Inside: Learn the 4 simple steps you can take to create an easy baby schedule that is flexible and encourages developmental growth!
Let’s talk about the dreaded S word
Specifically, baby schedules.
A baby schedule doesn’t have to be a harsh, rigid schedule dictated by the ticking hands of the clock.
It can be as simple and as flexible as you like while meeting your baby right where they are developmentally.
Here are the 4 key principles for every baby schedule foundation we’ll be diving into:
- Wake windows
- Full feedings
- Restful sleep
- Stimulating activities
By using these 4 key pillars you’ll be able to create your own easy, flexible baby schedule that fits YOUR family!
From sleep training to baby-led weaning to toddler discipline, there IS a way to confidently communicate with your child and have your child communicate with you in a way that is positive, encouraging, and simple.
It all begins with a baby schedule!
Not a restricting schedule- but a flexible, positive routine that helps your baby reach new milestones and thrive.
To create your own flexible baby schedule, you’ll want to make sure you follow these 4 key principles throughout the day.
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Why is a baby schedule important?
Having a schedule for your baby comforts them by giving them something they can expect daily- this in turn will benefit both you and your baby greatly!
When a baby is fed, bathed, plays, and sleeps around the same time every day it gives them a pattern. This pattern will then help you teach them fundamentals- such as eating, sitting up, self-soothing, etc.
When your baby knows what’s going to happen next it becomes a part of them and then begins to flow naturally as they grow.
In short, babies thrive on schedules.
How to create a baby schedule?
If you’re having trouble knowing what your child’s existing schedule is, then follow these simple steps to help you!
1. Track your baby’s daily actions and mood for 3 days.
Set aside 3 days to track your baby’s actions. When does he eat? When does she start getting tired? How long does he sleep? How long does she play?
By tracking these actions for 3 days you’ll be able to see an overall routine that your baby is doing.
2. Use that pattern to create a schedule
Babies naturally fall into a routine (just like adults!). We eat, sleep, and live our daily life within the same structure from day to day.
By seeing their sleep, wake, and eat patterns, you can create a schedule that will help them limit their fussy times.
By using this method, you’re not forcing your child on a schedule that doesn’t work for them. You’re leaning into the turn of their natural body clock.
Use the FREE Baby Daily Tracker to help you complete these steps stress-free. Track your child’s naps, feedings, moods, and activities all in one place. Then you can easily start to see their routine so you can know without a doubt their golden wake window 😊
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You simply want to reiterate a “structure” to your baby’s day that will help your little one understand what is going to happen next- this brings your baby great comfort when they have a stable routine for their day.
Learning your baby’s cues
By creating a flexible schedule you’ll also begin to understand your baby’s cues better.
Have you ever asked yourself is my crying because something is bothering her or is it hunger?
When you have an overall routine for your day you’ll start to know your baby’s cues and this will help you understand your baby better.
Your baby’s cues are the way they communicate with you!
When you are able to understand the cues, you are communicating with your little one 🙂
4 Keys to Create an Easy Baby Schedule
Baby schedules do not have to be rocket science. You simply follow your baby’s cues for the 3 main behaviors of the day- sleep, feedings, and activities. These 3 behaviors are going to be the premise of your baby’s whole day.
Here are the 4 easiest steps you can take to create your own flexible routine:
1. Watch your baby’s wake windows
(This applies to any child that is still taking naps– from 3 weeks old to 3 years old).
Your baby has a certain amount of time they should be awake before going back to sleep. These times will change as your baby grows. You want to ensure your child is staying awake long enough to fill their “tired cup” but not reach a point where they are overtired.
Creating a schedule that is within the healthy boundaries of your baby’s wake windows will build the overall frame for your day.
What is a wake window?
A wake window or wake time is the amount of time your child is up from their last sleep to the time they go back to sleep.
This wake time is used to help you understand the maximum amount of time your child can be up without being overtired and fussy—and ultimate missing the time they were supposed to nap.
Wake Hours per Month
Here’s an example of Baby L’s wake time windows as she’s grown:
Birth-3 months: 1- 1.5 hours awake
4-6 months: 1.5-2 hours awake
7-9 months: 2-2.5 hours awake
10-14 months: 3-4 hours awake
15-24 months: 4.5-5 hours awake
24-36 months: so far, it’s remained at 5 hours of wake time
Feel free to use this as a guide for your baby’s wake times!
2. Accomplish Full Feedings
Ever asked yourself “is my baby done eating?” and then 30 minutes later you have a full-blown baby meltdown only to realize that your child was still hungry?
This has happened to me countless times!
In order for your baby to thrive, they need to complete full feedings.
This will not only help them grow but also help them accomplish better sleep and stimulated awake time.
It’s important to know that the goal of every feeding is to have a full feeding- this will allow your baby to stay fuller longer and create a feeding pattern for them that works.
When your child is hungry or has trouble with feedings, it can throw off the whole day because they’re not experiencing healthy feedings. When your child has a full feeding, they are content, satisfied and will last until their next feeding.
Full feedings are an important building block in your overall baby schedule.
(If you are struggling with feedings and are noticing that the rest of your day is also being affected, talk to your doctor.)
Full belly = Happy baby
If you want to learn how to accomplish full feedings, read this post to learn the signs of incomplete feedings, how to reach full feedings, and how to create a healthy full feeding schedule!
3. Encourage Restful Sleep
The next step to create an easy baby schedule is to focus on restful sleep- usually made up of a couple of naps and a long nighttime stretch of sleep.
(Depending on how old your little one is will determine how many times they nap and for how long.)
For example, a 4-month-old will nap 3-4 times a day for 45 minutes- 2 hours and have a long nighttime stretch between 8-11 hours. But a 2-year-old will probably nap once for 2-3 hours and have a long nighttime stretch for 10-12 hours.
Both of these different scenarios meet the recommended amount of sleep a child needs within a day.
You’ll want to create a sleep environment conducive to a good sleep, including:
- a swaddle or sleep sack (if applicable),
- a dark room,
- sound machine
- keeping the room a cool temperature.
4. Fill wake time with activities
Now that your little one is eating well, sleeping, and is up for an appropriate amount of time, it’s time to fill that wake time with stimulating activities that encourage developmental growth!
From tummy time to sensory bins, you can add fun activities that are age-appropriate for your little one to keep them busy, stimulated, and reaching new milestones.
You don’t have to go crazy creating hard-to-set up and expensive activities. Simple things like mirror play and finger puppets can go a long way.
If you’re struggling with how to keep your little ones entertained while they are awake, check out my Tiny One’s Boredom Buster Activity Toolkit.
This toolkit is filled with 30+ easy, affordable activities for all age ranges that will help you take the overwhelm OUT of planning fun, educational and affordable activities for your child while encouraging independent play and parent bonding!
The Tiny One’s Boredom Buster Activity Toolkit is a flexible step-by-step activity system where you can easily plan your own weekly activities by plugging them into YOUR daily routine based on the provided activity worksheets and templates!
Don’t forget to download the Mommy & Me Mini Planner!
Sometimes words are useless if you don’t have the tools you need to back them up!
To help you easily create your own flexible baby I created this FREE mommy & me mini planner/tracker to help you track your baby’s daily actions and create a thriving routine for your little one!
It includes different baby tracker sheets to track naps, feedings, and diapers as well as planning templates for YOU to help you get more done in less time while taking care of your little!
The Wrap Up
These 4 keys will help you create an easy baby schedule that is rockin’, flexible, effortless, and works best for your family.
Remember to always:
- Watch wake windows
- Try to accomplish full feedings
- Create a restful sleep environment
- Fill wake time with stimulating (& easy!) activities
Your baby schedule can be as simple and as flexible as you like while meeting your baby right where he/she is developmentally.
You got this, mama!