Updated on September 26, 2006
N.H. asks from Cleveland, OH
13 answers

I wanted to get some thoughts on when to attempt to put my daughter on a schedule or try to? She is only 4 1/2 weeks old and I know that this age is too early, but I wanted to get some ideas. Thanks, N. H.

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answers from Kalamazoo on

Babies don't start to self-comfort until after 3 months old. Right now the best you can do is to meet her needs as they come.

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answers from Cincinnati on

At this point I would just go with whatever your baby is doing. Feed her when she's hungry, let her sleep as long or as short a time as she does naturally, etc... At first, it seems that babies routines are very inconsistent. In a few weeks she may stop falling asleep on her own during the day and will stay awake for longer periods of time during the day and (hopefully) stay asleep longer at night. For my daughter, this happened when she was about 8-9 weeks. At that point I would try to establish a routine more than a schedule. By this I mean that you will do things in the same order but they may not happen at the same exact time each day. I always liked the "eat, activity, sleep" routine. Where they wake, eat, play and go back to sleep about 1 1/2-2 hours after they woke up. At that time you may also notice that she is sleepy about the same time each night and you can start establishing a bedtime routine with bath, singing, rocking, etc... My daughter wasn't on a true "schedule" until she was 5-6 months old, meaning that, although we had a routine, naps, eating, etc... weren't happening at the same time each day. Hope this helps and good luck! The first few weeks are so tiring, aren't they? It will get better and you will have more sleep and more predictability in your life soon!

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answers from Cincinnati on

Putting a 1 month baby on a schedule is not healthy for her. Just follow her cues and give her what she needs. That's all she knows how to ask for, what she needs. That may mean just being held.

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answers from Cleveland on

Hi N.,
I know that the first month is a complete change for your whole family. I remember my pediatrician telling me that this is an adjustment for the baby as well. I always felt that this is the most crucial time to show the baby you are there. When it comes to a schedule for the little one, I would suggest letting it kind of take its own course at the beginning. If you are feeding her around the same time every day and she is sleeping around the same time every day, then I would not sweat it. You are on your way!!!! I know sometimes you don't believe it when you hear it, but things do have a tendency to work themselves out!!!

Good luck!

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answers from Cincinnati on

Start now!!! The sooner the better. I don't think 4 1/2 weeks is too soon. I think it's better to get them on a schedule from the beginning so they don't get scared when things change later because you've decided to start a schedule they have to follow. Children feel safe when there is structure and order (not that there is ever really order w/ a new child :) Make a list of everything that you want to do during the day & try to make some kind of schedule to follow. Don't get down on yourself though when you don't follow the schedule - because most days you won't, no matter how hard you try. But if you have something written down, you at least know where to go when things get really crazy. Familiarize the baby with those things now & I have found that it makes life much easier later. Good luck!!!



answers from Cincinnati on

Babies are born being able to tell us they're hungry, need to pee/poop, are tired. It's just a matter of getting to know your little one's unique signs and responding as needed! All together, knowing how to recognize her signals and responding will help you both gradually adopt a schedule that will be appropriate for her needs at her particular age/developmental stage.

So for now, when she's rooting around, sucking on her hands, or maybe she'll have a specific sound that she'll make when she wants to eat, you know she's hungry and wants to nurse. When she's nursing, and mid-feeding she starts popping on and off and on and off the breast, you'll know that she probably has to pee/poop (and she'll even do this for you on a potty and prefer it to going in her diaper - see for more info). And when she's got eyelids that are looking heavy, she's yawning, pulling at her ears, or maybe making "sleepy sounds" you can bet she's tired and wants to be helped to sleep.

A good *general* suggestion at this young age is that newborns are generally tired pretty quickly - somewhere in the range of 1.5-2 hrs after waking up from sleeping. So if she's up at 8 am and wants to nurse, and that takes until 8:30 am, and then you change diaper/offer the potty which takes until 8:45 am, and then you just stare and coo at each other for a while until 9 am, perhaps change another diaper and grab a bite to eat, and it's 9:30 am -- well, chances are good that she'll be sleepy by then. It comes quicker than you think in those early days! :)

As they get older, many (but *not* all, so don't expect your child to do this, just look for it as a possibility!) end up on a 2-3-4 schedule: nap 2 hrs after waking, then again 3 hrs after waking from the nap, and then bedtime 4 hours after waking from the 2nd nap.

Some other good sleep/schedule resources:

The Quick and Dirty on Sleep by Moxie (a mom in the trenches like us!)

Rethinking "Healthy" Infant Sleep by Dr. McKenna, PhD

8 Simple Strategies to Help Your Baby Sleep,,40rf,00.html

Congratulations on your new daughter! :)



answers from Columbus on

I am not sure if this book is still out there, but when I had my 1st daughter I found Baby's First Year by Jeanne Murphy. She has lots of tips, sample schedules, and just cute advice and hints that every new mom can use. I personally never put my daughters on a schedule until they were about a year old.



answers from Cleveland on

When my son was 4 1/2 weeks old, he was on a schedule. I was only able to take 10 weeks off for my maternity leave, so I wanted to get him completely on a schedule before I returned to work. I found it easy to put him on a schedule, I just made sure that I fed him every 3 hours during the day, so he would sleep through all through the night. Not all babies adapt that easily, but I figured as long as he went to bed with a full belly he would sleep well. Hope this helps



answers from Detroit on

What kind of schedule? If you are talking sleep I suggest you check out this book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth. Otherwise just do what feels right to you as a mom. You have the best knowledge on what is right for your baby!

Michelle - Mother of 4



answers from Grand Rapids on

Hi N. -

I don't think it's too early to put your little one on a schedule. My baby (who is now 15m) was on a schedule from the day I brought him home from the hospital. I used Secrets of the Baby Whisperer. He started sleeping through the night the day he turned 2 months old. I swear by it!

The book tells how to keep a loose schedule for your child - so that he/she has the same routine and knows what to expect. The schedule is called E.A.S.Y. (Eat, Activity, Sleep, You). You watch the cues your baby gives when he/she fusses and you're better able to address his/her needs because you know what he/she's been doing. You don't have to think "when was the last time she's eaten" because she'll be on a schedule.

Eat first. Afterwards, change the diaper. Have play time. When she starts crying you'll know she's not hungry and not tired. Unless there's something poking her or she's cold, you'll know she's more than likely tired. When you put her down you can assume she'll be down for a while since her belly is full and she's tuckered out from playing. While she sleeps you will have YOU time. And so the cycle continues.

Putting a little one on a schedule doesn't mean eat at 8, sleep from 9:30 until 12 - and then making the child do what is on the schedule whether he/she wants to or not. It means having some order throughout your day so you can maintain your sanity. (At least that's how I looked at it.)

The other book that provides an approach to scheduling is "Babywise." My personality most fit the Secrets of the Baby Whisperer appraoch.

Good Luck!




answers from Kalamazoo on

You'll get lots of different answers on this one so good luck figuring out what is best for you and your baby. My opinion and experience is that now is not too early for a schedule. It's going to be a flexible schedule because things are always changing. But I"ve found that babies/kids thrive on routine and structure. It also provide a way for you to somewhat plan your day. By 3-4 weeks my kids were on a loose 3 hour schedule. They would eat, be awake for a little bit and then nap (approx 1 1/2 hours after waking at this age). If you do choose a schedule just make sure you are flexible enough to read their needs according to their cues no matter where you are in your schedule. Good luck and congratulations!!



answers from Columbus on

I agree with several of the PPs, babies have their own schedules and it's really not up to you to decide when they're hungry, when they're tired, etc.

Now I'm a big advocate of Attachment Parenting, meaning I 100% followed all three of my babies cues - meaning turn all the clocks around, they mean nothing. I don't get tired or hungry at the same time every day, why should I expect my babies to?

I'd refer you to read Dr. Sears. He is a wonderful advocate of AP and following your child, not leading your child.

Good luck.



answers from Toledo on

It is NEVER to early to put a child on a reasonable schedule.
Children thrive when they are confident that they know what comes next. Of course, if your little one wakes up hungry, don't wait until a "scheduled" time to feed her.

Morning wake-up times and nap times are an easy things to schedule and good ways to start to introduce a schedule. It also helps her learn how to sleep in her own bed and that Mommy is never too far away to comfort her if she needs it.

Routines are wonderful things, and as she gets older, you can add more "events" to your day without upsetting her.

Best of luck to you.

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