Getting into a regular schedule for sleep, feeding, and activities can make life easier for you and your baby. Experts agree that a regular routine provides a calming structure that babies and parents crave. Parents like that a schedule makes sure everything gets done, and babies enjoy the moments of consistency in their strange new world.
Once you establish a pattern early, small deviations here and there won’t disrupt things. Don’t be too rigid in your adherence to the schedule that you forget to enjoy life. An extra thirty minutes with the relative you hardly see is worth it, even if it keeps your baby awake longer than you intend.
Develop a healthy schedule with these five tips.
1. Accept that the routine may change.
As your child gets older, his requirements will change. He will triple his body weight in the first year and hit many development milestones. His food intake will increase and he will want to sleep for longer periods of time, but less often (like you and I). Adjust his schedule to suit his age and don’t expect perfection.
2. Start with your baby’s sleep schedule.
Coordinating a sleep schedule is the easiest and most important way to impose an overall schedule, and the payoff for you both is big. Give him a warm bath with dim lights, one last feeding, a soft lullaby, and good night cuddle, and then leave the room. Once he’s sleeping on a schedule, everything else will fall into place.
3. Teach your baby the difference between night and day.
At first, babies will mix up their nights and days. In the womb, time was meaningless; they behaved as their needs required. During the day time, keep your house bright and be active. Play and engage your baby often. At night, keep the lights dim and speak only quiet, soothing sounds during nighttime feedings.
4. Let your baby lead.
Track your child’s natural cycle. Chances are he’s already operating on his own schedule. He wakes at a certain time and immediately wants to be fed. He’ll be playful and interactive until it’s time for another feeding, a nap, more food, more play, and more sleep, with diaper changes scattered throughout. Instead of forcing him to adjust to your schedule, it’s probably easier to stick with his.
5. Expand the routine.
Turn other parts of your day into routine as well. Feed him at the same times every day. Take a walk in the afternoon. If you leave your child with a sitter, go through the same goodbye ritual each time so he doesn’t fear your absence.
A schedule should be a guideline, never a rule. If your child is crying as though he’s hungry, feed him, even if it’s not your intended feeding time. Comfort him if he’s fussy, even if he should be sleeping. Never withhold food or sleep because it “isn’t the right time.” No schedule should supersede the needs of your baby.
Written by Stephanie Parker from Sleepingbaby.com, inventors of the Zipadee-Zip
The motto for Sleeping Baby, makers of the Zipadee-Zip, is: "Inspiring Dreams One Night at A time," and that, in a nutshell, is how it all started…with one little dream that has since become the Parker family's reality. When Brett and Stephanie Parker's daughter, Charlotte, was born, the feeling that welled up inside of them was indescribable; they never realized until first looking into those baby blues of hers that they were even capable of that kind of love.
When it was time to transition baby from swaddling, the Parkers tried every sleep sack on the market and every swaddle weaning trick they could find for nearly two weeks and nothing worked to get baby Charlotte to fall and stay asleep.
Stephanie became determined to restore sleep and sanity to their household and set out to find a solution that would soothe Charlotte's startle reflex and provide her the cozy womb-like environment she loved so much but still give her the freedom to roll over and wiggle around in her crib safely. Out of sheer desperation and exhaustion, the Zipadee-Zip was born. The first Zipadee-Zip(R) Stephanie put together on her little sewing machine worked like magic!
To date tens of thousands of Zipadee-Zips have been sold and all from word-of-mouth marketing. It is so rewarding for the Parkers to see other parents and babies getting the sleep they both need and deserve!
For more information, visit sleepingbaby.com.
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