3 of the most basic baby routines and why you should stick to them
by Nadia Chartrand, B.Sc.N, PHCNP
Babies thrive on routine and for good reason. For young children, each day is filled with new things to learn and discover. Routine helps give them a sense of security and a little relief from all the unknowns. Dr. Harvey Karp, author and creator of The Happiest Baby On The Block, sums it up like this: “If you spend your entire work day mastering new skills, you appreciate your regular coffee breaks.” By setting up and maintaining 3 basic routines you can help instil a sense of comfort and security for your baby.
Eating: A fed baby is a happy baby
A baby spends a lot of time eating. He will be happier and more relaxed if he learns early on that when he is hungry, you feed him. You can do this by watching for his hunger cues (smacking or licking lips, rooting, sucking on fingers) and feeding him before he gets too hungry. It is wise not confuse routine for a rigid schedule. Most experts, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, agree that newborn babies are too young to be put on a strict feeding schedule. Strive for consistency in what you do surrounding feeding time rather than getting caught up in a rigid timetable.
Playing: “Play is the work of a child” – Maria Montessori
Even the youngest babies need a little playtime in their day. It is, after all, their job to learn about the world around them and they do so by playing. They will feel more comfortable learning if playtime feels familiar and routine. Try engaging your 3-month-old baby in play when she is most alert (usually after she has been fed).
Sleeping: Catchin’ some zzz’s
Getting a baby to sleep is probably the most important routine of the day. Sticking to a routine at nap and bedtime will result in a more consistent sleeper, not to mention a happier, more rested household. Watch for signs that your child is getting sleepy (yawning, rubbing their eyes, becoming cranky) and ideally begin your bedtime routine before they become over-tired. By maintaining the same routine night after night, your child will learn to recognize when they are tired and welcome sleep.
Lather, Rinse, Repeat
Although to some, daily routine may seem mundane, it really does help to instil a sense of comfort and security in a child. As the child grows, there will be less power struggles from day-to-day as they will know what to expect at every point in their day. Moreover, when a consistent routine is established early on, little disruptions like an illness or vacation, aren’t nearly as upsetting because the baby knows that they will always come back to their routine. In this, both baby and family will take comfort!