When Can I Put My Baby on a Schedule?
For parents, one of the hardest things about a baby is knowing when your baby should do what. For example, you know that your baby needs to eat, sleep, play, and get plenty of attention and love, but you might not know when this should happen or whether or not putting your baby on a schedule is a good idea.
For parents and new babies alike, a schedule can create a sense of consistency and routine that is essential moving forward. Not only is this important for parents, who will surely be struggling with the demands of a new child, but it is also important for the child. Here’s what you need to know about when you can put your baby on a schedule:
When to Implement a Schedule for Your Baby
Experts have different opinions regarding when you should start to implement a schedule for your baby, however, most agree that a general schedule can be implemented as early as two months, although you can start developing your own routine as soon as you bring your baby home from the hospital or birthing center. This general schedule may include consistency for things like meal times, sleeping, playtime, bathing, etc.
What You Shouldn’t Do When Creating a Schedule for Your Baby
There are a few things that you shouldn’t do when creating a schedule for you baby, especially when your baby is fewer than four months old. For example, you should never withhold food from your baby because it doesn’t fit into your schedule, as babies need milk routinely for development, hydration, and growth. Further, you don’t need to be so rigid with sleep times in those early months, if your baby is tired before the ‘scheduled’ sleep time, put them to bed!
Types of Schedules for Babies
If you think you’re ready to create a schedule for your baby, you have two general options: a parent-led schedule, or a baby-led schedule. A parent-led schedule tends to be stricter, as when the baby eats, sleeps, or is alert/playing is dependent upon what the parent wants. For example, a parent that needs to leave for work at 7:00 a.m. may create a different sleep schedule for a baby than a parent who needs to leave for work at 9:30 a.m.
Baby-led schedules are more flexible, as these are based on the natural habits of the baby. Before you implement a baby-led schedule, you should keep a thorough journal of when your baby does what. As you implement the schedule, you will let your baby dictate what they need and when.
Parents can also create combination schedules, where the baby’s natural habits and what the parent wants and needs are combined.
Learn More About When to Create a Schedule for Your Baby
Being a new parent certainly has its challenges, and creating a schedule for a baby is just one of them. If you want to learn more about creating a schedule and how to sleep train, please contact Seven Oaks Sleep Science today. Dr. Natalie Barnett has the answers you’re looking for, and experience you can trust.