I'd written about a possible routine which new parents can follow immediately after they return home from the hospital, so this post is a continuation on what to do right after that. Baby usually regains his/her birth weight between 8-12 days after birth.

Once birth weight is regained, baby is ready to get used to an ideal routine to allow for some predictability for the family, and also optimise development. Below is a guide:

7.00am Wake baby, nurse baby for about 30-35mins from both breasts if latching (if bottle-feeding, 75-90ml). As baby is still very young, you probably will spend quite a long time trying to keep baby awake and maintaining a good latch. Try not to feed baby after 8am.
8.15-8.30am Swaddle baby tightly around the arms to sleep. You can now have breakfast and rest before baby's next feed at 10am. If you are an exclusively pumping mummy, pump now till you are empty before/while having breakfast. I also try to arrange for my post-natal massage to be done just before 9am before baby wakes.
9.45am Unswaddle baby to allow natural waking. As baby is stretching to wake up, prep a large bowl, a soft cloth, a clean set of ?day? clothes, a new piece of diaper and moisturizer.
10.00am Regardless of how long baby had slept, wake baby fully and feed for 30-35min from one breast if latching (if bottle-feeding, 40-50ml). Start with the side you last fed from.
10.45am Give your baby's face and body a warm wipedown. Moisturise your baby all over, change the diaper and put on the set of "day" clothes.
11.00-11.15am Feed baby for 30-35min from the second breast if latching (if bottle-feeding, 40-50ml). If baby did not finish the first breast at 10am, allow 10mins on that breast before nursing 25-30min on the second breast.
11.15-11.30am Swaddle baby tightly around the arms without providing eye contact or talking to baby to let baby fall asleep. You can now have a good lunch before taking a good nap till 1.45pm. Alternatively, you can have your postnatal massage anytime between 1130am-2pm. For exclusively pumping mummies, pump till you are empty before your nap/massage.
1.45pm Unswaddle baby to allow natural waking.
2.00pm Regardless of how long baby had slept, wake baby fully and feed baby for 30-35mins from both breasts if latching (if bottle-feeding, 75-90ml). Try not to feed baby past 3.15pm as this will throw off baby?s next feeding. Try your best to play with baby, change baby?s positions and change baby?s diaper to keep baby awake till at least 3.15pm but no later than 3.30pm.
3.15-3.30pm Swaddle baby tightly around the arms without providing eye contact or talking to baby to let baby fall asleep.
4.00pm Have a snack. For exclusively pumping mums, pump till you are empty while having your snack.
4.45pm Unswaddle baby to allow natural waking.
5.00pm Regardless of how long baby had slept, wake baby fully and feed for 30-35min from one breast if latching (if bottle-feeding, 40-50ml). Start with the side you last fed from.
5.45pm-6.00pm Fill half the baby bathtub with warm water and give baby a bath. Moisturise baby everywhere and change into pajamas after.
6.00-6.15pm In a quiet and darkened place, feed baby for 30-35min from the second breast if latching (if bottle-feeding, 40-50ml). If baby did not finish the first breast at 10am, allow 10mins on that breast before nursing 25-30min on the second breast.
6.45pm-7.00pm Swaddle baby tightly around the arms without providing eye contact or talking to baby to let baby fall asleep. You can now have a good dinner and catch up with your spouse.
8.00pm For exclusively pumping mums, pump till you are empty.
9.00pm Have a good rest before you wake up for the next feed at around 10pm or if your spouse will be doing the 10pm feed, then nap till your next pump at midnight.
10.00pm Unswaddle baby to allow for natural waking.
10.10pm Change baby?s diaper and then feed for about 30-35mins from both breasts if latching (if bottle-feeding, 75-90ml) in a quiet and darkened room with no eye contact. Then swaddle baby tightly around the arms to sleep and you can also retire to bed.
12.00am For exclusively pumping mums, wake up to pump till you are empty.
2.30am-3.30pm Allow baby to wake you up from hunger, and you can expect this to happen anytime from 1.00-2.30am. If it does not happen and you are concerned that baby might be hungry, if you baby was less than 3kg at birth, unswaddle for a feed by 2.30pm. If baby was over 3kg at birth, unswaddle for a feed by 3.30am. The feed should be done in a quiet and darkened place with no eye contact or talking.
3.00-4.00am For exclusively pumping mums, pump till you are empty.
4.00-7.00am Allow baby to wake you up from hunger, and you can expect this to happen anytime from 4-6am. If more than 5 hours have passed since your baby last fed, you might want to consider unswaddling for a feed by 6.30am.

And the day repeats the next day!

Making Adjustments to the Routine

If baby takes a second middle-of-the-night feed between 5.00-5.30am, you might want to adjust the 7am feed downwards, eg. by only offering 20-25minutes on the second breast (or reducing the feed by 15ml).

If the second middle-of-the-night feed was between 5.30-6.30am, you might want to wake baby up at 7am, but feed only between 7.15-7.30am, and only offer 10-15mins on the second breast (or reduce the feed by 30ml).

If the second middle-of the-night feed was after 6.30am, treat it as an early 7am feed so baby can stay awake till 8am without any further feeding until after the next nap.

Keeping baby awake/asleep during the said timings above may be a little tiring as you figure out what works best. The suggested routine is not set in stone, but some general rules to follow include:

  • Baby should have a maximum of 5.5 hours of sleep between 7am-7pm
  • Baby must always be fed if there are cries of genuine hunger regardless of time of day
  • Baby should not be awake for more than 1.5 hours (except perhaps after 5pm for no more than 2 hours)

There are many more adjustments that can be made if necessary but there are too many scenarios to list in this post. Please feel to reach out to us if you have questions!

Closing thoughts

The milk volume you baby should be taking depends on the body weight, and you can observe whether the guided amount works for your baby. Some babies drink 15-30ml less per feed, others drink 15-30ml more. Most babies take 500-700ml over a 24-hour day by the age of 3-4 weeks old. An indicator that the amount of milk per feed is right is that baby will be able to follow the indicated timings for the feeds without crying out of hunger in between.

In baby's fourth week, you might find this routine does not work as well any more. If baby displays most of these signals in the fourth week:

  • Baby weighs more than 3.2kg and is gaining weight steadily
  • Baby is sleeping well at nap times and more often than not, you have to wake baby from naps in order to feed baby
  • Baby is feeding more efficiently and often finishes a breast within 25-30mins
  • Baby is showing signs of being more alert and managing to stay awake easily for 1.5 hours at a time
  • Baby is starting to be more wakeful in the middle of the night

If baby displays most of the signs above, it might be time to move on to the Week 5-6 routine. Please feel free to ask any questions you may have in the comments below!

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