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Parent-led vs. Baby-led Routines: A Balanced Guide for New Parents

Updated: May 16, 2023

As a new parent, it can be overwhelming to navigate the many decisions you must make to provide the best care for your little one. One crucial choice involves determining the most appropriate routine for your family: parent-led or baby-led? In this blog, we explore the commonalities and differences between these two approaches to help you make an informed decision.

Common Ground

Focus on meeting the baby's needs: Both routines emphasize the importance of ensuring the baby's physical and emotional needs are met, such as feeding, diaper changes, and offering comfort.

Flexibility and adaptability: Parent-led and baby-led routines both require parents to be flexible and adapt as the baby grows and develops. It is crucial to adjust the routine according to the baby's changing needs and developmental milestones.

Importance of sleep: Both approaches acknowledge the significance of establishing healthy sleep habits for the baby's growth, development, and overall well-being.


Feeding and sleep:



This approach involves parents setting specific times for the baby's feedings, naps, and bedtime. By maintaining a consistent daily schedule, it aims to create predictability and stability for both the baby and parents.

In contrast, the baby-led approach prioritizes following the baby's cues to determine when they are hungry or tired.

Parental involvement:



This routine emphasizes the importance of parent-directed activities and interactions to stimulate the baby's development. Parents actively engage in play, reading, and teaching new skills at scheduled times.

The baby-led approach focuses on providing the baby with opportunities to explore and learn through self-directed play and activities. Parents support and observe their baby's natural curiosity and interests, intervening only when necessary.

Structured vs. flexible environment



This method aims to create a structured environment with clearly defined routines and expectations. Parents set limits and boundaries to ensure the baby's safety and promote healthy habits.

A more relaxed and flexible environment characterises the baby-led approach, allowing the baby to develop at their own pace. Parents follow the baby's lead and respond accordingly, promoting a sense of trust and autonomy.

A Customisable Solution for All

The Onoco app offers a perfect blend of tools for families following either parent-led or baby-led routines.

For those leaning towards a parent-led approach, the "Plan" section allows you to create a daily schedule that works for your family. Set specific times for feedings, naps, and bedtime, as well as play and learning activities. This feature fosters predictability and stability for both the baby and parents.

If you prefer a baby-led routine, the "Patterns" chart in the Insights section helps you understand your child's natural rhythm. Observe their cues for hunger, sleep, and play, and adjust your response accordingly. This feature promotes a nurturing and responsive environment.

Ultimately, the choice between parent-led and baby-led routines depends on your personal preferences, beliefs, and lifestyle. Many families find success with a balanced approach, combining elements from both methods to create a routine that works best for them. The Onoco app offers a versatile platform to support your chosen approach, allowing you to remain open-minded and adaptable as your baby grows and changes.


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