Skip to main content

Establishing a daytime routine for your newborn baby  

Introducing a daytime routine for your newborn baby will help create a safe space for learning and development. Through a consistent pattern, your little one will begin to understand sleep, food, and play cues. 

From how to create a routine for your baby to adjusting timings to suit your child’s age, find out everything you need to know below. 

Do babies need a daytime routine?  

Yes, through repetition, your little one will feel safe and social interactions will become part of their everyday life. A daytime routine is also important when helping your child to transition in the future, whether that’s starting school or being looked after by a grandparent. 


What is a typical baby daily routine?  

Every child is different, but there are a few key elements to a newborn schedule. Discover a typical feed, play, sleep routine below: 

  • When your child wakes up, offer them a feed. 

  • At the end of a feed, change their nappy. 

  • Play and interact with your little one or have a cuddle. In the evening, you might want to avoid play. Instead, you could read them a bedtime story or run a bath.    

  • Settle your baby down to sleep in a calm environment.   


When to start a routine with your baby  

A lot of experts recommend establishing a routine between two to four months of age. By this stage, most children have developed consistent sleeping and feeding habits making it a great opportunity to introduce a schedule.  

Tracking your baby’s awake times and eating habits in an app or notebook will help you to create a routine that works for your family.   


How to create a routine for your baby  

A baby’s routine can be divided into three simple components: sleep, feed, and uptime (playtime). This structure can be established from birth and will last for years to come.  

Graphic of Sleep Cycle

During the day, try to use the same sleep techniques as you do on a night to maintain consistency. For example, swaddle your little one if this is something they respond well to or use a sleep aid such as white noise. If your child falls asleep in the car, carefully transfer them to a safe sleep space at home - such as a cot with a firm, flat mattress. You can learn more about safe sleep guidelines on our Sleep Library.

Remember, it’s not always possible to follow a routine. For example, when you’re travelling, visiting friends or your little one is overtired. It’s OK to make changes sometimes. Be flexible and adapt to your child’s needs, whether they need to take an extra nap or have an earlier bedtime. 


Baby routine tips and advice  

From establishing a set bedtime to learning how to recognise your baby’s cues, discover our expert tips on creating a routine that will last below.  


Establish a bedtime routine early on  

Newborn babies haven’t yet moderated their biological circadian rhythms (internal body clock) to match day and night. Their sleep cycles are very short and they spend more time in a light stage of sleep (also known as REM) which means they are likely to stir. A consistent bedtime routine will lay the foundations for a healthy sleep schedule for years to come. 

This will look different to every family. It might include a bath, bedtime story, baby massage or lullaby. To create a calming environment, dim the lights, close the curtains/blinds, and use white noise if this is something your child responds well to. To help your little one to understand sleep cues, it’s important to try and maintain these settings during daytime naps too if possible.        


Help your baby to understand the difference between night and day  

As discussed above, babies don’t know the difference between night and day, as their circadian rhythm (internal body clock) hasn't developed yet. Newborn babies will sleep for up to 18 hours in short periods, waking up often to feed.  

It’s only from four to six months old that a child’s circadian rhythm kicks in and they slowly begin to learn when it’s time to sleep. This is a great opportunity to introduce a nighttime routine, as they won’t be waking as often to feed. 


Learn to recognise your baby’s cues  

When establishing a routine, it’s important to follow your baby’s sleep and hunger cues. Below, find common signs that your child is tired: 

  • Clenching fists. 

  • Yawning excessively. 

  • Frowning. 

  • Staring blankly into space. 

  • Arching their back.  


Put your child's routine first  

It’s important to create a routine that focuses on your newborn’s needs. To do so, follow their sleep, hunger, and play cues.  


Change is inevitable as your child grows and develops  

Over time, your child’s schedule will change as they grow and develop, but try to keep things as consistent as possible for the first few months. In the first year, most children will achieve huge milestones, from sitting up and crawling to maybe even walking. They might become hungrier than usual, require more sleep or return to waking up during the night several times a week.  

During these periods of change, it’s normal to expect your child to fall out of routine. If they struggle to get back into routine after a few weeks or months, you might want to look into making small changes to see if they respond well - this might mean changing their bedtime or the number of naps taken throughout the day.     

Adjust the routine to suit your child’s age  

In response to the developmental changes discussed above, it’s important to adjust your child’s routine to suit their age. Your child will begin needing more social interaction, play, and stimulation. They will also move onto solid foods over time.  


Be flexible 

Of course, it’s not realistic to expect to follow the same routine day in, day out. Things happen and you need to be flexible. Sleep cycles change as your child matures, but just make sure to follow a consistent pattern where you can.   


At Love To Dream™, we know that every child is different, and we’re committed to helping you to find the right solution for your family. With you at every step, Love To Dream™ believes today’s little dreamers are the shapers of tomorrow. For further advice from our experts, visit our Sleep Library.