EASY PEASY, ROU­TINE’S A BREEZY

12 months Ad­vice on baby sched­ules and rou­tine can make your head spin. When should you start, and why is it im­por­tant?

Your Baby & Toddler - - Your 12 Months Baby - BY YOLANDI NORTH

Rou­tine is one of the best gifts to give your baby, as your baby will be calmer and hap­pier if they know what to ex­pect when. “If your baby is in a rou­tine, they know what to ex­pect (like a feed just be­fore bed­time). This cre­ates com­fort and helps calm them. Lack of rou­tine of­ten leads to over­stim­u­la­tion and anx­i­ety. It can make your baby less likely to experiment with the en­vi­ron­ment or less likely to ex­plore. They will avoid en­gag­ing if they are over­stim­u­lated,” says Le­sego Mashishi, an oc­cu­pa­tional ther­a­pist from Lim­it­less Oc­cu­pa­tional Ther­apy in Pre­to­ria.

WHEN TO START A ROU­TINE

Most ex­perts agree that a com­bi­na­tion sched­ule that works for mom, baby and the fam­ily should take pref­er­ence. Ba­bies, just like adults, have built in time clocks and phys­i­cal needs, and by six weeks your baby will have de­vel­oped a nat­u­ral rhythm or sched­ule that will adapt as they grows. This nat­u­ral rhythm is the guide­line and start­ing point for you to start im­ple­ment­ing a flex­i­ble rou­tine from around six weeks.

Naps and baths present great op­por­tu­ni­ties to get into a rhythm with your baby as you can re­peat the same ac­tions ev­ery time, and so help them to get used to the sched­ule. For in­stance: start pre­par­ing baby for sleep at around 10 min­utes be­fore she is sup­posed to go down by tak­ing her to a quiet room, swad­dling and even rock­ing her in or­der to re­lax her. Lay her down when she’s drowsy and happy, but not asleep.

Bath­time should fol­low the same pat­tern as closely as pos­si­ble ev­ery night as it marks the be­gin­ning of the bed­time rou­tine, act­ing as a sig­nal to your baby that things are wind­ing down for the night. Use baby wash with a dis­tinc­tive smell, sing the same song dur­ing bath­time and fol­low the bath with a com­fort­ing mas­sage. Then start get­ting quiet for the last feed and bed­time.

YOUR ROU­TINE WILL GO THROUGH CHANGES

As ba­bies grow, they will sleep less dur­ing the day and for longer stretches at night. In­tro­duc­ing solids (at around six months) will mean that your baby will nat­u­rally ad­just milk feeds in fre­quency and amounts, ex­plains Sis­ter Linda Britz, a Johannesbu­rg-based mid­wife and lac­ta­tion spe­cial­ist. So as your baby grows, you’ll be mak­ing changes to your rou­tine.

SO WHAT DOES A ROU­TINE LOOK LIKE? Use these ex­am­ples as a guide­line, but re­mem­ber to ad­just them as needed to suit you and your baby.

THREE TO SIX MONTHS

Give your baby a feed, af­ter which she may go back to sleep for a short pe­riod

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