4 essential routines for your sweet baby

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Because solid routines in certain areas can help your baby be happier and feel loved.

Routines are good for those tiny little creatures of habit, also know as babies. A good routine provides the perfect opportunity for baby and mum and dad to bond, and therefore involves feelings of love and comfort.

Solid routines also teach your baby comfort and expectation - that you will always come back and be there for him. This expectation and understanding will set the foundation for a lifetime of trust between you and your child.

Having good routines also makes life just that little bit easier for busy parents, helping them achieve a good balance between focussing on baby and attending to other matters and chores.

To get you started, here are four routines which we think are the most important to establish for a baby:

1. Sleep

Remember that a newborn/ infant is too young for sleep routines.

 

A newborn baby is way too young for a fixed sleep routine. He doesn't really understand the difference between night and day and all he wants really is breastmilk, warmth and contact with his parents.

But as he grows older, you can gently set the stage for establishing sleep routines for later where he understands that by a certain time, he needs to go to bed. For a child, getting adequate sleep is of the utmost importance both for his own health and development, and your own wellbeing too.

What you could do

Try not to wait until baby is overtired and cranky to get him to sleep. Watch for signs of tiredness such as yawning and rubbing his eyes. Once you spot these cues, you'll know the time is right for bedtime.

Set the scene for sleepytime by ensuring baby's tummy is nice and full, and by giving him a relaxing, warm bath and a massage. Lots of cuddles, a book, soft music and dim lights after that should ensure that your baby falls asleep fast.

When baby is past those newborn days, gradually work these pre-sleep practices into timings - before daytime naps and in the evening to set the stage for bedtime.

What you shouldn't do

Don't stress if your baby takes time to fall into a sleep routine. Also, it's quite normal for little ones to fall asleep while at the breast, or while in your arms. This shouldn't be a cause for frustration, and happens because baby feels the most secure near you.

As he grows older, these traits will lessen and soon, hopefully, you'll have an awesome little sleeper!

2. Nursing

Feeding on demand is best for newborns until a stronger nursing routine is established.

While feeding on demand is recommended for newborns, as baby grows you'll notice a pattern in when he needs to be fed.

Sticking to a loose routine when breastfeeding will make your baby happier as he learns that when he is hungry, you are there to give him yummy milk. Also, if you can stick to a regular routine when baby is a bit older, your breastmilk supply will be steadier and more consistent.

What you could do

Look for signs of hunger in your little one such as fussiness and rooting (this is when they open their little mouth and nuzzle against you, looking for your breast). Have ready a dedicated nursing spot/s where you have a glass of water within easy reach, a nursing pillow and/or soft music.

What you shouldn't do

Don't wait until baby is really hungry and screaming to attempt to nurse him. He may be too agitated to eat properly and all that crying may make him tired, sending him to sleep the moment he is on your breast.

Also, don't fret if baby doesn't nurse every 2-3 hours. You're looking at a routine, not a strict schedule and as long as you keep an eye out for those hunger cues, things should fall into place thereon.

3. Play

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Play with your baby for some beautiful bonding

Babies benefit greatly from play, even when very young. It is through play that they learn about new experiences and their environment, and also bond with you. So work in a couple of play routines into your little one's days, starting from when they are quite young.

What you could do

With a very young baby, keep the play very gentle and minimal. As your bub gets older, try to schedule your play sessions when he's at his most alert, which is usually after eating. Read to him, gently tickle him and play 'this little piggy'. Do try to give your baby your full attention during this time, so he understands you are truly involved and present.

What you shouldn't do

Keep initial play sessions short - five to 10 minutes should do. Don't go to town with flashing lights, colours and loud noises either. Overstimulation in this way may get your baby too excited to sleep, if that is the next thing on the agenda. It might also distress him which is the last thing you want him to expect from a play session.

Also, don't panic over your little one's very short attention span. This is normal and his attention and focus will improve as he grows older.

4. Bath time

bathing your newborn

Your baby will come to look forward to bathtime with an established routine. But remember to never leave him alone in a bath tub or water.

Bath time for your baby can provide an invigorating start to his day when done in the morning, or a relaxing wind-down method before sleep (or both!). Use it to promote bonding and facilitate play. It's also a good time to examine your little one's body for mosquito bites, rashes and other nasties.

What you could do

Try to establish baby's bath-time routine at a time when you are not rushed or stressed. You need to have full focus when handling a slipperly little baby. Remember to have everything you need for the bath close-by, including a soft towel.

After your baby's bath, give him a gentle massage before dressing him.

What you shouldn't do

Never leave your baby alone even for a second during bath time. Babies can drown in just a couple of inches of water. In order to maintain your full focus on baby during bath time, turn your phone off or have it on silent, and if the doorbell rings, wrap your baby and take him with you if no one else is at home to answer it.

Also, newborns don't need to be bathed every day and certainly not before their umbilical stump falls off. A gentle washcloth bath is enough at this stage.

Mums and dads, remember that when your child is not feeling too well or going through a growth spurt (or for many other reasons), established routines may be broken - and this is okay.

In the end, the purpose of a routine is to help your little one feel more secure with the knowledge that he knows what to expect next. Likewise, routines can  also help you organise your day so that you also get some time to yourself.

Nothing in childhood is set in stone, including routines.

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Ages & Stages Baby Development