Television producers and train conductors are crazy about schedules. A poorly scheduled sitcom won’t last a season. A train running off schedule will throw the entire system into chaos. You know who else likes a schedule? Your baby. That’s despite the fact they definitely aren’t coordinated enough to run a train and would make awful television programs (probably just constant close-ups of boobs. Wait. Do babies run Cinemax after 10 PM?)
But the thing about babies is that they’re not smart enough to make a spreadsheet yet. So you’ll have to help them get their ridiculous baby life on track.
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Let The Baby Lead
You don’t enjoy a full day of meetings you didn’t set up, so why would your baby want to conform to a schedule that revolves around your fantasy football lineup? Your little so-and-so doesn’t give a shit if you want to watch Gronk take your Forte Inch Ditkas to the top.
The key to making sure your baby is sleeping, eating, and playing on a schedule that makes sense to both of you is to take note of their natural rhythms. Yeah, the kid comes out fresh, but as they live with you for a bit they’ll start to show you when they prefer to be active, eat or chill. The trick is to start reinforcing their flow and shifting your life to suit it. Basically, your kid is MC Poopy Pants and you are DJ Roll Wit It.
By 3 months your kid will probably have their rhythm on lock. That is, as much as a baby can be on lock.
Here’s how the typical baby works by the 3 month mark:
- Chow time will happen every 1.5 to 3 hours
- 15 to 17 hours of sleepy time over 24 hours
- Naps last 30 minutes to an hour
- About 4 to 5 naps per day
- Night sleep in 3-hour intervals
- About 2-to-3 night feedings
As far as what that looks like rolling out over a typical day, there are very many experts in the world with sample schedules that you can try. But the important part is that the schedule works for you kid.
What Not To Do
While your kid will dig having a schedule, you need to be pretty relaxed about the whole thing. The words “schedule” and “relaxed” may look odd together, but really it’s the key to your success. Here are some things to keep in mind.
Don’t Be Uptight
Your kid isn’t a clock. So don’t expect them to always be up and eating at the time you want them to be up and eating. While they will have general schedule, trying to put them to bed when they’re not tired will prove counterproductive. So will trying to make them eat when they’re not hungry. Save the unwanted compulsive eating for when they discover pizza rolls.
Don’t Let Them Get Over Tired
You could be so schedule-focused that you miss your kid’s natural sleepy cues. That’ll mess things up. If they’re looking sleepy, don’t force the issue. They may be fine tuning their schedule on their own. Classic sign of over-tiredness? Crankiness despite you thinking they’ve slept their daily 17 hours.
Don’t Mess With The Schedule
Follow the established schedule. You might be able to deviate occasionally. And that’s true as they get older, but a sudden switching of eat, sleep, and play times will be a huge cause for crankiness and crying. From both of you.
Expect Them To Change Everything
Once you’re feeling good about this thing you have going on, it’s likely your kid will start changing the pattern. This infamously occurs around the 4 month mark. It’s totally okay. Just make sure you shift things so that they’re still getting the sleep they need.
If that all basically sounds like “You gotta keep your kid on a schedule unless your kid changes the schedule, which they’ll definitely do, but don’t mess with the schedule” … you’re right. Welcome to parenthood.