Putting Alexander and Nathan on a daily schedule has been a lifesaver. The first couple of days we had both of them home were an absolute nightmare. Having spent the first two months of their lives as a NICU mom, I knew how to care for them at the most basic level (as in I could change a diaper and take a temperature), but everything else felt like complete and utter chaos. They were sent home from two different hospitals – Alex had gotten a procedure done which required he spend his last two weeks at Children’s in Birmingham while Nathan stayed at their birth hospital in Tuscaloosa. So when they finally got home, they were on two different feeding and sleeping schedules, and everything was a mess. I knew I had to get them on one page, sleeping, eating, and playing at the same time, or we weren’t going to make it.
I can’t describe how drastically things changed when we implemented a baby schedule. Putting my babies on a schedule has made me more organized, calm, and collected. Having their day planned out from the beginning makes things more predictable and eliminates some of the stress of having two. A friend recommended the book Moms on Call (MOC), a comprehensive guide to baby care, and I started them on it the next day.
Here’s my MOC disclaimer: I don’t agree with everything MOC demands doing with your baby and I don’t follow it like the Bible. I can see how it helps to have a guide to stick to, but I like to use MOC as more of a starting point to plan around than follow it to the letter – I don’t think their rules are “one size fits all” for every baby. Additionally, I have heard some people say following a MOC schedule will get your baby sleeping through the night. That hasn’t happened for us yet and that’s okay; they’re still young. We will get there eventually.
MOC provides schedules for different age babies from birth to one year. Since our boys are preemies, we tend to go by their “corrected,” or developmental, age for things like this. That is the age they are minus the six weeks they were supposed to still be cooking in my belly. Right now, they are 18 weeks old, but I would developmentally treat them as a 12 weeks old. I also don’t let their age dictate when we move on. Even though they’re older, we are just now starting the schedule for 2-4 month old babies. When I no longer had to fight to keep them awake after feedings, I knew they were ready to move to a schedule with shorter daytime naps and longer active play time. I let them tell me when it was time.
This is the schedule we used from when they came home at 8 weeks until now, the one MOC suggests for 1-2 month old babies. To modify this for where they are now, I am adding 30 minutes to every active awake time of feeding and playing and subtracting 30 minutes from every nap. We have gotten so used to this younger schedule that we’re still getting comfortable adjusting to the new times. I’ve included my notes on some things MOC dictates that we’ve changed to fit our lifestyle.
6:00 – 7:00 AM: If the babies wake up hungry around this time, feeding, then put back to bed. If they sleep through this hour, we don’t worry about it.
9:00 AM: Wake the babies up if they aren’t up already and feed them a breakfast bottle. If both boys are famished and I’m by myself, I can feed them simultaneously with both hands but usually they eat one at a time. Change diapers and outfits and play with them until their nap. Early on, it was a struggle to keep them awake until naptime, so we allowed a little grace here.
10:00 AM: Put them both down for a nap, even if they’re still awake. Nap no longer than 2 hours.
(Our modification: MOC is really strict about baby sleeping in their crib, in their room, with zero interaction with you. We don’t do that yet. We put them to sleep in their Rock ‘N’ Play in our bedroom or the living room. They also suggest letting your baby cry it out at sleep times, which we also don’t do based on recommendation from our pediatrician + my own emotional fragility.)
12:00 PM: Wake them up if they aren’t already and feed. Diaper change. Play until their next nap. (Our modification: MOC is also strict about how much milk should be in the bottle, but sometimes they just aren’t that hungry, so it may just be a “snack” bottle because their fancy hypoallergenic formula is far too expensive to waste.)
1:00 PM: Nap
3:00 PM: Eat again. If their last bottle was a snack, at this point they are really hungry and not afraid to let me know it. Clean butts. Play until our next nap.
4:00 PM: Nap. A bit shorter this time. Closer to 1.5 hours than 2.
5:30 PM: Dinner bottle and play. (MOC emphasized how crucial giving them this bottle on time is. Yeah…we didn’t always make it at 5:30 on the dot and TBH I didn’t see a big difference if we were a bit late, but we did try our best to make it.)
6:30 PM: Nap, but a bit shorter this time because it’s almost time to get ready for bed.
8:00 PM: Bath time! They get a bath one at a time in the sink. One twin usually plays with Dad while Mom is giving his brother a bath. Get all ready for bed with diaper and pajamas.
8:30 PM: Bedtime bottle. The more they eat, the better they sleep.
9:00 PM: Bedtime. We put them down in the Rock ‘N’ Play with their pacifiers and settle in for the night.
Middle of the Night: We have no set late night feeding time; we wait until they’re screaming at us to feed them. As they’re getting bigger, this time is getting later and later. They’re each down from 2-3 late night feeds to just one and on some rare but magical nights, none. I pray this means sleeping through the night is on the horizon.
This schedule is not meant to be followed perfectly each and every day because that just isn’t realistic. Life happens, we would have no fun if we were beholden to a schedule at all times. Some days we go visit friends or spend the afternoon at grandma’s house and our feedings are late, bedtime is pushed back or naps are missed or short. Sometimes baby gets hungry before his scheduled bottle and has to eat early. Some days baby falls asleep during play time or doesn’t want to nap at nap time. All of that is okay.
The friends who recommended it said it got their baby sleeping all night right away. Looking at my babies and our experience with it all I can say is LOL. It definitely didn’t do that for us. Bear in mind that every baby is different and what works for one does not work for all. This schedule was written with young babies in mind. If your baby is older, you can look up Moms on Call or do a search for baby schedules in your baby’s age range. Or make up your own – you know your baby best, and any kind of schedule or routine is beneficial; it doesn’t have to come from a professional. Staying in a good routine has completely changed our comfort level with the twins at home. We finally feel like we run the house again*.
*LOL JK, we run nothing. It’s still nice though.