All children need structure and routine, but babies need it the most, especially newborns. They are, after all, new to the world, and the two of you are getting used to each other outside of the womb for the first time. Routine and structure will help you adapt to each other and stay sane as you go through all the ups and downs of being a new parent. Keep reading to learn some of the best ways to implement a routine for your newborn.

Allow for Lots of Sleep

Average newborns sleep for around 16 hours or more a day. That’s a lot of sleep! Build a routine that allows for all this sleep instead of fighting to put them on a routine that would better fit someone who naturally stays awake. Many newborns become naturally drowsy about an hour after feedings, so schedule naps into your daily routines around feeding times. In that hour between feeding and napping, take the opportunity to bond, try developmental play, and get in one of those many diaper changes.

Night vs. Day

With all those naps, your baby may get confused as to when it’s daytime and when it’s nighttime. While you may think that babies don’t really need to know the difference, helping them learn daytime versus nighttime will help them understand the difference between napping sleep and night sleep. This understanding will be the difference between wakeful nights and restful nights when they get older. Teach them the difference with cues like how many lights are on in the room, noise volume in the house, what type of clothes they’re wearing, and having a different bedtime routine from their naptime routine.

Bedtime Routine

A nap routine during the day can be quite simple, especially since your baby will probably be naturally drowsy after feeding and play. Make your bedtime routine different to develop those long sleeping patterns. You can give your baby a relaxing bath and a baby massage. Dress them in specific pajamas so they get a textile signal that it’s time for bed. Offer a short feeding, read a story, and/or sing a lullaby. There are many ways to create an effective bedtime routine for your baby. Experiment with different options to find what’s best for the two of you, but try to keep the routine under an hour so they don’t get overstimulated.

Expect Changes

No routine is going to perfectly carry your child through their first year of life. Expect changes as they develop, such as sleeping and waking more or less and eating more. This often happens around growth spurts, which statistically happen at two weeks, three weeks, six weeks, three months, and six months. These growth spurts and routine changes will last around a week, after which your baby should settle back into the established routine, but it’s never going to be perfect. Give yourself grace.

The best ways to create a routine for your newborn are to allow for lots of sleep, teach the difference between night and day, implement a specific bedtime routine, and expect changes as they grow. Give yourself plenty of grace as you learn your baby’s cues and develop a routine that’s best for them. No two babies are exactly alike, so be willing to try different things along the way.