Establishing a pattern in your baby’s day can help keep them settled. Whether you start with play or feed, sticking to a routine that ends with sleep helps them to adjust to what is happening and know what to expect next. Here are some tips for establishing a routine – but do remember that your little one’s needs are constantly changing, so be flexible.
When to start
You can begin to set a routine from birth, but the first few weeks of a newborn’s life are dominated by feeding and sleeping. The ‘feed, play, sleep’ routine is a great starting point, but soon you’ll learn your baby’s hunger and sleep cues. Let them be your guide and learn what works for you both.
For new babies, play might only come in the form of a cuddle or tummy time. As they get older, it will look a bit different and last a little longer. They might spend some time under a play gym, listen to stories and songs, get a massage, or have some nappy-free time.
Time to sleep
Your baby will make it clear when they’re done playing and are ready to sleep. Signs they’re tired include jerking their arms, pulling funny faces or staring into the distance.
If you wait too long to settle your child, they will become overtired and it will be harder to get them to sleep. Finding the sweet spot between an alert and overtired baby can be tricky, but you’ll learn their cues soon enough. In the meantime, try relying on the clock: if they’ve been up for an hour, it’s time to go back to sleep.
Learning about day and night
Teaching your newborn to distinguish night time from day is all about creating signals they can associate with bed time. A bath, quiet time, cuddles and a kiss goodnight will set up a consistent pattern that lets them know it’s time to sleep. When you get up for night feeds, keep the lights dimmed and the interactions to a minimum. They will grow to learn that night time is for sleeping.
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