Should I put my baby on a schedule?
Ah, “the schedule.” A true savior for some parents, and a hindrance for others.
Figuring out a daily routine (or lack there of) is less about what works for your neighbor down the block, and more about what will work for your family so you can be happy and stress-free.
Bren Underwood describes how she decided to build a schedule for her son.
Babies needs are simple – think eating, sleeping, playing – and so scheduling is creating a daily pattern for them and for you. You might be reading this and wondering, how oh how do you do that? And if you do need a schedule, how do you know when to do what? Let me first share a little story about my experience and then we’ll cover those questions.
When my son was a newborn, he had acid reflux, which resulted in lengthy feedings that lasted more than two hours, and little nighttime sleep for anyone in the family. Our days were frenzied to say the least, and I realized early on – amidst the sea of burp cloths and bibs – that the entire family would benefit from a consistent schedule. We also discovered that our sweet son was a creature of habit and needed some predictability in his days, and so did we as his parents. Thus, I embarked on a quest to be as savvy as possible on scheduling, reading books, researching online, and talking to my mom friends. Eventually, I created a thoughtful game plan and it changed our lives.
For us, a consistent schedule represented a saving grace, as despite all of the daily chaos, we knew when he was eating, sleeping, and playing, and that predictability proved to be a tremendous comfort. It helped me to plan our days and nights better, which helped our son to be well fed and rested. Our son is still on a schedule today, and I simply adjust it every few months to adapt to his changing needs.
On the flip side, I have friends who had no schedule and continue to have no schedule, and that works beautifully for them. They either have babies who sleep perfectly– wherever, whenever – travel a great deal, or have multiple children and need flexibility. For them, a strict schedule would be nearly impossible, and make for unnecessary stress, and thus a non-schedule lifestyle is a better fit.
For those new parents who wish to create a schedule, it’s never too early or too late to start. The heart of a schedule is when will the baby eat, sleep and play, so consider journaling your baby’s patterns to figure out when baby wakes up, when baby is hungry, when baby naps best, when baby’s bedtime needs to be, etc. From your pediatrician, to books to websites to friends and family, tap into all of the resources you have access to and you will eventually find an ideal schedule that you can begin to encourage. And of course there will be times when the schedule goes out the window (social engagements, holidays, travel) -that’s OK, tomorrow is a new day and a new chance to get back into your routine.
Moral of the story moms and dads: a schedule may or may not be for you. Follow your intuition to help you figure out what routine – if any – will seamlessly align with your life and make everyone happy. Good luck!
Bren Underwood is the founder of Must Bring Buns, a lifestyle and modern manners blog, and also co-author of Savvy Girl: A Guide to Etiquette. Bren’s a Southern California native who graduated with a degree in corporate communications and public affairs from Southern Methodist University, and now lives in Dallas with her husband and son. Prior to launching Must Bring Buns, Bren spent six years working in public relations—and hosting numerous dinner parties.