Okay parents, it’s week one with baby. You’re overwhelmed, overjoyed, and overly exhausted. You bring baby home, now what? A baby schedule, that is what. As soon as you are home, and as settled as possible for just bringing a new baby into the world and home, start baby on a feeding and sleeping schedule. This schedule will not be easy for either parent, it is work. However, if parents are willing to commit to the time and work required to get baby on a scheduled routine, it will pay off BIG TIME in the long run.
For a healthy newborn of average size, successfully implementing a baby schedule can be accomplished during that first week. Now, for me personally, this was not the case; I had a little lamb with some initial challenges. Getting my little lamb on a regular routine took several weeks, however, we stuck it out. At the time I was beyond exhausted and frustrated, and in those moments it felt like things would never improve. However, eventually, my little lamb got on schedule and it made all the nights of torture worth while. It helped when we figured out how to help some of her other little challenges too. As a result of this persistence, she has naturally remained on an almost identical graduated schedule as a toddler (with the exception of some deviations due to growing up and evolving needs).
As discussed in a previous post LOVING LITTLE LAMBS: Week One, the bullet point baby basics. parents can expect a new baby to initially sleep between seventeen and eighteen hours a day. Babies are born nocturnal, and it’s up to parents to transition baby’s nocturnal sleeping habits of the womb into healthy sleep habits in the outside world through a baby schedule. Translation, feed a healthy baby of average size every two hours during the day and every three hours at night for the first week when breastfeeding. This time frame begins from the time you start one feed, to the start of the following feed. So, if you feed baby at 7am (no matter how long the feeding session takes) the next feeding should begin at 9am. Again, IT IS OKAY TO WAKE A SLEEPING BABY; you are simply teaching baby when to sleep and eat. Due to my baby’s small size, she ate smaller quantities than an average size newborn more frequently. So, she ate every hour and a half during the day and every two to two and a half hours at night. Every baby is different, and their different birth weight and size can be reason to alter this set of guidelines to better fit each individual baby’s needs.
This usually doesn’t happen during the first week, but if by some miracle baby is still sleeping after three hours at night during week one, you could let baby sleep a little longer. However, do not let baby sleep more than four hours at night without feeding if you are breastfeeding. If bottle feeding, parents could let baby sleep up to four or five hours at night. Again, this would be very uncommon for a brand new baby to sleep this well during week one. After all, they are born nocturnal and nighttime is when they would prefer to be awake and eating. Personally, my little lamb would’ve been up eating all night long if I would have let her but that isn’t a realistic habit for any mother or parent to sustain for months on end.
So, here it is…baby’s schedule for week one if breastfeeding:
7:00am morning feed
7:00pm bedtime feed
10:00pm most important feed
7:00am next day, begin again.
Baby’s schedule for week one if bottle-feeding:
7:00am morning bottle feed
10:00am bottle feed
1:00pm bottle feed
4:00pm bottle feed
7:00pm bed time bottle feed
10:00pm most important bottle feed
1:00am bottle feed
4:00am bottle feed
7:00am next day, begin again.
The primary goal is to do night feedings every three hours. I want to place emphasis on the 10:00pm feeding. It is my experience that this is the most important feeding session. So, no matter what, feed baby at 10:00pm sharp; regardless of when the last feeding was and how long it had been since the last feeding. FEED BABY AT 10:00PM SHARP. Basically baby will get used to the 10:00pm feeding and it will set baby up for a long nights sleep as the grow through infancy. The more persistent parents can be with this feeding, the quicker baby will get into the routine of this being the last feeding of the night as they gradually grow out of needing nighttime feeds.
Try and keep in mind (even if you have sleep deprived mush brain), don’t try and keep baby awake in an effort to get baby to sleep longer. BABIES DO NOT WORK THIS WAY! A better rested baby will sleep better over all, including at night.
I hope this is found helpful by new parents. More to come in the future. But for now, new parents, you will survive. And if you need to sing and listen to a little Diana Ross for reassurance, do it 🙂