What is a routine?
A routine is a sequence of events that take place in the exact same order every single day. This is different from a schedule! A schedule is when a baby wakes and sleeps at the exact same times every single day. Newborn babies aren’t ready for a set schedule until they’re at least 6 months. This is because daytime sleep doesn’t neurologically organize and become more consistent until that time. A routine, on the other hand, is much more age-appropriate for a baby in this age range.
I suggest implementing an eat-play-sleep for your baby. This means that your baby wakes up, eats, plays, and goes to sleep.
Establishing a routine can be done from day 1 if you have a formula fed baby and from a few weeks onward if you have a breastfed baby and breastfeeding is established. An eat-play-sleep routine helps separate feeding from sleeping so that your baby doesn’t learn to rely on the bottle or the breast to fall asleep.
Now, in case this wasn’t obvious, the “play” part of your baby’s routine should only be happening during daytime hours! At nighttime, your baby should only be eating and sleeping. There should be NO awake time during nighttime hours!
Why implement a routine?
Get this, people: the research actually shows that when your baby knows what’s about to happen next because of this routine, 1) the baby tends to cry less throughout the day; 2) the baby tends to fall asleep more quickly; and 3) the baby tends to STAY asleep more easily. How awesome is THAT? Even though your baby might only be a few weeks old, he can pick up on this routine very quickly and EVERYONE benefits! Adding structure and predictability to your daytime hours will get your newborn baby off on the right foot and allow you to establish solid sleep habits from the beginning.