Can I just say that while I was pregnant, everyone and their mother (literally) told me that I needed to make sure that when the baby was born I had him on a schedule as soon as possible. By the end of my pregnancy I was ready to punch people in the face if the word “schedule” or “routine” came out of their mouth, but I think that was more raging pregnancy hormones.
I was all, “I’m just going to take it easy. I don’t want to be so tied down by a schedule. I don’t want to be so regimented.” Shake my damn head.
It was probably Freddy’s fourth or fifth week of life, and I was starting to feel tied down by a lack of a schedule.
Freddy wanted to eat and sleep whenever he felt like it, and it was completely unpredictable. It was hard to leave the house because I never knew when he was going to need feeding, or when he’d be crying out for a quiet nap at home.
Getting your baby on a schedule takes a lot of time, patience, and dedication. I’m still working on it, to be honest, and Freddy is nearly six months.
Here’s how I approached it:
- Talk to other mothers: I reached out to my sister-in-law, who has had our niece on the most seamless schedule since she was tiny, so I knew she’d be really helpful as a starting point. She sent me an example of a good schedule she was given, and lots of supportive texts! My mother, mother-in-law, and friends also provided a lot of great advise.
- Google machine: It never hurts to google. Well, sometimes google isn’t great for new mothers (for another post), but I found lots of other examples of different schedules and how to work towards one. I will say, I found schedules that suggested scheduling in play-time. That was too hard. I figured the baby would do what he wanted when awake, which is either play or cuddle.
- Observe your baby: I went a little overboard on this one, but I kept a log book of every single thing Freddy did during the day – what time he woke up, napped, had a nappy change, ate, and cried (see picture). I started to see a pattern emerging – that he was getting tired around the same time of day, that he was hungry around the same time, and that he was wanting to go to bed around the same time.
- Bookend the day: Try to ensure that the morning routine and bedtime routine are in place first. Freddy woke roughly at the same time everyday. We’d do a bottle, change him, and then put him back down for some more rest. In the evening, we started doing baths, followed by a bottle, and then quiet time. Doing a bath every evening isn’t good for all babies, and sometimes even we skip this because Freddy has quite dry skin. And frankly, babies don’t need washing that often. We just do it briefly to remind Freddy it’s time to get calm.
- See what works, and adapt: Freddy eats pretty regularly now, but I’m still struggling with nap time. I tried to have him nap at 10:00am and 1:00pm. Sometimes he wants to nap at 9:30am, and sometimes its 11:30am. Sometimes he wants an afternoon nap, and sometimes he fights it, or won’t sleep until 3pm. It’s ongoing, and you just have to go with it.