Parenting on a Schedule
There is a lot of controversy on whether it is better to parent your baby by a set schedule or by demand. Sometimes your baby will make this decision easy for you as he sets up a schedule for himself. Other times he will want nothing to do with the idea.
What It Is?
When a parent has a set schedule for their baby it generally means that they know when there baby is going to do what throughout the day. Whether it is nursing, napping, playing or bath time, there is a routine that the baby will follow even if he doesn’t’ want to. The parent will do the same activities, everyday in the same order, and will plan their other jobs, such as grocery shopping and cleaning around the babies’ schedule. For some this plan works well.
What Are the Pros and Cons?
Some babies will need a schedule to be content. A baby learns quickly and his body may adapt to a schedule where it is fed and rested at the same time everyday. Your baby’s inner clock may take to a schedule well, making for a happier baby. With a happy baby comes a happy family.
In some cases though a strict schedule can be bad, especially if there is no flexibility for mom and dad. Babies hit growth spurts frequently and when this happens they need to be fed more, in order to keep up with the calories their body is burning. If a schedule is too tight and the baby isn’t fed he will probably become fussy and upset, leading to crying and stress in the house. A schedule can be nice, but it is important to remember to stay a little flexible and listen to your baby.
How Do You Get Your Baby on a Schedule?
If you want to place your baby on a schedule, start by keeping a daily journal of what he does and when he does it. Write down when he gets up, when he eats and when he naps to see if you can detect a pattern. As your baby gets older he will probably start falling into some sort of sketchy pattern on his own. If you notice that your baby is waking up at 630am, eating, playing for a while, eating again and then going back to sleep about 930am everyday, you will know to start watching for this and preparing. Watch your baby’s cues to see when he starts rooting, showing that he is hungry, or rubbing his eyes letting you know he is tired. Once you see a regular pattern emerging, you can plan your parenting around your baby’s schedule, and make the times you are doing chores much more enjoyable for both of you.
What If Your Baby Isn’t Cooperating?
Try as you might, some babies just may not want to cooperate with being put on a schedule. Maybe you have a stubborn baby, or a baby who just wants to relax and go-with-the-flow, napping and eating at different times throughout the day. Forcing your baby to adapt to a schedule you want him to have may only make your baby irritable, fussy, and extremely tired which will just cause him to cry more, however not necessarily nap. If you can’t get your baby on a schedule try to watch his cues and when possible keep flexibility in your schedule, while accepting that your baby may interrupt a shopping trip, or sleep through lunch with grandma. At this point it is your turn to “go-with-the-flow”.
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