When I first had Baby P., I was just trying to figure out this new thing called motherhood. I was stressing because, it was very difficult to get baby girl to do anything besides eat, sleep and poop let alone get on a schedule!
I knew that once Baby P. got a little older, I could try to start a schedule. I had read so many articles (see this article) saying how important it was to get a child on a schedule, that it helped them feel secure... but it was such a scary concept and I knew that it would be difficult! But when is anything easy when it comes to discipline and a kid?
So I sat down and tried to come up with a list of things that worked for me to get baby girl on a schedule:
1. Follow Baby's Leading.
I started trying out a schedule with her as soon as I thought we could, at about 2 months. The most important aspect of making this schedule was that I based this schedule off of what I noticed that baby girl shaped on her own. Why make her take a nap if she wasn't ready?... I'd just be hitting my head against a wall if I did that. So I focused on what kind of pattern I noticed Baby P. made, by focusing on her nap times. Of course, at that young (2 months) there was no way I could set-up a real schedule. I just wanted to get her started on one, and started to be consistent.
2. Start a Schedule and Try to Stick with it.
Like I said, follow baby's leading. Whatever time baby takes her nap, try to get her to take it consistently at that time. At about 4 months, she was sleeping in her crib at night, so it wasn't such a strange thing for me to put her in her crib for a nap once she nursed to sleep or I rocked her to sleep. For some reason though, I always had to put her on her stomach for naps otherwise she would wake up.
3. Consistency is Vitally Important.
Things always come up in your day that will change, and that's fine, but try to be consistent with the basics. Be consistent with when baby wakes up, nap times, lunch time, dinner and bed time. We go out grocery shopping, doing errands, walks and hanging out with friends/family pretty consistently. But I try to schedule those times during a free time I created in our schedule.
Here's an example of what our schedule looks like (Diaper changes aren't listed, cause those aren't predictable. Also just a note that Baby P. still nurses at least every two hours at almost 8 mo, and I know that's not the case with other babys.):
6 - 7 am - Wake up. I get Baby P. up no later than 7:40 am (I found she doesn't take a nap if she wakes up later).
7 am - Nurse.
7:10 - 8 am - Play time in pack n' play.
8 am - Nurse.
8:10 am - Rock to sleep/morning snuggles (this usually can take up to 30 minutes of rocking).
8: 40 am - 10 am - Nap time.
10 am - Nurse.
10 am - 11 am - play time.
11 am - Nurse.
11:30 - Lunch time (solids given).
11 am on - Free time. So I let the day shape what we will do.
12 pm - 1 pm - Play time
1 pm - Nurse
1:30 - 2 pm - Take a walk.
The Day continues like this: nursing, play times and so on...
6 pm - Bathe baby and get in PJs.
6:30 pm - Dinner (solids).
7 - 8:15 pm - Play time.
8:15 pm - 8:40 pm - Wind down and get ready for bed.
8:40 pm - Nurse to sleep. Getting Baby P. to bed usually takes 40 minutes to an hour.
9:10 pm - Baby is moved to her crib, and she sleeps there till morning.
This is what works for us! What does your schedule look like?