Some people say that it is impossible to get your baby on a schedule and there is no reason to get your baby on a schedule, but I completely disagree. I have had my daughter on a schedule since she was about 4 months old and it has made my life so much easier. There have been a few times when we get off schedule because of holidays or such, but getting back on a schedule is so easy and it really is worth the effort.
How to establish a routine with your baby
The first thing is how to establish a routine with your baby.
You have to start by finding out what kind of a routine works for you. If you are going back to work and will have the baby up at 6 AM, you don’t want to start a routine where she sleeps until 8 AM. On the other hand, if you are going to work from home or be a stay at home mom, I am sure you don’t want your baby waking up at 6 AM if you can help it. You have to figure out what will work for you as to when your baby will have to wake up and go to bed. In between there, you will have to try to establish nap times and feeding times.
The next thing you have to do is to establish a routine with your baby. You have to be consistent when establishing the routine. Babies actually thrive when they are on a routine because they know what is coming next and they know what to expect. For example, if your bedtime routine is bath, eat, book, bed, then your baby will know over time that after you read her a book she will go to bed. Being consistent is the most important thing.
The last thing you have to do is be patient. When you want to establish a routine with your baby, it takes a lot of time. It may take several months before your baby learns when she will eat and sleep, but if you have patience it will come.
Why should you establish a routine with your baby?
Even though it takes some time and patience, establishing a routine with your baby has many benefits.
- Your baby knows what to expect next. Like I mentioned before, your baby will learn when she is supposed to go to bed and eat.
- You can help your baby sleep through the night sooner. When your baby knows it is nighttime and time to sleep, your baby will gradually start sleeping for longer stretches at night. Without a routine, it can take your baby longer to get used to night and day differences.
- Keeps your toddler from wanting to eat all day. If I let my daughter, she would eat all day long, no joke, but since we have a routine, she knows when she eats.
- Aides in cooperation. My daughter knows when it is naptime and bedtime and she doesn’t fight it. Actually, she goes to her room on her own when it is time to go to bed. Ask a parent who has ever had to fight their child at bedtime how they would appreciate this. Go ahead, I will wait!
What if I get off routine? Do I have to schedule everything?
Every routine will be different depending on what your family needs. You don’t have to schedule every little thing because life with a baby doesn’t always go as planned. If your little one has a blow out poopy diaper at 2 PM right after her nap, chances are you are giving her a bath, even if it’s not time yet. No big deal.
If you get off routine for a day or two, no problem. It may take a couple of days, but eventually you will get back on schedule and everything will be back to normal.
You don’t have to schedule everything because you never know what is going to come up. As your baby gets older she will gradually phase out some of her naps and things will change. She may decide that she wants to cuddle instead of play, and that is fine. You have to read your baby’s cues and adjust your schedule as needed. The most important things to schedule are wake up times (if you have to get your little one up in time to leave), meal times, nap times, and bedtime.
It is hard to establish a set routine before 3 months old because babies that young will feed on demand and often sleep a lot, but you should start with at least a bedtime routine and a wake up routine once you get home from the hospital. After about 3 months you can start working on the rest of the routine.
Did you establish a routine with your baby? How did it go? Did it work for you?