If there was one piece of advice you could offer other parents what would it be? It might be on your favorite baby gear, having a meal train set for when you come home from the hospital or maybe it is getting outdoors for some fresh air, sunshine and much needed vitamin D. But how about getting into a routine and creating a schedule for babies and parents. Insert hard pass right here. You are probably thinking…a schedule for my baby, heck I can’t even get myself up, showered or a cup coffee at the same time every day. Don’t worry, we’ve got you! Here are some easy tips for creating a schedule for babies that will in turn help to plan your day to day activities and also create an environment that is healthy and happy for everyone.
The Benefits of a Baby Schedule
Babies need a lot of sleep! For a newborn, getting enough sleep is essential to their growth and development. For the first few months, your baby may sleep up to 18 hours during a 24 hour period. That seems like a lot, right? Not really. Sleep helps your little ones brain continue to develop, rest and recover. Most of your baby’s brain develops during their sleep and is very important long term for their mental and physical health. In addition to brain development, a rested baby is generally less fussy, more agreeable, more responsive and eats better. A rested baby is a happy baby!
Helpful Tips To Creating A Schedule for Babies
Baby schedules look different for all age groups and there are so many books to read, mom groups to join and classes to watch online. Here are a few tips to help ease into creating a schedule for babies.
- Daytime versus Nighttime: For several weeks your baby is eating on demand and sleeping a lot. They often confuse daytime and nighttime because when you were pregnant, the constant noise and movement during the day put them to sleep while your stillness at night woke them up. Hello 2am belly party! The sooner you can help your little one to understand this difference between day and night the easier it will be to start creating a schedule for your baby.
- Observe Behavior: watch for some common cues that your baby is tired such as rubbing eyes and ears, fussiness, closing fists, sucking on fingers or yawning. Of course there may be other behaviors you may notice right before your kiddo falls asleep so make sure to keep track of those. Start observing if there is a pattern when their sleep lasts the longest, such as they sleep best between 9pm and 2am. If this seems to be consistent on most nights then back track and start your bedtime routine 45 – 60 minutes prior to putting them down.
- Sleep Environment:
- Crib- Your baby’s crib is the safest sleep environment for them and one that is free of any stimulation such as toys, mobiles, loose blankets, stuffed animals, etc. Make this environment so boring for them that the only thing to do is sleep. The best association for your baby to learn that their crib is where they sleep, not play.
- White Noise- make sure this noise is just that. There is no need for crashing waves, wind chimes or babbling brook sounds. White noise is very similar to the sounds heard while you were pregnant and the soothing, consistent white noise will help them fall and stay asleep.
- Darkness- minimal light or complete darkness is best. Black out curtains can also help with trapping out unwanted light from your neighbors flood lights or the summer sunrise hours.
- Temperature- should be comfortable and your baby should be dressed accordingly. For example, the temperature in your house stays at a consistent 70 degrees, and your baby is dressed in a onesie and swaddled (if under 3 months of age) or unswaddled in cotton footed pajamas if older than three months. If you choose to use sleep sacks while dropping the swaddle, make sure your little one is in a short or long sleeve onesie underneath the sleep sack.
- Bedtime Routine: This routine should be at the same time every evening and you should be doing the same tasks. For example, your bedtime routine always begins with a bath. Always starting with a bath will create a signal to the baby that once bath time has started, you are beginning to get into the bedtime routine for the night. Maybe you then follow your bath with clothing, diapering and reading a book. After your book time, you feed your little one, burp them and put them to sleep. Whatever tasks and order you decide to create for your little one, make sure the baby is fed well, the room has very minimal stimulation, and once you lay your baby down you turn on their white noise machine and exit. Of course, this will take a lot of practice and will not be perfect at first, but keep trying and stay consistent!
When Should I Start Creating a Schedule For My Baby?
For all you eager mamas out there wanting to jump on creating a schedule for babies early on, tighten those reigns. Let your baby recover from being born and getting use to this large world outside of her comfy womb. You should give her a few weeks before establishing a nighttime routine and a few months before jumping into a more scheduled sleep routine. The recommendation on when to start creating a schedule for babies is between 3-6 months. At this point your baby is most likely getting into more of a pattern of eating, playing and sleeping.
Creating a schedule for babies may look different for a lot of people and sometimes what works for you and your family, doesn’t always work for someone else. There will be challenges and there will be days where you take four steps forward and two steps back and that’s ok. Part of establishing a routine is settling in, staying consistent and being flexible when needed. Your job is to establish healthy sleep habits for your little one that in turn will benefit your entire family. Go get started mama!
WANT TO READ MORE?
Check out this article on Everything You Need to Know About Baby Growth Spurts.