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When you bring a newborn home, life becomes a blur. Your baby might have her days and nights reversed, need to eat every and nap in fits and starts. Your life might be just as chaotic -- sleep when you can, eat when you remember, shower with some luck. But here's a tip: Babies thrive on routines. They give rhythm and predictability to a baby's day, so they're very reassuring. "Imagine how confusing a baby's world could be," says Jodi Mindell, Ph.D., author of Sleeping Through the Night. "Routines give them a scaffolding, a structure, and their days don't seem so random." And that means that you, the parents, can start to thrive when you have a plan in place, too.
Simply beginning a bedtime ritual, for instance, can lower your anxiety, because you know you're working toward closure to the day. Predictable naptimes give you a break, so you don't have to be "on" all the time. But while routines can help parents feel in control, sometimes it's hard to know when and how to institute them. It's next to impossible to put a newborn on a nap schedule, and for the first few months, babies need to nurse on demand, so a mealtime routine won't work. When the time is right, the four routines on the following pages will bring baby a sense of security and you a sense of peace.
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