Routine makes our lives as mums much easier but not all routines are helpful and relevant for your baby. A rigid routine can create anxiety for many mums, especially if your baby does not slot easily into a routine. Furthermore, rigid routines are not sensible for young babies. Understanding that many mums are looking for a pattern to their day, I recommend a baby centric approach to sleep routines in the first year. There are three steps to guide your baby gently into a daily sleep routine:
Know your baby’s internal clock:
Your baby’s in-built clock primes him to fall asleep with ease and makes it much easier to establish a routine. The amount of time a baby can spend happily awake changes by age and is known as his ‘awake time’. These ‘awake times’ are the secret to establishing a baby-centric routine that is flexible and meets your baby’s needs for frequent feeds and sleep. Since ‘awake times’ change with age, routines need to be age specific and guided by the individual baby’s propensity for stimulation.
Recognize response to sensory stimuli:
Some babies cope very well with stimulation and can be flexible or stretch their ‘awake times’ happily. Other babies become overwhelmed with stimulation and need to be guided into a routine more carefully to avoid overstimulation. Sensitive babies need to sleep more frequently and you will do well to encourage a routine. Settled babies are way more flexible and don’t mind having their sleep or feed delayed slightly.
Read your baby’s signals:
In addition to taking the individual baby’s personality and ‘awake times’ into consideration, you need to be on the lookout for your baby’s signals of tiredness. These signals will cue you into developing a day sleep routine. When your baby rubs her eyes, averts gaze or becomes grizzly, these are key signs that over stimulation has been reached and that your baby needs a sleep.