Do Babies Really Need A Daily Schedule?
Having a baby is a huge adjustment. Everything in your life will look different. You hear a lot about how tired you’ll be and how many aspects of your life will change. One of the biggest changes has to do with freedom. The truth is, you won’t be able to go out or even run errands with the same freedom that you once did. Aside from that, babies have very specific needs when it comes to food and sleep. Your freedom may be even more limited as you try to establish a schedule for your baby, and further tested when you try to stick to it. However, putting a baby on a schedule can be a really good thing.
Should You Try Putting Your Baby on a Schedule?
Putting your baby on a consistent schedule is hailed by many moms as being the holy grail to keeping your sanity in the early years. But is it necessary? The answer isn’t all that clear-cut. There are many reasons why you may want to put your child on a schedule. For example, having your baby on a schedule can help to establish predictability for you and for your baby. If you have established a schedule that works for you and is fairly routine, you are more likely to know when is a good time to get some rest or get some things done on your own.
Baby schedules are typically established to create a predictable pattern of feeding, playing and sleeping. For the first month or so there is very little point in trying to establish a routine as the child is adjusting to life outside the womb. However as time goes on and infant needs become a little more routine, many parents want to establish a schedule. The hope is that having a set schedule results in calmer infant behavior, better sleep patterns and predictable ease with feedings.
The key to establishing a schedule with your infant is flexibility. Even if you tried your hardest, getting an infant to stick to a rigid routine would be impossible. Infants develop at a rapid rate, and with this their needs and brain development change as well. As most people with kids will tell you, once you get in the flow of things, that flow will change on you with little warning. Sure, a schedule can be put in place to still keep some bare bones routine in such scenarios, but the fact is that a schedule must be flexible. This isn’t just for the child, but for the parent as well. If keeping to your baby’s schedule is causing anxiety or distress, then the worthiness of having a schedule in the first place is lost. Remaining flexible and adjusting to the changing needs of your baby and yourself will have the most success.
Some Tips on Establishing a Baby Schedule
The first step of trying to establish a baby schedule is to log what they are doing and when. At this point, you are not actively trying to schedule their activities, you are simply looking at what they are naturally already doing. This can help you to notice little patterns that already exist in their day, that you can then use for forming a schedule. To do this, take a note of their sleeping, eating and waking times throughout each day. The data you collect will be immensely helpful in crafting your schedule.
Another thing you can do to establish a schedule is to create routines for your baby’s activities. For example, establish a nighttime routine that signals that it is time for sleep. Additionally, you can hold and play with your baby during daytime playtimes to show that it is time to be awake and interactive. When it is time to feed your baby, try doing so in a calm and quiet room so that they can concentrate on feeding, and relax. Feeding babies usually makes them sleepy, so this is also a good way to transition into a calmer zone for naps.
Setting a schedule for your baby isn’t necessary, but it can be quite helpful
Baby schedules are not the sort of thing that everyone should do, or even something that would appeal to everyone. However with our lives as busy as they are, having a set pattern that can lend a little predictability into your day can be incredibly helpful for both babies and parents alike.