A good definition of a routine is the structure to a baby’s day, which meets sleeping needs during the day and night. It means that both you and your baby know vaguely how the day is going to go, so you can plan activities and keep your baby content.
Establishing breastfeeding comes first. Early, frequent, good feeds in the first few weeks promote a good supply of milk for your baby. Initially babies need to feed frequently and on demand. Later, if you encourage full feeds, your baby should start to have longer spacing between feeds. This makes a routine easier and won’t affect your milk supply.
Again, it can be easier to work on these before embarking on establishing a timed routine. Teaching your baby a good sleeping pattern is important not just for a routine, but for the well-being of the whole house.
Your baby may be ready for the first nap an hour or two after they first wake, depending on age.
When your baby is around two or three months old, a bath, massage, feed, familiar soothing lullaby and environment will signal to your baby that it’s bedtime, and is also a lovely way to end the day.
The longest a baby younger than six months is usually awake for is 90 minutes at the most. Use this as a guide to help you work out when your baby is tired. Your baby may struggle to settle if you encourage sleep too soon, or too late. Newborn babies in the early weeks may stay awake only long enough to feed (45-60 minutes maximum), then go back to sleep.
If your baby is lasting three to four hours between feeds, aim the feeds for early morning, mid-morning, mid-afternoon, early evening and late evening. Leave your baby to wake naturally in the night for their feeds.
You can do this once your baby starts to show a natural alertness (around three weeks old). At first, it will involve little more than a chat and singsong as you change your baby’s nappy. By three months, most babies will enjoy time on a baby gym, bouncy chair, out in the pushchair or on your lap for a little while, before being ready for a nap.
A baby routine will hopefully avoid your baby being overtired, grumbling and crying.
You should make sure that you always offer your baby a feed if they seem to need it, no matter what your baby routine is. This will protect your milk supply and fulfil your baby’s needs for milk. The odd snack or early feed will make no difference to the routine overall.
Please be aware that the information given in these articles is only intended as general advice and should in no way be taken as a substitute for professional medical advice. If you or your family or your child is suffering from symptoms or conditions which are severe or persistent or you need specific medical advice, please seek professional medical assistance. Philips AVENT cannot be held responsible for any damages that result from the use of the information provided on this website.