“Keeping a consistent daily routine is one of the most important things you can do for your child.”
Birth to 4 Weeks Old
From birth it is essential to start working toward feeding baby fully every time you sit down to feed. You should feed your baby within 5 minutes of waking up. By 4 weeks old, the goal is to have full feedings established, as this is the cornerstone to getting your baby to sleep through the night.
For the breastfeeding mom this means 30-40 minutes and the bottle feeding mom this means baby should finish their bottle in 30 minutes. NOTE: For the bottle fed baby, amount consumed will vary based on age. There should be 8-10 feedings in a 24 hour period. At this stage, simply keep track of how much baby is feeding, when baby is feeding, and how long they are sleeping. DO NOT try to force baby into any sort of routine.
At this age, it is very important not to allow baby to go longer than 3 hours between the start time of each feed. As an example, if you feed baby at 7:00a, you should wake them at 10:00a to eat if they haven’t done so already. (YES I SAID IT…WAKE A SLEEPING BABY). I know you are exhausted and it’s very tempting to allow your baby to sleep so you can get some rest, but without waking them it will be physically impossible to get them enough nutrition in a day. They can only eat so much at a time so they must eat frequently in these early days.
4 Weeks Old to 16 Weeks Old
Below is an example of the progression of a daily routine from approximately 4 weeks old to 16 weeks old. This will vary from child to child and day to day. Some days feedings may be 30 minutes earlier or 15 minutes later, and everything gets moved up or pushed back accordingly. It’s called a routine (and not a schedule) because while the structure must consistently remain in place, the timing of everything can and will fluctuate based on baby’s age and the day.
Continue to feed your baby fully everytime you sit down to feed and deliberately organize your days into EAT – PLAY – SLEEP cycles. Also, continue to wake your baby to eat and do not allow them to go longer than 3 hours between feeds until they are sleeping through the night.
By 12 weeks old (and often as early as 8 weeks old) you can easily have your baby sleeping through the night.