Leah's Two Cents on Schedules & Routines

Posted by  | Monday, November 12, 2007  at 9:03 AM  

In my final weeks of pregnancy, I read both Babywise and The Baby Whisperer. Both books encourage parents to create a schedule for their baby that consists of the simple formula Eat, Awake, Sleep. This schedule is supposed to start early in a baby's life (Babywise=10 days old) and operate on a 3 hour rotation. After reading the books (which came highly recommended), I was gung-ho...who wouldn't want their baby to be on a schedule like that? It made sense.
After Samuel was born, a friend gave me a brochure that gave me a handful of reasons why I shouldn't use the formula of Babywise that she had received from her doctor. The reasons mostly stated that young babies can't organize themselves in that way so quickly and their bodies have flexible eating and sleeping needs. I decided that I would just see how Samuel did and then decide what I was going to do. He ended up being such a good baby that I didn't really try to fit him into a schedule. After about 6 weeks, he had worked himself into a feeding schedule of nursing every 3 hours, a little longer at night. He didn't do the order of Babywise with his sleep, but he was sleeping well and we were all content.
I nursed Samuel to sleep for naps and bedtime for 10 months. For the first 7 months, everything worked great. He was even sleeping through the night. Sometimes he would wake up once to nurse, but would go back to sleep. By 10 months, though, things had gotten out of hand with him. He was waking up many times a night. (To be honest, I still haven't figured out what happened here to cause the change.) Things became unbearable. I dreaded bedtime and no one was sleeping well. After 2 months of this battle, my husband and I made the decision to let him "Cry It Out" - at both naptimes and bedtime. This was an incredibly difficult decision for me to make. I had resisted letting him cry for so long and it broke my heart to let him now. After a few days of crying, he had taught himself to fall asleep on his own. I now lay him down at naptime and bedtime with no crying and he sleeps well.
What I've learned through the process is that as a mother you must assess the individual needs of your child. I think once Samuel's sleep was getting out of hand, I should have done more about it. But, I was so set on sticking it out with my philosophy of "Don't Cry It Out" that I let things drag on to long. Here's what I've taken away from my experience:
1. I would again give it time in the beginning to see how things work out with my baby. I will give him time to establish good breastfeeding, and see if he can organize himself into a routine.
2. I would again be compassionate in my scheduling choices, because that's what fits best with my heart (nursing to sleep, sometimes taking naps with baby, rocking, etc.).
3. I would not let a philosophy take precedence over the needs of my child next time.
4. I would switch to letting him "cry it out" earlier if began to have troubles sleeping (for example, I waited until 12 months to deal with a problem that started at 7 months this time - but not next time!).
5. Finally, I have learned to be nothing but encouraging to other mothers in this area. I know how helpless I felt in the beginning as I faced the task of taking care of a child. Being a first time mom is SO difficult b/c it includes so many unknowns. And of course every mother wants to tell you what you MUST do, especially when it comes to sleeping. But of all the advice I received, the best came from my friend Laura. She gave me a little card when Samuel was about 2 weeks old that still hangs on my fridge. It says:
"Hang in there - you're doing a great job! Books and friends can be great, but they can be very frustrating and disappointing if you feel like you, Ed, or Samuel don't 'measure up' to their expectations. Trust in the Lord - He can supply all your needs. Rest in His grace and know He can help you be the kind of mother He wants you to be! I'm around the corner if you ever need some company."
So that's the final word that I pass on to all of you readers. Hang in there & Rest in God's grace. And remember, someone is always around the corner.


Anonymous said...


I congratulate you on coming to your decision to access each child as they come. I have 3 little girls with one more on the way. Each one has different wants and needs. Like you I allowed them to put themselves on a routine according to their needs. I also make a habit of holding my little babies through one naptime to rock and just watch them sleep. Which of course is a huge no,no. Who cares I only have them for a short time and I will cherish every minute. I do allow them to cry it out when they are not in need of anything else.
Nicole McCurdy

Leah said...

Nicole! How great to hear from you and congratulations on your upcoming addition! I too have enjoyed many times cuddling with my son as he slept. Too many moms have told me that they grow up so fast. I try to enjoy little moments each day (although that currently entails Samuel rubbing his lunch through his hair!).

Anonymous said...

I used the book, "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" for my son Landen and it worked great for us! I was blessed with a rare case of a little one without day/night confusion and ever since we brought him home, he wanted to be in bed at 6:30pm for the night. He is actually still that way at 19 months. I know, crazy! The reason I liked the book is because it gave a detailed description of where a baby is developmentally at different ages... so I wasn't expecting him to do something that he couldn't do (example:stick to a schedule). It also emphasizes how to recognize when your child is sleepy, before they get overtired. I personally loved the book and plan to use it again if we are blessed with another little one. My prayers are with you all, this is such a difficult battle to figure out! -Courtney W.

Ruth Palmer said...

This is always such an interesting topic....should be interesting to see how people respond :)

I'm one of those "mean" moms who tried to get each of my 3 kids on a schedule of some sort from the get-go. My reasons were probably selfish, but it just helped me be able to plan my day a little better since I had an idea of when the baby would sleep/be hungry. Obviously at first, there wasn't much awake time, so I never felt like I didn't get to just enjoy my kids. They did plenty enough sleeping. My schedule was more just establishing an eating time frame. I personally couldn't feed more often than about every 2 - 2 1/2 hours because I had lots of issues with soreness if I did. I think (& this is just my gut) that my kids learned fairly early on that they were not gonna go hungry, and they did great on this schedule. I made sure they ate about 10 minutes on each side so that they could make it until the next feeding. I didn't want them to "snack" cuz then I knew they weren't getting the wholesome milk. Anyways, I also believe that each mom must do what works for her & her family. Just figured I'd give my 2 cents on what I did.

As for sleeping, I never woke my kids up to feed them during the night. I have mixed feelings about that, but I am one who NEEDS my sleep :) Therefore, none of my kids ever slept in my room, so I wasn't tempted to get up at every little noise. I think they "learned" quickly that I wasn't gonna get up for every little thing, so they would just go back to sleep. Now I'm not saying that I make my kids cry it out from the day they come home, but I do think that 1-2 minutes of crying isn't gonna hurt them. And all my kids have slept at least 7 hours by the time they're 8 weeks old. Again, I know this doesn't work for everyone, and I support what works for each person!

Good luck to those ladies who are expecting their 1st, or for those that are gonna add another little one to their household....you'll have to make so many decisions all over again!!! :)
Ruth Palmer

Ross said...

What a graceful post :) I am/was a "Baby Wise" doer but not rigidly...this has worked great for us as a family, although with all babies, quirks along the way. You are so right in saying that there are times you have to do what your heart as a mama says:) Thanks for the post!!
Shannon B.

Shannon said...

Hello! We used the babywise schedule loosely. I didn't get the book until Maggie was past 6 months. We were thrilled when she started sleeping through the night, but we've allowed her the habit of using milk to go to sleep at night and naptime. This is coming back to bite us, b/c if she wakes up 2 or 3 times a night, she is unable to put herself back to sleep without a few ounces of milk. And we're so tired (getting up with an 8-week-old all night) that we just give her some milk so she (and we) can go quickly back to sleep. I know we'll have to break this habit eventually. It's great to hear other's opinions & experiences.
Shannon H

Leah said...

It sounds like you were indeed blessed in this area. Christina really likes the book you mentioned - I'm sure she will write about it this week.
Thanks so much for posting! I was going to e-mail you this week and tell you to comment on our blog b/c I know this is a conversation we've had many times. I can vouch that your children are all great sleepers and don't seem to have any bad effects from your method (they get those more from their father! Just teasing).
Shannon & Shannon,
A lot of mothers I meet that recommend Babywise eventually come to say what you have said here - that they loosely followed the guidelines. I think that reinforces the idea that books can be a great help, but that there is something to be said for a mother's intuition. Thanks for sharing.

markandmeg said...

I have a question for anyone who has an ergo carrier. We previously had the Bjorn carrier and my baby LOVED it, but it wasn't always so comfy to me and after reading all your posts, we decided to sell it to get the Ergo. I have tried all the positions in the instruction book and Karis was comfortable and so was I! I like it much better, but I was disappointed that they don't ever show the baby facing outwards, which is what Karis really loves right now. Is it possible to do that in the ergo?

Christina said...

I just saw your comment about the ergo and I must say that this was my ONLY disappointment with the ergo. I also realized this after I got it, but loved the rest of it so much it didn't matter! So, as far as I know they can't face out with the ergo.

I don't remember how old your daughter is, but Will is 17 months (about 20 pounds) and I rarely carry him facing me. He definitely likes the back much better though. Although I have to be sure my hair is up or I get my hair pulled OFTEN!

I haven't tried the hip carry - do you like that one? If you're looking for a way to carry front facing, you might consider a cheap pouch sling if your daughter is still small enough to enjoy that. I think Leah's sling post showed this type of carry...

Glad you're enjoying the ergo!

Brandon Smith said...

My husband and I have chosen to follow Dr. Denmark's advice in the way we raise our daughter. We have had an incredible experience, so I wanted to share! Please know that I am sharing our experience, and I am not saying that this is the only right way or that other ways are wrong... this is what worked for us. Dr. Denmark is actually a lot more structured than Babywise and Baby Whisperer (I read those books as well, and have learned a lot from them). The theory that we follow is that we need to train our babies to eat well and sleep well... and mom, dad and baby will all be happier! We put our daughter, Madeline on a pretty strict routine from day one, and she quickly learned to trust us and to eat full meals. One thing we learned was these things all work together- I would make sure Madeline would get full feedings, her stomach would be completely emptied before she ate again, she ate a lot more, then could go longer before she needed to eat, she slept through the night, then I got more rest, and then my milk was a higher quality, which in turn kept her full for a longer amount of time. By 2 weeks, she was sleeping through the night and by 4 months, she was sleeping 13 hours at night. Madeline knows when it is time for a nap and when it is bed time, she goes straight down without any fuss. Also, when she is awake, she is very rested which helps her to not be whiny. This system has blessed Brandon and I in amazing ways, so I just wanted to share our experience!! - Jamie Smith

markandmeg said...

Thanks for your response. Originally, I didn't like the side carry as much as the front or back because its not quite as comfy, but I tried it today with Karis (6 months, 15 pounds) and she loved it! And it was comfortable for me, just not as much as the other two. So I'll probably do that for now til she gets a little bigger and likes the back carry. But she doesn't like the back carry yet; she wants to be able to see my face. And she only likes the front if she is tired and wants to snuggle. But I think the side carry will work fine for now. Thanks!

Hollie said...

At first, I was so disappointed that the Ergo didn't face outward, until I went to their site and found some Q & A regarding why they shouldn't face outward. And then it all made sense, and I'm happy that I don't face Laney outward. Here's what they said and I quote:

"It is recommended that babies are carried facing inward for the following reasons:
"Infants in outward-facing orientations can’t turn away from surrounding stimuli. They can't turn inward toward a parent's body if stimuli become overwhelming. In this position the baby cannot make eye contact with his or her parent to evaluate facial expressions, social cues, and so forth to make assessment of the situation. Only choose a baby carrier that allows your child to face you ... never out. There are too many events going on around your baby. A baby has no way to exclude himself from the environment by turning his head away and towards you. Healthy sleep is difficult for a baby who is facing outward. I am not a supporter of the outward facing method of carrying a child."
From - A Baby Wants To Be Carried by Dr. Eveline Kirkilionis (only available in German at this time) She is a human development specialist. Her research on carrying children started in 1985. She compiled helpful tips on picking a proper baby carrier. She lives in Freiburg, Germany"

Ya know, it's true. If something were to come flying our way or something that could harm her, There would be no way for her to reaction in a natural fashion by shielding herself. She'd just be hanging there, facing outward. So, once I read that, I was glad that Laney faces inward.

Another thing is that Laney is a bit over 20 lbs and I still carry her on the front. She likes it. She also likes the back and likes to bounce on the back. It's hilarious for others in the grocery store to watch. Ha! She'll pull on the back my shirt around the neck and stretch it WAY DOWN. But that's only if I have a stretchy shirt and if she's very playful(which is most of the time.) I go walking with her in the Ergo for up to 45 minutes and she loves it! It's a great leg workout for me and different muscles are worked from front to back. I feel my hamstrings get it more when she's carried in front. She's definitely heavier in front, but if I need to give her a sip of water or feed her a bottle of breastmilk, it's sooooo easy in front. Every Sunday Laney falls asleep during the worship service in the front of the Ergo. It works out great! She'll play hard with the crawlers the first hour(where I serve in there too), and then I'll put her in the Ergo during the praise and worship time and feed her her bottle while I bounce a little bit and she's out!! That way we aren't too too off her schedule and I get to hear a sermon w/o a wiggly baby! Sweet! I'm glad you'd liking your Ergo. I haven't tried the hip position in a long time, but you've just encouraged me to do so!

markandmeg said...

Thanks for the info on facing outward; I'd never thought or heard of that. I'm so glad I got the ergo. I like to take long walks, too, and its so much more comfortable than my other carrier was. I appreciate you guys recommending it to us; I never would have made the change otherwise. This blog has helped me in so many ways!

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