You may have been told to put your baby on a schedule by your pediatrician, your mother, or your best friend. After all, aren't babies just little people who thrive on the schedules we, as adults, set? While this may be true as a baby gets older, putting a newborn or even a young infant on a schedule may not work out. We talked with moms who went with the flow with their little ones as well as those who had a good routine worked out early on to see what helped their family thrive.
Babies don't need a schedule
Many moms we spoke with felt that babies, particularly newborns and infants under 6 months of age, had no need for an adult-arranged schedule. Heather, mom of two, told us, "I go with the flow, I believe that babies are perfect creatures. They aren't like older children who will stay up past tired to finish a movie, or eat because they're bored. If my baby is tired, I let him sleep; hungry, he eats; wants a snuggle, I'm on it! I do my best to go off his instincts."
Cathy, a school teacher and mother of two, feels that starting at around 3 months of age, her kids did best with a solid schedule and routine. "We are completely scheduled and like it that way," she explained. "We've had Austin and Eli both on a schedule and compare our day-to-day lives to our friends who don't, and notice a huge difference. My friends who go with the flow seem more stressed and I really do see more behavior problems."
Depends on the child
Some moms reported that it really depends on the temperament and nature of the individual child. Charlene, mother of two, shared, "I think it also depends on the kid. Audrey has always been pretty adaptable. We could move her sleep times or meal times easily. Owen is a creature of habit. He likes to go to sleep at the same time, won't eat much if his meal time is off."
Work it in later
And many moms who were more laid back during their child's infancy felt a need for more structure as that child grew older. "I was go with the flow until Greyson started school," said Kelly, mom of two. "I wouldn't say we have a schedule per se, but definitely a routine, especially when it comes to bedtime."
The consensus seems to be that newborns and young infants don't have a need for a schedule (particularly a feeding schedule), but that some children thrive when they have a routine — while others are more adaptable to change and some little ones create their own schedules. Whatever works for your family and your individual child is what you should do (no matter what your mother-in-law says).