Newborns are relatively easy.. they sleep a lot, feed a lot and need a lot of nappy changes. As babies grow older, their needs change. They are able to stay awake for longer pockets of time, and need more stimulation in that awake time.
From around 12 weeks, you may start noticing that your baby no longer just falls asleep after a feed. They may also be falling into a rough routine of their own. At around 3 or 4 months your baby may be able to handle an awake time of up to two hours (some will only want to be awake for an hour, and that’s okay). I’ve found with both my babies that if I find the sweet spot between them being just tired enough and overtired, then they have quite solid day naps.
It’s important to follow your babies cues first and foremost. Babies are not robots, and all have different needs at different times. He/she could have been awake a lot throughout the night, and are therefore tired out quicker than expected in the morning. Some queues of tiredness to look out for are: rubbing eyes, not focusing on you, increased fussiness, not wanting to finish a feed.
All that being said, this is the rough routine that’s working for us with Lara (also followed this with Emily):
07h00 – Awake and feed (if breast feeding, feed on demand. If formula feeding, follow the instructions for number of feeds). Follow this up with play time.
09h00 – Morning nap (ideally an hour and a half to two hours).
11h00 – Awake/play session
13h00 – Afternoon nap (hour and a half to two hours).
15h00 – Awake/play session
16h00/16h15 – Evening nap (usually babies will need a 30 min catnap in the evening).
17h00 – Awake/play session
18h00 – Bath and wind down for the night (read a story, sing some songs).
19h00 – Bedtime
I adjust this routine each day. Firstly according to what time Lara wakes in the morning (she wakes up when she wants to). Secondly, if she wants to nap sooner in her estimated 2 hour awake period, I let her. Thirdly, if she doesn’t have nice long day naps then she’ll usually land up having four naps as opposed to three. Following a strict routine would completely stress me out!
Activities for awake time
There are lots of activities you can do with your little baby during their awake times. Some examples are:
- Reading stories (letting baby hear your voice, and letting baby look at the pictures).
- Singing songs (do actions for them).
- Let them reach for toys above them (lay them on an activity mat, or hold the toys for them).
- Tummy time
- Take them for a walk.
- Let them play with textured items (raw pasta or wool are two examples).
- Blow bubbles for them.
- Let your baby look at themselves in the mirror.
Here’s to happy babies!