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4 Most Important Baby Routines

Bathing: Don't Be Wishy-Washy
Why it matters The bath time routine can be a refreshing morning wakeup or a prelude to a good night's sleep -- depending on whether he finds a bath stimulating or relaxing.
Your best bet Your baby's temperament and your own schedule will determine the best time of day for a bath, says Ruskin. Keep that time more or less consistent, and bathe your baby when you aren't rushed; handling a wet, wiggly infant can feel stressful to new parents. Have tub, shampoo, body wash, lotion, towel and diaper arranged before you even undress him. "Don't just plop the baby in the water. That may startle her," says Ruskin. "Gently take off his clothes, and keep talking in a soothing voice the whole time you're bathing him."
Don't freak out if ? Your baby doesn't love the bath right away. Getting undressed and wet can feel cold and uncomfortable to them, and many babies get spooked at first. If he really seems upset by the tub, stick with a warm sponge bath for a few weeks. Keep in mind that babies, and especially newborns, do not need to be bathed every day, according to the AAP.

Sleeping: The ABCs of Zzzs
Why it matters Getting baby to bed is probably the most important routine of the day. You'll end up with a more consistent sleeper -- and a happier household -- if you stick with the same routine night after night.
Your best bet Between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. tends to be a drowsy time for babies, when they're most likely to go down for a good night's sleep, says Dr. Sears, adding that if you let your baby become overtired, you may have a tougher time getting her to bed. Watch for signs that she's getting sleepy: droopy eyelids, yawning, rubbing her eyes, and becoming cranky or fidgety. An hour or so before bedtime, start the routine -- it could include a bath, some light massage, a lullaby, dim lights and a snuggle with a book. "Make sure you read something calm in a soothing voice," says Dr. Sears. "This isn't the best time to do your wild and crazy Dr. Seuss reading."

Don't freak out if ? Your baby falls asleep nursing during the early months. While it's a good idea for babies to learn to soothe themselves, it's not worth the stress of trying to keep baby awake.