A daily routine for babies means sleeping, feeding, and other activities with adults. The organization of daily routine for babies must be according to their needs, characteristics and age. Only an organization like that will encourage the normal development of the child. Because the babies are helpless to organize their lives, their parents have the primary role in that. You should be aware of some things about the organization of daily routine for babies if you want to be good in that role.
This article will help you to organize a daily routine for a baby according to the baby’s needs and developmental characteristics.
The sleep of babies
At birth, babies have no rhythm of sleep and activity. They sleep in different parts of the day and night, with different lengths of each part of the sleep. This may take different, longer or shorter periods, depending on how the baby is raising and his/her maturation.
Babies spend the halftime of sleep in the REM phase – the phase in which dreams appear. Adults spend only 25% sleep in that phase. Yes, that means that newborns dream too, and they dream a lot. Actually, research shows that babies dream even in their mother’s womb in 23 weeks of pregnancy.
After the REM phase, the NREM phase follows, which represents a deep, balanced sleep. Adults spend most time of sleep in the NREM phase, while this phase is significantly shorter in the baby. That’s why the infants in the first weeks wake up every hour, under the influence of mainly internal stimuli (hunger, thirst, pain, etc.).
Baby sleeping with frequent awakening is especially hard for parents. From there are tiredness and nervousness in the parents in the first months of their baby’s life. My advice to all new parents is to be patient. These heavy nights will pass because the baby’s wakefulness during the day is increasingly prolonged due to contact with adults and various external influences. Therefore, the night sleep of baby it will be regulated.
During the first three months, babies sleep 3-4 times in the course of the day for 2-2.5 hours. At night, babies at the same age sleep about 11 o’clock. So, babies sleep up to 18 hours for 24 hours in the first three months of their lives.
For infants from 4 to 12 months of age, the length of sleep during the day decreases, and the wakefulness increases. At that age, babies sleep during the day 3 times from 1.5-2 hours, but some babies sleep two times a day from 8 months. They still sleep about 11 hours in the night, but now babies can pleasantly surprise you with the all-night sleeping. In fact, babies will wake up at night at least once, but now they can fall into sleep alone for the short time.
If you’re not the lucky parent to whom the baby sleeps all night, don’t worry. It’s not a baby’s disorder, nor a sign that you aren’t able to properly organize your baby’s sleep. It’s more a matter of nature than parental skills. Actually, how much babies will sleep during the night and whether they will be sleeping constantly or with frequent awakening, depends on their maturation of the particular area of the brain. As some babies old 9 months make the first steps while some babies old 15 months run, some babies sleep overnight for 3 months of age while some babies haven’t all night sleep and after the 8th month of age.
Incorrectly sleep schedule at the earliest age is one of the most common mistakes of parents. The mistake is that many parents try to prolong the baby’s wakefulness during the day, in order to sleep better at night. However, the violent prolongation of the child’s wakefulness, as well as the violent prolongation of sleep, cause fatigue in the nervous system, precisely, disturbing the function of the great brain of the child and his/her general behaviour.
Nutrition of babies
In the first year of life, it’s very important to organize baby feeding. Baby feeding can be organized in two ways:
1. Feeding at the child’s request whenever a baby cries or otherwise indicates that he/she is hungry and lasts as long as the baby doesn’t stop.
2. Feeding according to a predetermined regular schedule (eg every 3 hours), in limited time on a single breast (for example, 20 minutes)
Breastfed mothers mostly use the first mode of feeding. It’s suitable because of it satisfies nutritive (food and liquid needs) and psychological needs (needs for comfort, safety, …). On another hand, the parents mostly use the second method in feeding babies with milk formula. The second method is suitable for developing healthy eating habits from the very beginning of a child’s life.
Should feed babies with mother’s milk or milk formula up to 12 months. The introduction of non-milk nutrition should start the earliest after the end of the 4th month, and not after the 6th month of the baby’s life. The introduction of non-milk nutrition must be in line with the baby’s development.
The number of meals should be 7 (6 during the day and one during the night) in the first month. In the second and third month, the number of meals should be 6 because the night should be abolished. The time between meals should be 3 hours. From 4 months, the baby should eat 5 meals in 24h, every 3-4 hours.
Baby Care Activities
Considering the organization of daily routine for babies, it’s especially important to mention the care activities. The organization of care means dressing and bending the baby, closing and bathing, teething, nails up to 2 times a week and nose care as needed.
According to experts, until the umbilical cord drops out, babies should only be closed, not bathed. Many people think that babies shouldn’t be bathed every day in order to preserve longer a protective layer of the epithelium on the newborn’s skin. On another side, many experts recommend the daily bathing of babies after drop out of an umbilical cord. As far as I’m concerned, a decision is yours. It is only important that the child bathes at least 2 times a week.
Being in the open with a baby
In different countries, parents start to go out with babies at a different time. In Scandinavian countries, parents make a habit on fresh, cold air in babies from the early days, while among many families from Balkan countries, the belief is that babies should be kept in for a month. Cultural doesn’t determine when to start going out with babies only. Also, it’s an individual question. Poor babies should definitely wait for contact with the outside air, which is also valid for the premature birth baby.
Experts recommend that the optimal time to start going out with babies is 15 days after their birth. Of course, a weather must be appropriate and you should dress babies according to weather conditions. The most important thing is that the time of the baby’s outbreak should be gradually prolonged. For example, in the beginning, the baby can be up to 30 minutes outside, the next day for 40 minutes, etc.
Play and other baby activities
In this period, babies play only a functional play. It’s a play that trains the acquired functions and develops new ones. Functional play encourages cognitive development of babies, their perception, attention, motoring,… Therefore, you should organize in every free time of baby.
The role of parents is to encourage such a way of playing by creating conditions. They should provide appropriate toys for babies. What is more important, they should participate in play as well. The play establishes a relationship between a parent and his/her baby. Therefore, I suggest you participating as much as possible in the baby play. You should play with your baby, talk to him/her, listen to music together, … You should make a relationship with the baby at any time of daily routine, not only in the baby play time but also during the baby activities of care, feeding and being out on fresh air.
Adherence to the planned daily routine is necessary, but deviations are possible. If your baby doesn’t accept the set schedule, that means scheduling not appropriate for it. For example, your baby may be physically weaker than other babies, so he/she needs to sleep for longer. Or vice versa, maybe your baby is physically stronger than other babies and needs less sleep and more activity. Therefore, don’t force the baby to a schedule determined by a certain age. Adapt this schedule according to the needs and characteristics of your baby.
In summary, while organizing a daily routine for babies, keep in mind not only their age, but their health condition, physical development, and other individual features.