If you've been running around like a headless chicken, exhausted and confused by what you need to do next... then an infant daily schedule is EXACTLY what you need to get through this baby phase.
Don't believe me? Think it's too early to start having a routine?
Well, take a deep breath and join me as I share with you the secrets and tricks to creating an infant daily schedule that works for both baby AND you (because you're important too!).
I want to answer all your burning questions including:
- How much sleep, food and play do babies need?
- What should an infant daily schedule look like?
- What are the benefits of having an infant schedule?
So, let's get into it!
Do you really need an infant daily schedule?
Deciding whether to have a daily schedule for your infant is really a matter of personal choice.
Personally, I believe that a schedule benefits both mother and baby, as it will result in you both getting more sleep and lay the foundations of a stable daily life.
And any infant daily schedule you create can be more flexible or more defined depending on what you feel most comfortable with!
But whatever you decide to go for, you also need to be aware that, especially in the first year, infant schedules are ever-changing and will need to be frequently adapting to your baby’s developmental needs and progress.
Everyone's infant schedule will differ slightly depending on the personality of your baby, your own preferences and what else is going on in your life in general.
10 Incredible Benefits of having an infant daily schedule
There are so many incredible benefits to having an infant daily schedule. Here are the main 9 you need to be aware of!
- They ensure you and your baby get enough sleep.
- Schedules help your baby learn the difference between night and day.
- They encourage and teach your baby to self-settle.
- Schedules help to sow the seeds and develop independence.
- Daily schedules make your baby feel safe and secure.
- They help YOU to feel in control of your day.
- Schedules reduce anxiety in both parent and baby.
- They lay the foundations of a healthy routine for your older baby and child.
- Daily schedules ensure your baby has healthy eating and sleeping habits.
- And finally, schedules can help to strengthen the bonding process between parent and baby.
So with all these incredible benefits in mind, should you start a daily infant schedule today?
When to start a routine with baby
Most babies are ready for some sort of daily routine by the age of 3 months when their sleeping and eating habits will have settled down enough for you to build a routine on.
However, even before this age, it is important that you teach your baby the difference between day and night.
Part of this learning can start with the introduction of a simple bedtime routine BEFORE they hit that 3-month milestone.
How to make the infant daily schedule manageable
The trick to making an infant daily schedule manageable is to break your day into 2 parts.
Sounds like a no-brainer right? But if you don't break up your day, you can easily become overwhelmed by the amount you have to do!
Therefore, it's super important to differentiate between day and night. Not only for baby's sake, but for yours too!
Once your baby reaches 6 months old their routine will start to evolve into a recognisable pattern of 3 meals per day, a feed before bed and 3 naps per day which will drop to 2 naps by the time they are 1 year old.
But until then, here is a simple daytime and nighttime pattern to follow:
1. Daytime baby routine
How you interact with your little one during the day should be VERY different to the way you interact with them at night.
Daytime interactions should be upbeat, energetic and light. They can involve lots of chat, singing, tummy time, singing and playing!
However, nighttime feeds and nappy changes should be carried out with soft low lighting and minimal interaction.
In the first few months, your young baby will sleep almost anywhere too and this is absolutely fine. So, if you are keen to get out and about it is fine to take your baby along and let them sleep and feed on the go.
As your baby grows they may struggle to get enough sleep on the go, but as their daytime sleep becomes more predictable and with longer wake periods you will be able to build your day around these more easily.
However, the basics of an infant daytime schedule are:
2. Evening/Nighttime baby routine
By the time your baby is 3 months old, you can introduce a simple bedtime routine.
A bedtime routine gives your baby the cues that the pace of the day is changing and if you follow the same routine every evening, your little one will soon start to settle more quickly and hopefully sleep for longer.
A simple bedtime routine for a young infant should look something like this, starting around 6pm and finishing by 7pm.
- Bathtime - Check out my post on How To Bathe A Newborn for more advice and top tips!
- Baby massage,
- Cuddle with a book,
- Have a feed,
It is important to keep things low key with gentle play and talking. Lighting should be soft and your baby put down to sleep in their crib or moses basket in a bedroom apart from the rest of the family.
Try to have Dream Feeds
I would also recommend introducing a dream feed just before you go to bed to allow you to have the maximum time of precious sleep before your little one needs feeding again!
Between 10-11pm, gently wake your baby in the dimly lit room without talking, then feed and resettle them.
If your baby needs a nappy change, I would do this BEFORE feeding them rather than afterwards.
This is because after a nighttime feed, your baby will usually be very drowsy and you don’t want to wake them up by changing them afterwards if you don't have to.
A white noise machine is really useful in helping your little one to settle and stay asleep.
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11 Top Tips For Making Your Infant Schedule Go More Smoothly
In order to help implement and stick to an infant daily schedule easier, try these following tips:
- Get to know your baby’s sleep cues. This will help you know when your baby naturally wants to nap.
- Try to put baby down when they are drowsy. This will sow the seeds of self-settling.
- Put your baby to sleep in the same place every day once they reach 3 months of age although the occasional sleep on the go is OK.
- Have focused playtimes with your baby during the day.
- Get outdoors once a day. Not only is fresh air good for you and baby, it will stop you getting cabin fever from being inside all day.
- Have daily tummy time. Tummy time is fantastic for baby's development. If they're struggling, then read my post 'Baby Hates Tummy Time' for more advice and tips.
- Start a bedtime routine as soon as you can.
- Ensure your baby takes full feeds during the day.
- Utilise the dream feed! This ensures you get the most amount of precious sleep before baby wakes for another feed!
- Use a white noise machine for naps and bedtime.
- Emphasise the difference between daytime and nighttime interactions. This will be the first main sleep association that baby will develop, so it's important to start as you mean to go on!
The 8 Activities You Must Include In An Infant Daily Schedule
Try and include these activities into your daily routine as best as you can. They will help your little one to develop, enhance the special bond you have with them and help you feel like a human again.
But please remember, missing a day here and there and not hitting every activity every day is not bad! Just do the best you can and work with what you've got. As long as baby is warm, dry, fed and happy, you're doing great.
- At least one walk or time spent outdoors each day.
- Daily tummy time.
- Time spent under a play gym for self entertainment.
- A short time spent awake in the crib each day looking at a mobile.
- Looking at books (especially as part of the bedtime routine).
- Introduce age-appropriate toys and activities & have at least 3 focused playtimes with your little one each day.
- Have a regular bedtime routine.
- Give a dream feed.
Printable Infant daily schedule templates
As I mentioned before, infant daily schedules will constantly shift as your baby grows up. From dropping naps, changing feed times and more, it's important to know what to expect at each stage.
So here are some templates of a typical daily routines that will provide a baseline for your day!
Printable Daily Infant Schedule: 3 - 4 months
Printable Daily Infant Schedule: 5 months
Printable Daily Infant Schedule: 6 month old
It is important to remember that these timings are guidelines and that each baby is an individual. Life and plans get in the way and everyone's day will be slightly different.
The Key to infant schedules
This may go without saying… but the key to a good routine is being consistent. It can be tricky to remember everything in order when you’re just starting out, but once you get the hang of it, your day will just flow.
It can seem very daunting to get started when you do not have a routine yet, but be consistent and knowing what to expect will help you and baby have a smoother day.
If you enjoyed this post and know other parents who would enjoy this content, be sure to give it a share! And if you're looking for products for your little one and you're not sure where to begin, be sure to check out my Parenting Toolbox.
It is full of all my favourite products which I've tried to ensure are all non-toxic, eco friendly, sustainable and, of course, they’re all baby proof!
And if you have any blog recommendations that you'd like me to write about or want to ask me a question about infant routines and schedules, be sure to drop me an email at [email protected] and let me know!
Thank you for your continued support and as always, Happy Parenting!