Before we get into the nitty gritty of this blog post I don’t want you to be scared of the title! A routine does not always mean a structured nap and feed schedule and following the clock every day.
This blog post is going to (hopefully!) help you understand that and help you find your “EASY” routine and rhythm with your newborn and help you understand what your days are going to possibly look like! Having some sort or gentle routine in your day can help what may be a chaotic home actually instil some sanity to your life!
The 4th trimester is all about getting to know your little person, understanding their cues and enjoying those mini milestones, the first smile, the first meetings with the family, the first family outings!
Your new baby is likely to be feeding every 2-4 hours and as they grow and get closer to 4/5 months those hours will become 3-4 hours. Night time feeds will be the same. Of course there are those unicorn babies that do sleep 5 hours or more stretches in the early days. Please speak to your paediatrician if you have any questions of concerns over feeding night or day.
Your newborn baby is going to spend most the day sleeping (approx. 14-17 hours in 24) so really where is the time for a routine? Your newborn will spend some time awake and this time may be very short to start with. Just enough time to change a nappy, feed and have a cuddle. This to them is stimulation and play time!
It is important to offer a feed to your baby when they wake up from a nap as they got older. This will help eliminate the feed to sleep association.
Remember your baby does not know the difference between night and day when they are born so it is important to expose them to natural daylight during waking hours and even more so when they wake for the day around 6/7am.
Your daily routine will be EASY! So what does “easy” mean exactly?
E is for eat
A is for activity
S is for sleep
Y is for YOU!
If you are looking for more structure to your days the graphic below can help guide you in that direction. Do you see when that nap happens that is time for YOU! Have a hot cup of tea, take a shower or just sit and relax!
And that is your routine. As simple as that! Of course putting it into practice may not be as easy but everyday it will get a little easier and if you only want to work on this for the first part of the day first then work on the end of day that is fine. There is no pressure here. You do what feels right for you and your baby
As I mentioned your newborn will spend most of the time sleeping but it is also important to wake your baby from a nap and feed. This will help get into a routine and also help with night sleep. By waking them after 2-3 hours you are ensuring they will not miss a feed and therefor they will not be looking for that missed feed in the night time. A nap time routine only needs to be 5 minutes long. Find out what it may look like HERE!
Habits Help Routine
When it comes to a nap it can be beneficial to change back into pyjamas if you want to. Having a little mini routine such as nappy change, pjs and a little sing song even just for 2-3 minutes can help with a nap time routine and help then settle into the “zone”!
The Bedtime Routine
When? You can start this as early as day 1 or wait till around 12 weeks if you prefer. Just as a nap time routine suggests a bedtime routine will help signal to your child sleep is coming.
What may that bedtime routine look like?
· 10 minute bath (see more on bath time here)
· Massage/nappy/pyjamas on
· Feed breast or formula
· Story/song/cuddle time – This is a great connection time for you and your baby and helps separate the chaos of the day to calm peaceful bedtimes!
· Laying into bed somewhat awake
This bedtime routine only needs to be about 30 minutes long. The body naturally is ready to fall asleep approx. 45 minutes after a so a 30 minute window to enjoy feed, story and cuddles is perfect.
Routine and Consistency
It is very important you are consistent especially as your baby is 5 months or older. It helps your baby learn what is coming next. You can start with routines as young as 12 weeks. If you are not consistent in anything then no patterns or habits will be cemented in. If you are a go with the flow parent then consistency will not so much come into play but if it feels right for you and works for your baby then there is no need to change it.
Changes Will Happen
Growth spurts and milestones will hinder sleep and this is to be expected. But if you have that consistent routine in place it will help ease the blip! When may these newborn blips occur?
· 2 weeks
· 6 weeks
· 12 weeks
Your newborn may actually sleep more or they may be very restless and need more support to sleep than you normal feel they have. Remember up to five months it is all about supporting to sleep so if they need a little more rocking or cuddle to sleep that is OKAY!
As your baby grows their wake windows will change and routines will naturally change. Nothing will stay the same for long, just as you feel you have cracked it something new will pop up! Days will differ but ultimately you will have a rhythm, a routine. You will get up, feed, eat breakfasts, take a shower and go for a walk or run some errands. You may start to join baby classes like a swim class or baby sensory and then a routine will naturally form from this.
Above all enjoy this time with your newborn and do not feel any pressure to change anything if something is currently working for you.
Peaceful nights to you all,
Your paediatric sleep consultant