It’s important to have a daily routine. Not only does it bring a sense of stability into your life, it is also calming to a baby. We babies have limited abilities when it comes to explaining our needs. When we know our routine, we feel confident that our needs will be met.
Getting a baby on a schedule is easier said than done. Newborn babies have awkward routines at the best of times. More likely, they have no sense of a schedule at all. Why would they? For nine months they had no responsibilities and a little universe all to themselves.
Newborn babies need to be able to do as they please. But there is something you can do to get ahead of the game. Keep a log of every meal and nap. At first it will seem random, but as the weeks turn into months, you should notice a rough pattern emerge.
The pattern that begins to form may not be easy to spot. What you may see is that your baby likes to eat or sleep at roughly the same time every day. Or there might be a certain sequence to the eat and sleep pattern. There will also be days that are different from the rest, but that’s not a problem. If at least half of the days have some sense of a pattern, you are ready to begin a routine.
Help your baby become more regular in their routine by anticipating your baby’s needs and watching for those early cues. Plan activities around naps and meals. Soon your days will have a natural flow.
The secret to a successful routine is your state of mind. There is only one rule you must remember.
This is not YOUR routine
The purpose of the routine is not to allow you to dictate how the day will flow. The purpose is to meet your baby’s needs. There is no point in feeding a baby that isn’t hungry, and trying to get a baby that isn’t sleepy to take a nap is the best way to test your patience. The reason you were keeping a log and looking for a pattern was to learn what your baby needs at various points of the day.
How is having a routine helpful to you? It allows you to plan your day around the needs of your baby. You will know when to schedule an appointment or a family visit with minimal disruption to your baby. If you plan outings and activities around your routine, you will have much greater chances of pleasant experiences with a content baby. Best of all, as your baby learns to routine, they will become calmer knowing that as a need comes up, it will be addressed shortly without their fussing.
As times goes on, your baby’s needs will change and the routine will have to be altered. A routine can’t be too rigid or set in stone. Allow for some flexibility in your routine and don’t try to force things. Some days will not go according to plan. A routine is a rough outline of the day, and not a legally binding document.