Six months and hundreds of cute photos in, your little bundle is suddenly not so little! You may also find that you need eyes in the back of your head as they start to roll around. With their development taking leaps and bounds, now is the perfect time to introduce an infant routine. More than just baby-beneficial, it’s parent-practical too!
There are different approaches to how you set out your routine; parent-led, baby-led and combination schedules. No matter who sets the rhythm for the day, the whole family can benefit from predictable patterns. And since we all need to eat, sleep, play and more, here’s a little advice on incorporating those activities into your daily routine.
benefits of an infant routine
If you’ve ever rushed around like a headless chicken with lots of things on your mind, you’re not alone. Parenting is a juggling act but being a baby can be just as busy. There’s so many toys to choose from, plenty of noise to make and everything makes its way into their mouths. Our little ones certainly know how to enjoy themselves and they do so most when they feel secure. That’s where having an infant routine helps to provide consistency in the big new world.
As well as reassuring your little bundle, having a routine also helps develop healthy eating and sleeping habits. These are sure to make getting a sitter easier and make their adjustment to nursery smoother. Speaking of making things easier, having a daily schedule can help you feel more in control. Even if there are toys all over the floor...
starting with sunshine
Nobody would blame you for wanting a lie-in, and occasionally you can sneak one in, but your baby benefits from a clear start to the day. Open the curtains, put on some music and get out of your pjs to help to wake everyone up. You can still be comfy, that’s what all in ones and yoga pants were made for! But it’s time to embrace the morning. Doing so at the same time each day can help little ones (and you) get into a natural rhythm and wake up easier.
If you fancy some fresh air or some friendly company, now is the perfect time as hopefully you’re both well-rested. By six months, your infant can see and hear almost as well as you! This makes the outside world more fascinating than ever for little eyes and ears with plenty to discover. When you have a morning at home instead, make room for tummy time in your infant schedule. It’s fun and engaging while also developing their muscles and coordination.
treating their taste buds
Get those spoons at the ready; here comes the solid food! Maybe baby’s little fingers have already tried to grab at your dinner or they’ve been eyeing up your plate? That’s just two ways they’ll let you know they’re interested in solid food and it’s time to begin weaning. This is where mealtimes in your infant routine become fun, and messy…
Whether your family eats breakfast all together or sits down for dinner, get your littlest member involved. After their feed, pull up a highchair so they can join you at the table. With bib at the ready, give them some soft diced veggies or cereal to play with. This social time is important in any routine as it brings the family together, especially if you and your partner are returning to work. Taking the time to chat about your day develops baby’s language skills too.
lots of daytime dozing
At this age, it’s easier to organise your day in chunks of time between feeding, playtime and dozing. Regular naps throughout the day are vital in an infant routine, both to prevent grizzles and help night-time sleeping. Likewise, fitting in play between meals and naps helps to prevent sleep associations with food. Aim for 3-4 hours of naptime in total. The last and shortest nap should finish in time for dinner as late evening dozes impact your bedtime routine.
If you’re thinking of moving your little one into their own room, naptimes are the perfect testing ground. Try to put them down while they’re still awake and read them a short story. This helps them get used to settling themselves in their new surroundings. And don’t worry about blocking out all light or treading on eggshells while they sleep. A little noise during daytime dozes helps them differentiate between night and day which is an important development.
sleeping through the night
When your little one has had their last feed, it’s time for the final part of your infant routine; bedtime. What you do to wind down with them is up to you. You might run a warm bath, have cuddles as you read their favourite story, or listen to some lullabies. As long as you follow the same pattern and aim for bed by around 7, they will start to pick up on the routine. After half an hour of dimmed lights and comforting, hopefully your little one will go down easier.
Every baby is different, but some infants may now be able to sleep through the night without feeding. However, this could be disrupted by teething. Try keeping a teething ring in the fridge ready for such occasions which will help to soothe sore gums and help everyone sleep a bit better. With a baby who mostly sleeps through the night, it’s the perfect time for mum and dad to have some important one-on-one time. Goodness knows you deserve it!
Above and beyond everything else, remember this; make sure your infant routine works for your family. What helps some babies won’t always help yours so tweak and change your day as you need to. Even the best laid plans won’t always go right so small adjustments help prepare little ones for unplanned disruptions. Just keep building on good habits from their newborn routine and stay consistent into their toddler routine. With any luck (and a bit of practice) you’ll raise a happy, healthy and huggable baby. Oh, and those toothy smiles? Worth every sleepless night.