Do babies really need routine? Is routine important for babies? Why is routine important for babies? Do all babies need routine? Or are they all different? Most importantly, does your baby need routine?
As a Mum of 4, I have tried it both ways; with routine and without. In this post and in the video below, I am sharing 4 ways to establish if your baby needs routine so that you can decide what is best for your baby and your family.
So does my baby need routine?
The answer to this question depends entirely upon your family and what your days look like. I am going to take you through the 4 reasons that routine may be best for your baby. If none of these applies to you, your baby probably does not need a routine.
1. You have other children
Is this your first baby?
If the answer is “yes” then it is definitely possible to manage without a routine. When I had my first son, it was all about him. I was entirely baby-led. I could sleep when he slept and get up when he got up. The times that our days started and ended were totally determined by him and that was ok.
So if you have the kind of lifestyle where you are able to be led entirely by your baby without the constraints and structures of other commitments and places to be, then a routine is by no means essential.
Do you have older children?
Unless you have a lot of help (something that I never had), having other children will naturally impose a degree of routine upon you. They will need to be fed, dressed, taken to school or playgroup etc at pretty set times. This means that regardless of when your baby fancies feeding or sleeping, these things will have to fit around your older children’s schedules.
In this instance, leaning into routine rather than fighting it is generally best for your baby, as you can ensure that their needs are met as well as fitting in your other obligations. This generally helps to avoid your baby screaming in the back of the car because they have decided that they are starving while on the school run, for example, as their feed will have taken place before you left.
2. You plan to return to work
If you are returning to work, you will need to get up at a specific time and function at an acceptable level, regardless of the sort of night you have had. In my experience, routine in the day translates to routine in the night and you are far likely to get more sleep.
3. You want to attend groups or events at set times during the day
Before I established a routine with my sons, my husband would say to me “Let’s go out for lunch. What time will the baby need feeding?” To which I would reply “I don’t know, when he’s hungry I guess”.
Before routine, something as simple as deciding what time to take a car journey or book a table of a lunch out as a family was impossible. We were often left with a crying baby and having to sit parked at the side of the road feeding him rather than doing what we had planned.
By having a routine, you can far better predict what time your baby will need feeding and will need to sleep. Once we had a routine in place, I could confidently say that we could leave after a scheduled feed, knowing my baby would be happy in the car. I could book to go out for lunch as a family at a time that I knew my baby would be sleeping in the pram next to me and actually eat my mean with both hands. For me, the routine was a lifesaver. Not only did it make my days easier to plan, but it meant my baby was happier too.
4. You want to anticipate your baby’s needs in advance
Routine can get a bit of a bad rep. I’ve heard people saying “oh, that routine my friend is following is awful. she can’t feed the baby until a certain time even if they are hungry”. This is simply not the case for any routine that I have ever implemented for my children. Quite the opposite, in fact.
For me, a routine has been about anticipating what my baby would need before they even knew themselves. Feeding a baby that is starting to get hungry but is not yet starving and screaming is a far easier job, plus avoids the upset of seeing your baby in distress.
Getting a baby to nap that is just starting to get tired? Easy peasy compared to dealing with an overtired infant that is resisting sleep with every ounce of their being. Trust me, I know.
Want to learn more about routine?
You can read all about my tried and tested routine that I used for my babies by clicking the button below.
Download mt printable routine
Join the conversation!
Click on the Instagram grid photo below and let me know if you use routine for your baby or not and to read about other Mum’s experiences of routine.