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Oh how we all wish our baby gets into a good routine as soon as possible and we can get the much deserved sleep for ourselves. It’s a true blessing and success to have our little ones following a routine from starting.
Every baby is different and follows a different pattern of feeding, sleeping and keeping awake. Some change to the suggested remedies and trick can help majority of them to follow a daily routine.
To start off with a newborn, whether breastfeeding, giving formula or expressed breast milk, its important to set a feeding duration and sleep cycle. Generally, it starts with 2-2.5 hours (30-90ml) gap between each feeds for the initial months (1-2 months) then you can increase the gap to 4 hours (120-150ml) for the next 2 months and by the time baby is around 4-6 months one can attempt to keep the gap from 5-6 hours (~180-240ml) between each feed. Important thing to remember is not to force the baby to take more quantity of milk than he/she can take. Stay calm and relax, when the baby’s stomach is full he/she will give you indications in form of feeling tired and sleepy.
Once the duration between the feeds is set, prepare yourself before the next fed. Its best to keep everything ready for diaper change and the milk bottle (formula or expressed breast milk). Change the diaper, feed the baby, get them to burp and let them doze off!
This also helps in avoiding diaper rash if you keep your diaper change and eating duration in sync, it keeps soiled diapers away.
Set a duration for feeding time. Better to feed the baby in a room of less distraction and too much noise. It helps the baby to focus on feeding and eventually fall asleep. Feed the baby , burp, clean the face and wipe the tongue and gums with a clean muslin cloth(good oral hygiene). Remember, be gentle and careful to not disturb the baby too much so that baby can gradually fall asleep.
Its best to start off teaching the baby difference between day and night.
During the day time make an attempt to keep the curtains drawn or have some light in the room. After putting the baby to sleep during the day time make sure to have slight noise or voices in the room, there shouldn’t be absolute silence. Carry on with your daily routines , just be soft on the noise and disturbances but don’t cancel it out completely.
Then at night, keep the room dark, quiet and peaceful. You play lullabies/ white noise music softly in the background to help the baby have a proper sleep. Before bedtime, acknowledge and tell your baby that its bedtime and time to sleep. Trust me babies understand and register all of this repetitive talking in their beautiful brains.
For bedtime try setting a routine to giving a gentle massage to your baby with calming organic / cold pressed oil and follow it up with a bath / sponging and moisturizing. It tremendously helps to calm down the baby. Then read a bedtime short story, feed the baby and put them to bed. Try to include a goodnight kiss and cuddle before you put them in their bed. This helps the baby to understand its time to sleep.
Newborns will wake up every 2-4 hours for feed hence it is better to be prepared before hand and not let the baby cry and get up for a feed. According to the feed duration of the baby give the milk to the baby at night. This way the baby doesn’t wake up completely and easily sleeps back again after taking the feed.
As the babies grow up the duration of feeds increase and so will the frequency of getting up in the night will also decrease. Generally, when the baby turns 2-3 months you have them waking up 1-2 times at night. Try setting the bedtime for your baby at 7-8pm, this way you will have to give one feed around 11-12am, another one at 3-4am and then its rise and shine for the baby by 7:00 am.
After 6 months generally the baby is able to sleep for 10-12 hours at time without requiring to get up for feeds.
Its important to make sure the baby is in comfortable clothes (don’t layer the baby) and the temperature in the room is nor too cold or hot. Swaddle your baby, you can do this for almost 4 months. It makes them feel very comfortable and warm.
Do remember to have your child sleep in the same place/bed .It helps with establishing a healthy sleep pattern and helps them understand when its bedtime where they are suppose to sleep.
Since all babies are different some of them might grow slow or fast, don’t panic instead stay relax. All of them come around and eventually grow into beautiful human beings. Modify the mentioned tips according to your needs, like some 6 months old might still need a feed at night. Its alright, feed them, give your baby what they require. It’s a good thing to have a calm baby than a cranky baby with no routine. Its better to get up and give a feed to the baby in the middle of night than have a baby who refuses to sleep at night and leaves you with no rest.
As the babies grow so will their sleep patterns. Be prepares to bring changes to the routine you have set for your baby. Modify according to needs of the baby. For older babies, who start with solids, its advisable to start them with solids in the evening also. They have a fully stomach for a longer period of time and helps them to sleep better too.
There may be days when baby would feel under the weather or have a teething issue. They interfere with baby’s daily routine or sleep. Small tip is to give your baby icy nibbles/ tether before bedtime. It helps to calm down those gums and lets your baby sleep peacefully. For a baby suffering from fever giving the paracetamol dose before bedtime is helpful in letting them sleep with less disturbance from the illness/ symptoms.
If you are facing sleep problems with your baby even after repetitive attempts of putting them in a routine, its best to seek help from a health advisor.
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