Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Infant & Toddler Daily Trackers {free printables}

As a researcher, it's hard to resist tracking data whenever the opportunity strikes and it seems beneficial to my life to do so. After having a child, I realized that it was actually useful to know my baby's day-to-day schedule. With baby number two on the way, I've been thinking about what I've learned from tracking this data over the past two years. 

In this post, you'll find my free printable day-to-day schedules, links to other daily tracking systems, and some pros/cons of other schedules my family has used in the past.  Hopefully, this will help you find or create the best system for you and your family.

Free printables...
Here they are! The Research Mommy Infant & Toddler Day-to-Day SchedulesWhat I really like about our day-to-day schedules is that they are paper-based and designed specifically for multiple caregivers (parents, grandparents, etc.) to share. 

For our family, it was useful to use paper-based tracking sheets so they can be shared among multiple caregivers. However, there are many great mobile phone apps that make tracking easy, especially if used by one person. If my schedules don't work for you, for whatever reason, maybe you can try some of the ones listed below.

10 Online & Mobile Apps
A work in progress...
Our family went through many schedules before we found one that really worked for us (well, so far at least).  Again, there are many, many options for tracking this kind of data and I'm sure you can find or create something that works perfectly for you. However, if you're interested in why we kept changing our way of tracking, here's how our system evolved. 

Baby Tracker #1: The Essential Baby Organizerused for months 0-2
Pros: compact, nice layout, neutral colors, lots of resources, space to record milestones and memories, space for pictures. Con: designed for nursing mothers and I had decided not to nurse.

Baby Tracker #2:
8.5" x 11" Notebook, used for months 3-6
Pros:  tons of space, ability to track whatever I wanted, doubled as a place to make food shopping lists, etc. Con: having to relabel to top of each new page with columns (Date/Feedings/Naps/Diapers, etc.). 

Baby Tracker #3:
Microsoft Excel template, created by RM, used for months 7-12
Pros: simple table appropriate for our daily routine, enough space to track data we wanted, two days per page, room for notes, easy for all caregivers to follow the same system. Cons: no room to track solid food, single page sheets often got misplaced or out-of-order. Note: At this point we considered not to bother tracking anymore, but our caregivers really enjoyed knowing what had happened day-to-day (and we realized we did, too), so we kept it up.

Baby Tracker #4: 
8.5" x 11" Weekly/Monthly Plannerused for months 13-20
Pros: we were back to having a spiral bound tracking system, room for entire week across two pages, monthly calendar to keep appointments, etc. Cons: back to having to write in categories (like notebook), Sat/Sun had less space than Mon-Fri and we often had more to write in on these days, didn't allow room for keeping many notes, memories, stories, etc.

Baby Tracker #5:
Microsoft Publisher template, created by RM, used for months 21-24
Pros: concise, three days per page, room for writing scheduled activities, space to track medicine, check boxes used to limit writing, mood tracker added. Cons: not enough room for long notes, no space for tracking things to remember from the day (funny things said, appointments, etc.).

Baby Tracker #6: 
Microsoft Publisher template {new and improved*}, created by RM, used currently (and shared above)
Pros: one page per day allows for more information tracking; bigger notes space; added in space for funny things said, appointments, and type of medication; check boxes for mood, sleep, and activities; separated eating section by breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks and by 5 main food groups (fruits, vegetables, protein, grains, and dairy) for tracking nutrition. Cons: we're back to using one sheet per day, so we keep a few sheets at a time on a clipboard (usually on our kitchen counter) and archive them to a binder every time we need more space.  We've gotten used to it, especially because it's often easier to take one sheet of paper on the go than an entire notebook, but I see how others might not like the individual pages. Otherwise, when we find more cons, I'm sure there will be a Baby Tracker #7 to add to this list. 

And a disclaimer...
Tracking takes TIME and ENERGY. These are two things I don't ever seem to have enough of, so there are often lots of empty spaces (missing data) on my tracking pages. And, tracking can become a crutch when you start to rely on patterns in the data and not your gut instincts as a parent - therefore, if tracking is keeping you from seeing the big picture, or it's stressful, useless, or too time consuming - it's not worth it. Similar cautions have been made - see this ABCnews article and Linda Sharps recent post on The Stir.

    Enhanced by Zemanta

    1 comment:

    1. Hi! These printables look fantastic. I was curious- would it be possible to get a copy of the original publisher file? There are a couple of tweaks I need to make to the infant sheet to make it more useful for my kids...please let me know! Thanks!