Coming up with a baby schedule is no easy task. Done right you could more or less find a definite pattern and be able to plan a workable schedule for your baby.
Your baby’s changing needs and rapid development will have you on your toes most of the time. Just as fast as your baby grows, your baby’s sleeping, waking, and eating habits may also shift dozens of times. This can be somewhat frustrating, especially when they go through the so-called ‘sleep regression’ growing kids are known for.
Dealing with this kind of situation requires a lot of heart, and the right understanding on what makes our babies tick. Let’s try to find out how most people are coming up with their baby schedule and what parents should expect along the way. In this blog we’ll be talking about clock-based baby schedule.
Your baby’s sense of time is not yet fixed.
As we grow older, our sense of time becomes hardwired into our brain. It’s called ‘circadian rhythm’. We instinctively know when it’s time for lights off or if we’re already burning daylight. During the first few weeks to around four months of your child, setting up baby a definite schedule is almost an impossibility. Time is virtually nonexistent.
At this stage, your baby’s body is still in the process of ‘tuning in’ with world around him. The only ‘time’ for them at this moment is feeding time and diaper change or whenever they feel some discomfort.
It’s different for everyone.
You’ll be surprised to know that there’s no definite age (months) to start doing your clock-based baby schedule. Generally, it would be around four to five months for most babies. Others could take a year or more, particularly for those who have a hard time coping with sleep regression and staying back on track. To know if your baby is ready for clock-based schedule, read the following checklist:
- Has your baby undergone sleep regression during his first four months?
- Was he able to get back on track after going through it?
- Can you estimate intervals between feeding time to be more or less two and a half hours during daytime?
- Can your baby stay awake between naps for about two hours?
If you answered ‘yes’ to all these questions, then most likely your baby is ready for clock-based schedule.
Setting up a schedule for your baby
So here’s the trick. During the initial stage, pay attention to his own sleeping, waking, and feeding habits. Try not to interfere. Don’t be too particular about setting the clock just yet. How long does it take for him to get a full tummy? How many hours before he wakes up for a refill? Take notes and come up with a draft based on your observations.
More or less you’ll see a semblance of your baby’s sleep-wake-feed pattern. When you’re pretty sure he’s quite consistent about it, it’s time for you to step in. Your first baby schedule should look something like this:
MORNING BABY’S ACTIVITIES
7:00-7:30 Rise and shine baby! Time to get cleaned up.
7:30-8:00 Feeding time
8:00-9:00 Play time. Get those arms and legs moving.
9:00-11:00 Time for baby to catch some z’s.
11:00-11:15 Wake up baby. Let’s get your diaper changed.
11:15-11:45 Feeding time
AFTERNOON BABY’S ACTIVITIES
11:45-1:00 Independent play
1:00-3:00 It’s nap time.
3:00-3:15 Wake up darling. (Check diaper)
3:15-3:45 Feeding time
3:45-5:00 Fun, fun, fun
5:00-6:00 Short nap
6:00-6:15 Baby wakes up on his own – the ‘witching hour’ (gets a little fussy)
6:15-6:45 Time for a warm bath and massage
EVENING BABY’S ACTIVITIES
6:45-7:15 Feeding time
7:15-7:30 Baby waits for mom.
7:30-8:00 Bed time stories and lullabies. Sleep tight sweetie.
You’ve probably noticed that there’s a two-hour interval between wake up hours and sleeping hours. This is typical in most babies four to five months old. You can try nudging the time backwards or forwards by an hour or so depending on what your own schedule would allow.
Your baby will most likely respond well because his body learns to recognize this habit-forming routine. His biological clock can be ‘set’ during this stage, so to speak.
Sleep regression: a fact of life
Just when you have everything under control, suddenly your baby’s biological clock goes haywire. Your baby starts waking up during wee hours thinking it’s playtime daytime. You put him back to sleep only to find out he’s on all fours after an hour or so. It’s like the whole schedule you’ve just made for your baby has been turned upside down, where nighttime becomes daytime.
This has been observed in most, if not all, babies, so if you’re baby’s one of them, don’t freak out. It’s just that his rapid growth and development tends to throw his biological clock off. That tells you your baby has grown a lot, and so you have to do some tweaking with the baby schedule to make it more appropriate for his age.
You will notice that as he grows older, his wake up times during daytime tends to get a bit longer than his sleep time and that he sleeps uninterrupted during the night. That simply means his circadian rhythm is starting to kick and becoming more like grown-ups. Just bear with your child when you get through these episodes. In time, his biological clock will mature and you won’t have to go through them ever again.
One more thing about sleep regression. Your baby will likely experience this every four months. By the time he gets 18 months old, teething sets off and sleep regression goes on for the worse. Just take heart and know that these are just but temporary. Learn more about circadian rhythms and how you can influence your baby’s biological clock. One example is to use dim lights during nighttime to prep your child that it’s about bedtime. Another is to tone done ambient noise and decrease the level of activity during the night.
Setting up a clock-based schedule for your baby is certainly achievable to some degree if you take the time to pay attention to your baby’s own rhythms. Timing is crucial so make sure you review the checklist first before starting out with any baby schedule to increase the likelihood of success.