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What is the Right Routine for a Baby?

Your baby will need some kind of routine once they are about 4 or so months old. Parents often focus on sleep for their baby's routine but the most important area to start with is actually FEEDING!


If your baby is feeding frequently, these feeds are likely to be quite small, so your baby will not stay satisfied for long and will need another feed again quite quickly. When your baby is in this kind of feeding cycle, they will struggle to stay asleep or even struggle to fall asleep as they are likely to be hungry when they are tired.


When you take control of your baby's feeding and space their feeds out, you will find that their feeds are bigger/longer, these feeds will keep them full for longer and they will demand feeds less frequently. With bigger feeds keeping them full for longer, they can feel tired without feeling hungry, which will allow them to go to sleep more easily and stay asleep for longer.


Spacing the feeds is sometimes a bit tricky so the best thing to do is to take it gently. Start by spacing the feeds to every 2 or 2.5 hours and then aim to increase the time between feeds by 10-20 minutes each day. Within a week you'll be on 3 or 4 hourly feeds, depending on your baby's age. Most full term, healthy babies thrive on 3 hourly feeds at 4 months or even earlier and 4 hourly feeds are fine from 5 or 6 months. Once weaning onto solids, 4 hourly feeds are ideal so that you can bring your baby to the table hungry but not ravenous, as this will make weaning easier and more fun.


Here are some examples of routines for babies at 4 months, 5 months, 6 months and 9 months. They are based on a baby starting their day around 6.30/7.00am. If your baby wakes earlier, adjust the start of the day by half an hour or so but try to get onto the times in the routines by midday. Don't be tempted to put your baby to bed before 7pm as this will cause or reinforce early-rising.

4 Months

3 hourly feeds and awake time of 1.5-2.5 hours

5 Months

3 hourly feeds and awake time of 2-3 hours

6.30/7.00

Wake for the day and feed

6.30/7.00

Wake for the day and feed

8.00/8.30

1st nap 45-90 minutes

8.30/9.00

1st nap 45-90 minutes

9.30/10.00

Feed

9.30/10.00

Feed

10.30/11.00

2nd Nap 1-2 hours

11.00/11.30

2nd Nap 1-2 hours

12.30/1.00

Feed

12.30/1.00

Feed

1.30/2.00

3rd Nap 45-90 minutes

2.00/2.30

3rd Nap 45-90 minutes

3.30/4.00

Feed

3.30/4.00

Feed

4.30/5.00

4th Nap 20-30 minutes

6.00/6.30

Bedtime routine including feed

6.00/6.30

Bedtime routine including feed

7.00/7.30

Bed

7.00/7.30

Bed

Night Feeds

11.00 and 3.00

Night Feeds

10.00, 1.00 and 4.00

or

12.00/1.00

or

11.00 and 3.00


6 Months

4 hourly feeds, 2 meals, and awake time of 2.5-3.5 hours

9 Months

3 feeds, 3 meals, and awake time of 3.5-4.5 hours

6.30/7.00

Wake for the day and feed

6.30/7.00

Wake for the day and feed

7.30/8.00

Breakfast

7.30/8.00

Breakfast

9.00/9.30

1st Nap 45-90 minutes

9.30/10.00

1st Nap 45-120 minutes

10.30/11.00

Feed

12.00/12.30

Lunch

12.30/1.00

2nd Nap 1-2 hours

2.00/2.30

2nd Nap 45-90 minutes

2.30/3.00

Feed

3.00/3.30

Feed

4.00/4.30

3rd Nap 20-30 minutes

5.00/5.30

Dinner

5.00/5.30

Dinner

6.00/6.30

Bedtime routine including feed

6.00/6.30

Bedtime routine including feed

7.00/7.30

Bed

7.00/7.30

Bed

No night feeds

11.00/12.00

Dream feed if needed

As you can see from the routines above, wake-up, breakfast, lunch, dinner, bedtime routine and bed stay at the same times even when other parts of the routine change.


Below you can see how the two naps per day turn into one nap per day by using a powernap to get through the afternoon when the gap between nap and bed is too long. Some babies like to do their naps the other way round and have the powernap in the morning and the longer nap in the afternoon at around 1.00/1.30. Either option is good, providing they are getting enough sleep and aren't awake for too long, as this would make them over-tired, which makes it a bit more tricky to get them to fall asleep or stay asleep as they have an excess of adrenaline in their system from trying to stay awake when they need to sleep.

12 Months

14 Months

16 Months

18 Months

6.30/7.00 Wake and milk

6.30/7.00 Wake and milk

6.30/7.00 Wake and milk

6.30/7.00 Wake and milk

7.30/8.00 Breakfast

7.30/8.00 Breakfast

7.30/8.00 Breakfast

7.30/8.00 Breakfast

9.00/9.30 Snack

9.30/10.00 Snack

No Snack

9.30/10.00 Snack

10.00/10.30 Nap

11.00/11.30 Nap

11.30 Lunch

12.00/12.30 Lunch

12.30/1.00 Lunch

1.00/1.30 Lunch

12.00/12.30 Nap 1.5-2 hours

12.30/1.00 Nap

3.00/3.30 Powernap 30nmins

3.30/4.00 Powernap 20 mins

4.00 Powernap 15 mins if needed

3.00/3.30 Snack

5.00/5.30 Dinner

5.00/5.30 Dinner

5.00/5.30 Dinner

5.00/5.30 Dinner

6.00/6.30 Bedtime Routine

6.00/6.30 Bedtime Routine

6.00/6.30 Bedtime Routine

6.00/6.30 Bedtime Routine

7.00/7.30 Bed

7.00/7.30 Bed

7.00/7.30 Bed

7.00/7.30 Bed

These routines are examples. Not all babies are the same. Some need more sleep than others, some need less. Some can stay awake longer than others, some can't stay awake for as long as others their age. However, if your baby seems to need a lot less sleep than this, they may well be incredibly over-tired or in extreme sleep deficit and in need of a regular routine that suits them. If you have no success sticking to these routines, please get in touch so we can help you work out what your baby needs. Just fill in the contact boxes below!

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