Parenting | Schedule | Schedule Versus Demand
Document Daily Schedule
Whether you follow a schedule or not, I would recommend documenting your normal day as I think it is very important to document your baby’s schedule to establish your baby’s norm. The information in this article is also discussed in the “Schedule Versus Demand” article:
No matter whether you follow a schedule or not, I would recommend documenting your normal day. Refer to this template to document a schedule for a baby 0-6 months and this template for a baby 6+ months. The templates I created are helpful as the following information is documented:
- Date and Age of child
- List of Activities – this can be your to do list or things you want to do with the baby.
- Breast/ Bottle section to record the time of the day when the baby ate, amount (whether in ounces or how long on breast), and notes related to these feedings (such as what side for breastfeeding or how easily baby drank).
- Diaper – to record the number of wet or soiled diapers. Once you establish a consistent routine you may only need to record the unusual types such as the consistency of the stool. We did this to monitor the severity of my son’s constipation.
- Meals – generally solid food, such as baby cereal is introduced when the child is between 4 – 6 months. This section helps to monitor the amount of food and the different foods introduced. Generally, most doctors recommend waiting three days to a week between introducing new foods. This helps you determine if your child is allergic to any food types. You can add in the notes section whether the baby liked the food or how well the baby ate.
- Snacks – such as juice or extra food given in between meals
- Supplements – such as “Vitamins and Minerals” (generally babies that exclusively breastfeed need to take a vitamin D supplement.) I also introduced other things to “Boost Immune System” such as “Probiotics,” and healthy “Oils” including fish oil and flax oil when my baby was older than 6 months old.
- Sleep – to record night time sleep and naps. You can also record the number of nightwakings.
- Additional Notes – anything else you want to document about the day such as the baby’s temperament. This may help identify things such as the fact the baby is the happiest after having a bowel movement or maybe you’ll find that certain foods contribute to your baby’s mood. It is also important to document when certain events occur such as vaccinations, schedule changes (starting care by outside caregiver), illness, or other changes. Then if you notice other changes in subsequent recordings you may be able to determine the possible reason for the change and how long it took for the baby to return to her normal schedule.
- Milestone Today – to record something special the baby did for the day. Again, you think you’ll remember the exact day and time but then a week from then you wonder was it last week or two weeks ago your baby delighted you with the first smile? A month later you really aren’t sure. Not that if you don’t document every single thing you baby does means it doesn’t make it as special but it is fun to look back and read about the year of miracle milestones. You could later create a special journal or book to give your baby when she grows up.
I think it is very important to document for several reasons: it helps establish the baby’s routine: when does the baby tend to sleep, eat, go to the bathroom. This will enable you to determine what is “normal” for your baby and thus if something changes you can analyze to find out what changed and or if something is wrong with your baby. Is the baby sick, teething, upset?
If you don't have time to document on a daily basis you may want to get something like the itzbeen, which will help you keep track of when your baby last ate, slept, or had her diaper changed. The itzbeen, is a device you can wear and you simply click the button for feeding when you feed your baby and the device will count up in time so you know when you last fed your baby. I still highly recommend documenting when you have time so you have a reference if you feel your baby starts acting out of character. I also understand that realistically it may be hard for you to document daily.
You may think you’ll remember and that you don't need to document; I know I thought I would remember everything. I thought I would remember exactly how much my son had to drink for the day but then at the end of the day you aren’t quite sure. Going back to my notes was very helpful especially when my son stopped eating. I started to doubt did he really eat six ounces every two hours because now he wouldn’t eat more than three ounces at a time. Looking back at my notes, I could confirm, yes he was eating six to eight ounces; so something changed. Refer to “Feeding Tricks” and “Reflux” for more information.
Do What Is Best for Your Family
My motto with everything is whatever works best for your family. If you choose to have a very precise schedule such as last meal at 5:30PM, bath at 6:00PM, bedtime at 6:30PM every day no matter what or you choose to not have a set schedule and see where the day takes you in the end I would think the kid from each family still eats, baths, and sleeps to some extent and I would expect both kids have the opportunity to grow up happy and healthy. We chose to follow a middle ground, not a strict schedule but definitely a similar schedule every day.
Also, if documenting your baby’s schedule causes you more stress then don’t document every day. I do think you should try to document to some extent, but find what works best for you. If your baby seems to be acting “normally” you may not need to document at all. For me, I started documenting when my son was born and then it tailored off and then it picked up again once my son started experiencing issues such as constipation and then not wanting to eat. Once my son was eating well again and I had introduced him to most of the foods we eat, I noticed that I didn’t document as much anymore. I still tried to occasionally at least write some brief notes such as “eating extremely well this week…will eat whatever I give him…had at least one bowel movement a day.” I also try to document when an event occurred like vaccinations, an illness, or teething to make sure I monitored if I noticed any changes related to those events. With my daughter I found I had little time to document and I tended to rely on the itzbeen on a daily basis to make sure she was eating and sleeping consistently. I would then document when unusual events occurred like when she was sick and periodically update her normal schedule such as how long she would sleep at night and how well she was eating.
Overall, I wish you luck and happiness in caring for your precious baby.