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Inside: Find out how to make a baby routine in 4 easy steps to strengthen connection and care for your baby in the best and easiest way possible.
Every single morning I zombie walk to the bathroom after waking up and slowly transform into a functioning human after brushing my teeth, washing my face, getting dressed, etc…
…and then after my first cup of hot, steamy coffee, I’m like a racehorse out of its gates—ready for the day!
These little steps are a part of my routine. And no matter what you’re morning consist of, you automatically follow a routine that flows throughout your day.
The same is with little ones.
They thrive on a routine because it gives them the structure they need to know what is next. And routines also help you know what your baby needs next, giving you confidence that you can offer what they need and when.
A routine is simply a set of predictable patterns that will help your baby grow and develop.
Here’s a super simple breakdown of how to make a baby routine in 4 easy steps:
- Understand your baby’s cues
- Create sleep and feeding routines for full feedings and distinguish day and night
- Use wake windows
- Be as consistent as possible
Let’s dive into each step!
How to Make a Baby Routine
1. Learn Your Baby’s Cues
Even though your baby can’t talk yet, they are constantly communicating with you. From cries and coos to wails and even silence, these are little ways that your baby is talking to you!
The most important step in creating a baby routine is knowing YOUR baby’s cues. By knowing these cues, you are able to know what they need and how you can offer it to them.
A flexible baby routine is simply following your baby’s cues. You’re creating a routine made just for your baby to meet them where they are developmentally.
By knowing your baby’s cues, you are able to know what they need and even predict what they will need next, ultimately caring for them in the easiest way possible Minus all of the tears and meltdowns!
2. Create sleep routines and feeding routines
Just like your baby tells you cues, you can signal cues to your little one to help them know what is next. Routines can help signal these cues to your little one in an easy and efficient way.
The most important routines to begin with your baby are sleep routines and feeding routines.
What are baby sleep routines?
Baby sleep routines are routines that help signal cues to your baby, preparing them for sleep. This helps your baby know that it is time for sleep.
There are 2 baby sleep routines: Nap routine and bedtime routine.
Nap routines help signal and prepare your baby for daytime sleep. As your baby grows, naps will decrease and wake time will increase. But when it’s time for nap, creating an environment conducive to sleep will help them wind down easier.
Nap routine can consist of closing black out curtains, turning on sound machine, cuddling for a few minutes, placing in swaddle/sleep sack, turning off lights.
Bedtime routines help your baby prepare for nighttime sleep- a long stretch of sleep. Bedtime routines consist of possibly bath time, lotion, bedtime feeding, book and song. Your bedtime routine is just a longer version of a nap routine, as you want to signal to your baby that bedtime is for nights.
(These routines can also help your baby understand the difference between day and night.)
You can read all about nap routines here and bedtime routines here!
What are feeding routines?
A baby feeding routine is simply a series of steps or patterns before a feeding paired with feeding your baby every 2-3 hours. Maybe it’s putting baby in a boppy and setting up to breastfeed. Or maybe it’s shaking a formula bottle and putting on baby’s bib. These little patterns send a signal to your baby that it’s feeding time.
Have you ever taken out a bottle and your baby starts to root or lick their lips? It’s because you sent them a signal that it’s time to eat.
Most importantly, it’s essential to feed your baby every 2.5-3 hours- especially when they are showing hunger cues. Even if it’s not exactly “feeding time”, if your baby is starting to show you hunger cues, then it’s time to eat.
It’s also crucial for your baby to have a complete or full feeding every time they eat. This will prevent “snacking” throughout the day and help your baby stay fuller longer.
You can read all about Knowing Your Baby’s Full Feeding Schedule.
3. Follow Wake Windows
Wake windows are super simple…
Wake windows are the amount of time your baby is up- when they wake up from a nap to when they go back to sleep for the next nap.
That frame of time in between naps– when they are awake– is called a wake window.
There are certain lengths of time that your baby’s wake window should be based on your baby’s age.
For example, a newborn is usually up 20-30 minutes in between naps. While a 1 year old wake window can last 2-3 hours.
As wake windows shorten, naps will decrease. The longer the wake window, the less naps your baby will have.
Following these wake windows are important because it offers your baby the developmentally appropriate time they can comfortably be awake without getting over tired or under tired. An under tired baby will not sleep good because they aren’t tired.
An overtired baby will not sleep well because they are overstimulated. But if you follow your baby’s tired cues, you will see your baby’s appropriate wake window and offer your baby a nap when they need it most. Thus, finding a routine that works just for your little one!
Important tip- Wake window charts are suggestions. They don’t have to be followed minute for minute. It’s more important to follow your baby’s tired cues to understand when your baby is tired, what time you should offer a nap – in doing this, you are figuring out how long your baby can be awake before the next nap.
4. Be Consistent
Can I be cliché for a moment? Consistency is the most important step in life. From working out to eating well to making goals—being consistent is the gamechanger.
Caring for your little one is no different!
If you want to truly meet your baby where he/she is and care for them in the best way possible, it’s imperative to be consistent. Consistency will help them feel secure in their daily routine, knowing their needs are being met and the predictability can help you parent with even more confidence!
Starting a new nap routine? Stay consistent.
Need to revamp wake windows? Stay consistent.
Trying to accomplish full feedings? Stay consistent
Whenever you feel that something isn’t working, it’s okay to pivot and change the routine to help your baby thrive. In the midst of changing the routine, when you find something that works, remain as consistent as possible and you will see a true difference!
Free Mommy & Me Planner
Download a free Mommy & Me Planner filled with a daily routine template and baby tracker so you can create your own routine in the easiest way possible!
Plan and track YOUR day and your baby’s routine in ONE place so you can get more done in less time.
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Successful Baby Routine Recap
There you have it, how to make a baby routine in 4 easy steps! Remember, a successful baby routine is based on your baby’s individual cues- meeting your child where they are developmentally.
Be mindful of:
- Sleep and feeding times
- Wake windows
No matter what a “schedule” or chart tells you, always follow your baby’s sleep, hunger, and wake cues so you can care for them in the way they need it most all day long.
YOU are the best parent for your baby!
You got this mama 🙂
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