Establishing your newborn’s routine
Your newborn’s needs
Feeding and sleeping are the two things on your newborn baby’s mind – usually in that order! Trying to balance the two and working out which one your baby needs, is how you’ll spend most of your time in the first few weeks as a new mum. But as you get used to your new life with your baby, you’ll find that creating a feeding and sleeping routine will make life easier in the months to come.
Your newborn’s feeding needs
A breastfeeding routine
Feeding your baby will take up a lot of your time in the first few weeks. It’s a learning process for everyone which will change from day to day as your newborn grows. Your baby will be in the driving seat when it comes to feeding, yet there are ways to encourage a routine which suits both of you.
• Day 1–Your newborn might seem enthusiastic about feeding quite soon after being born and take less interest after that. This is quite normal and they tend to perk up and feed frequently.
• Day 2 –Neither you or your baby are expected to master breastfeeding straight away! But you should feed on demand and let your baby’s hunger determine the feeding schedule. As a guide, feeding around 8 to 12 feeds in 24 hours – is normal.
• 3–4 days–Your milk will have ‘come in’ so you might find your baby is more satisfied after feeding once you reach this stage, and you might notice some changes in your baby’s nappy, too.
• 5–28 days – You’ll both hopefully be finding feeding a lot easier by now and will become experts in breastfeeding! You should continue to feed as and when your baby needs it, but as a guide, 8 to 12 feeds in 24 hours is about average.
If you are concerned about your baby’s feeding pattern, it might help to write down each day when your baby feeds, and for how long. You may begin to see a pattern which will help you to understand your newborn baby.
Your newborn’s sleeping needs
Newborn babies are growing and developing rapidly, and this means they need plenty of sleep. Newborns aren’t built for long stretches of sleep as they need to feed regularly and the constant rounds of up-and-down, asleep and awake can be tiring for you. Don’t worry – there are things you can do to make it easier:
•Your baby will need to take little naps throughout the day, and is likely to need to feed every 2 to 3 hours. By making the most of those precious moments when your baby is asleep, you can catch up on some much-needed rest too!
•By learning to read your baby and recognise the signs of tiredness, you can learn when they’re ready for a nap and get them settled before they become overtired, making it easier for them to fall asleep. Signs they’re getting sleepy include pulling one of their ears and rubbing their eyes. You might also notice faint dark circles under their eyes.
A bedtime routine – like a bath – can help your baby to recognise the end of daytime and the beginning of night. When it comes to night-time, close the curtains and create peace and quiet throughout the house. Keep excitement and play-voices to a minimum and switch on the night-light rather than the main one.
Whilst it may be too early for your newborn to settle into a bedtime routine, getting into the habit of doing it now will help you establish a bedtime routine later on.