Newborns and infants up to eight weeks of age are unable to be placed on a schedule. Their needs should be met immediately, and they will dictate how much sleep they require, when they are hungry and when they want to be stimulated. Around two months of age, attempts should be made to regulate the baby’s day. After two months of age, most infants are able to sleep for an extended amount of time–five to eight hours. Extended sleep be arranged to take place at night.

How to Establish a Routine

The more routine an infant’s day, the more secure and happy he or she will be. Infants have an inner schedule which demands attention, such as hunger, sleep, and soiling. However, infants thrive when they have an outer schedule, as well. When infants are familiar with their surroundings and what takes place during their day, they sleep longer and are happier when they are awake.

While having a rigid schedule is impossible in most households, a baby’s day can be regulated. The infant’s meals, naps and playtime should be scheduled in such a way that they complement each other. Young infants may need two to three naps per day, while older infants may only need an early afternoon nap. It is important to keep in mind that an infant’s routine will change as they get older.

Why Infants Get Off Their Routine

There are numerous reasons why an infant will get off of his or her sleeping and eating schedules. If an infant is going through a growth spurt, he or she may require extra feedings. If an infant is not being stimulated during their waking hours, he or she may not be tired and this may cause the child to fuss at nap time. If an infant has learned something new, such as pulling up or sitting alone, they may prefer to do this instead of lying down at nap and bedtime. Teething infants or infants who are sick may also get off their routine.

What You Can Do

Try to schedule your appointments and errands during the infants waking hours. The new sights and sounds can stimulate a child’s learning. This will also ensure that the baby is not sleeping in the car or in a stroller, which can get an infant off of his or her home routine.