Welcoming a newborn baby into the world is an experience that nothing really prepares you for, no matter how many books you read!
But once they’re here, you might want to establish a newborn routine for your tiny new arrival. Getting into a routine early can help structure and set a recognisable rhythm to their (and your) day. It also lets you learn their hunger and sleep cues and helps them feel secure and settled from the get-go.
If you’re looking to learn more about getting into a routine with your newborn baby, you’ve come to the right place! Let us run you through how to get into a manageable newborn baby routine.
Why should I have a newborn routine?
Finding a routine that works for both you and your baby may seem like a momentous task in those early (and sometimes overwhelming) newborn days when you’re still getting used to life with your little one. But it doesn’t have to be super complicated, and you can go at your own pace.
Setting a routine can help you to…
- teach your baby the difference between day and night, which can help them get into a steady bedtime routine
- create consistency for you and them
- plan visits and trips out around their naps and feeds
- notice changes in their behaviour and development
How to get a newborn into a routine
Every baby is different, but the key elements of a good newborn routine include times for sleeping, feeding, nappy changing, playing, and getting out and about.
Whether you’re breastfeeding, bottle feeding, or combination feeding, it’s a good idea to get into a routine with your feeds. As well as timing, this can include setting the scene, making sure the environment around you is calm, and ensuring sure that you’ve got everything you need (like muslin cloths, bibs, and a drink for yourself) close to hand.
When it comes to timing, lots of parents find it easier to feed their baby on demand, but it can help to note down when your baby feeds, and for how long, each day. That way, you can start to notice patterns and begin to understand your newborn more every day.
You may be thinking, how on earth can I play with this tiny baby!? But the truth is there are ways that you can entertain and stimulate your baby during the early days.
Newborns don’t really need toys, but you can try a few minutes of tummy time, giving them different things to look at and feel, holding them close and swaying to your favourite songs, and singing softly to them.
Getting out and about
Going out for a wander in the fresh air and having the opportunity to meet other mums and babies is really important for both you and your little one.
Newborn babies may need changing as often as 10 to 12 times a day. You should change your little one’s nappy as soon as you can after they’ve peed or pooed to keep them comfortable and to minimise the chance of them getting a nappy rash.
The truth is that newborn babies sleep a lot (from approximately eight to 18 hours a day), but it doesn’t always feel that way. Their sleep will be in short, random bursts at first, and some parents find that their little one sleeps for long stretches in the day and wake up more during the night.
Getting into the habit of doing the same bedtime ritual at the same time each night can help your baby form a positive association with sleep. This can include…
- giving them a bath and massage
- reading them a short story or singing them a lullaby
- giving them plenty of cuddles and a goodnight kiss
It can also help to begin teaching them the difference between night and day early on. You can do this by keeping your house bright and bustling when they’re napping as you get on with what you need to do during the day, but dim, calm and quiet at night as you’re winding down.
Setting this definition helps your mini-me understand that nighttime when it’s dark and quiet is the time for sleep, and daytime when it’s bright and lively is for socialising and playing. With a bit of practice, you’ll gradually be able to make the most of your days and catch up on the sleep you all need at nighttime.
Remember to follow safe sleep guidance. Make sure your baby is sleeping in the same room as you – whether it’s day or night-time – for the first six months of their life.
Top tips for creating a newborn baby routine
Learn their cues
Babies may seem complicated at first, but they’re able to tell you a lot without saying anything at all! Before they begin to cry, they’ll let you know that they’re tired by pulling one of their ears, yawning, and rubbing their eyes. They can also show that they’re hungry by opening and closing their mouth, sucking on their hands, and turning their head to look for your breast.
While your little one may not be ready to begin sleep training just yet, getting them into the habit of a steady bedtime routine will help you get a good head start with sleep training when the time is right.
Think about developmental changes
Every month with a new baby brings with it exciting developments – and these natural developments will mean that you’ll need to adjust their routine. It’s all part of growing up!
Don’t overcomplicate it
The last thing you need when you’ve got a new baby is to feel stressed and bound by a routine that’s just not achievable. It’s best to set small goals and keep the pressure to a minimum so you have time to rest. Instead of aiming to attend five baby groups a week, adjust your expectations and pencil in one at first. See how your newborn routine first week goes then feel free to change things up as needed.
Aim for consistency but be adaptable
When you’re just starting out, it’s important to try and nudge your baby gently into their routine and be consistent so your little one has a while to get into the swing of things. Above all else, you should listen to your parental instinct, and don’t be afraid to switch things up if your planned routine just isn’t working out the way you’d planned.
Don’t put pressure on yourself
The most important thing to remember when it comes to setting a newborn baby routine is to not beat yourself up if things don’t go to plan. Some parents manage to get into a set schedule easily, and others opt for a more baby-led approach and go with the flow. Everyone is different, so whatever works for you is the right way. Don’t forget to soak up those amazing newborn moments with your baby!