Newborn Schedule

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Newborn baby schedule

As you and your newborn adjust to your new way of life you may be looking to get on a schedule, to help you better plan your days. 

Newborns should not be tied to a strict schedule. You’ll want to allow them to lead you on when they’re hungry or tired. 

However, you can get your baby on a flexible schedule or a routine. Which may help you through the early days.

The benefits of a baby schedule

A flexible schedule for your baby can be good. It will help your baby to anticipate what is coming next. 

Children, including babies, enjoy routines

What is a good newborn baby schedule? 

When starting a routine with your newborn it is important to let them lead. Don’t start a schedule until you have an idea of the sleep, wake, and feed pattern. 

Some babies sleep more than others. 

However, once you start to notice a pattern, which is usually around 1 month of age, you can continue to encourage the routine. 

It’s important to keep in mind that your newborn likely needs to eat every 2-3 hours. If you’re baby is breastfed they probably dirty their diaper shortly after they finish feeding. 

Therefore it’s ideal to plan their schedule around their feeding and diapering pattern. 

How to get a baby on a schedule

Once your baby is about a month old you can start to introduce a flexible schedule to them. 

This schedule should include a series of routines throughout the day. 

Nap routine. 

Feeding routine. 

Play or tummy time routine. 

Diapering routine. 

Bedtime routine. 

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Newborn sleep schedule

Your newborn needs to have both a nap routine and a bedtime routine at this age. 

A nap routine should be different from a bedtime routine that is done at night. At this age you need to adjust your baby’s circadian rhythm and teach them to differentiate day from night. 

Naps at this age can be done on your chest, in a pack n play in the room you’re in, or in another safe sleeping spot. The room does not need to be dark and white noise does not need to be used while your newborn naps. 

You will need to limit the length of naps. As is explained in this article here, newborns may sleep through feeds during the day. This leads to nighttime hunger.

If your baby is napping for more than 2 hours, you should wake them to be fed. 

Sleep at night should include swaddling, white noise, and a dark room. This article outlines more tips for newborn nighttime sleep.

Newborn feeding schedule

Newborns need a certain number of calories in a 24 hour period. Help your baby to sleep better at night you can provide more calories during the day then in the evening, as long as your baby’s healthcare provider says it is okay to let your baby sleep at night. 

Your baby should eat approximately every 2-3 hours during the day. Formula is not digested as quickly as breastmilk, therefore if you are feeding formula your baby may not want to eat as frequently as a breastfed baby would. 

If your baby gets distracted during feeds you can take them to a quiet room. You want your baby to focus on eating during this time. 

You should feed your baby before putting them down for a nap or bed. 

Newborn breastfeeding schedule

Breastfeeding newborns should be eating at least every 1.5-2 hours during the day. 

If your baby is showing early signs of being hungry, and it hasn’t been at least 1.5 hours since they ate last, it is okay to feed them again. 

At some point during the day, usually in the evening, your baby may want to nurse very frequently. You may feel like one nursing session ends and another begins. 

This is normal. This is called cluster feeding. Some babies cluster feed during the period of the day where they have increased fussiness. Which is explained in the article here

Side Note: If you are breastfeeding (or planning to) then you will want to take this course! It’s the BEST online breastfeeding course available. If you’ll be pumping, she also has a “back to work pumping” class and a class just for those that are planning to exclusively pump! You can’t go wrong with any of these classes!

how to keep a newborn awake

Newborns nap frequently. It’s okay to allow your newborn baby to nap as often as they need. However, you should wake them from naps to eat. 

If your newborn is having trouble staying awake to eat you will need to try to keep them awake.

One common way to keep a baby awake is to make them less comfortable. 

This means you should unswaddle them. You can remove any hats or socks they may be wearing. If they tend to fall asleep while nursing, you can undress them and place them skin to skin. 

There are a few things you can try if you are trying to keep your newborn awake and they do not need to eat.

Engage your baby in tummy time

Sing to your baby. 

Read a book to your baby. 

Talk or play with your baby. 

Newborn Routine Example

A schedule is often an outline of a day with specific times that something should occur. 

For example, a schedule you might see for a baby could look like this:

7am wake up, diaper change, and feed

8-9am play

10-12pm nap

12 wake up diaper change, and feed

In a schedule, that cycle would continue until the baby went to sleep for the evening. 

A routine could be similar to a schedule, without specific times that each event should occur. A routine is more flexible than a schedule. 

A good routine to put your newborn on would be one that goes nap, diaper, wake, play, eat, nap. The cycle would continue throughout the day until the evening when you move into doing the nighttime routine to set your baby up for nighttime sleep. 

It is common for newborns to fall asleep shortly after eating, which is why nap is placed after eat in the routine. However, if your baby does not tend to nap after eating, it is perfectly fine to alter the routine so that it works best for your family. 

Do Babies Really Need A Schedule

Babies do not need a strict schedule. Following a strict schedule can actually cause unnecessary stress on both you and your baby. 

Though once a baby reaches one month of age they can thrive on a flexible routine. It helps them to anticipate what is next. Which provides a sense of comfort. 

Do you have your baby on a routine? What works for your family? 

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Brooke has been helping families as a board-certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, since 2007. Prior to that, she spent 4+ years working as a Registered Nurse in both pediatric and postpartum nursing. Brooke holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a Master of Science in Nursing. Additionally, she is dual-licensed in her state as both an APRN and RN.

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