Routines are a great way to help your baby’s day go just a little bit smoother — whether you stick to a strict daily regimen, or prefer to let him follow a more relaxed eat-and-sleep schedule. Still, every now and again, a tiny blip will send your cutie off course, and leave you struggling to get back on track. “The most important thing is not to panic,” advises sleep expert Jo Tantum, who co-wrote Baby Secrets: How To Know Your Baby’s Needs. “It’s all about acting quickly and moving things 15 minutes this way or that over the course of the day.”
So, stay calm and try these winning ways to get your kewpie's routine back to normal…
Problem #1: Mealtime meltdowns
Teething, tiredness or a reluctance to taste something new — it doesn’t take much for your tyke to turn on the tears at mealtimes. Offer a mixture of familiar and new food items, but if your mini-muncher refuses to eat, don’t force her— the key is not to panic. Maternity nurse and sleep consultant Tina Southwood points out, “She’s not going to starve if she misses a meal. Don’t offer a sweet alternative. You need to avoid a pattern where she knows she’ll get what she wants if she keeps saying no.
Problem #2: New places, new faces
A new environment — a weekend away or a night at the grandparents’ — can really disrupt your baby and her routine. SmartParents childcare expert Claire Burgess reckons that your young ‘un is bound to get a little clingy if she feels uncertain in unfamiliar surroundings. “She may not want to eat and it could mean disturbed sleep, during the day and night. “Avoid this by packing several familiar items to help her feel settled. Mimic the environment she’s used to, so, favourite weaning foods rather than a new flavour, and familiar bedroom lighting to make sleep soothing. Burgess advises, “Also bring along her own bed sheets, blanket and her favourite teddy, so she’s surrounded by cosy scents.”
Problem #3: Travelling long distances
If you're a planning a whole day of activity even if it's by car, it can make it hard to keep your baby’s routine on track. “The motion of the car lulls most babies to sleep, so she may well be napping when you don’t want her to,” Tantum notes. Noise or distractions can mean missed naps and meals, resulting in an irritable, overtired baby. But you can minimise the impact on your routine with some planning. “Time a car journey to coincide with your kid’s nap time,” Burgess advises. “If it’s a long drive, you could set off at night after a bath and feed, so she’ll sleep for most of it.” Even if you can’t choose when you travel, being prepared will help you feel in control.
Problem #4: Too many distractions
You want to show off your new arrival to friends and extended family and there’s nothing more fun than get-togethers with her in tow. But sometimes, being passed around or being given lots of bright, new toys can over-stimulate your sweetie. “It creates an adrenaline rush,” Burgess explains, “Your baby can seem wired, laughing one minute and crying the next, which can make it challenging to settle her in for a meal or a nap. “This is when your sweetie needs a break. Take her out in her stroller for a walk, or find a quiet place for a cuddle, or read or sing to her.
Problem #5: Nap issues
Though your little one has been busy during her normal nap window and it’s now almost time for a feed, she’s bound to get overtired and irritable because she’s missed her scheduled nap. This missed snooze could impact her mealtime, too. Tantum notes, “She may be too wired to feed, or she may fall asleep during mealtime and miss her feed altogether. And if she’s missed an afternoon nap, consider moving her bedtime forward. Don’t worry that she’ll wake up earlier if you put your sleeping beauty down at an earlier time. More often, she’ll only have a bad night’s sleep if she’s overtired.
Problem #6: Bad bedtime behaviour
If your cutie turns in late, she will most probably be early to rise. This probably means a cranky baby the next day. While it’s best to stick to your routine, you may have to give her a longer nap, or put her to bed earlier that day. If a social occasion is keeping your munchkin up past her bedtime, try to get her to sleep where she is. Tantum recommends you bathe her or put her in her pyjamas, give her a quiet feed in a dark room, then settle her in her pram or travel cot with her favourite toy or blanket. Later, a dream feed — a calm, quiet feed you give your baby at about 11pm when she’s fast asleep — may settle her back to sleep when you return home.
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