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You want to just enjoy those early days or weeks with your baby, but you don’t want to enjoy them so long that your baby has a hard time adapting to a routine later on. Oh when oh when should you start to worry about the newborn schedule/routine? Do you start to implement things right away, or do you wait before you worry about it? And if you wait, how long do you wait? How do you know when it is time to start a routine?
Parents often worry about these questions–even parents who are not having their first baby. We want to get it right, but we don’t want to over-stress. We want to enjoy our newborn baby time, but we don’t want to encourage bad habits that will make life hard for baby down the road.
Starting a Newborn Schedule
This is the topic of our most recent poll. Here are the results.
- What age did you start to implement a routine/schedule with your newborn?
At birth: 12
4 Weeks: 3
- Was this a good age, or do you think you went too early or too late?
Good Age: 13
Too Late: 2
- What drove you to start the routine/schedule at this age?
Heard that age was good from others: 1
It was natural: 5
We had twins: 4
Worried about starting too early: 1
Wanted to improve on previous experience: 1
Perfect age with previous babies: 2
- What did you early days of implementing routine/schedule look like?
Amy said: “The early days, babies are so sleepy anyway, so the key was watching for sleepy signs and really getting her to sleep on time, as well as not killing yourself over sometimes when it didn’t go perfectly.”Scott and Whitney said: “I would nurse baby when she woke up. There was no set schedule but within a couple of weeks they were easily eating every 2.5 to 3 hours around the clock. After feeding I would change diaper and try to have some wake time (although in the beginning they were usually ready for bed after the diaper change). I would do a simple bedtime routine…swaddle, song, prayer and then lay down. If they woke “early’ (within 2 hours of previous feeding) I would attempt to get them back to sleep either by rubbing their forehead, or holding them.”
Kate said: “We ate A LOT. I kept thinking that it was going to be nice when they started eating every 3 hours instead of every 2 hours. It also took a while to get the hang of breastfeeding so eating took a long time. I’d say at about 8 weeks old, feeding became easier and faster.”
Jessie said: “Mostly just nursing every 3 hours during the day and putting down to sleep when drowsy. I let all three children sleep as long as they like overnight.”
PESTAG said: “waking to feed, diaper change,nap, and do it all over again. There’s not much waketime at the beginning, and it’s not very exciting. We had to wake to feed at night up to 6 weeks which isn’t the case for most people. “
- How did following a routine/schedule evolve over the newborn weeks?
We got better at following baby: 1
It got more consistent: 6
It got easier: 4
Actually had real wake times: 3
- Would you do it differently next time?
Some Tweaks: 2
- Any words of advice?Amy said: “Really watch the child, work together to get the routine started. Also, the husband needs to be on board. That way, if things go awry, you can encourage each other rationally, move on together and keep getting better at managing LO’s sleep.”
Scott and Whitney said: Start as you mean to go on. Try not to create habits you will later have to break. But also be flexible and enjoy your baby. My 3rd and (most likely) final baby is a perfect babywise baby but she was also held a ton. There were always a couple of times during the day in the very beginning where she did not sleep well on her own. It worked out the older ones were usually sleeping so I would hold her and enjoy the sweet newborn snuggles. I knew she would eventually outgrow the phase and she did.
Kate said: “Now my girls are 15 months old and they tell me when it’s time to eat/sleep/play. I’m so grateful I helped them benefit from the structure that comes with the schedule! They are happy and well adjusted!”
Jessie said: “As you grow out of the newborn stage, don’t stress so much about getting “perfect” naps. Yes, it’s nice, but just take it one day at a time.”
PESTAG said: “Just do your best. Keep to an EWS and work on naps, but if they don’t work out, it’s ok. Talk to the doctor if you’re concerned, even if it’s “silly”. They get paid for it. Keep the environment low key. Overstimulation is so easy for babies.”