Babies thrive on stability, so give them just that with these simple steps. Creating a routine will help make things easier on both you and your little one.

By Linda Diproperzio
Alexandra Grablewski

Start early. You can start creating a variety of routines (bedtime, feedings, bath time, etc.) when your baby is between six and eight weeks old. She'll come to enjoy the predictability.

Look for clues. If you pay attention, you'll often see that your baby gets hungry or tired at the same times each day. Picking up on his cues will help you establish a routine that works for him, as well as avoid meltdowns that happen when baby gets too hungry or overtired. The key is anticipating his needs and getting him what he wants -- before he even realizes he wants it!

Be consistent. Of course, there will be times when you might have to push back bedtime or change up Baby's routine in another way (holidays or other special events, for example), but try to make those times infrequent. If you throw Baby off her schedule too often, it will only make it harder for her to get back on it.

Schedule wisely. Keep your baby's routine in mind when scheduling doctor's appointments, playdates, etc., so that you can keep disruptions to a minimum. This will also help ensure that baby is happy when you're out because she'll already have slept and eaten before leaving the house.

Write it down. Creating a master schedule that you can post on the fridge will help anyone that stays with your baby (the babysitter, grandparents) keep up the routine when you're not around.

Put Baby's needs first. If your baby starts to get fussy, but isn't due for a nap or a feeding for another hour, follow her lead. Her needs trump any schedule you might have in place.

Have fun with it. A routine doesn't mean you have to make it all work and no play. Everything you do with your baby is a bonding experience, so also make time to sing songs, cuddle, and play.

Copyright © 2012 Meredith Corporation.

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