Now that your maternity leave is coming to an end, is your newborn ready for big changes to her baby schedule? Earlier wake times, sleep routines and unfamiliar faces can throw a wrench in the comfort of the world babies know. Discover five tips to establish a back-to-work baby schedule, from letting your baby put himself to sleep on schedule, to taking notes for your caregiver about his cues.
Get a head start
“I try to recommend that parents transition their baby a few weeks before they go back to work,” advises pediatrician Dr. Heather Lubell, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children in Philadelphia. “I usually recommend that they do at least a short time with the new caregiver or daycare as well. A few days is usually enough to get the baby used to a different sleep wake cycle as well,” so transitioning your baby before you return to the daily grind will likely ensure the most success.
Introduce a bottle
For breastfeeding babies, your return to work can often mark a newborn’s first exposure to a bottle. To boost your baby’s acceptance to this new feeding method, try introducing a bottle a few feedings more each day or have someone else, like your partner, feed your little one to cut down on nipple confusion.
>> Discover 5 things to do when you’ve forgotten your breast pump
Establish a sleep schedule
During the first few weeks of your newborn’s life, you may find that his baby schedule has become his call. However, when it comes to sleeping in a daycare setting, he may have to learn to conform to the center’s sleep schedule. Confirm your childcare provider’s sleep schedule and begin using the same times at home, being sure to distinguish day from night, waking him early if need be, and putting him to bed on time at night.
Teach your newborn to put himself to sleep
As hard as it may be, teaching your newborn to put himself to sleep is a necessity when transitioning his sleep routine to adapt to your childcare provider’s customs. Unless your baby has a nanny or is lucky enough not to have to share childcare attention with any other babies, you need to help him learn to fall asleep by laying him down sleepy or letting him fuss a little.
>> Find out how to get baby to sleep through the night
Decipher baby cues — and make note
Babies communicate through crying, but mommy has a way of sifting through the weeps and decoding the hunger cries from the tired cries and more. Grab a tape recorder or a pen and translate your newborn’s cries for your baby’s care giver to make the transition to a new baby schedule even smoother for everyone involved.
“Infants typically do very well and do not have separation anxiety when parents return to work, as long as they are under 6 months of age,” assures Dr. Hannah Chow, pediatrician and assistant professor in the department of pediatrics at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.
“Babies ages eight- to nine-months old may experience separation anxiety initially which usually resolves very quickly. It’s usually the mother who has a rougher time going back, but she can be reassured that her newborn will be completely fine.”
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