Most adults live by the clock, so by now, you might be wondering when to start scheduling Baby’s infant activities. It’s true that establishing patterns in Baby’s everyday routine will help prepare her for those not-so-distant years of waking up with the birds for preschool. A schedule can also help to relax Baby by giving her a routine she can count on, which will do wonders for both of you in the long run.
Will this be tough?
The idea of establishing order in Baby’s early life might seem intimidating, but here’s something to keep in mind: Baby was on a schedule of her own before she even left the womb! Before birth, babies stick to a growth pattern such that they’re ready for deployment on D-Day (Delivery day, that is). The first few months in the world can be confusing for a new baby, since her old schedule has suddenly been disrupted. Restoring some regularity to Baby’s life might lead to some cries or grumpy faces at first, but many babies adjust to their new routines without much fuss.
How should I start?
If Baby is still less than 2 months old, don’t whip out your weekly planner just yet. During these early weeks, it’s best to let her dance to her own rhythms. However, you can set the stage for future scheduling intervention by feeding Baby at regular intervals of 2 to 3 hours. Some parents will also cuddle and communicate more directly with their babies during the daytime, before slowing things down at dusk.
What should I focus on?
Sleeping and eating are the most important appointments on Baby’s calendar these days, which isn’t much of a surprise – after all, plenty of adults plan their entire weeks around those two activities. Eventually, most babies start to catch on, and important things like dinner and nap time often start to fall into patterns all on their own without you needing to put in much effort. Within the first 6 months or so, many babies are ready to start sleeping for longer stretches of time, or even through the night, though this can also take as long as a year. You can encourage this by limiting her naps to an hour or two, and by bathing, feeding, and playing with her at designated times throughout the day, but be prepared for some protests. If Baby seems particularly hungry before dinnertime here and there, then go ahead and feed her early. Everyone needs the occasional indulgence while learning something new, including the two of you. Once Baby is basically sleeping through the night, as long as her first and last meal of the day happen at about the same time every day, everything else should start to fall into place relatively easily.