I had always heard about the importance of routines for babies, but didn’t fully understand why until I saw how it worked on my own baby. There are many different types of routines (or schedules) ranging from feeding, sleeping and even bath time. I found that the feeding and day-time sleeping schedules changed quite a bit as she got older, but one thing that has stayed the same is her bath and bedtime routine – it was the first step to getting her to sleep through the night.
Freya is now almost a year and a half old, yet our daily bath and bedtime routine is still exactly the same as when she was just a few weeks old. Before I tell you what our whole routine consists of, let’s explore the intricacies of baby routines first:
The baby will come to realise that certain things signify specific “events”. Routines provide them with the ability to know what to expect next, and this makes them feel safe and secure. We tend to forget how overwhelming day to day life can be for a little baby, with all these new experiences, sights and sounds that stimulate then from every direction. So they need something to rely on and know what to expect with at least one part of their daily lives.
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Your friends or family members might tease (or even criticise) you for having such a strict routine and tell you to relax, but just keep reminding yourself that they aren’t the ones who will be putting the baby to sleep every night, and they certainly aren’t the ones who will need to wake up at all hours of the night with a cranky baby because they didn’t have their trusty routine.
Sometimes your routine can backfire a little bit. An example of this is the bedtime routine: they might get so used to one person putting them to sleep every night that when someone else tries, the baby is unable to sleep and you are left with a problem if you can’t be there to do it yourself. This was the case with us: Freya got so used to me putting her to sleep that when my husband tried to do it during those particular nights when I was too tired to get out of bed at 3am for the 7th time (thank you new baby teeth!), she didn’t accept and I had to get up anyway… I quickly learned that the steps of the routine are important to keep the same, but it’s ok to change the people carrying them out – in fact it’s better! For some ideas on how you can involve dads more, check out this article.
What happens when you can’t complete one of the steps of your routine? For instance, say your baby has just had some vaccinations and is not supposed to be put in water for 24 hours – what do you do about bath time? Try to keep everything else the same and don’t throw the whole routine out the window just because one step can’t be completed. You can even give the baby a sponge bath over the sink (it’s a two person job so get someone to help you by holding the baby) and be careful not to get the injection area wet. This way the baby still recognises the steps of having his/her clothes taken off, being taken to the bathroom, feeling the water on their skin etc.
Here’s our daily bath and bedtime routine:
- Between 6.30 and 7pm (depending on how tired she is on that day) we start with a song going up the stairs to her bedroom. It’s usually “The Wheels on the Bus”, “Baa Baa Black Sheep” or even “Happy Birthday” since those are the ones she loves the most.
- We take her clothes off and leave her in her diaper to run around her room while the water is running in the tub.
- Bath time with some fun farm animals and corresponding animal sounds
- Once dry, quick baby massage with lotion, then on with the pyjamas!
- Last bottle/feed of the day
- Bed time
It’s also important to take cues from your baby and adjust your routine accordingly. It doesn’t matter what type of routine you decide on, the important thing is to stick to it and reap the benefits!
Tell us about some routines that you have found helpful in the comments below!