Newborn Routine: Feed, Sleep & Play

Many newborn babies settle into a regular pattern of feeding, playing and sleeping. Learn about the ‘feed, play, sleep’ routine here. 

A regular routine can help some babies become more settled. While every baby is unique, many respond to a little consistency.

One of the simplest ways to think of a routine is to break down your baby’s day into ‘feed, play, sleep’ (some like ‘play, feed, sleep’). Whichever way you look at it, repetition in the same order is important so that baby gets used to what is happening and what to expect next.

Remember, your baby’s needs are constantly changing, so don’t expect to stick to a routine to the minute. Be a little flexible, and your baby will learn to be, too.

How early can I start a routine?

Your baby can slip into a routine right from birth, although for the first few weeks the routine is dominated by sleeping and feeding.

For newborns, feeding can take up a lot of time. Play after a feed and before sleeping can be as simple as some tummy time or a cuddle with mum and dad.

Watch for sleep signs

As the weeks pass and the play component of your baby’s routine gets longer, look out for the signs that your baby is tired – it’s much easier to get a baby to sleep who is ready. You don’t want them wide awake or over-tired when you try to put them down to sleep. Finding the sweet spot can be tricky!

When your baby has had enough of playing, you will notice them start to ‘switch off’. They might stare into the distance, pull funny faces or make jerky arm movements. These are all ways of saying, “I have had enough and I’m ready for bed – right now!” In fact, by the time you see some of these signs, it may be too late.

You can also use the clock as a guide for when your baby is ready for sleep again. If they have been up for an hour, it’s probably time to get them back to bed.

Teaching baby the difference between night and day

You can prepare your little one for bed time by following the same steps each night – a bath, some quiet time and cuddles with mum and dad are a good place to start.

With night feeds, keep things calm and quiet, with lights dimmed and minimal interaction. This all helps to signal to bub that night time is for sleeping.

Play time for older babies

As your baby gets older, the ‘feed, play, sleep’ or ‘play, feed, sleep’ routine still applies. With an older baby, play time will likely last a little longer. It could be some time under a play gym, listening to stories and songs with mum and dad, a massage, nappy-free time or tummy time.

Let your baby be your guide

The ‘feed, play, sleep’ routine is a great starting point for many new mums. Just remember to let your baby be your guide. Watch them closely for cues about hunger and tiredness, and you’ll soon get to know each other and learn what works for you both.


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