Life With A Newborn: Preparing for a new routine
You’ve had nine months planning for your newborn. You’ve attended antenatal classes, midwife appointments and bought super-cute baby bits. But, as you look into their squidgy face, reality hits. Fret not, whether it’s your first or fourth child, accepting life changes after having a baby is one step closer to winning at parenthood.
The Fourth Trimester
The first three months of motherhood, known as the fourth trimester, is a crucial period of recovering and healing. ‘A mum has been born, not just a baby,' says Amy Macatonia, midwife, nurse, and expert at The Mamaboard. ‘There is so much pressure to be the perfect mum and it’s just not [like that in] reality.’
Amy believes the key to getting through those crucial first weeks is to mentally prepare yourself for your baby not sleeping. ‘Ignore all the "are they a good baby?” comments. Babies are not naughty, they are reliant on you. And they may not sleep all night.’ So, for now, let go of the lie-ins, the holy grail of eight hours and uninterrupted sleep – and just enjoy the snuggles.
The benefits of a new baby routine
Although some experts like Amy suggest ditching the clock and going baby-led for the first few weeks, it can be stressful for others who yearn for routine. According to celebrity and royal favourite ‘Nanny Louenna’, a Norland-trained nanny and maternity practitioner, establishing a routine early can be beneficial to everyone. ‘A relaxed routine can start from day one, whether you are breast or bottle feeding,’ says Louenna. ‘It also helps you become aware of your baby’s needs, as it enables you to distinguish if baby is crying because they are hungry, overtired, uncomfortable, or in pain.’
A routine also allows you to earmark time for yourself, when you know baby will be asleep – ideal for planning a well-needed hair wash, playing with your other children, or zoning out in front of Netflix!
Feed every three hours
Louenna recommends a three-hour feeding schedule. ‘By waking your baby for regular feeds, they learn that they don’t have to cry for food,’ she explains. ‘This will help them relax into a deeper sleep, knowing you won’t let them get too hungry.’
It’s important to remember not to stress if it doesn’t go to plan. Tomorrow is a new day and you can try again. This is her go-to newborn routine…
7am – Wake baby.
Feed, wind, change nappy, and get dressed. Try a short tummy or play time. Offer top-up feed.
8.30am – Roughly 1.5 hours after waking, put baby down for a nap. If you’re going on the school run, need to walk the dog or run other errands, settle baby into the pram so you don’t need to disturb them.
10am - Wake baby.
Feed, wind, change nappy, offer top-up feed.
11.30am – Settle for nap.
1pm – Wake baby.
Feed, wind, nappy change, offer top-up feed.
2.30pm – Settle for nap.
4pm – Wake baby.
Feed, wind, nappy change top-up feed within an hour.
5pm - Settle for nap.
6pm - Wake baby after they’ve had an hour’s sleep. They might be fractious after being disturbed, so let them have roughly half of their feed (one breast or half a bottle), before winding and enjoying a nice bath. Once relaxed, continue to feed, wind and then offer a top-up feed.
7.30pm – Put baby to bed. You might find them resisting in the first few weeks, especially when establishing breastfeeding. The trick is to not let them get overtired. This is a common time for cluster feeding, when the baby feeds for a long period. Ensure they are feeding properly and try to let them have a sleep before their next wake up.
10pm – Wake baby, turn on lights, and give baby a good feed. Try and settle them as soon as you can for night feeds and avoid overstimulation. Wind well. Change nappy, offer top-up feed, and put back to bed. Aim to do this within the hour.
1am – Wake baby and feed. According to Louenna, this is usually the hardest feed, but as this is the first one to be dropped – go with it! Try to make sure they have a good feed and avoid putting them back down to sleep after half a feed, as they will wake sooner.
4am – Wake baby, feed, wind, change nappy, and offer top-up. Settle baby back to sleep.
Changing your baby’s routine
Once your baby weighs over 8lbs and is able to take 4oz of milk at each feed, let them start to stretch during the night, but continue with the regular feeds during the day, as this will help them to distinguish between day and night.
‘Babies are naturally nocturnal,’ explains Louenna. ‘By waking regularly, it gets the baby into the rhythm of having more awake time during the day – with the aim to eventually sleep longer at night.’ Another sign your baby is ready to sleep longer at night is when they aren't hungry for their morning feed.