Getting Your Baby on a Schedule with Older Siblings Around

IMG_1067You get your baby to sleep. Finally—nap time! Just a few seconds later, you turn around to see your 2-year-old running at you, screaming happily. Baby wakes up, cries, and never settles back down. Sound familiar or is just my life? Getting a young baby on a schedule with a toddler or other older siblings is a challenge. I am no expert here, mommas. I will tell you that it can make a huge difference for your baby, however, if you try.

Schedules are so important for babies. With my kids, I have tried to stick to a schedule for the most part. With one child, I was a slave to naptime. We had to be home when she would get tired. If she fell asleep in the car, I was a mess. With baby #2, I have been less rigid. Levi was not on much of a morning nap schedule until recently. He is 8 months old. Not having him on a nap schedule was a nightmare. We would get out and he was cranky, fussy, and overtired. We would get home and he would be the same due to his catnap in the car or in my Tula wherever we were. I put his naps off to take care of Johanna or to get ready myself. I felt like we didn’t have time for a nap.

Recently, Levi has started sleeping better. He takes 2, sometimes 3, naps during the day. At night, he is still nursing anywhere from 1-3x. Let me tell you, scheduling has changed his demeanor! We now stay home until after Levi has had some sort of a morning nap. Sometimes, it is only 45 minutes because of an appointment, and sometimes Johanna watches “Daniel Tiger” in its completion.

Benefits of Scheduling:

  • Routine creates security. Even though babies are not always a fan of naps, it does make them feel secure to know what’s coming in their day.
  • Schedules help you in your journey of motherhood. It is comforting when you know you can handle baby. Scheduling helps mom establish some kind of normalcy in her day.
  • Daycares and babysitters appreciate schedules. If your baby is being taken care of by someone else, it helps to know what time baby will go down for naps.

Tips for Getting Started:

  • Don’t get frustrated. We all know that baby’s needs and cries are really not that complicated, but it can be overwhelming trying to figure it out all out.  Be forgiving with yourself and do your best establishing a schedule. It may take time.
  • Start easy. Start with a bedtime routine. Giving your baby the same attention each night before bed can be an easy way to start a schedule. For us, it is bath time, lotion, PJs, nursing, song, bed. Levi knows it’s time to lay down when I turn on his crib music aquarium.
  • Choose what’s best for your family. There are parent-led schedules that are stricter and more descriptive and baby-led schedules that allow your baby to dictate more of his or her schedule. Depending on your other children, choose what works for you.

With anything, remember to give your other children plenty of affection and attention. I had to learn to find something for Johanna to do while I get Levi down for naps. She colors, watches cartoons, or helps me out. She’s 2 ½ now, and she’s learned that she has to be quieter while Levi sleeps. It’s our special time. We play, read books, or she puts on pretend makeup with me so I can get ready for our day.

Schedules can seem overwhelming, but in the end, they are best for baby and your family when you figure it out.

Karyn Meyerhoff lives and writes in Northeast Indiana. It’s naptime right now, so she is using her free time to write this blog!

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