In the early days of parenthood it’s easy to start to feel a bit like a prisoner locked up in your own home. The baby seems to always either be sleeping or feeding. You’ve not managed to shower for days and are surviving on a few bits of toast every now and again or things you can eat with one hand.
And you are possibly beginning to feel a bit like a cow.
Oh and you are thirsty!!! No one seems to tell you that part… how much breastfeeding is thirsty work! But I digress…
In response to these challenges, many parents look to guide their baby into some kind of routine. But then they find themselves grappling with how to stick to the routine and remain consistent when away from home.
So what is a baby routine?
Having a routine for your baby means having a predictable feeding and sleeping pattern that you can both easily follow. It is ‘parent-directed’ so you and the baby can follow it regularly and consistently.
Well wait for it. Coz here is the good news…
A routine doesn’t have to mean a prescriptive, clock-based regime where at 9.47am on the dot you have to put the baby to sleep or do a feed everyday. It is adaptable and you can make it work.
What are the benefits of a routine for my baby and why do I need one?
Great question!!! Glad you asked.
In a recent article for WotBaby, Founder, Mum, Mothercraft nurse for Karitane and expert in all things baby, Jen Hamilton, shared some tips for how to adapt your routine to be flexible so that you can consistently and predictably meet your new baby’s needs while still having a life out of the house.
Jen outlines that a routine:
- Can have a positive effect on the whole family.
- Can help you grow in confidence and assist you in making those sometimes tricky parental decisions.
- Helps you in knowing you have adequately met all of your baby’s needs.
A routine is established over time. It’s virtually impossible to have a routine in place in the first few weeks after baby is born. Routine can be established through consistency and may take several months to really establish.
So stop putting pressure on yourself to be the perfect parent with a perfect routine from day one.
When Jen is working with parents to help them establish a routine for their baby, she says she always gets asked the same questions again and again:
- “What will I do about the routine when we go out?”
- “How do I keep to my routine when I’m not at home?”
- “How can we be consistent when we go out?”
You can still go out when your baby is in a routine – and in many ways, a routine can help you plan the best times to go out!
Tips for getting out with your baby while still following your routine
It’s important for your baby too, as it helps them to learn about the world.
Remember these guiding principles for sticking to your routine away from home:
- Your baby cannot tell the time. They learn routine through the way you manage them and the cues they are getting. If you give them similar cues when you are out they will know what they are meant to do. It’s up to you to show your baby what time it is and what comes next.
- Recreate as best as you can the techniques you use at home to cue baby as to what time it is.
Tips for managing your baby’s sleep when you are out and about:
- When under 4 months take baby out in bigger pram, and use the bassinet attachment so they can lay flat.
- When over 4 months of age take your baby out in pram which can be laid back.
- Place a sheet or breathable blanket over pram (a beautiful muslin wrap with a few pram clips is perfect) during sleep times to block out some of the light as you would at home by closing the curtains or blinds.
- Always attempt to encourage your baby to settle in the pram or in a porta cot at approximately their usual sleep time.
- Use rocking, patting or dummy if your baby is unsettled when out. You are out because you want to be and this will not start unwanted habits if they sleep well at home in their cot.
- If your baby does not sleep well when you are out, don’t stress. When in a routine they will catch up on sleep when back at home.
- If baby doesn’t achieve much sleep when out, make sure you put baby down a little earlier at their evening bed time.
- Be mindful of going out on several consecutive days. If you do have a period of being out a lot, spend the next few at home so baby can catch up on sleep and maintain the rhythm of the routine.
- Don’t be surprised if your baby is unsettled the evening of or the next day following going out. Even when young babies appear to be sleeping when out they are taking on board extra stimuli which may affect their little nervous systems. Unsettledness is NORMAL after going out. They will settle back down with consistency.
Tips for feeding your baby when you are out and about:
Of course, when you are out, you’ll also need to feed your baby. Here’s some tips to help manage feeding when out of the home:
- Don’t stress if your baby is fussy when out. They have an innate ability to catch up on calories when at home.
- For the older baby on solids, take finger food with you and easy accessible food. Squeezie-style food pouches with a spoon are a great option.
- Foods like avocado and banana are easy on the go foods. You can spoon straight from the fruit itself and you don’t need a bowl!
- Stick to feed times as best you can within an hour or so each side of regular times.
Time to start planning your next adventure:
As well as keeping your routine in mind, you also want to feel in-control, relaxed and hopefully be able to enjoy your time. Because a calm mummy = calm baby. Planning to go somewhere that is ‘child friendly’ and ticks all the boxes for feeding, changing in advance goes a long way towards helping you both. Use the MUMOKI directory to search and plan where you go in advance.
Now, text your mum friends, spray in a bit more dry shampoo and have fun!