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Why Baby Routines?

I believe my baby routines are very important in helping parents to interpret their baby's cries. When following a baby routine, you will start to recognise your baby's hungry, tired or bored cries. When your baby starts to cry, you will be able to look at the baby routine and see what is due next. If your baby is due a feed, you will start to recognise that cry as a hungry cry. If your baby is due to have a sleep, you will learn that cry as a tired cry.

At first the idea of a baby routine can be quite scary. You will think if you have to spend the day clock watching, how will you relax or get on with everyday jobs. What happens if you have an older child, with a school run to do each day? Don't worry, it is possible. Not everyone's baby or life is the same, so sometimes baby routines need careful adjusting to suit your circumstances. If you find this to be your case, then try to follow my basic rules and adjust the routines to suit your circumstances better.

The feedback I get from parents following my baby routines is that it makes their lives easier. Through following my baby routines you are able to plan things such as doctor's appointments more easily, because you know what your baby will be doing at each stage of the day. If you have older children, they will also gain advantages from your younger baby having a routine, as you will be able to plan activities with your older children, as all the guesswork of what your baby may be doing at what time, is taken out of your day. The best part of these routines is knowing you will have time for yourself and your partner in the evening. The general feeling I get from parents who are not following a daily baby routine, is that this is often their hardest part of the day.

My routines also help babies to feel safe and secure. Your baby will know that his needs are being met and he has no need to cry. As a result you will end up with a very happy contented baby.

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When to start a baby routine

My experience indicates that babies don't start to surface between sleep cycles (the process of drifting between light and deep sleep) until they reach 6kg/13.2lbs, which is usually around 8 to 16 weeks. This is why you can aid a newborn baby to sleep and he will still sleep for a long period, however when he starts to surface between the sleep cycles, he will start to catnap during the day. Then at around 8kg/17.6lbs, which is often around five to seven months, he will start to wake between night time sleep cycles.

This is why I recommend starting to establish a baby routine so early, as it will prevent sleep problems occurring. So by week two, it is important to be developing some sort of sleeping and feeding routine.

For years, health professionals have been debating the pros and cons of a baby routine, but the one factor they always agree on, is that young children and babies feel safe and secure when they know what and when things are going to happen.

You will notice I have different routines for babies who are bottle-fed and breast-fed until eight weeks. This is because the routines before eight weeks are based on the mother's needs not the baby's needs. A breast-feeding mother needs to feed her baby more often in the first eight weeks to build up a good supply of breast-milk.

Tip: If you are breastfeeding with one or two expressed milk feeds or formula-feeds in a bottle then you should follow the breast-feeding routines. If you are feeding all bottles of expressed-milk then you should follow the bottle-feeding routines but express at the times on the breast-feeding routines.

Growth spurts while following my routines

I can't state strongly enough how important it is for a breast-feeding mother to follow my advice on expressing. If you want to have your baby on my routines and breast-feed successfully, you will need to follow the expressing times I have stated in my baby routines. The expressed milk should be kept and given at the 6:00pm feed or stored in the deep freeze for a later date.

If you look carefully at my breast-feeding routines you will see the week before a growth spurt you express more at my expressing times than the weeks your baby may be having a growth spurt. This means there is more milk in your breasts during the week your baby is having a growth spurt because your breasts have become accustomed to making more milk. Your baby will drink this extra milk during the growth spurt.

If you are bottle feeding you will not have to worry about growth spurts if you are following my baby routines and feeding your baby until he is full.

Tip: In my routines if I tell you to feed your baby for 25 minutes but you are sure your baby has emptied your breast sooner, then you should move your baby onto the next breast.

Common questions about baby routines

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My baby is two weeks old. I would like to follow your routines but I don't like expressing, so I have chosen not to ever express. How should I adjust the routines?
I do not recommend any mother who is not expressing to follow my routines in the first 8 weeks. The reason for this, is if you express, then your breasts will have enough milk during the growth spurts which happen at about three and six weeks. By reducing how often and how much you express during this time, your baby will be able to drink the extra breast-milk he needs to get him through his growth spurt. My advice to you is to use my routines only from eight weeks. Go to the top

Why do you advise not to put a baby in his bed to sleep at some points in your routines?
The reason for this is I believe in giving a baby very clear messages. If you know your baby is tired and due a sleep, then you should put him in his bed. The message your baby will start to learn is, that if you put him in his bed, he has to sleep. You should get in the habit of only getting him up when he has slept. But at other points in the routine, I say your baby may need a nap, as we are not sure if your baby will sleep. I recommend putting him down in a safe comfortable place so if he doesn't sleep, you may get him up without giving him mixed messages. Go to the top

We often go to my parents or a friend's house for dinner, but with your 7pm bed time we are feeling quite restricted.
It is alright to still have a life when following a routine. I would suggest you go to the house where you are going to spend the evening early enough, so you can feed and settle your baby to sleep there. Put your baby down at 7pm as normal and try to leave for home, so you get home just in time to give your baby the Dreamfeed or 10pm feed. Then put your baby to bed in his own bed. Go to the top

I am trying to get my 15 week old baby onto your routines but he is breast-fed and wants to feed every three hours. How can I stretch his feeds out?
At first, changing a baby's habits can be hard. But it normally only takes a day, to get a baby happily on my routines. I find only the first four hours to be a problem and then the rest of the feeds fall into place easily. If you get your baby up at 7am and give him the first feed of the day, then when he wakes up from his sleep and is asking for food, try to distract him by going for a walk or looking at different things in the house. If he is getting very upset, you could swaddle him and cuddle him, maybe even try singing to him. You might even find he falls back to sleep. Some parents use a dummy to get the baby to wait the first four hours. When 11am comes, you will find your baby will take a bigger feed and get to the 3pm feed with little or no fuss. Go to the top

What do I do at night if my baby wakes up before the dreamfeed?
If your baby wakes within half an hour of the dreamfeed you should feed him. If there is over half an hour to the dreamfeed when your baby wakes you should resettle your baby. Go to the top

What is the difference between a sleep and a nap?
When I talk about a sleep and a nap the difference is a sleep is when a baby sleeps for more than one sleep cycle, so it is usually over 40 minutes. But a nap is one sleep cycle or less than a sleep cycle. 

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