When you think about a planning a routine, you probably think about sophisticated apps on your phone or colourful planners with lots of columns and rows. But while these are certainly handy for us, they’re not of much use when setting routines for your baby! Yes, babies need routines too, and the earlier you start the better!
Why do you need a baby routine?
If you’re a new Mom, your days are probably a random sequence of events, most of which include nursing, changing diapers, washing your baby and did we mention nursing? You’re frazzled, don’t know which day it is and occasionally find yourself close to tears! And if you have an older child to care for as well, it’s a proper circus!!
But it doesn’t have to be this way; with a little planning and smart scheduling, things can fall into place, even with a tiny baby. The key is to set a routine that works for you and your baby, at the same time being in sync with the rest of the family’s schedules. Besides keeping you sane, getting baby into a routine has other benefits as well.
Benefits of having a baby routine
1. You’ll be meeting baby’s basic needs like feeding and sleeping on time and before he becomes cranky. This results in a much calmer and happier baby.
2. A consistent routine that repeats itself everyday imbibes a feeling of security and comfort in a child.
3. When travelling, sticking to baby’s original routine will help soothe some of the strangeness of the new place
4. You can leave your baby with your husband or another caretaker who just needs to stick to the schedule.
5. Baby’s internal clock adjusts to night time and day time cues, helping him sleep better at night and be refreshed during the day.
When can I set a baby routine?
Setting a routine before hand and expecting your baby to follow it is a sure fire way to drive both of you crazy! With newborns, you’re always on call, so setting a routine here doesn’t make much sense – tending to your baby and getting some rest whenever you can, should take precedence. By the time your baby is in his third month, he has probably started settling into some form of a rough schedule, so that is your cue to start thinking about getting baby into a routine.
How to Set a Routine that Works
1. Don’t let your idealized notions of a perfect day come in the way of creating a routine that works; let your baby show you the way. At this age, babies need to eat, sleep, poop, bathe and play. So for a week or two, watch when your baby prefers to do these activities and jot it down every day.
2. Build your routine around any one activity. It could be bedtime or lunch time, depending upon which one your baby has most trouble with. Once you sort that out, the rest of the day will fall in place better.
3. Set cues for every activity, so your baby soon learns what to expect next. For instance, putting on his bib and getting his highchair shows him that it’s now mealtime. Dimming the lights, and putting on his pyjamas lets him know that it’s now bedtime, and he’ll soon start feeling sleepy at that time.
4. Push mealtimes or naptimes a little further or later to reach the right balance. Your baby might be too hungry to nap at times, or too sleepy to eat. So adjust his routine accordingly, so that his hunger is satisfied in time for his nap and vice versa.
5. Have your support system in place. Babies will be babies, and there is bound to be some stress till they settle in their routines. In the meanwhile, make sure you have enough help to manage things around the house, like basic chores and running errands.
As for the rest of the family, ask them to play with the baby during his scheduled play time, since overstimulation at bedtime can throw your routine out of whack! Remember that the routine you set is just a general guide and your baby’s needs take priority over it. If he’s really hungry, don’t wait for his scheduled mealtime, feed him then and adjust the routine for the rest of the day accordingly.
You’ll have to adjust the routine as the baby grows, especially around six, nine and twelve months. Starting solids will result in more time for meals and crawling will require more time to wander and explore, so you’ll have to pencil it all in! When planning for holidays, parties or even weekends, try to schedule the fun parts during baby’s play time so the whole family can have a good time together. At the end of the day, sit back and relax; your routine isn’t set in stone, and your baby might just decide to rebel. Take it easy and stay calm – it’ll all fall in place one day!!
(All images from Flickr Creative Commons)