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Baby Schedules Basics: Why, When, and How to Start a Routine

Baby Schedules Basics:  Why, When, and How to Start a Routine




Why is it important for me to have a schedule for my baby?

Your baby’s needs are simple – sleep, food, play and lots of love. However, the challenge is in understanding when your baby needs what and how much of it.  Balance is the key.  Making your needs, your family’s needs and your baby’s needs are met is the key.

Getting your baby into a regular routine makes it easy for everyone.  It sets a predictable pattern for your baby and you and calm days ahead.  You are setting your baby’s expectations so to speak.  Your baby will know to expect her bottle after her morning nap, then an outing and then naptime.


Clearly defined daily routines make for a happier baby

When your baby is not lacking sleep or is well fed, she will be less cranky and you will have a happier day.  By making sure that you are taking care of your baby’s basic needs, you are helping her focus her energies onto exploring the world around her.

Another great benefit is that if you have to leave your baby with another caregiver while you run your chores, the daily routines will be set and the caregiver will know when to do what.  This makes for a happier transition.


Nidara Children Blog Baby Schedules Basics Why, when, and how to start a routine


When is a good time to start?

Experts have varied opinions on this subject.  However, typically, around three to four months, your baby’s feeding and eating habits will become more consistent. This is a great time to start training your baby into following daily routines.  The key is to have well-defined schedule.


How to plan your baby’s daily routine

Before you finalize a daily routine, start noticing when your baby does what.  Understanding their natural rhythms can go a long way into create daily routines that are manageable.  Start noting down, when they sleep, what events trigger them to become cranky, when they poop and pee and when they sleep and for how long.  Use a notebook, or a computer spreadsheet or an early childhood system that help you raise your child.


Your baby’s well-being comes first

Now matter when you start encouraging your baby to follow daily routines, always check with your baby’s doctor first.  Your schedule comes second.  If your baby is not following their daily routine consistently, don’t force them.  Check with your doctor on what might be going on.

It is important to keep in mind that your baby needs to get enough formula or breast milk to avoid poor weight gain or dehydration.  Even if your schedule does not say feeing time, do not withhold food or sleep.  It is important to follow your instincts.  Even if your baby has already fed three hours ago, and they are crying like she is hungry, go ahead and feed them.  If it is your baby’s sleep time and your baby wants to be comforted, then go ahead and comfort her before she falls asleep.


Nidara Children Blog Baby Schedules Basics Why, when, and how to start a routine


What are the various baby scheduling methods?

There are three main methods: parent-led, baby-led and combination.

Parent-led schedules are very strict.  They clearly define when your baby will sleep and for how long, when she’ll eat, when she’ll play and when she will take a bath.  They have been based on your baby’s natural rhythms, but once they are set, they are very consistent and followed to the minute, every day.  British nurse Gina Ford is an ardent advocate of this approach.

Baby-led schedules are very flexible and least strict. You follow what your baby wants and you will look for clues on what they want next. This doesn’t necessarily mean that there aren’t regular patterns, but that the schedule may vary from day to day.  Well known pediatrician Dr. Benjamin Spock are advocates of this approach.

Combination schedules offer a great balance. With this method you can have a rough sketch daily routine, but if you need to push back your baby’s feeding time by an hour, you can do so.

With this approach, you’ll have a timetable for when your baby will eat, sleep, play, and so on, and you’ll generally stick to a similar pattern every day.  Tracy Hogg, the well-known British nurse and baby whisperer is a great advocate for this approach.




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