Getting your children on a set routine can sometimes be a difficult task. This is why starting from the beginning is never a bad idea. Baby’s first routine can be simple, of course, but starts them off on the right track.
When you first bring your new baby home, a routine is something you don't think about. In the beginning it is just about learning all about them, and them knowing and bonding with you at the same time. You need time to start recognizing their signs for different behaviors. Are they hungry, are they sleepy, are they wet or messy? Along with this period of learning about each other comes sleepless nights, anxious days, a household to take care of, maybe other children, and then there's dad to consider. There's also YOU to take care of – time to eat, sleep and relax for a half of a second!
Time to start thinking about, planning for, and implementing some sort of routine that works for both you and baby. By now you have learned the signs for different actions such as hungry and sleepy, and need to figure out a way to put them on a schedule.
Bedtime is a good first step. Think about a routine that is comfortable to you, and that you feel pretty confident you can stick to most of the time (there's always the chance of something out of the ordinary happening, but that's life). If your little one usually gets sleepy after a bath, bedtime might be the time to take their bath, then sweet, soothing coos and gurgles between the both of you, a warm supper, and lights out to set the pattern for a regular bedtime. When baby wakes up for their next feeding, keep it quiet and lights low to set the mood and the idea that it is still bedtime. Be patient and it will work out if you stay consistent.
Feeding on a regular schedule is a bit more difficult. You can try feeding every 2 ½ - 3 or 4 hours, depending on age and size of your little one, smaller babies have smaller tummies and need to be fed more often. By now you have a general idea how long they go between feedings, and you can go by that. If they start crying after three and a half hours and you are going for the four hour mark, try talking to and playing with them to try and distract them for just a few more short moments, but don't let them get all worked up or feeding time will become battle time.
Nap time changes with age, of course, but as your infant gets older and can stay awake longer, try to find activities that you both can share. After lunch, go for a walk or just hang around outside for a while and let the fresh air do its job. Between the fun and stimulation of the outdoors, going inside for a short nap might just be a little easier! The important thing to remember is watching the signs coming from the child and use them as the best direction to go in.
Keep in mind that, just as soon as you think "this is going well" your child will become a little bit older, and as they do, needs and wants begin to change. The perfect routine from yesterday doesn't quite work the same way today so be ready to adapt, keeping the best interest of the child first and foremost.