeding schedule. That’s because of their small stomach capacities and a quick digestion time of human breast milk. Having low milk supply? Read these tips for increasing your breast milk supply in 48 hours.
So a baby may feed every 2 or 3 hourly maximum. Unless they are cluster feeding. To know your child is cluster feeding or not, you need to know about non-nutritive suckling. In simpler words, is your child suckling out of hunger or habit? Read more about cluster feeding here. This will help you break the cycle of cluster feeding, establish a schedule, and increase breast milk output. Learn how to breastfeed a newborn.
A newborn should not be left without a feed for more than 3 hours even if he/she is asleep, you should wake them and feed. Check out these feeding cues to know when its time to feed your baby.
Baby sleep routine.
Newborns sleep for 16 to 18 hours, in installments, of course. A nap time for a newborn can be anywhere between 30 mins to 3 hours. A basic tip to establish your baby routine is to make the baby understand the difference between day and night i. e. nap time (during day) and sleep time (during night). For doing this you need to make changes in the newborn’s surroundings. Day time sleep should be in that part of the room/ nursery which is near the window and the room should be well lit. if there is a sibling then, he/she should be asked to play quietly. Check out these sleep cues to know when your baby is ready for sleep.
When it comes to a newborn’s day time schedule, the most eventful part of the day is “Bathing” then there’s sleeping and feeding, so its kind of monotonous. But their teeny tiny brains prefer it that way. When to bathe a newborn, purely depends upon a moms choice and schedule.
Culturally speaking, in the Asian parts of the word, bathing a newborn is strictly a morning task while, the western part of the world considers it to be a part of the night time schedule hence done in early part of night or late evening. Whatever time you chose, it determines the basis of your day time schedule. Lets divide your baby’s day into 4 parts:
- Open the curtains to let sunlight in, thus teaching them the difference between day and night. Natural light is much better than artificial light. It is advised to keep the baby’s crib/cot near the window for the same.
- Change the clothes, everyday. This is the start of a routine for your baby so do not underestimate the importance of changing clothes before sleep and after getting up. its all aimed at developing good sleep habits for a later life.
- Breastfeeding on both sides assuming its baby’s first meal of the day
- Burping is very important as empty’s space in the baby’s tummy for more milk and ensures a good, unhindered sleep later
- Playtime in the form of engaging your baby by talking, gently moving his/her limbs, showing bright contrast colors especially black and white because that’s what they can see the best at newborn stage.
- Look for sleep cues, after playtime this will be the next thing as the baby will be tired by now
- When drowsy not asleep ,transfer to cot, because we don’t want to put the baby to sleep by rocking or walking around. Sure it will make your job easier but in the long run, when you don’t have to do “baby only” tasks then this will be the most frustrating part of the day. Baby has to learn to fall asleep on his own, best way is to put him/her in the cot and gently pat on the back till the fall asleep.
- Play/sing a lullaby or (a baby loves her mom’s voice-good/bad) so sing to them, talk to them.
- White noise is very important for putting your baby to sleep. The aim is to mimic an environment like that of the womb. now when babies are in the womb their ears are pressed against a big artery of the mothers body(because there isn’t much space inside) “the aorta”. they constantly hear the sound of blood gushing through it. so the outside world seems rather quiet to them, contrary to the popular belief.
- Do not darken the room.
- Wake within 2 hrs, as nap time should be differentiated from sleep time. Longer nap times pave way for delayed sleep times in the night.
- And follow the same routine during the rest of the day
- use the Baby miracle
- Begin the bedtime routine, can be anything you feel comfortable with. make sure it isn’t too long. Remember, you have to follow it on your bad days too, by that i mean sleep deprived, exhausted nights, which is going to be every alternate night. Naah just kidding. Just keep it short.
- Breastfeed, a good feed is very important, do not let the baby sleep on the breast. You will be happy that your baby has slept so soon, but know that a half fed baby will keep waking up through the night and the cycle will continue.
- Burp, as it is the most common cause for a baby waking immediately after you lay him down.
- Poop, this one’s just a wait and watch as you cant do anything about it. But its important that he has pooped, because most babies have a pattern in which night time poop is always there. So starting you schedule after the baby has pooped would be great. keep an eye out for it though.
- Gentle massage, to relax the babies muscles. use a soothing, oil for massage. use correct techniques to avoid injury to the developing joints and muscles.
- Bath, a nice hot water bath with mild soap. you baby will be drowsy by the end of it, so now make sure to be quick from here on.
- Change in jammies
- Lullaby or white noise
- Put the baby in the cot when drowsy not asleep, and then watch him fall asleep on his own. Its very important to note here that for how long should you wait, because being a new mom we are wired to pick the baby up the moment he cries. Dont let him get cranky, you have lost the battle once he starts crying. when is in his drowsy state gently keep patting him to sleep. This might sound like too easy and too difficult to work out, all at the same time. But trust me, when they have grown up, you be more than delighted to just pat them and watch them fall asleep on their own, rather than pick them up and try it all over again.
The aim of following a baby routine is to make the schedule a second nature to mom. So you don’t have to keep an eye out for nap time or feed time, no need to keep checking your printable, or the app. Get rid of the guess work and become a pro at tending to your baby by getting to know him/her. The best way to emphasize its importance is “it helps you stay sane”. Sleep deprivation is the most common cause of anxiety and stress in a mother in her post partum period. Help yourself.
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