Baby's third month: routines
By three months you can create a routine for your baby that incorporates sleep, feeding and play
Newborns and infants up to eight weeks of age are unable to be placed on a schedule. Their needs should be met immediately, and they will dictate how much sleep they require, when they are hungry and when they want to be stimulated.
But by three months you can create a routine for your baby that incorporates sleep, feeding and play and you should be able to distinguish his habits, likes and dislikes, and as part of her unique little personality. A routine helps you tailor everyday rituals such as feeding, playing and sleeping to fit your child's temperament, and gives your child a sense of consistency and structure, without being too rigid.
A structured routine is not the same thing as a schedule. A schedule is about time slots whereas routine is about keeping up the same daily pattern.
Write activities down to keep track of your baby's sleeping and eating patterns and to see how one affects the other. A baby must be able to sleep in places other than their cot, but babies will respond to disruptions in their routine such as late mealtimes and naps that are missed completely, so your routine must be flexible enough for you to stick to without dominating everything, even in situations such as holidays.
A structured routine is not the same thing as a schedule. A schedule is about time slots whereas routine is about keeping up the same daily pattern and repeating that pattern every day. The way humans learn is by doing something over and over, which is what a routine reinforces. These rituals enable a child to understand what's coming next, what they can expect and what is expected of them. It helps them make better sense of the world around them.
Each time you feed your baby, change their diaper or comfort them when they cry, you’re reinforcing the idea that someone is there – infants who aren’t attended to, tend to cry more often and louder. An infant without an attentive parent is stressed, which works against his brain and body developing at an optimum level. Children who feel secure will be able to graduate to spending time separated from you, occupied and contented.
Dad might feel during this time that baby prefers Mum because babies seem less fussy and cry less when with their mother but this is usually related to the baby taking comfort in their Mother as the source of food and breastfeeding through scent. In order for Dad’s to build a close bond, expressed breast milk can be fed to babies from a bottle and lots of other tasks such as burping, bathing and changing nappies can help to cement this, in the first few months. Babies feel secure attachment to people who care for them in all of these ways so they are equally important. Getting used to other people is an important part of your baby's socialisation so by allowing other family members and friends to do these things as well your baby is less likely to suffer from separation anxiety when you leave them.
Ideally routines will also help you to get things done such as chores and me-time, as well as other small daily or regular duties or habits. If your baby is used to being able to sleep in their pram or in the car you can take a walk to the park, go to the post office to buy stamps and catch up with friends with minimal fuss. Don't feel you've let anyone down if a day or even a week goes by and you haven't ticked a box. And make sure change your routine if you find something is becoming awkward, it doesn't make you happy, or you don't have time for it any more.