The Ultimate Guide To An Easy Baby Routine With A Unique Twist!

By Paula McLaren •  Updated: 04/30/20 •  15 min read

So what is an easy baby routine and is it actually achievable

An easy baby routine is one that works for you and for your baby. 

It is the routine that feels right and one that suits your lifestyle and your family.

Getting your newborn into an easy baby routine does not need to be complicated. 

It may feel impossible in the early days but I believe it is achievable to establish a healthy and easy baby routine by following a few simple guidelines that work for everyone!

What does EASY Baby Routine Stand For?

An EASY Baby Routine means:

E = Eat

A = Activity

S = Sleep

Y = You

And it is a simple formula to help you create the perfect schedule and routine for you and your newborn baby.

When Should You Start An E.A.S.Y Baby Routine

E = Eat

A = Activity

S = Sleep

Y = You

You can start implementing a routine for your baby whenever you feel is the right time to do so. 

Even at the beginning when you are demanding feeding an easy baby routine just means following a certain order in which you can structure your day to make it feel easier to cope with.

Sleep rhythms begin to develop in babies at around 6 weeks and most babies are capable of a regular sleep schedule by 3- 6 months. 

However, it is possible to nudge your baby into a good feeding and sleep schedule from very early on by helping him to sleep and eat on a schedule that fits in with your day and allows you to maximise your time and to ensure you get as much sleep as possible too.

Of course, if you choose to demand feed and do not wish to craft a tighter routine that is fine and many mothers are happy to do this. 

Whatever your approach, it is important that you should focus on loving and caring for your baby and making sure they are getting all the food and sleep they need.

What You Need To Know About Babies And Feeding

To help you make the most out of your EASY baby routine, here are some common issues surrounding newborn feeding to help you avoid them and make the most out of these first few weeks!

Cluster Feeding

Cluster feeding is a term used when newborns need a lot of short feeds at a specific time in the day. 

Frequent feeding is essential for newborn babies and they will feed at least 8-12 times in a 24 hour period especially if they are breastfed (as breast milk is more easily digested than formula!)

A newborn baby’s stomach is only the size of a marble when first born so it needs to be replenished often. 

This can feel like you are constantly feeding in the beginning, but this feeding is essential to your babies development and growth!

Cluster feeding can happen at any time of the day but more often than not it occurs in the evening and nighttime. 

Whilst this phase can be exhausting you should use it as a time for bonding and being close to your baby and remember this pattern of feeding will not last!

Dream Feed

A dream feed is when a baby takes a feed while they are not fully awake and is usually given between 10pm and midnight in order to allow you to have a longer stretch of sleep at night! 

It is a method that I have often used with a huge amount of success and therefore something I feel must be included in my easy baby routine!

You can introduce dream feeding as soon as your baby is going for longer than stretches of 4 hours sleep at night. 

Once they have reached this stage by waking them to feed before you go to bed, they will hopefully allow you to have a decent stretch of sleep before you have to wake for another nighttime feed.

The advantages of dream feeding are:

When to stop in the dream feed will be different from baby to baby but I would say that generally, you could stop dream feeding 2-4 weeks after your baby is sleeping well from the time of the dream feed through to the morning.

What You Need To Know About Babies & Sleep

To help you make the most out of your EASY baby routine, here are some common issues surrounding the third point – sleep – and how to help you avoid them!

Day And Night Confusion

A lot of new babies (including my own son!) have day and night confusion where they appear to want to take their long sleep in the daytime and wake more frequently during the night.

The first step is to teach your baby to sleep for less time during the day by not letting them sleep for more than 3 hours at a time.

If this means that you have to wake your baby for a feed then do so. 

This will probably mean than your baby will be quite sleepy and may fall back to sleep after only a few minutes of feeding.

If this is the case there are a few simple things you can do to ensure they stay awake to take a full feed which is important if you are to establish an easy newborn routine. 

Another good tip to help with day/night confusion is to make sure that daytime feeds is taken in bright natural light and then the evening feeds are low key and taken in a darkened dimly lit room. 

Your baby will soon learn the difference between the two types of feed.

Establishing Bedtime Routine

It is important to make a definite mood difference when it comes to early evening and nighttime feeds. 

A good bedtime routine should be simple and consistent and you should aim to follow the routine even when you are away from home.

Once your baby has reached 6 weeks old the early evening feed should be taken in a quiet and dimly lit room after a bath and without any disturbances. 

Look out for your babies sleepiness cues to make sure you get the timing right. 

It is a good idea to have a room thermometer to monitor the temperature in the room where your baby will sleep as this will have an influence on how well they sleep. (Aim for a temperature between 18-21 Celcius)

Once you have all this in place you can then settle your baby in their crib and hopefully have a little bit of down time yourself. This is a good time to introduce a white noise machine to help your baby sleep undisturbed.

You will hear me advocating a healthy bedtime routine a lot and that is because I feel it is hugely important that you get this right from the beginning to ensure you get the time you need at the end of the day to recharge your batteries! 

Part of being a good parent is making sure you look after yourself too.

Sleep is so important for both you and your child and will continue to be so. 

Parenting is tiring and you will need all the sleep you can get so encourage your baby to have good sleep habits as soon as you can. 

Over Tiredness

Getting your baby into an easy baby routine will be helped by not letting your baby become over tired. 

In my experience… sleep breeds sleep and too little sleep can actually mean your baby will struggle to establish a good sleep routine!

A newborn baby can handle around 45 minutes of wakefulness while a 6-month-old can manage a couple of hours. 

With this in mind… in the early months, you should try to make sure that they get enough sleep during the day as it will ensure that they sleep better at night.

An overtired baby will cry and become difficult to settle as they become more stressed and may wake again quite soon after settling.

Sleep Cues

In order to get your baby to follow an easy baby routine, you need to be able to spot the sleep cues that will help you ensure your baby does not become overtired. 

Signs to look out for are:

An extremely overtired baby is difficult to calm and settle and they may scream and stiffen causing you to think they have wind or something else is amiss, when in fact they are just overtired! 

Take the baby to a quiet peaceful location and gently talk and rock them until they begin to calm. 

You may need to rock them fully to sleep in order to put them down as they will not be able to self settle at this point. 

Be prepared for your little one to wake soon after being put down and you may need to help them resettle again.

White Noise

White noise machines are a relatively new addition to helping your baby into a healthy sleep routine. 

When used correctly they can be a god-send and I would advise investing in a good quality machine as not all white noise machines can create the sounds most suitable to settling your baby and helping them stay asleep at the correct level.

Using a white noise machine at the correct level is of paramount importance with a constant level of no higher than 64-70dB.

Even for easy babies, white noise is extremely useful as it will help avoid potential blips in a settled baby routine such as when you stop swaddling, your baby becomes more aware and social, or when teething.

When these hiccups occur the white noise that your baby has become accustomed to will act as a cue to go to sleep. 

Slow low rumbling sounds are best to soothe your baby or a constant steady sound like rainfall.

It is not advisable to use white noise for nap time as it should be reserved for nighttime sleep only.

Swaddling

To swaddle or not to swaddle that is a question! 

Many babies respond to swaddling well as it makes them feel safe and secure and prevents them from startling themselves awake (also known as the Moro Reflex). 

Some babies do not like to be swaddled and, of course, in this is the case, I would not recommend it.

If you do decide to swaddle your newborn it is extremely important that you do it correctly and stop swaddling as soon as your baby shows signs of being able to roll over

Always use a breathable material such as a cotton receiving blanket or a specialised baby swaddle. 

Never layer them as it is extremely important that your baby does not overheat.

Self Settling

When your baby is around 3 weeks old and got into the rhythm of taking full feeds with day and night time confusion sorted, you can start to think about building self-settling into your easy baby routine.

You might have concerns that this is too early but newborn babies quite naturally self settle and you need to encourage this good habit. 

As babies grow older they stop self-settling naturally and you will find it harder to reintroduce.

Ways to encourage self-settling are to make sure your baby is well-fed, nappy changed and not overtired. 

Then simply put your baby in their own crib while they are drowsy and let them fall asleep alone. 

They will probably stare off into space for a bit first or even fall asleep straight away.

As your baby gets older you should allow them to lie in their crib for short periods of time looking at mobile for entertainment so that they get used to not being held all the time.

Sleep Association

A healthy and sustainable sleep association is essential to getting your baby into an easy baby routine. 

If your baby needs you in order to fall asleep then that is an unsustainable sleep association. 

This will mean that whenever your baby wakes they will need you to settle them back to sleep. Not great!

So how do you teach your baby to have healthy sleep associations that will help your baby self settle?

Easy Baby Routines And Schedules For Different Ages

Getting into an easy baby routine at any stage means making sure your baby has enough to eat and understanding how much sleep your baby needs. 

Quite simply babies need a lot of sleep and they need to eat little and often. 

The amount of sleep and food they need will change as they grow, but in the beginning, your newborn does not yet stay in REM sleep for long periods of time so will wake more often and easily. 

On average a newborn baby will not manage to stay awake for longer than 35 -40 minutes after a feed… 

But by 6 weeks old this will have gradually started to increase and their sleep cycle will have developed to a point that they can stay asleep for longer periods of time.

0-6 Weeks Schedule

And you’re off! Take things slow and take the time to get to know your baby. Enjoy these weeks and don’t be too hard on yourself. You’re doing OK.

Key Points:

Time Of Day

Routine

7am

The day should start with a feed

8am

First nap of the day around

8am-6:30pm

Daytime feeds and naps as needed

6pm

When you are ready introduce bath time and feed

Bedtime

Nighttime feeds as baby needs

2-3 Months Schedule

Now you are ready to get your baby to sleep for longer periods of time.

If you have not done so already now is the time to establish good sleep habits like self-settling and a good bedtime routine.

Key Points:

Time Of Day

Routine

6:30am-7am

The day should start with a feed

8am

First nap of the day around

8am-6:30pm

Daytime feeds and naps as needed

6:30pm

Bath time

7.30-8pm

Bedtime and feed in a darkened room after bath

10pm – 12pm

Wake to Dream Feed before your bedtime once baby can go 4 hours without waking

Nighttime feeds as baby needs

4-6 Months Schedule

This period of time in your baby schedule will see a great deal of change. 

A lot depends on the baby and some may be down to 2 naps a day while others will not. 

Some will be showing signs of sleep regression and others may be sleeping through the night.

Whatever your baby is doing at this point it is comforting to know that sleeping through the night is within your grasp. 

Key Points:

Time Of Day

Routine

7am-8am

Day should start with a feed

7am-6pm

Naps would usually be 3 times a day each at 1-3 hours long (some babies may only be taking two naps by this time one mid-morning and another in the afternoon).

6pm

Bath time

7-8pm

Feed and bedtime

Your Bedtime

Dream feed before YOUR bedtime 

For schedules for 6 month old babies and up, check out my post Infant Daily Schedules to download my free printable schedules! 

And remember…

Each and every baby is different. 

Some babies will reach certain stages earlier than others and others will miss some stages altogether. 

As you get to know your baby you will instinctively begin to learn what works for them and for you.

Only ever take the advice that you are comfortable with and as I always say, follow your instincts!

As long as your baby is happy and loved, well-fed and getting enough sleep and developing normally… you are doing great!

Paula McLaren

Paul Mclaren - Norland Nurse NNEB RSH is the founder of Teething to Tantrums and has been in the child care industry as a Norland Nanny since 1982. Since then, her mission has been to help parents become the best they can possibly be. And each year, she continues to help more families understand their child's development, the trials and joys of parenting and of course, how to care for their little ones.

Keep Reading