Julie at Everyday Mommy tagged me—but not for a meme. She chose the subject of Putting Baby on a Schedule and asked several moms to share their thoughts on their blogs. I am honored to play along.
All five of my babies came into the world wondering why a disco ball wasn’t dangling over the crib. They loved the nightlife. They loved to boogie. Dawn would arrive and they’d pass out with a hiss, leaving hubby and I to face the day on very small reserves of energy. With the first couple of kiddos it wasn’t so bad, but when you have a newborn and a toddler and a few preschoolers running around, sleep is grand.
I learned quickly that scheduled naptimes and bedtimes are good things, as long as wiggle room and flexibility aren’t thrown out of the picture. I’ve had to reconcile my appreciation for sleeping routine and my aversion to Crying It Out. Babies like to know what to expect, and when we follow the same naptime and bedtime routines we found there wasn’t so much crying—perhaps a few tears at first, but then ease and the expectation of every nights’ special book, prayer, kiss and cuddle, maybe a little music, lights out, crack the door, see ya in the morning. Do it over and over for years and years and one day it occurs to you that the kids are all good sleepers, in their own beds, and they wake up refreshed. And so do you.
We co-slept with our two youngest kiddos until each was a year old. They are both excellent sleepers now and in their own beds. The doom and gloom theories about how co-sleeping babies become co-sleeping 10 year olds isn’t true, in our family life experience. The new baby tumbling around inside me right now will be in our room, too. Whether in our bed or immediately next to it we will decide. A lot depends on how he/she does. Some kiddos need room to spread out, some like the closeness.
Eating is another arena where babies need a little scheduled structure, but in my experience I find they do better when allowed to feed on demand. I like to exclusively breastfeed for the first six months and do not mind feeding the open baby-bird mouth. Does the mother robin tell her chicks, fresh out of their dreamy blue eggs, they can’t have a worm because it isn’t 3:45? No. I want my kids to be intuitive eaters—to only seek food when they are hungry, not because it is six o’clock or eight o’clock or they are bored/sad/celebrating. We have breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but we also have smaller snacks throughout the day because those who eat only when they are hungry and in small but satisfying amounts are less likely to be obese.
Between eating and sleeping, baby has free time. I am not one to sign up a baby for gym or swimming or any other class. I’d rather take my baby to the School of the Pond at the Park or the Let’s Put on Vince Guaraldi and Dance Like Snoopy Symposium.
Babies shouldn’t be left to their own devices, little dictators who rule the roost. Neither should round babies be pounded into square holes of rigid schedules. The wise parent finds a mix, a balance between free-for-all and schedule, and that is called routine.