Should my baby be on a schedule?
Real Mom Problem
“I'm trying to have a few minutes to myself, but whether I put him on his play mat or swing chair he just cries. It's been hard to get anything done. Can anyone guide me on a reasonable way to begin a schedule for nap or quiet time? I am a firm believer in holding my baby (even wearing a sling around), but it gets hard to keep my sanity sometimes!”
- 1. Moms differ on whether implementing a schedule is best for baby
- 2. Many moms choose modified schedules, such as only scheduling naps but not feedings, or scheduling bedtime only
- 3. Growth spurts, illness, changes at home, and more can put a baby's schedule in flux
- 4. If you implement a schedule, remember to remain flexible and adapt to your baby's changing needs
Real Mom Solutions
Moms differ on whether putting baby on a nap or feeding schedule is best for the baby's development. Some moms believe that scheduled and routines are best for both baby and mom, while others prefer for baby to sleep and eat on demand. Read these moms' opinions to decide if getting your baby on a schedule is right for your family.
Implement a Schedule
I think schedules are excellent for babies. It helps them learn what to expect and gives them the stability they need. Routines help them become accustomed to life outside the womb. The only thing I don't use a schedule for with my daughter is eating. I feed on demand, not on a schedule.
Recently a friend of mine called me at 3 am because she was awake and bored. I asked why she was awake and she replied that her one-year-old daughter was still awake. I realized that schedules are best for the family. If not a strict schedule, the child needs to learn boundaries early or this will happen to you. Transitioning to a non nocturnal life could be very difficult for baby otherwise, and in turn be very very hard on mommy
Professionals say that it can be good to start a schedule from birth. In my opinion, it can be beneficial, BUT, a baby goes through several growth spurts from birth to four months. To me it is better to try schedule after four months. You just have to keep in mind that there has to be some flexibility.
Don't Try to Schedule
I don't believe in putting young babies on a schedule. My daughter naps when she's tired and eats when she's hungry.
Babies are growing living beings and they need to sleep and eat when they want to, not when someone dictates they should. Keeping a baby on a sleep schedule can deprive them of sleep when they are really tired. It deprives their brains and bodies of rest during those times when they need to sleep so their brains can develop.
Routines are helpful, but not stringent schedules. I think trying to keep a strict schedule of feeding every four hours or so is ridiculous, and there have been studies that prove babies who feed on demand have higher IQs, too. So I think if they're hungry, feed them, and if they're tired, put them to bed. My only exception is that I always made a point to put them to bed at 8pm and make the house dark and uninteresting around that time so they'd get into the habit of wanting to sleep at that time. It still works today.
Schedule Bedtime, but Nothing Else
The only thing I scheduled was bedtime. Ever since my son was about two months, he's had a bedtime routine and is in bed by around 8 pm (earlier if he's super tired and a little later when he's not). The rest of the day, he's pretty much made his own schedule.
I did a lot of CIO with my first and in the end it made him insecure and even more needy. I refuse to do that this time. To me it just makes more sense to calm them when they first get upset than spend an hour listening to them cry, to end up getting them and cuddling them anyway.
Let Baby Set His Own Schedule
Lots of babies love the predictability of a schedule, while others don't. Look for clues, such as baby getting fussy, restless, etc., and then take note. What time does baby wake up? When does she get tired? Try to predict and plan for these times and prepare. Start getting things ready for baby to sleep 15 minutes before she normally gets fussy. Do the same things to let her know it's time to sleep, eat, etc. Remember that it may take some perseverance. You may actually think that baby needs a nap when all she wants is a clean diaper. Bottom line: your baby will set a schedule if you listen to her cues.
Start a routine, don't force a schedule. It will only make you and baby miserable. Keep a routine and baby will start her own schedule eventually. Follow baby's lead.
I think babies form their own schedules. Feed on demand and sleep when they are tired. Mine have always set their own schedules. I feel that if parents are in tune with their child's cues al will run smoothly.