It may seem weird to be thinking about schedules and plans when your baby’s needs are so simple. Eat, sleep, poop, play, cry, love … that’s pretty much all your baby does for their first few years of life. Why do they even need a schedule at all?
The truth is, babies, thrive when they know what to expect at any given time. Also, as you know from planning your own schedule, knowing what you need to do next helps you to plan your day and stay organised. Having a schedule for your baby helps you to plan in advance and feel as though you’re in control.
Here are our tops tips for creating a successful schedule for your baby:
Tip 1: Start with a schedule early
There’s a lot of debate about what the best time is to begin your baby on a regular schedule. In the first few months, it’s more important to work around your baby’s needs and learn their natural rhythms. But a baby is ready for a regular schedule from about 2-4 months of age. This is when their eating and sleeping habits will naturally become more regular. Beyond that, just begin whenever you feel ready.
Tip 2: Track your baby’s natural rhythms
When planning your baby’s schedule, it makes sense to model it around the natural habits they’re already developing. Log your baby’s daily sleeping, eating, napping, and wakeful hours and look for patterns that can be incorporated into their schedule. Use your gut instinct and advice from your doctor to help build your baby’s schedule around these pre-established habits.
Tip 3: Choose a schedule style that works for you
There are three types of schedule you could follow – a parent-led schedule, a baby-led schedule, or a combination. Parent-led schedules are quite strict, often timing feedings and nap times down to the minute. A baby-led schedule follows your baby’s natural habits, and is much more loose and variable, as it’s dictated by your baby. A combination schedule aims to combine the best of these approaches by beginning with a baby’s natural habits and creating a stricter schedule that allows for daily consistency.
Tip 4: Teach your caregivers the schedule
When you’re ready to start leaving your baby with a babysitter or caregiver, you can teach them the schedule. Keeping things like feedings, naps, and bedtime on the same schedule – even when you’re not there – will help your baby adjust to being cared for by someone else, and will also help your sitter with settling your baby!
Tip 5: Don’t be afraid to break if required
Even adherents of strict baby schedules advocate breaking the schedule if your baby seems to need something. It’s vital your baby receives the proper nutrients they need through their food, milk and formula, and the right amount of sleep to help them grow. You shouldn’t withhold these vital activities if your baby needs them just because it’s not quite the right time.
As the parent, it’s up to you to set and manage the schedule, and you can feel your way and make the decisions that feel right for you. Enjoy setting a schedule and watching your baby thrive!