Mumsnet Logo
My feed

Real mums share their daily routines with their babies

Every baby is unique, and every routine is different. To help you find a routine that works for you, we asked three real mums to share their newborn routines, including what works (and doesn’t work) for them.

By Victoria David | Last updated Apr 27, 2023

Real mums share their newborn routines

In association with

Most newborn babies are asleep more than they are awake, but their total daily sleep varies and can be from eight to up to eighteen hours a day. They also need feeding roughly every two to four hours (with the exception of cluster feeds), but like fingerprints, all babies are unique and so are their needs and schedules. 

As MAM says, feeding, changing nappies, eating, sleeping… These are all things that take time to become routine. For some parents, the newborn phase is a dreamy sequence of sleepy cuddles whereas for others, it can feel like a battle of wills. 

On our Talk boards, the question of when and how to start a routine is a frequent topic of discussion, with many Mumsnetters seeking advice. OP susana23447473 said, “I know he’s tired, but I don’t know what to do. First time mum here, help me out…” Unsurprisingly, with every conversation, other mums are quick to jump into action to reassure, guide and support those navigating the earliest days with a newborn. 

To support the wealth of tried-and-tested information on our forums, we asked three real mums to share their own newborn routines and what’s working (and what isn’t) for feeding and sleep. After all, everyone’s routine is different, and all are valid. 

Sarah’s story

Real mums newborn routines: Sarah

Pictured: Sarah’s water birth setup at home for her second child

38-year-old Sarah is a mum of two, with her youngest being just 11 weeks old. With lots of experience under her belt, it’s fair to say she knows her stuff. Having undergone two planned home births, she speaks positively of her experiences. “I had a planned homebirth, and this was my second pregnancy and second home birth, both of which were empowering and positive experiences.” Although, she says it was tougher the second time around, “the second birth was harder than I expected as labour was so long - I truly believed labour with second babies would be four to six hours, but mine was 15 in total, longer than my first.” 

Currently on maternity leave from her position as a Brand Partnership Manager, Sarah is managing a toddler and an 11-week-old baby at home. So, she knows how tricky establishing a daily routine can be and has some great advice to share.

The early days 

Whether it’s your first or last time, childbirth significantly impacts your body, leaving you to care for a newborn amidst the pain, hormones, and exhaustion. As Sarah remembers, “in those early days, [I was] quite sore. I was surprised at the uterine pains as I didn’t have those with my firstborn, and I’d forgotten about the post-birth bleeding, too.” 

Throw in visitors, unsolicited advice, and a disrupted sleep cycle on top of a healing body, and those earliest days can feel like a rollercoaster of emotions for new mothers. We asked Sarah for the best advice she would give to mums: “Get rest when you can, try not to absorb everyone else’s negative stories and remember that your experience is yours to own. Follow positive birth accounts and read the positive birth book by Milli Hill, which can really help with framing your mindset. 

“Knowledge is power, so learn as much as you can about the physiology of birth and make your own choices.” 

Sarah’s feeding choice

How you feed your baby is a personal decision that shapes your newborn’s routine. Sarah decided to breastfeed both babies and is currently using “just breast milk, no bottles.” Although, she did mention that she has used a breast pump in the past to express milk and will do so as her baby grows older.

Sarah’s newborn routine

A typical day starts at 7am for Sarah, with a feed 15 minutes later. From there, her schedule looks like this: “Wake anytime between 6.30-7.30 and then nap every 90 minutes, so sometimes three naps a day, sometimes four.” She includes time for play throughout the day, too! 

In those earliest days, the key to a successful routine is flexibility. As Sarah will tell you, sometimes life makes sticking to a rigid routine impossible. “We’re not in any major routine right now as we are currently abroad, where we’ve been for a month. Returning to the UK next week, where we’ll try and get into some kind of routine once we’re over the jet lag and jabs.” The important thing is not to stress if your well-planned newborn routine goes awry. 

Babies' inner cycles change as they develop, and sometimes, a random event will throw it all out of whack. It happens. The best thing you can do is be flexible and take your baby’s lead. 

Sarah’s struggles 

Baby sleep patterns change over time, as they require fewer naps in the day and sleep longer at night. Sarah has been exploring ways to lengthen these naps to a schedule that suits the entire family: “Mainly just trying to get him down for a nap on the days my toddler is also at home, but I have been more easygoing with [my] second. (Says every mum, I am sure!) Also [the] baby is only napping for 45 mins/ one sleep cycle. Perhaps we need a dummy to lengthen these.”

If, like Sarah, your baby is going through a sleep regression, along with a soother like MAM’s Start Soother that’s suitable for 0-2 month olds, you could also try: 

  • Reassessing their sleep environment: is it dark enough, the right temperature, and would a white noise machine help?
  • Create a peaceful pre-nap routine: easier said than done with a toddler, we know, but a few simple signals can help your baby realise it’s nap time. 
  • Keeping consistent napping hours: this doesn’t mean being rigid with timings, but more keeping the wake time between naps and length of naps similar from day to day.

Sarah’s newborn advice to fellow mums

It’s important to remember that no routine is 100% perfect, and as your baby grows, their needs will change and fluctuate. To help adjust during these transitions, try to remain flexible. As Sarah explains, “Routines are invaluable if you are the type of person who thrives on a bit of structure and being able to plan but also don’t fight it if [the] baby won’t nap!

“It can be pretty soul-destroying spending over an hour trying to get [the] baby down when they won’t sleep. Sometimes [you] just [need to] pick them up, play with them and try again later.”

“Routines are invaluable if you are the type of person who thrives on a bit of structure..."

The best advice is to go with the flow, recognise your baby’s cues when they are hungry, tired, bored or need some affection, and using these will help you decide what to do in that particular moment. 

Using a dummy 

When establishing a newborn routine, a dummy can be a helpful sleep tool as a way to soothe them. Although, as Sarah found out, not all babies take to them, “We tried, but [the] baby wouldn’t take the dummy… [We’re] still trying as it would be useful for longer car journeys and helping naps last a bit longer.” With that said, Sarah does have experience with using MAM’s Perfect Soother with her older child, which is an orthodontic dummy designed to reduce the risk of misaligned teeth.

Where Sarah went for support 

Looking for further support and guidance? Sarah told us she used a combination of Mumsnet’s Talk boards, Google, friends, family and local support groups in her area to survive the newborn stage.

Charlotte’s Story

Real mums newborn routines: Charlotte

Pictured: Seven-week-old Violet using MAM’s Start Soother 0-2 months

Introducing our second daily routine from Charlotte, a 32-year-old mum to three-year-old Jack, seven-week-old Violet, and a wife to her husband, Barry. Living on the edge of the New Forest in the South of England, she is making the most of her maternity leave since being made redundant from her position as a Project Professional by enjoying the joyful chaos that family life brings. 

The early days 

Everyone’s childbirth experiences are different; for Charlotte, both came with challenges, which affected her baby’s routines. 

“Following a difficult birth with Jack…” where she developed sepsis and required an unplanned C-section, Charlotte said for her second birth, “I was booked for what I like to call a planned C-section rather than an elective because after being told I would be incompatible for VBAC, another section was a requirement, not a choice!”

“It really does take a village, and I had learned from the first time that it’s not all on me..."

Unfortunately, her family’s newest addition encountered some difficulties post-birth. “Violet needed help in NICU for almost 24 hours on forced oxygen and monitoring….” However, while recalling a very scary time, Charlotte’s positivity shines through as she reflects on the medical staff she encountered, “...every single person we were fortunate enough to come into contact with was magical. 

“From the ladies who changed my bed, those who take the lunch orders all the way through to the anaesthetist who managed to get me a minute of cuddles with Violet before she was whisked away without me.” 

As a result of her experiences, Charlotte shared some reassuring advice for mums struggling with breastfeeding for the first time. “In hindsight, my advice would be to seek out any breastfeeding groups or support in your local area beforehand… I actually put my questions out on my Instagram to ask friends for help and advice, and they came in their droves…

“It really does take a village, and I had learned from the first time that it’s not all on me; people who you do and don’t know would be only too happy to help with advice and support.” 

MAM soothers and dummies

Charlotte’s feeding choice

For Charlotte, combination feeding worked for her, her health and her family’s routine. “Early on, I noticed that my supply was poor around late afternoon/early evening, and Violet would just scream and sob and unlatch.

“My husband and I chatted, and he completely supported my decision to add one bottle ‘top-up’ feed per day. This meant he could help his bond with Violet, and I could have a break and even spend time playing with Jack one-on-one. And lastly would give my supply a chance to catch up. This really, really works for us to this day!” 

“We use MAM bottles to feed Violet as these were a godsend with our refluxy baby."

For those whose babies are struggling with reflux, Charlotte also made an excellent product recommendation for anyone planning to bottle feed, “We use MAM bottles to feed Violet as these were a godsend with our refluxy CMPA Jack.” MAM’s Easy Start Anti-Colic bottles have a teat that reduces air bubbles and mimics breastfeeding. 

Charlotte’s newborn routine 

In Charlotte’s own words, Violet’s schedule looks like this: 

  • “6/7am: I feed Violet in bed, and Jack joins us all for a family chat/cuddle/general carnage…
  • 7:30am: Barry and I have breakfast with Jack, and Violet plays in her bouncy chair
  • 7:30/8am: Violet sleeps for some time
  • 9/9:30am: Feed
  • 10am: Play on her mat, have a chat, walk around the house, general stimulation for her
  • 10:30/11am: Feed to sleep
  • 12:30/1pm: Wake up for another feed (we then often go out if we haven’t in the morning) 
  • 3/4pm: Bottle feed
  • 4:30pm: Nap time
  • 5:30pm: This is then a fussy time, a mixture of dozing and fussing and a bit of colic
  • 8:30/9pm: Final settle, and either I or myself and Barry go to bed
  • Between 2:30am - 4:30am: Violet will wake for one night feed.”

Charlotte’s struggles 

Charlotte has found the biggest hurdle to establishing a regular routine has been her milk supply versus a very hungry baby! “Our routine is still so loose. Violet is a hungry baby! And as my midwife has often said - your supply is about 24 hours behind your baby's needs, so some days are just a day of boob and nothing else. I expect this to regulate as per the breastfeeding group I [went] to [when Violet was] around 8-10 weeks old.”

Charlotte’s advice to fellow mums 

Every mum has an idea of how they’d like to implement a routine with their baby while pregnant, but the reality can be entirely different. Every day is a school day. Charlotte knows this herself and stresses that you shouldn’t put too much pressure on your shoulders to stick to a rigid routine. 

“Be patient, and the routine will come. Also, look at how the routine works for you and almost help each other (baby and you)—for example, my occasional choice to change when Violet's bottle feed is to suit my day. Also, remember that the routine adapts as the baby’s needs change. 

“You're always learning from each other.” 

Using a dummy 

You might be concerned that using a dummy may affect your baby’s teeth, however they do have several benefits. According to The Lullaby Trust, some research suggests that using a dummy when putting a baby down to sleep could reduce the risk of SIDS.

For Charlotte, both her children used dummies, and she recommends MAM as the best brand in her experience. “We use MAM dummies for Violet as we got on so well with them for Jack. I use this to settle her when she’s overtired and wants boob for comfort but is full (we often get a bit of sick [from her] to confirm this). 

“She really settles with this, and also when we put her down following her falling asleep. A dummy helps to transfer her more successfully… We will begin using MAM dummy clips soon, too, as Violet gets more active.” 

Where Charlotte went for support 

Charlotte found her village using several different support services. Firstly she searched out subject-specific forum threads on our Talk boards. “I am more of a long-time lurker than a poster and have looked up retrospective boards with advice and support.” Before drawing on the expertise and guidance of those close to her and within her community. “Advice from my mum, friends, and bosom pals (my local breastfeeding group but on by my NHS PCT)...”

Lauren’s story

Real mums newborn routines: Lauren

Pictured: Lauren’s six-week-old daughter

Our final daily newborn routine is from mum-of-two Lauren, aged 27, whose youngest is a six-week-old baby. Hailing from Birmingham, she is a work-from-home Digital Marketing Executive when not on maternity leave.

The early days 

Like Charlotte, Lauren’s birth experience involved two C-sections. “I decided to proceed with an elective C-section as the birth of my first daughter resulted in an emergency C-section due to labour not progressing.” 

Reflecting on both, she spoke highly of the supportive team of medical professionals that made her birth all the better. “My birthing experience this time around is something I look back on fondly… I felt confident and calm, knowing that I was in safe hands and didn’t have to worry about the unpredictability of natural childbirth (although I understand there are, of course, risks that come with an ELCS, too!).” 

"Accept help when you can and accept that you can’t do it all."

As Lauren notes, like choosing how to feed your baby and the order of your newborn’s routine, birth is a personal choice, and no option comes without risk. 

Sharing her advice on those heady early days, Lauren highlights the importance of asking for help when you need it: “Accept help when you can and accept that you can’t do it all. Make the most of the newborn cuddles as they grow so quick!” 

Lauren’s feeding choice

Lauren decided to bottle feed her baby based on conversations with other mums and her understanding of her body and health. 

“Bottle feeding enables both my partner and I equal time with our baby to bond but also the freedom for well-needed self-care, time alone and time to spend with our other child.”

Bedtime routines with MAM

Lauren’s newborn routine 

Lauren has helpfully broken up her daily schedule into estimated time slots, giving a clear rundown of her day:

  • 7am: Wake up
  • 7.10: Feed
  • 8am: Spend time with her sister, read stories
  • 9am: Tummy time
  • 9.15am: Feed
  • 10am: Nap
  • 12.00: Wake
  • 12.15: Feed
  • 1pm: Walk around the local area in pram
  • 2pm: Play with sensory books and sing songs
  • 2.30pm: Feed
  • 3pm: Nap
  • 4pm: Walk to collect baby's sister from preschool 
  • 5pm: Feed
  • 6pm: Bath time with dad
  • 6.30pm: Time in bouncy chair and bedtime stories
  • 7pm: Last feed
  • 7.30pm: Bed

Her struggles 

For Lauren, her daughter’s feeding schedule has been the most challenging part of her newborn routine. “It can be difficult to leave the house for medical appointments, for example, if [the] baby's feeding schedule doesn’t align. Feeding on the go when I don’t know my surroundings can be stressful.” 

No matter your feeding choice, babies require a lot of equipment and unfettered access to a quiet, private space. To help mums like Lauren, we’re inserting some top tips for feeding on the go: 

  • Research where you’re going ahead of time and have an idea of the layout or any facilities you can utilise as private, quiet feeding spaces. 
  • Keep your to-go bag prepared so you don’t forget any critical feeding items. 
  • Stick to the essentials, and don’t overpack to make it easier! Trust us; it makes finding the things you need when a baby is hungry much easier. 

Lauren’s advice to other mums

Do you know what they say about the best-laid plans? Well, when you become a parent, you’ll learn that children, especially newborns, are plan averse. That’s why Lauren advises that you “try to create a routine that fits around your day. However, understand that not everything goes to plan, and you may have to be flexible”. 

Although it is easier said than done, your newborn’s routine will undoubtedly be scuppered or thrown out of sync at some point. When it happens, don’t beat yourself up about it. All you can do is go with the flow and return to your routine when you can. 

Using a dummy 

Lauren uses MAM’s nighttime dummies. They’re orthodontic, skin-friendly and easy to find because the button glows in the dark. 

Where Lauren went for support 

Our Talk boards is a community of parents who are here to help, offering advice, tried and trusted product recommendations and caring guidance, and that’s why Lauren turned to them for support. “Mumsnet has been a valuable source of information for all aspects of conception, childbirth and routine for both of my children”. 

However, if she wanted an instant response or needed professional advice, Lauren said, “I often use Google if I have questions when requiring an immediate answer but also get valuable advice from my family and health visitor.”

Advice from MAM 

Those first few months of living with a newborn are exciting, wonderful and exhausting all at the same time. Here’s MAM’s advice for establishing a routine in the postnatal period: 

  • Prioritise tasks, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. If your mother-in-law offers to walk the dog, say yes! If your friend pops round and offers to wash the dishes, say yes! In those first few weeks, you’re healing, trying to absorb every moment and establish a new routine - you need all the help you can get. 
  • Take your time, and don’t rush. Life with a newborn isn’t predictable, so the likelihood of falling immediately into a strict routine is non-existent and sets an impossibly high bar for you to reach. Give yourself time to enjoy your baby, build up your energy and nail the basics of feeding.
  • Keep a regular but flexible routine that works for you, your baby and your family. 
  • Rather than planning the whole day, set times for specific tasks and keep them fun. For example, think about how and when you want to start your day. Do you want to breastfeed, have breakfast, change nappies and then get your other children ready, or would you want to do it the other way around? Don't just think about timings when setting up their bath and bedtime routine. Create a ritual they can learn to recognise, such as specific music, songs and bath toys. 

When should I start my newborn’s routine? 

A good time to start implementing a routine with your newborn is when you’ve established feeding. Start by establishing the difference between night and day for your baby. An easy way to do this to begin with, is to keep lights low and sound quiet at night, and avoid minimising everyday noises during the day. 

What is a good routine for a newborn? 

Newborn routines from real mums

Establishing a good routine for your newborn can be helpful for both you and them. Your newborn’s routine should be flexible and baby-led, as they will change and develop quickly. Here’s a sample routine for a newborn: 

  • Feeding: Newborns need to be fed every two to three hours. Offer feeds on demand, and burp them after every feeding.
  • Sleeping: Newborns sleep a lot, usually between 16 to 18 hours a day. They may not sleep for long stretches at a time, so it’s important to establish a bedtime routine that signals to your baby that it’s time to sleep. 
  • Nappy changing: Newborns need their nappies changed frequently, about every two to three hours or after every feed. Check their nappy frequently to make sure it’s not soiled. 
  • Bathing: Newborn babies don’t need to be bathed every day, but it’s important to keep their face, neck and nappy area clean. A sponge bath is usually enough until their umbilical cord stump falls off. 
  • Playtime: Newborns may not be very active, but they still benefit from gentle stimulation and interaction. Talking, singing, and making eye contact can all be beneficial for their development. 

It’s important to remember that every baby is different, so you may need to adjust this routine to fit your baby’s individual needs. 

Our complete guide to establishing a newborn routine covers why having a routine is useful, when to start implementing one, how to implement one and also example schedules for newborns, three month olds and six month olds.

Can a two-week-old baby have a routine? 

Yes, they can, but don’t stress if it changes daily. Instead, focus on picking up their hunger and sleep cues and nailing their feeding schedule. Once you’ve done that, you can establish the difference between night and day, but still, don’t expect consistency. 

What do you do all day with your newborn? 

Beyond sleep, nappy changing and feeding, you might feel a little lost at what else to do with them, so here are some ideas:

  • Talk to them where they can see your face and expression. 
  • Sing and read to them. 
  • Take them out in the pram for walks. 
  • Try introducing them to sensory toys. Our guide to the best sensory toys for babies is a great place to start. 
  • As they get older, try some supervised tummy time on a blanket. 

Should I let my newborn sleep all day? 

As long as you wake them regularly to feed, change them and have some interaction, your baby’s instinct will be to sleep in those first few weeks. As your routine becomes more established, they will sleep less and less and become used to being awake for longer periods. 

What is a realistic newborn sleep schedule? 

A realistic newborn sleep schedule is totally led by your baby and shaped by your family’s routine. There is no one size fits all answer to this question, as every baby and family is different and will have their optimal daily schedule. So, our answer is: realistic is what works best for you and your baby. 

About MAM 

We’re MAM, and we love babies! We’re the world’s leading manufacturer of premium baby products because we believe they deserve only the best quality. That’s why we’ve been developing extra-safe baby products for over 45 years. We’re a family company that combines an appealing, innovative and medically approved design with sustainable resourcing and affordable prices. For peace of mind and a happy baby, MAM is a business you can trust.