In my last blog, I wrote about how routines for babies and toddlers can be flexible. In this post, I’m going explain HOW to make a flexible routine for your baby, because it is so much easier than having no routine or a really strict one that means you always have to be back at home so that your baby can only nap in a completely dark, silent bedroom.
Once babies have some kind of routine, they are usually able to deviate from it slightly without it throwing the whole day out. Most will let you know if you’re trying to push things too far, by lengthening the time between feeds or sleeps by too much so that they are exhausted and miserable or starving and vile. But even this doesn’t mean that your whole day is going to be ruined – just feed or put them down for a nap as soon as you can.
Follow these steps to create your baby’s flexible routine:
Work out what your baby’s basic needs are.These will change with their age, but what you need to think about is how often they need food or milk, how often they need to sleep and how much sleep they need through the day. The easiest way to do this is by keeping track of their eating a sleeping for a few days and looking for patterns.
What are your regular commitments? For each day, write down where you need to go, what time your journeys need to start and how long your travelling time is. This will include classes, swimming lessons, toddler groups, school and nursery runs, NCT meet-ups etc.
Using the information you have gathered in Step 1, write out a routine that will fulfill your baby’s basic daily needs, having start times between the earliest and latest time that your baby could cope with each event. Eg. 7.30/8.00 Breakfast.
Work out how your activities and journeys will fit into the routine, and where you will need to leave earlier to allow for naps or meals.
Sample routine for a 5 month old:
6.30/7.30 Wake up and feed/milk
Tuesdays – Swimming at 11.00 with 15 minute drive. Do the 11.00 feed at 10.00 and set off at 10.30. Top up after swimming if the earlier feed was smaller than usual.
Thursdays – Baby Sensory at 10.00 with 30 minute drive. Either set off at 9.00/9.15 so the nap is in the car, but if an earlier nap is needed, try to start it at 8.30 so that you can get your baby up by 9.20 and go straight into the car. Do the 11.00 feed before getting back in the car after the lesson.
Monday, Tuesday and Thursday – preschool for older sibling 9.00-12.00 with 10 minute walk. Nap can either start in the pram or sling on the way in the morning and baby can be transferred or continue to sleep where he/she is afterwards while you walk/shop. Try to keep him/her awake for the pick up and put them to bed at home while you do your toddler’s lunch at home.
If a nap is shorter than usual because you are making a journey, don’t worry, your baby will make the sleep up later by either going down slightly earlier for their next nap,or sleeping longer. If you have to feed early, and the feed is small, you can top up later.
These are just a few ideas to demonstrate how you can change your baby’s routine to make it flexible. If this is something you would like help with, we can help you by taking your information and putting together a routine that will suit your baby’s needs and fit into your life. It can be done over Skype or by visiting me in Henley. Please call me for more information on 07977 462252.