Routine -  to have or not to have seems to be a big question that a lot of pregnant mums to be ask me.  Some health visitors are for it, some against it. In most cases you will be told to demand feed for the first couple of weeks (feed your baby every time it cries) and so will some books. Other books will tell you to have a routine. It can be very confusing!

What is important in the first few weeks is to teach your baby how to feed, particularly if breastfeeding. Both you and your baby need to get used to how it works. I personally believe that some form of routine is good, but during the first few weeks, you aim for a routine more than have one. Having some form of structure does help as it makes you feel like you know what you are doing and helps you to spot if something is wrong. If not, it can be difficult to know why a baby is crying. If you have fed and changed your baby, you know that it can’t be either of those so that leaves you with either wind, a tired baby or potentially a sick child!

There are a few books that will help you establish a routine. On becoming baby wise is one (see previous blog entry) or The Baby whisperer (Tracy Hogg) is very similar. (My midwife was very anti Gina Ford but a friend of mine with twins found it invaluable!) They suggest a 2 1/2 to 3 hour cycle for feeding a newborn with a routine of feeding, wake time, and sleep. So you feed your baby, wind, change the nappy, have some “play time” and then put them down to sleep. If the baby doesn’t wake up around 3 hours after you began your last feed, they suggest you wake him up for a feed and repeat the cycle again. That way your baby doesn’t go too long between feeds but long enough for you both to rest.

The Baby whisperer uses the acronym E.A.S.Y. Eating – Activity – Sleep – You

These books also give you ideas on how to keep the baby awake during feeds and how to calm a fussing baby.

Parenting books that promote a routine have been severely criticized for not allowing for motherly instinct. No where do I see that. As you spend time with your baby you will learn what is “normal” for your baby and what isn’t. Obviously feed earlier if your baby appears hungry. Just try to avoid “snacking”. – 5 minutes here and 5 minutes there. It makes sense that a baby will be more content on a full stomach and therefore sleep longer. And if they sleep longer, so can you!

Now my boys are older I am very grateful for the routines I established early on. Bedtime and mealtimes are never a real issue ( although tIMGA0133he number of ways boys can think of to extend bedtime is amazing!) and I think it helps to bring some sort of order very early on in a child’s life.

Dominion and awe belong to God;
   he establishes order in the heights of heaven.  Job 25

We serve a God of order so we should aim to bring order to our parenting!

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