While most parents experience pure bliss in the days that follow the birth of their newest addition, many quickly start to feel overwhelmed about how they will care for their newborn baby once they leave the hospital.
Sure, the hospital staff was nice enough to give you a couple of pointers, but deep down you are thinking… Is that all the guidance I get? Doesn’t this baby come with a manual? You may have read a couple of books to prepare for your little one’s arrival, gone to a few classes, and consulted google on everything under the sun – But nothing can prepare you for the moment you walk through your front door with your newborn baby for the very first time. Suddenly you have forgotten everything you read and everything you were taught.
A baby’s needs are not that complicated, but since they can’t tell you what they need and when, you often find yourself wishing you had exclusive access to their little baby minds. I have found that the easiest way to feel more confident as a parent, is to develop a plan. Coincidentally, babies also like to know that there is a plan. They like to know that certain things are scheduled to happen at a certain time each day. Babies are not happy when they are hungry and sleep deprived. Being able to meet your bouncing baby’s basic needs, puts them in the right frame of mind and body, to comfortably explore their new world. For these reasons, establishing a daily routine or schedule can make yours and your baby’s life so much easier! It is almost like you are creating your very own baby manual…
Personalized baby manuals are important, because every baby is different. What worked for me, may not work for you. However, my goal is to provide you with a baseline. Below, are the schedules I used for my little one (mostly formula fed) from birth to 6 months old. Do not stress if your baby does not automatically conform to your strict schedule, mine sure didn’t. As long as your baby is getting enough formula/breastmilk and sleep, then you are doing a fabulous job! My hope is that these schedules make you and your baby feel a little more comfortable knowing that there is a plan in place.
While it is tough (near impossible) to establish a schedule at only 2 weeks old, this will give you an idea of how often your bundle of baby should be eating and sleeping. **Tip: Do not change diapers after the last feeding**
At 3 weeks, you want to start incorporating an Awake Time. This doesn’t usually last very long (about a half hour), as you can see… **Tip: If you are using bottles then have them ready right when baby wakes up! If you are using formula then you can make bottles ahead of time.**
At or around 6 weeks (anywhere from 5-8weeks), Awake Time is now lasting a little bit longer and Nighttime Feedings should decrease. It was also at this time, that I decided to move my bundle of fun to her crib. But please do whatever feels right to you. **Schedules also make it easier to make the transition to a sitter or caregiver when the time comes.**
At 9 weeks, Nighttime Feedings should be minimal or maybe even completely gone! Yay! My little love officially started sleeping through the night at 3 months old.**Exclusively breastfed babies may continue nighttime feedings for quite a bit longer, considering breastmilk moves through them more quickly**
Anywhere from 3-6 Months, you will want to move to the “Four Hour Schedule”. This means that baby will be eating about every 4 hours now. It may not seem like it, but this is a tough transition for you and baby, so don’t push this if your baby is not ready. During this time you also want to start adding Tummy Time to the schedule. **I did not officially start solids until after 6 months, so that schedule is not included here.**
Together, let’s make some happy babies! I hope you found this helpful.