How to Create a Routine for Baby
By Jan Kremer
When you first bring your new baby home, you’re going to have a lot of questions.
You may wonder why he’s not sleeping through the night and what you can do about it. You may be concerned about how many times a day to change or feed him. It’s only natural that as a first-time parent, since babies don’t come with instruction books.
Be sure to ask your pediatrician any questions that directly relate to the health of your child. And one thing you can do right from the start is to get baby started on a routine. Creating a loose schedule for you baby will benefit you now and into the future when he’s older.
Babies are very adaptable to their surroundings. They can sleep even when the TV’s on or the doorbell rings. In order to set a schedule, you’ll have to consider that babies do not know the difference between night and day. After all, this little guy has been in complete darkness for nine months. The clock means nothing to him, so you may have to wake him up during the day to eat.
You will want to start to get baby familiar with when the family is up during the day and when it’s time to sleep at night. Most infants can’t make it through a whole night of sleep because their stomachs are too small. They can’t hold enough food to keep them satisfied for the whole night. So don’t expect too much of your baby at first. Your routine will have to be flexible until baby is a little older.
For now, start by getting baby up at the same time every day. If it’s usually a rough night and you both can sleep late, allow baby to sleep until 10 or 11 o’clock. Then wake him up to eat. Newborn babies usually can go no more than five hours without feeding. So start your schedule from the time you get up. Feed him then and plan another feeding for about four hours later. Write up a schedule to feed baby every four hours. The tricky part is feeding baby before you go to bed. You may have to wake him up at say 11:00 so you can be ensured of getting at least four hours of sleep. Feed him at 3:00 am. He’ll wake you up when he’s hungry.
Then repeat the whole thing over again. Planning for four hour feeding intervals will allow baby to regulate his system to expect feedings at a certain time. Slowly, try keeping him up a few minutes more a day so that he’ll sleep at night. As baby gets older, his stomach will be able to hold more food, so you won’t have to feed him every four hours. As that time gradually stretches out, you’ll find one day that he is actually sleeping through the night. He may wake up at 6am for his breakfast, but consider that a good night’s sleep!
Starting your baby on a schedule is a good idea. Once you get to know your baby’s habits, you’ll be able to plan activities around his sleep schedule. The key is persistence. It will really pay off in the end when he’s taking regular naps as a toddler.
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