Do We Need a Daily Routine?

During my baby’s first year, one of the most common topics of conversation was about how she was sleeping.  Friends/family/moms in mom groups/strangers in the grocery line all seemed really interested in how she was sleeping.  Once we had established a daily routine, my response was much more positive to the dreaded sleep question. Routines are needed because they let your baby what to expect next, according to Babycenter.  When babies can anticipate what happens next, it provides comfort to them and helps them sleep better. Experts say that routines can be established as early as 2 months or as old as 6 months old, depending on your (and your baby’s) personality.

My first daughter was a snacker. She liked to nurse for short amounts of time every hour or two all day, every day up until she was about six months old. At about 6 months, we started to establish a routine with her, encouraging her to eat more during the day and sleep for longer stretches at night. My younger daughter was content to nurse for long amounts of time, less frequently. We worked out our routine around 4 months. Establishing a routine earlier with my second daughter also benefited my first because we returned to many of our activities that we did before the baby was born.

There is a wide range of philosophies about establishing routines, ranging from the parents setting the routines to basing the daily routine on the baby’s natural schedule and everything in between. For me, and my children, building a routine around their natural schedules worked best.  However, I am a stay-at-home mom, so I have flexibility with our days.

I found that using time intervals–instead of basing the routine off the clock–created a routine that was flexible but still offered my babies the comfort about what was coming up next.  Juniper was the most happy with about 3-3.5 hoursbetween waking and going back to sleep.  When she was about 6 months old, Juniper’s routine would begin with her waking up for the day.  I would feed her breakfast, play with her and do tummy time while her big sister was eating breakfast, get the three of us dressed, then about 2.5 hours after she initially woke up, I would nurse her for about a half an hour to forty-five minutes until she fell asleep for nap.  During her naptime, Lily and I would do one of her classes or another activity (like going for a walk or to the playground).  I would let Juniper sleep as long as she wanted, and then we would start the routine over (meal of solids, play/activity, nurse, nap) again, this would fit into about 3/3.5 hours.  At this point, Juniper was taking two naps a day and going to bed around 6/6:30 at night.  Because we were not tied to the clock, if Juniper wanted to nurse an extra time or take an extra nap, our entire day was not thrown off.

Setting a routine doesn’t have to be a struggle to have your baby follow a schedule based on the clock.  Setting a routine based on a pattern during a rough time interval offers your baby predictability and meets her needs based on her natural schedule with the flexibility that she needs day to day.

Becky Nagel is a stay at home mom to two girls, a three year old and a one year old, in Denver, CO who enjoys cooking for her family, running, and hiking.

Tags: baby, infant, nap, newborn, routine, schedule, sleep

Comments are closed.