The Dos and Don’ts of your Baby Schedule

Getting your baby on a schedule may sound like heaven to you, or it may seem like a total nightmare. It really depends on your personality and your baby’s disposition, and how you decide to manage your days (and nights) should be based on both. We’re sharing some dos and don’ts of your baby schedule to help you figure out when and how to develop a balanced routine for you and your little one.

The Dos and Don’ts of your Baby ScheduleDO pay attention to your baby’s rhythm.

Your baby is a unique being and will come to develop her own rhythm based on what her body needs. By spending lots of time with your newborn, you will start to pick up on her cues. This is where slowly developing a baby schedule begins.

DON’T jump right into a schedule without first having a routine.

Before you can thoroughly determine your baby’s schedule, you’ll first need to have a routine. You’ll probably have many routines, actually. One for feedings, one for getting ready for your day, one before naps and bedtime, and so on. Your baby will start to understand the patterns of these routines over time and they will become comforting to her. She’ll know what to expect and eventually start to actively participate. You may even notice discontent if you stray from the routine because she enjoys the consistency that much.

DO pay attention to your baby’s age.

Before 3 months, initiating a baby schedule is probably not going to work. Experts agree that in the newborn stage you really have to go with the flow. This is a great time to breastfeed on demand and establish a strong milk supply and an intimate relationship with your baby. At 3 months you’ll probably catch on to your baby’s rhythm and you can gradually ease into a schedule that suits you and your baby. Most babies are ready to sleep 12-hours at night between 4 and 6 months. By 9 months they are able to keep to a daytime sleep schedule as well.

DON’T get frustrated and give up.

If at first your baby doesn’t like the schedule, stick with it until you’ve given it a fair shot. When you’re sure she won’t take to it, consider adjusting one piece at a time to see what makes a difference. Maybe she needs to go to bed earlier or she needs a feeding both before and after her naps. Trial and error will help you figure out what works and what doesn’t.

DO be somewhat flexible.

Remember, your baby cannot tell time and sometimes your baby schedule will need to change based on the curveballs that life throws. On your baby’s side she may be going through a growth spurt or teething when she needs more sleep or more breast milk. Or your family may be traveling and you have to adjust the schedule while away from home. The best way to handle flexibility is to read your baby and to make sure you’re checking all the boxes – plenty of opportunity to sleep, feeding as your baby desires, playtime and cuddles.

DON’T let your baby get over tired or over hungry.

Crankiness is bred from exhaustion and hunger. The purpose of a schedule should be taking advantage of that window before your baby feels these extremes and satisfying the needs to keep her content and balanced. Often parents expect their babies to sleep more if they are exhausted but usually the opposite is true.

DO get help if you need it.

Your pediatrician and mom friends are all great resources for schedule challenges. If you’re having trouble getting into your baby schedule, keep a log of what your baby does for a few weeks. Sometimes it takes an outside perspective to see the emerging patterns. There are also online resources for baby schedules as well as consultants who can help you figure it out.

DON’T think your baby schedule is forever.

Just when you have it down, your baby’s routine will start to change and you’ll have to come up with a new baby schedule. This is life with children! Whether it’s dropping a nap or the start of pre-school, your baby will have many schedule changes along the way. Be an example for resourcefulness and resiliency for your baby to emulate.

Sources: The Bump and Baby Center