Why should I set up a daily schedule for my baby?Of course, the needs of a baby are not particularly complex. Eating, sleeping, playing and a lot of love it sums up quite well. But finding out what your child needs when and how much - that will be your real challenge. Not to mention finding the right balance between your baby's needs and your own needs and those of other family members.
Many parents find it much easier to find life with a fixed routine: it's almost like your personal guide to living with your baby. As a parent you have a reliable pattern that you know can work with family life.
Your baby will know what to expect - for example, a bottle after morning slumber, then time to play or time outdoors.
Babies are sure to know that certain actions happen at certain times.
By satisfying the basic needs of your child, you can provide the best mental and physical conditions for them to explore their environment and learn things.
And another bonus of a fixed schedule: the moment you're ready to let your baby in with a babysitter or family member, the move will be a lot easier. Your baby will feel safe and secure through the familiar routine while the babysitter knows when to expect hunger, fatigue or playfulness.
When can I start a daily routine?The experts disagree on when and how to approach a fixed daily routine. However, many paediatricians say that a child between two and four months is ready for fixed times. Of course you should always stay flexible. With age, the needs change, eg. For example, older babies need less sleep than younger ones. And if your baby is just going through a growth spurt, is sick or just a bit restless, sometimes it needs more milk than usual. Or more sleep or more cuddling! Many children become more regular in their sleep and meal times after three to five months, according to pediatrician Marc Weissbluth, author of the book ""Healthy Slep Habits, Happy Child"". You can take advantage of this to offer your baby a more regular daily routine.
It's also possible that your baby is developing a predictable pattern earlier. Then you can of course support that.
As you track your child's behavior - when does it eat, when does it sleep, when is it awesome? - you can recognize its natural patterns and recognize recurrent rhythms.Therefore, many parents begin writing down when their child is eating, when they have a bowel movement, when it sleeps, and for how long.
To capture all this, you can use pencil and paper, an Excel spreadsheet or online services like Trixie Tracker.
Other experts recommend an early start of the daily routine. The British pediatric nurse Gina Ford, author of ""The Contented Baby"", even advises after one week to an hourly daily schedule. The ""baby whisperer"" Tracy Hogg already sees the opportunity to follow a loose routine right after birth. For most babies, however, this is a bit early, because they have to arrive in the world before they find a rhythm.
But in any case, little babies need a lot of sleep during the day. If your baby was awake for an hour and a half, try letting him take a nap. Cuddle it a little until it calms down and then gently lay it in its cot. It is best if it gets used to falling asleep in his cot. But it is also quite normal that small babies often fall asleep at the breast or bottle.
No later than three or four months, it would still be good if you occasionally practice falling asleep in bed. Of course you can help your sweetheart by caressing him or putting his hand on his head.
Babies Welfare Always on the Move
Whichever path you choose, the welfare of your baby naturally always takes precedence. On the one hand, this means paying attention to the advice of your pediatrician and midwife and, on the other hand, trusting your own gut feeling to find out what your child needs. No matter what the daily schedule currently provides.After childbirth, it is particularly important to have adequate breast milk or vial supply to avoid problems such as low weight gain and dehydration. You must never refuse your child sleep or food just because the plan says there is not the time.
Especially small babies under six months often get along with shorter feeding intervals (about every two hours) better, because then they do not have to eat so large quantities at once. In some cases, they are even more hungry and sometimes less often - this changes frequently, just as we are differently hungry.
""Parents should trust their instincts when it comes to what their baby signals,"" says Kathryn Akin, a professor at the pediatric department at the Tyler University Hospital in Texas.
""Even if your baby ate an hour or two ago, crying as if it were hungry, you should consider it. If your plan is for your baby to sleep, but it is more restless than usual, then you should calm it down.No plan should ever be beyond the needs of your baby. ""
What are the different options for fixed daily routines?
In order to keep it clear, we have divided the methods into three categories for you: daily routines that are determined by the parents, those that are determined by the baby, and the third category, in which there is a mixture of the two ,The daily routines that are stated by the parents are accurate and strict. They decide when the baby eats (sometimes even how much), when it sleeps, how long, when it is being carried or pushed, and so on. These daily routines can be created by you based on your child's natural behavior or based on expert advice. Once this routine is set up, it is very consistent and accurate - sometimes until the minute. But as I said, it has to be adapted again and again and should never be more important than the needs of the child.
Among the well-known proponents of these exact day plans are the British nurse Gina Ford and Garry Ezzo, the author of
Sleep Well, My Little Sweetheart - How Your Baby Is Completely Satisfied and Finally Lullaby . On the other hand, the daily routines determined by the baby are the least defined. Here you will observe your baby's signals to find out what's needed, rather than fixed times for feeding, playing or sleeping. Babies send signs such as rubbing eyes, whining, staring, glassy eyes, restless movements, crying, etc., for tiredness and whining, sucking on fist or fingers, crying, and so on. a. for hunger. Some babies send very clear signs, others are harder to ""decipher"".
It does not have to mean that your days are completely unpredictable. After a few weeks, most children develop their own rhythm for sleeping, eating and playing. Nevertheless, your baby's routine may vary from day to day, depending on what signals it gives you. However, it is good to help the baby to fall asleep after certain times (eg, one and a half hours, or two to three hours in the wake of an older baby) because some babies hardly show when they are tired.
Supporters of these baby-specific routines include Attachment gurus William and Martha Sears and well-known pediatrician and author Benjamin Spock (
Dr. Spock's Baby And Child Care ). Combined schedules mix elements from parent-led routines and baby-specific days. With this approach, there is basically a timetable that you stick to day after day. One remains more flexible than with a plan that is strictly set by the parents. The afternoon nap may be postponed if the baby does not look tired. And if the trip to the lake takes longer than expected, lunch may take place later.
Known representatives of these combined plans include Tracy Hogg and ""Supernanny"" Jo Frost.
What works with other parents?