Have I mentioned that I am a Type A planner? Ad nauseam? Got it.
Having a schedule and knowing what is coming next is imperative to my well being. I've also read that it is good for the little people. They are learning so much constantly - the whole world is new to them. Knowing what to expect in terms of "Ok, now that lady will give me some food" or "Now Daddy is going to put me to bed" is comforting in a world of unknowns.
I start tracking my babies' behaviors around 6 weeks. I have a spreadsheet that has a space for the activity and the time next to it. At the end of each day I track the cumulative time spent eating and sleeping. Once I see a true pattern develop, that is when I decide its time to make it their official schedule.
I start seeing a pattern in their habits pretty early - around 2-3 months I feel pretty confident that they are no longer in the newborn stage and can tolerate a little structure to the day.
I go the route of trying to keep naps at home, which is extremely limiting on activities outside of the neighborhood when your babe is napping 3 times a day. Just saying, both my boys slept soundly through the night at about 3 months so if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Of course, Type B chill moms (whom I admire) have their babes nap in the stroller or in the car and prioritize outings. All I see in that scenario is germs and more people - both of which I'm not all that jazzed about. To each her own!
Here is what my fellas did at 3-4(ish) months.
6:30am - Eat (breast/bottle) and then play, which includes tummy time, practicing sitting in the Boppy, and playing with toys
8:30am - Nap: This nap has become consistent, so he is in his own crib in the nursery. Tip: Sound machine always on! There is a lot of activity at this time with my husband leaving and Brooks playing so we have to drown that out. I love this sound machine because its portable and also acts as a toy/teether.
10:15am - Eat (breast/bottle) followed by more play
12pm - Nap: This nap is usually in the bassinet in our room. We struggle through this nap, and I don't want him disturbing Brooks who is also napping at this time in the room next to his nursery.
2:00pm- Eat (breast/bottle) and then any errands or activities out of the house. We keep the first two naps at home to keep them strong. The third nap will be iffy anyway, so that can be in the carseat or stroller if we've got things that must be done. Or if I need to see human adults in person. Usually the latter.
4:30pm - Cat nap: If we're out, the nap is on the go. If not, he is back in his room with the sound machine on.
6:00pm - Eat (breast/bottle)
7:45pm - Bath: We usually try to involve the big brother in this to encourage bonding, but more often than not he is running around or watching Peppa Pig. I don't blame him, Peppa is my favorite too.
8:15pm - Eat (bottle) - We decided to always make this feeding a bottle. I personally relax during my evening routine of showering and pampering (usually face masks), so I take this time to do that. This way, my husband is always guaranteed one good feeding with the baby too.
845/9pm - Bedtime.
Sleeps from roughly 9pm - 6am. [Insert melodious gospel choir and beam of sunshine]
A few things to note...
Eating: With my first son, I was still breastfeeding. With my second son, I was already weaning by this time because I struggled with DMER. You can read those details here. However, overall the routine stayed the same. When I was breastfeeding, I usually had to stay up until about 12am to pump once more. Then I was pretty good to go until the next morning. That also helped me to build up a supply.
Sleeping: We engaged in sleep training during this time, and we are so grateful that we did. Don't get me wrong, it sucks. Hard.
We would start by giving the baby 2 minutes to cry. If he was still wailing at that time, we went in. We replaced the pacifier, rubbed their belly and told them we were right outside and left the room within 10 seconds. Then the clock started again. The next time we waited for 3 minutes and so on. It is not for everyone, but if you can handle it, your baby likely can too.
Playing: This is always an exciting time because baby's are developing neck strength and can soon hold their heads up! That opens up so many more doors for what they can do- you don't have to just stare at them anymore! Here are some things that we did that were fun for the babies, but also allowed me to play with our older son or to get all my other responsibilities taken care of: jumper, floor seat on the counter (with supervision of course), Rock n Play, hang out in the crib, activity gyms/play mats with toys, or pop them in their high chair. We got this one - it has wheels and straps so they aren't going to jostle around. (And it converts to boosters, etc. as your child grows.)