Do Babies Really Need A Schedule
Scheduling is a modern concept. The ancients didnt feed babies according to the time on the sundial or make baby nap schedules. But staying organized can be a lifesaver for todays moms and can help a baby adopt a schedule that works better for the family.
Of course, rigid schedules that ignore a babys cries are unnatural and unloving. But flexible baby schedulesthat set approximate times for feeding and sleepcan work quite well.
Establish A Bedtime Routine
Babies are comforted by routines. You may wish to begin establishing a bedtime routine even at this tender age, to lay the groundwork for later months. For example , try regularly giving your newborn a warm bath, a gentle, soothing massage and quiet time before bed. This can help to relax your newborn for easier sleep.
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Need Sample Routines For Babies 6 Weeks And Older
By now, you know how to handle the early days, but what after? Here is the good news: youve set your baby up for a foundation of success.
Now all you need to do is continue to find routines that work for you and your baby as they grow up and begin getting bigger and bigger.
After having 5 babies with 5 different personalities, I know a thing or two about finding a good schedule.
This is why Ive created a book of sample routines and schedules for babies ages 6 weeks up to 5 years.
The book includes information on how long to let baby stay awake, how much play time is good for each age, what to do with baby when baby is awake but not quite mobile, and even how to manage toddler and baby joint routines.
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What Time Should A 1 Month Old Go To Bed
Your baby may have a very late bedtime at this age. Since a newborns schedule is irregular at this stage of development, dont be surprised if the longest stretch of sleep starts at 10:00 PM or even much later. A one month olds sleep schedule will often be on the later side. However, by 3-4 months of age, most babies will be ready for an earlier bedtime.
How Do Babies End Up Sleeping All The Way Through Until Morning
If you havent had a dream feed and baby is under 5 months but not yet sleeping through the night, try adding it in.
See if it helps baby sleep later. I always kept the dream feed even though I dropped all the others because that extra time in the morning meant a lot to me.
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Are You Feeding Your Newborn Both Day And Night
If you have a cluster feeding newborn both day and night there are only a few likely alternatives.
- Milk supply is low and baby is starving.
- Baby is going through a growth spurt and is starving.
- Baby is only snacking and not taking full feeds or getting to the hindmilk rich in nutrients because he just takes a bit then stops.
The best way to help baby stop cluster feeding day and night is to determine which issue youre having.
If its milk supply then continue feeding until your supply is up or supplement with formula .
Alternatively, if baby is going through a growth spurt then theres nothing to do but wait it out and feed baby as much as possible to keep them full and get your supply up to meet the demand.
What To Do If Baby Only Snacks
- Keep baby awake during feeds by taking off their clothes except diaper. You can also rub their feet, cheeks, or hands with a baby wipe or keep trying to stimulate them to stay awake long enough to feed. You can put them on a soft blanket or tummy time mat and let them kick in their diaper until theyve woken up, then continue feeding.
- Try not to put baby down to sleep if they fall asleep while nursing unless they just wont wake up. Keep trying to feed baby even if it takes a bit of time so theyll get as much as they can.
- Differentiate between active nursing and non-nutritive sucking, and let baby do one but maybe not the other.
- Give the baby a pacifier if they wake and want to nurse right after having nursed a short time ago. They might just need to satisfy the sucking urge and this will help. Also, the next time they feed after this will mean theyll take more milk and keep your supply up. Snacking can contribute to a lower milk supply because baby is never emptying a breast and getting the rich milk.
Eventually by doing those things baby will stop snacking and start taking fuller feeds which will naturally result in longer times between feeds.
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A Note On Sleep Patterns And Cycles
Within the first 6 weeks after birth, babies typically take a nap between their 2 or 3 hourly feeds.
For the first three weeks of a babys life, they are relying on maternal melatonin to help them prepare for sleep and their drive to sleep is strong.
Sleep cycles typically last about 45 minutes to an hour for newborns.
0-10 minutes they start to fall asleep, 10 to 20 minutes they are getting into deeper sleep.
20 to 30 minutes they are heavily asleep, 30 to 40 minutes they are coming out of heavy sleep, and 40 to 50 or 60 minutes they are in light sleep and easy to wake up.
This is why if you help baby to sleep by patting or shushing, but only do it for 5 minutes, baby wakes up or cries.
Its because they are not yet in deep sleep.
Where Should My Baby Sleep
For the first 6 months your baby should be in the same room as you when they’re asleep, both day and night. Particularly in the early weeks, you may find your baby only falls asleep in your or your partner’s arms, or when you’re standing by the cot.
You can start getting your baby used to going to sleep without you comforting them by putting them down before they fall asleep or when they’ve just finished a feed. It may be easier to do this once your baby starts to stay alert more frequently or for longer.
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How To Find A Good Rhythm Routine Or Schedule:
- Determine the average time between feeds. If your baby usually goes between 2.5 to 3 hours between feeds, create a routine based on those times.
- Start your day at a consistent time. Choose a time each morning and feed the baby every single day at that time. Soon your baby will sleep until 7 and thatll be your normal start to the day.
- Write down a feasible schedule that allows 2.5 to 3 hours between feedings with nap times in between each feed. See my sample newborn routine with all its times here.
- Make sure general feeding times dont coincide with other major activities you cant change like car pickup, dinner time, or the bedtime routine of older children. Of course, youll have to be flexible, but take these times into consideration and attempt to feed before or after those events.
- Cluster feed during the late afternoon early evening, more on that here.
- Get the baby sleep routine cards, the baby sleep checklists, AND all 25+ routines for babies aged 6 weeks to 5 years right here.
- Make sure to wake baby up to maintain your routine during the day. Dont let baby sleep for 4 hours during the day because, inevitably, shell need to feed twice during that period at night to make up for it. At night, let the baby sleep as long as they are able between feeds. You determine day, they determine night.
If you still have questions about how to craft a routine, here are my routine archives full of practical tips age by age.
Simple Newborn Scheduling Tweaks Boost Sleep
A study of breastfed babies found that 2 simple scheduling tweaks yielded a big improvement in sleep in the first 2 months:
- Waking up for a dream feed between 10 p.m. and midnight.
- Responding to nighttime cries with a few minutes of holding or a diaper change before feeding.
Within 3 weeks, 100% of babies were sleeping 5-hour stretches with these 2 steps, versus 23% of infants where no scheduling was tried.
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Working With Newborn Feeding Schedules
Newborns feed very, very frequently, but this isnt a problem that needs to be solved.
Its perfectly natural!
Your newborns tummy is quite small. They simply need to fill it up regularly.
Formula-fed newborns may need to eat slightly less often than breastfed newborns because it takes a newborns tummy longer to digest and break down formula.
So babies tend to feel fuller for longer periods of time. Breast milk, on the other hand, is digested fairly quickly.
How much breastmilk or formula does your baby need?
Every situation is different, of course, but if your baby is formula-fed, you can use a fairly simple formula to determine approximately how many ounces your baby needs in a day.
Simply multiply your babys weight by 2.5.
For example, an 8-pound baby would need about 20 ounces of formula in a 24-hour period.
If your baby is breastfed, the general rule is that most newborns need between 20 and 30 ounces of breastmilk .
How often should you feed your baby?
In general, if you are exclusively nursing, its best to nurse on demand in the first few weeks after birth to ensure that your milk supply becomes well-established. In fact, in order to maintain your supply, youll need to nurse every 2 to 3 hours, on average.
Once your baby is past 3 months of age and is in the infant stage, that will slowly stretch into 5-6 hours, and then 7-8, and eventually right up to 10 or 11 hours once your baby is 9 months old or 10 months old.
Creating A Schedule For Toddler And Baby
Its important to note that no 2 kids are the same. Therefore, its important that you find what works for you and your children. Therefore, the sample schedule for toddler and baby provided is just to give you an idea about how you can create a schedule that includes:
- nursing/feeding baby
- naps for baby and toddler
- outings and activities
- cleaning tasks
- everyone getting enough sleepincluding YOU
Also, I dont believe in keeping rigid schedules with kids. Because it doesnt really work when your number one goal is to meet your kids needs. Naps and feeding times change, appointments pop up, and crap happens. Literally.
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How To Get Your Newborn To Go To Sleep On Their Own:
- Perfect your naptime or bedtime routine as another positive sleep association. Songs, rocking, hugging, and patting are great ways to help baby calm down. Diaper change, lights down low , and white noise communicate sleepy time.
- When baby is well fed, changed, and not overtired, simply put the baby in their own crib while they are drowsy and let them learn to fall asleep on their own. They will likely stare off into space for a time, if not fall right to sleep. This is okay. This is right!
- In the meantime, you can even help them to sleep in and take longer naps.
Next, well talk about finding and crafting a good routine for a baby that meets all their needs in a timely way that encourages full bellies and rested babies.
The Benefits Of A Baby Schedule
When you think about it, the benefit of flexible schedules isnt a huge surprise since babies are learning experts! Even before birth, your baby starts recognizing your voice and favorite music. So learning the pattern of feeding and sleeping is not above her pay grade.
Some experts advise an eat, play, sleep schedule. They hope that by using a little play to separate eating from sleeping will help babies learn to fall asleep without a feedingwhen they wake at 2 a.m.
This sounds logical, but it actually goes against your babys biology. Infants get sleepy after feedings, no matter how much you prod and play with them. Also, before bedtime, you want to fill your little guys tummy to prolong his sleep.
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What About You Tips For Improving Your Own Sleep
Newborn sleep patterns take their toll on parents. In a study tracking the sleep patterns of mothers from pregnancy through the postpartum period, maternal sleep worsened after childbirth and continued to deteriorate until about 12 weeks postpartum -the time when newborn sleep patterns begin to show marked circadian rhythms .
Twelve weeks isnt forever, but it can seem like it when you are severely sleep restricted. As you struggle to cope with newborn sleep patterns, dont forget to look after yourself. Here are some tips to help you cope.
Should You Let Baby Cry It Out For Naps
If your baby has you trained to respond to every whimper while hes supposed to be napping, crying it out might help both of you get some rest. The cry it out method is only for babies who are at least 4 to 6 months old. It simply means you allow a napping baby to cry for periods of time without going in to comfort him, so he learns to soothe himself to sleep on his own.
Although many parents find it too distressing, studies say this sleep training method usually improves sleep within a week.
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Is There A Typical Newborn Sleep Schedule
Is a newborn sleep schedule too much to ask? Well, not entirely. But, if were honest, youll be lucky to get anything you can set your clocks by.
When it comes to baby sleep, unpredictable is the word. And this doesnt bode well for a sleep routine. But just how unpredictable all depends on your baby, their age, and their individual needs and this is something that you, as a mama, will know best.