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Building Consistent Routines with your New Baby



You probably know someone whose baby slept through the night at 6 weeks, whose toddler potty trained herself at 18 months, whose 3-year-old was reading chapter books, and whose high schooler scored a perfect 36 on his first attempt at the ACT.


While we hear a lot of these kinds of stories, these are exceptional developmental examples. Most babies and kids fall all along a spectrum of normal that stretches over months and years. Potty training at 18 months is amazing; potty training at 5 years old is good and normal, too.


When it comes to building a routine for babies, a new mom can sometimes feel an enormous pressure based on these anecdotes that hold up exceptional situations as normal and obtainable.


Two things are true: babies like a predictable world and most parents find that having a daily routine for their baby makes life easier.


Now, when and how that happens and what it looks like depends a lot on the parents and the baby. There is not one scheme that can be applied to every situation. 


As you figure out what works best for you, here are a few thoughts on building consistent routines with your baby and for your family. 


It Takes Time


Newborns are too little, too new to be on a schedule. They will sleep up to 18 hours a day, eat every 2-3 hours, mix up their days and nights, and need many diaper changes. Follow their lead as you meet their needs during these early days..


Then, at around 2 months, begin to track eating, sleeping, wet diapers, and bowel movements. (I kept my notes on an hour-by-hour calendar that I printed off and left in the kitchen.) Consider marking times when they are particularly alert and playful as well as times when they are fussy or restless. 


Clear patterns will emerge after tracking for several days: “Oh, she always takes a nap between 9:30 and 10 in the morning” or “He always eats at 4 PM” or “Looks like 2 BMs a day.” Armed with this information, you are ready to better anticipate when your baby is ready to eat, sleep, and play, making it easier to plan your day. It will also enable you to tell someone else—like a family member, friend, or babysitter—what to expect if they are taking care of the baby.


Interruptions


Of course there will be interruptions to your routine. They often come in the form of a growth spurt when your baby needs to increase the amount they eat. These short seasons, which are essential for a growing baby, can impact her eating and sleeping. As the baby hits new milestones, expect a new routine. 


Let Tennessee Family Doulas Help!


It is so helpful to know what to expect throughout the first weeks and months at home with your new baby. Tennessee Family Doulas’ are ready to answer your questions (especially, “Is this normal?”) and even provide in-home and overnight care. We would love to hear from you and walk with you on this amazing journey!


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