Baby routines – are they worth it?

30 Dec

Baby routines with a newborn

The word routine immediately provokes venom in some baby experts and mothers as well – they believe babies should never have a routine. It brings to mind the days when Mumsnet had to ban all talk of Gina Ford on their website years ago, for mums were calling for her to be strapped on a rocket to the moon and wanted to know: how dare she talk about routines when she doesn’t even have kids?

Gina Ford routines contented baby book

Today, things are a bit more relaxed, or are they? It seems that there is a division between the two camps; you either put your baby into a strict and rigid routine with a set time schedule or you never plan a nap, let the baby’s whims dictate how your day goes and always give in to their demands. Which is the right way? Is there a right way?

I think a bit of a routine can go a long way. It doesn’t have to be rigid, immovable or written in stone. It is meant to evolve and change according to both your baby’s needs and your own. What mother should have to strictly adhere to being in the same place at the same time every day for the sake of a nap? What happened to the days when you brought your baby out with you (like we used to) in a car seat or a buggy for a quick local dinner whilst they sleep quietly? We had many nights of our little one sleeping in a travel cot and then being brought home to be snugly transferred to her cot, without any disruption to her sleep. (She was a brilliant sleeper as a baby, and still is all these many years later.) I firmly believe that the more laid back you are about it, the more laid back your baby will be.

baby in travel cot on the go

However, with the holidays here, this could be a very good time to implement some routine into your day and evenings. If you will be staying away from home, your baby might settle better with some familiarity despite different surroundings. If you always bathe before bed, try to do the same thing as best as possible whilst away. Bring small comforts of home e.g. raggy-tags, musical toys, white noise machines or apps with you if they are portable. A grow-bag that a baby sleeps in every night will remind them that it is bed-time even though they may be in a different cot. If you will be out for a long time during the day, think about bringing a travel cot for nap times and set up similar conditions to what you do at home.

Many sleep consultants and baby experts advocate a bedtime routine. There are many ways of implementing it, but letting your baby know the difference between night and day is important. Whether you give a bath, do some baby massage, give a quiet feed in the dark, or even put on music or a mobile, it is a cue that alerts your baby that it is now night-time, which means time for sleep. I used to slightly differentiate between night and day by not changing my baby clothes for a daytime sleep vs. always putting a baby-grow on for the night-time one. This could also be achieved by drawing the blinds or curtains completely for night whilst keeping them things a bit lighter during the day. Netmums has some good advice on bedtime routines.

baby bedtime bath story music

It really is best not to be too strict with yourself though. As much as babies thrive on routine, if you always provide the identical situation for them to fall asleep, it might create problems for you in the long run. Disruptions to your schedule can come in many forms; visiting friends or family, going on holiday, starting a new class, or even baby growing developmentally. When these things come up, you don’t want to panic – try to go with the flow and gently encourage your baby to adapt to the change. He / she might surprise you!

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