Amy's Corner. our lactation consultant answers your questions about nursing.

Baby Schedule: Getting Back on Track after the Holidays

Leading Lady BreastfeedingMost moms agree, having a baby schedule is generally a good idea.  Babies thrive on routine because it gives them a sense of what to expect in a world that is very much out of their control. It can also help moms be prepared when caring for babies, who are often unpredictable.   Many moms and babies naturally develop a feeding and sleeping schedule soon after birth.  But sometimes putting together your baby’s schedule may require you to assist Mother Nature just a bit.  Either way, knowing the general path your day will take is helpful to both baby and mama.

During the holidays, our schedules understandably get off track.  You may be traveling, which can interfere with naps and bedtime.  Changing time zones is especially confusing to a baby’s internal clock.  Staying up late, being surrounded by new faces and a whirlwind of activity may have your baby all out of sorts.

Now that the holidays are over, you may be concerned about how you’re going to get back to your routine.  Here are some helpful tips on how to easily get back on schedule:

Down on Sleep

If your baby has not been getting enough sleep due to your travel schedule or some late night parties, you have some work to do.  The theory is that sleep begets sleep, but conversely, the more tired your baby is, the less she will sleep.  And the less sleep, the more cranky babies tend to become.  It’s important to push for sleep when trying to get back on schedule.  If your baby gets drowsy during breastfeeding, throw in extra feedings when you want her to sleep.  Make sure sleeping accommodations are most conducive for good sleep, including good air circulation, darkness and whatever noises (or lack there of) make your little one snooze best.  Also, some sleep is better than no sleep.  So even if a nap happens later than desired, let your little one sleep so that she isn’t so sleep deprived that she doesn’t want to sleep later.

baby with clock_courtesy of pregprep.comTime Zone Change

Babies adapt to gradual changes more easily than abrupt shifts in schedule.  You’ve probably noticed this as your baby slowly starts sleeping through the night, drops naps or needs a later bedtime.  You can make the gradual time zone shift before you return to your local time zone or after, but start adjusting naps and bedtime in 15 minute intervals to ease baby back into her regular schedule.  She probably won’t notice these minor shifts and it should make for a smooth landing into local time.

Bedtime

With so much to celebrate, baby may be staying up late to visit with family or attend gatherings.  If you are hoping to reinforce a firm bedtime, get back into your bedtime routine.  This may include a bath and a story.  Maybe you nurse and rock your baby to sleep.  Or you may simply send your good-night wishes to all of her toys.  However you typically get ready for bed, picking back up this routine is important to getting baby in the mindset for sleep.

Playroom Overload

With everyone spoiling your little one during the holidays, your playroom may be exploding with new toys for baby.  Too many mind-blowing toys can cause sensory overload for babies so it’s smart to limit time with loud, light-changing and video-oriented toys.  Rotating toys in your playroom will ensure you have a good mix of developmentally appropriate toys that will interest your child without them getting stale.  Introduce new toys every 1-2 weeks and remove a few as well.  You’ll be astonished by how quickly your little one will latch on to a new favorite toy and learn to master a new skill from it.  When you reintroduce toys, your baby will likely play with them as if they were new again, making it a win for both of you!

We hope you had a lovely holiday season and we’re wishing you much luck getting your baby back on schedule.

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