There comes a point in your baby’s life when you realize that no matter how hard you were trying to “go with the flow” and allow him/her to be “free”, something has to give. And that something can’t be your health or sanity. It’s time to put baby on a schedule.
Your whole family can benefit from putting baby on a schedule (provided you don’t go nuts and become a lunatic that insists everything has to do done right.this.second.if.the.nap.is.two.seconds.late.the.world.will.blow.up.) You’ll be able to get more done, since you know when baby will be napping. Baby will be better rested, which means less crankies. A better rested baby during the day also, strangely enough, leads to less waking up at night. Less waking up at night, leads to a better rested you. A better rested you leads to a happier you, and a happier you leads to a better taken care of family. And a well taken care of family is a happy family.
A few tips to keep in mind:
- Be flexible. Dont get so immersed in scheduling that your whole day falls apart if something is a little late.
- Get the whole family on board. It can totally derail your plans if all parties involved dont even know that there IS a plan.
- Stick to it. Even if there are slip ups. Start over the next day, and the day after that.
- If your schedule isn’t working, change it. You cant make baby sleep when he/she isnt even sleepy.
Thing to do before you get started.
- Watch your baby.
- Figure out what his/her normal sleepy times are. It may not seem like it, but it’s probably around the same time every day. It’s easier to just work with what baby already has going on than to totally try to rewire their schedule.
- Watch to see how long they can stay awake before they get cranky. That will tell you how much time they need between naps.
- Track when they are normally hungry. This is probably more important if you’re breastfeeding. I know everybody says to feed on demand. Well, you are. More likely than not, your baby gets hungry around the same times every day. So feed them when they get hungry, but build your schedule around it, so that it has it’s time during your day.
- Decide what time you want to get up. Honestly, baby may decide this for you, lol. I found it easier to go with the flow on this one, since Izzy’s morning wake up time isnt too early. Plus, it allows me to feed her, and then do breakfast for the hubby and I at a consistent time every day.
- Decide when you want bedtime to be. Most things that I’ve read recommend a bedtime of 7 or 8pm.
- Have realistic expectations. According to WebMD, baby’s sleep needs are:
- 1-4 Weeks Old: 15 – 16 hours per day
- 1-4 Months Old: 14 – 15 hours per day
- 4-12 Months Old: 14 – 15 hours per day
- But remember, all babies are different. Izzy sleeps more than this (about 18 hours a day). She gets really cranky if she’s up longer than 1.5-2 hours during the day. She tolerates being up longer when daddy gets home from work, since she hasnt seen him all day.
So, from there, it should be pretty simple to set up. For Izzy, I don’t like letting her go longer than 3 hours between feedings, so her schedule right now is:
- nurse, play, etc.
- 8:00am-first nap
- This is when I cook breakfast, do housework, etc.
- 10:00am- wakeup
- 5oz of breastmilk, 1 cube of solids
- Independent play (bouncer, playmat, blanket with toys) while I workout
- Playtime with mommy
- 11:30pm – nap
- Mommy has lunch, does design work/blog work/anything that needs to get done on the computer. I try to do everything during naptime, so when Izzy is awake I can focus on her.
- 5oz breastmilk, 1 cube of solids
- playtime with mommy
- This is when I start dinner
- 5:00-6:00pm wakeup
- Sometimes she only sleeps an hour, and sometimes I have to wake her up, because she needs to be up about 3 hours in order to be tired enough for bed at 9pm.
- 5oz breastmilk, 1 cube of solids
- 6:30-7:30pm- possible nap
- If she wakes up early from her 2:30 nap, she gets another nap here, so that’s she’s not overtired.
- 8:00 -bathtime
- 8:30- 5oz breastmilk, 1tbps of cereal mixed in.
Izzy isn’t yet sleeping through the night, but we’re working on that. As it stands now, she wakes up about 2am, and I pump, THEN nurse her, because she gets enough milk during the day to not NEED that feeding, and Im trying to wean her off of it, because that’s what she’s waking up for.
She didnt start off going down to sleep easily, even though she was sleepy. I’ll talk about how we worked/are working through that on another post.
Im nobody’s expert, but this is what has worked for us, so feel free to ask questions!
Don’t forget to enter your baby into the Toes are Tasty Contest! Entries will only be accepted until May 31. Email submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org