Routines are an important part of your baby’s life. When your baby was first born he came into a world that is new and unfamiliar. In utero, everything was fairly simple and consistent. Your baby was in a warm environment, fed constantly and comforted by the soothing sound of mom’s heartbeat. After birth, his new big world is filled with sights, sounds and smells that he has never experienced. It’s a lot for him to take in, and can be very overwhelming to his very fragile nervous systems. Building familiar and consistent routines around his days and nights will help him transition easier and fall into more predictable patterns. We all have routines to our days. We usually eat at the same times, go to work at certain hours and fall asleep and wake up at predictable times. Routines bring structure to our lives and structure and predictability help us feel secure in life. Putting routines in place for your baby will do the same and bring about positive benefits for your child and your family as a whole.
Did you know that you can begin routines early in your baby’s life? After the first 2 weeks of life, you can start to weave small routines into your days & evenings. Start by taking a morning walk, have reading time in the afternoon, give your baby a massage in the evening before you put him down to bed after a nice warm bath. Setting bed time routines can help your baby fall asleep faster and help diffuse nighttime fussiness. Some babies fall into routines easily and others may take some time to adjust. Believe it or not, it only takes a week (or less) for young babies to acclimate to new routines.
Four areas that you can build routines around
Try building some familiar routines around feeding. Some parents have a favorite chair they sit in while feeding their baby or use a special feeding pillow.
Give your baby regular tummy time on the same blanket. Use this play mat around the same time every day.
Try to do two or three things prior to putting your baby down for naps. These can be simple and quick things, like singing a little lullabye and swaddling your baby.
Establish a few nice and relaxing steps prior to putting baby down for bed. Baths, books, or massage are all wonderful routines you can start early on.
Find what routines your baby loves and weave those in on a regular basis every day. Try not to get too caught up in rigid schedules following the clock to the minute. The most beneficial thing you can do is to set a nice consistent flow to your day and do things in the same order on a regular basis. Babies typically sleep, eat, have a brief period of activity and then begin to get tired again. Observe your baby’s patterns to figure out what his natural flow is and blend your routines into that.