We all know that a baby’s needs are pretty simple. A baby needs food, sleep, play and love and not a lot beyond that. But determining when it’s time for play, when it’s time for sleep and how frequently and how much food baby needs can be challenging when trying to find a schedule or a routine. During the first few weeks after baby is born it is helpful to log nap times, feeding times and dirty diapers; this allows you to see if your baby is starting to fall into a natural routine and to notice any changes that may need to be discussed with your pediatrician. As I was living in the new mommy haze, I found logging these activities kept me from constantly worrying that I had forgotten something. I was also able to take the log to our pediatrician visits to discuss any concerns.
When determining if your baby needs to be on a schedule there are 3 different schedule models to follow; parent-led, baby-led and combination schedules.
Parent-led schedules: Parent-led schedules are the most strict. They generally specify when baby eats, sleeps, plays, etc and for how log. The parent-led schedule may be one created by the parent or based on observations of baby’s natural routine, but once it’s set, it is very consistent. Advocates of this style: British nurse – Gina Ford and Gary Ezzo – author of On Becoming Baby Wise; Giving Your Infant the Gift of Nighttime Sleep
Baby-led schedules: Baby-led schedules are the least defined. As a parent; you follow baby’s lead allowing yourself to follow his/her queues to decided what is needed as opposed to imposing your own timetable for feeding, rest or play. As you may find through keeping a journal, after the first few weeks most babies settle into a pattern of sleeping, eating and playing. Advocates of this style: William and Martha Sears
Combination schedules: Combination schedules bring together elements from both parent-led and baby-led schedules. With this model you will have a timetable for when baby will eat, play, sleep, etc but will allow for more flexibility than the parent-led schedule. Advocates of this style: ‘Supernanny’ Jo Frost
You should remember that schedules are guidelines and should never supersede the wellbeing of your baby. Always follow the advice of your doctor and learn queues from your baby as well as follow your instincts.