Babies thrive in a predictable world, and for good reason – every day is filled with new learning experiences and excitement. Which is why getting your baby into a routine will provide a sense of safety, comfort, and trust. Another important factor to it is that babies don’t understand the concept of time yet, so they organize their lives based on the events that happen during the day. When things happen in the same order, babies have a better understanding of their world!
When and how should I start?
You might be wondering when’s the best time to establish a routine. It could be surprising, but experts disagree on when exactly parents should begin to set a routine. Generally, when your baby reaches 2 or 4 months of age he’s more likely to stick along with routines; but you can try to start before that because routines will also help you.
One of the best ways to kick off a routine is by sorting sleep and feeding times. This is particularly helpful because newborns are just beginning to establish their circadian rhythm, which helps them distinguish between day and night. You can start a bedtime routine by doing things that relax your baby like taking a bath, reading a story, or listening to soft music. Try to keep track of your baby’s eating and sleeping times, that way you will have a better understanding of his natural times and later identify patterns that will help you implement a successful routine.
Don’t worry if your baby keeps waking up or wants to be fed at different times. Most babies’ sleeping and feeding habits become more consistent and predictable after 3 or 4 months. The idea is that over time, your baby will associate certain indicators with sleeping and feeding times.
Although you may want to keep a tight schedule for feeding and sleeping habits, it’s important to mention that you should never deny food or sleep when your baby seems to need it because it’s not the “right time.” Even if your baby just ate an hour ago, you should feed your little one if he’s crying out of hunger. The same goes for sleeping – if your schedule indicates that it’s time for sleep, but he’s fussier than normal and needs comforting, then he should be comforted. Remember: no schedule should come before your baby’s needs, especially during the first few months!