When a newborn baby arrives in the house, your regular routine is turned totally upside-down, at least during those first weeks. For people who are natural planners, it only makes sense to apply a little organization to all this baby chaos. By following a daily newborn baby schedule, you can add some order back to your day.
Plus, experts agree that a schedule can help both mom and baby adjust to this new normal. "Knowing what to expect and when is very comforting to them," said pediatrician Marilyn Heins, M.D., in Parents. Getting cues about when it's time to eat, nap, and play helps your baby start to understand the world a little better.
For the most part, the newborn schedule is initially based on how long your new baby can stay awake, according to The Baby Sleep Site. In those early days, these periods of waking are not very long at all. "In general, newborns sleep for about 14 to 18 hours per day, not staying awake for longer than 30 to 60 minutes at a time (after that they can become overtired)," as postpartum educator and advanced birth doula Adriana Lozada tells Romper. (Lozada also hosts The Birthful Podcast.) As you might expect, the initial schedule gives your newborn baby plenty of time to sleep, because that's their main job at this point.
Next, the newborn schedule takes into account your baby's frequent need for food. "They feed about 8 to 12 times per day and should appear satisfied after meals," says Lozada. With this in mind, the first schedule is just a series of naps and feedings. But hopefully, this sort of routine will help prevent your baby from getting overly tired or hungry at any point in the day.
With that in mind, it's also important to maintain flexibility along the way, because your baby's needs will change rapidly in those first few weeks. "I find the best thing for new parents to do as they are discovering the baby they got is to not follow schedules, but rather guidelines," says Lozada. "Each baby will have individualized needs and they tend to be really good at expressing those needs through their feeding and sleep cues." With that in mind, here are some basic newborn guidelines you can follow and change to fit your own kid's needs.