How to find a routine that works for you, by Sarah Carpenter

Routines are not for everyone, and believe me it’s not something which is easy to implement when you are a new mummy. And, if there are two things I’ve learnt in this job, it’s that no two days are the same and no two babies are the same! So, despite what some of the books might say, I don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all-babies routine, but there are some basic guidelines which can help you find your feet. And remember, part of making the rules work for you is knowing when to break them – so don’t be too hard on yourself!

1. Don’t Rush

I don’t believe you can start a routine on day one, so relax and try to enjoy them being furled up and fresh out of the packet! I do believe you can think about key things in the first couple of weeks which will make things easier.

2. Go with their Flow

So, after the first couple of weeks of finding your feet and coping with the massive change of having a small person with you 24hrs a day, start to think about their natural pattern. Can you see they are stretching to two-three hours between each feed or possibly longer, are the nights becoming more regular e.g. Waking roughly the same times each night? If you are trying to build your day around that – so you’re not walking out the door just when they need a sleep etc…

3. Morning has Broken

Now start to focus on the times which work for you. If you are aiming for a 12 hr day starting at 7 am begin to start each day at this time (don’t forget you have flexibility and there will be mornings when you just can’t get up so don’t worry if baby is asleep, just stay in bed a bit longer until they wake up naturally just use this as a treat for yourself). Remember: this is your first feed so take your time, let baby get their fill and wind them well

4. Night, Night

Start to think about your evening routine – you want to get a good bedtime routine in place as it’s one of  the keys to a good night’s sleep.

Aim to start this section of the day one to two hours (this depends how much they enjoy bath time and how long they feed for) before they go to sleep:

  • Firstly, I encourage wind down time e.g. reading stories, singing quiet nursery rhymes or a bit of pre-bath massage. This should last around 15-20 minutes: have the bathroom nice and warm and a cosy towel for your baby to lie on, leave the nursery dimly lit blinds shut and the bedroom ready for baby (remove any mobiles from above the cot to avoid them becoming over stimulated when you put them down).
  • Then enjoy giving them a bath.  Take your time to wash baby thoroughly and get them used to being in water. For some babies a few minutes is long enough, others really enjoy lounging around in water (just make sure water is the correct temperature and baby is comfortable). Take your time to dry baby properly and get dressed.
  • Always return to the nursery for your final feed. Whether this is bottle or breast do it in a quiet dimly lit setting with minimal stimulation. As always, take great care to wind baby – otherwise they’ll be too uncomfortable to settle. Once baby is fed, winded and has a clean nappy, swaddle them and pop them in their cot.
  • I always encourage parents to put baby to bed awake. This helps baby to self-settle which will see you get your evenings back, and also means baby will get used to waking up and self-settling throughout the night.

Initially every evening is not going to be the same.  Some nights you will find baby goes down and has a sleep allowing you to have your dinner in peace, other nights you and your partner will be taking it in turns to go in and out of the room helping to settle baby. The thing to remember is once you have put them in their cot for the night they should stay in their nursery.

5. Perseverance Pays

Putting good habits in place now allows baby to feel secure and settled in the long run and eventually allows for more flexibility.


I believe routines should be flexible – I always tell my parents that the routines I put in place for them are flexible by about half an hour each way. After all, you know yourself that you get hungry around about lunchtime every day, not bang on 1 pm!

NB. This advice will not work miracles and you are not going to get your evening back on day one! These are pointers to get things moving in the right direction and putting good habits in place.


“Nothing could have prepared us for the lack of sleep, the enormous sense of constant total responsibility, the huge decisions to be made, the feeding routine, sleep patterns, everything! We were able to meet with Sarah for 2 hours from this moment everything changed. In the space of just a few weeks, he went from erratic sleeping patterns and crying to consistently sleeping a minimum of 9 hours every night, often more” – Alasdair Strange

“Sarah worked with me to establish a set routine of sleeps during the day as well as an established bed time. This coupled with her guidance on an appropriate feeding schedule and settling/teaching the girls to put themselves to sleep, quickly produced two very happy girls who went down to sleep quickly, slept all night and gave their parents a much-needed rest.” – Joanna Spanjaard (mother of twins)


One Response to “Routine”

  1. casita07 August 1, 2012 at 5:33 am #


    Great post! When Nico was born, 6 months ago, having a routine was key for me, I wanted to have a certain structure so I could plan my days around it. I think for the first few weeks I was too worry about baby not following my so wanted routine and got myself too stress about it. Then, like you say, I started observing him and started building one around his natural feeding, sleeps… and voila! Of course we still have days where nothing goes according to plan but I guess that´s normal so I dont worry too much about it! xx R

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