A note about routines

Routines are a hot topic these days and many parenting experts will recommend that you get baby into a routine as soon as possible, predicting all sorts of dire consequences if you don’t.

You’ll probably find many of your friends and families advocate these as well.  Actually the research shows that what is important for a healthy happy baby is having her various needs met in a warm loving responsive way.  Within this, some parents find routines helpful others don’t.

It’s a lot easier not to have rigid expectations of when baby will go to sleep – lots will depend on what’s been happening with sleep and activities during the day.  For goodness sake, don’t try to put your baby to sleep if she’s not tired.  Babies have enough trouble getting to sleep when they’re tired let alone when they’re not!

Babies are pretty flexible, and routines are for parents.  So if your personality type is such that having a routine makes you happier then do it.  But there are some considerations:

  • Be flexible!  At this age your baby is need driven not want driven.  She cries because she NEEDS something (sleep, food, love, nappy change).  A routine should take into account your baby’s needs, not just your lifestyle preferences or somebody else’s idea of what your baby’s schedule should look like.  If your routine means she spends lots of time crying because she’s hungry or tired, then you need to look at changing it.  Routines also need to be flexible to take into account things like heat (when baby may need more milk to stay hydrated), sickness (again baby may need more food or sleep), or change of circumstances (like travel).
  • It is totally okay to go with a demand driven routine, i.e. do what baby needs when they need it.  This means you need to learn your baby’s language so you know what they are communicating.  Breastfeeding when your baby wants is generally recommended especially when you are establishing breastfeeding, or if your baby is struggling to put on weight.
  • Think about having patterns rather than routines A routine is clock-driven.  A pattern is a series of behaviours that aren’t necessarily time driven but follow one after the other.  So a helpful pattern might be a bedtime pattern.  If you are wanting your baby to be heading bedward for the evening you might do the same pattern of events each night i.e. give her a massage, put on a clean nappy and pjs, then give her a feed.

Sanity Saving Tip:

If you are feeling lost in the haze of sleep deprivation and shapeless days it can be helpful to write down when baby sleeps and feeds.  You will often discover baby naturally has a pattern – this can help the day feel more structured.


Posted on July 12, 2011, in Feeding, Sleep and Crying. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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