When can I get my Baby on a Schedule?


Today I saw a post in my Facebook group regarding baby schedules. Here are the facts on a daily schedule for babies? 

When you first bring a baby home, your focus is feeding and bonding; that's all you can do initially. It's a big job, but as you and your baby figure things out, you start to look online. Is there a schedule that will allow me to put the baby down?

Some say follow the baby's lead. In all honesty, it can be difficult because all you hear and see is the baby crying, and so he must be hungry, you feed. However, he's still crying after feeding, so you try laying down; it feels like you're feeding and trying to get your baby to sleep all day long. 

Hints on newborn sleep: 

  • Swaddling is key
  • Eating every 2-3 hours, in the beginning, is important
  • Kangaroo care the first 1-2 weeks

The baby is now four weeks old, so here are a few secrets

I want to share a few known sleep secrets from a newborn care specialist. First, you can have a predictable routine from the first month. When we come in and work overnight, we bring our little book of important information describing what mom and baby's day should look like during the day. 

Our shift ends at 6 am when we're on the job overnight. We have fed or taken the baby to the client to nurse around 4 am, so the baby should be asleep until 7 am, 3 hours after the last feeding—all normal for a newborn to eat every 3 hours. 

Let me breakdown a newborn schedule: 

  • 7 am wake and feed the baby
  • 7:30-8:00 am playtime-tummy time on the floor
  • 8:00-10:00 am nap in the bassinet or crib/cot
  • 10:00 am wake and feed the baby
  • 10:30-11:00 am playtime-tummy time on the floor
  • 11:00-1:00 pm nap in the bassinet or crib/cot
  • 1:00 pm wake and feed the baby
  • 1:30-2:00 pm playtime-tummy time on the floor 
  • 2:00-4:00 pm nap in the bassinet or crib/cot
  • 4:00 wake and feed the baby
  • 4:30-5:00 playtime-tummy time on the floor
  • 5:00-6:00 pm shorter nap before bedtime 
  • 6:00-6:15 pm playtime-held and play with parents
  • 6:15-6:30 pm bedtime routine bath, massage, book 
  • 6:30-7:00 pm last feeding before bed

Did you notice the schedule is very repetitive? It can feel like groundhogs day as a new parent, but there is a pattern. Did you see we have a bedtime? When the baby is a newborn, some parents will put the baby to bed when they go to bed, say ten o'clock that is ok for the first month, but after four weeks baby is ready for an earlier bedtime. 

When do you change the schedule? What are some of the SIGNS? 

You will learn your baby very quickly after about 2-4 weeks of a very predictable routine baby will not be tired and start to cry when laid in the crib; this tells you that it's time to keep up by 15-20 minutes longer so the schedule changes. 

Sample schedule: 6-9 weeks old:

  • 7:00 am wake and feed the baby
  • 7:30-8:15 am playtime on the floor or in the crib/cot while you put clothes away "hint, make the crib, not just about sleep."
  • 8:15-10:00 am nap in the crib/cot 
  • 10:00 am wake and feed the baby
  • 10:30-11:15 am playtime on the floor
  • 11:15-1:00 pm nap in the crib/cot, or you can run errands and have a nap outside the house. 
  • 1:00 pm wake and feed the baby
  • 1:30-2:15 pm playtime on the floor
  • 2:15-4:00 pm nap in the crib/cot
  • 4:00 pm wake and feed the baby
  • 4:30-5:15 pm playtime on the floor
  • 5:15-5:45 pm cat nap
  • 5:45-6:15 pm playtime on the floor
  • 6:15-6:30 pm bedtime routine
  • 6:30-7:00 pm feed the baby before bedtime

The same pattern will last a few weeks; watch for your baby to change again, which is about four weeks later. If we learn how our baby reacts and their needs, we can see their natural pattern. The key to success with any daily schedule is feeding well each feed.

Nursing can be tough to know if they are getting enough so you can weigh your baby before and after a feed to get an idea of intake. In total, it's the amount for 24 hours, so depending on your baby's weight, it can vary. Some parents will nurse before each nap; the only thing you want to be careful of is snacking, where the baby takes a small portion and never gets a complete feed. 

If your baby is taking a bottle and is a slow eater, make sure you have the right nipple size or change the bottle. You don't want to force your baby to take a set amount of ounces. I have had parents ask me if he's overeating, and honestly, you want to feed until the baby tells you they are done feeding but be careful of overeating; if the baby vomits, they may need fewer ounces next bottle. 

The most important message I can give you as new parents; is to provide yourself with grace and patience. Tomorrow is a new day, and if you need to stay in PJs all day and watch your favorite reality T.V. show, DO IT! 

Remember the schedules above are just guidelines; you can adjust for different hours and feeding times as needed. 

For any questions, please reach out on our Private Facebook group, "Best Sleep Ever ~Sleep Training For Every Baby For Every Parent." 

Written by Summer Hartman


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