Mar 16, 2013

New Babies and Schedules: My Experience & Thoughts.

 HJ. Photo by Bec Thorogood Photography

If you type 'schedule' and 'baby' into google, you will find pages and pages of sites devoted to helping you with your babies 'schedule'.  I had two very different experiences with each of my children so I wanted to share my experiences with you, and my thoughts about getting babies onto a schedule.  Please understand that I am not judging people that may or may not follow schedules for their babies, everyone and every baby is different.  I am just sharing my story.

Sometime during my pregnancy with HJ a friend recommended the book Babywise.  While looking for it in the bookstore (and failing to find it) I came across Save Our Sleep instead.  I flicked through and liked what I saw.  Step-by-step instructions for looking after a baby.  Strict schedules detailing how and when for feeds and naps.  Guarantees that if you followed the schedules closely, your baby would sleep through the night very quickly.  It all sounded good to me at the time as I didn't really know where to begin when it came to being a mother, and I liked the sound of someone telling me exactly how to 'do' motherhood.

When HJ was born, I quickly learned that it wasn't quite that simple. HJ wouldn't always do exactly what Save Our Sleep said he should be doing and it led to me always feeling like I was doing something wrong.  Looking back, I now know that at the time I was suffering from post-natal anxiety and I believe that it was exacerbated by trying to follow strict schedules and not getting the results the book said I would.

I began looking for some more help and that is when I managed to find Babywise.  Babywise was a little more flexible.  It gave 'guidelines' instead of strict schedules, but when I came across some Babywise support groups, blogs and websites, I found that a lot of the 'babywise' parents did actually have their babies on strict schedules also.  So between Babywise and Save Our Sleep I tried my best to keep HJ on some kind of schedule.  The schedules were somewhat beneficial - HJ was quickly learning to sleep through the night which was great, but during the day he often catnapped for only 40 minutes which would throw out the whole napping schedule given in the books and led to me being terribly stressed again that I was doing something wrong.

I look back and wonder how much enjoyment I missed out on by constantly worrying about whether he was going to sleep for 40 minutes instead of the full 1.5 hours that he was 'supposed' to.  I remember (and feel terribly guilty) for trying to hold him out or distract him if it was too early for a feed so that I could delay his feed until the 'proper time' simply because Save Our Sleep said I should.  I wish I had questioned these methods earlier, but in my haze of tiredness and anxiety all I could think was that the book said so, so I tried to follow the book.

Somewhere along the way I realised that I needed to put the books down.  Somewhere along the way the tiredness eased and the anxiety lifted.   I began to trust myself as a mother and trust my own instincts.  I remember someone pointed out to me that babies are not robots - and therefore it is impossible to write a book that gives you strict schedules that they babies will need to follow for eating/napping/sleeping.  Just as every person is different, so is every baby.  Now, don't get me wrong - I do see the benefit in having guidelines.  Guidelines are good and can be very helpful.  But they should always be just that, guidelines.  And, they should come with disclaimers such as, 'a good nap for a young baby is 1.5 - 2 hours,  BUT some babies will just not need that much sleep, they will handle quite well with less sleep and NO MATTER what you do to try and change that, you will not be able to.. so just put your feet up and relax.  Enjoy the extra cuddles and extra playtime. You're doing a good job.  Enjoy it.'

Before Chooky arrived I had promised myself that I would be more flexible.  I would aim for the recommended guidelines but I would be much more flexible and tune-in to her individual needs as a baby.   I'm so glad I did as we had quite a stressful time with Chooky in those early months (severe reflux and a hospital stay - but they are another post entirely).  There was no way that a strict schedule would have worked for her even if I had of wanted to use one.

I guess the moral of my rambles is, read lots of different books based on different parenting styles (not just one, or even two).  Arm yourself with as much information as possible, but then put them all away and just get to know your baby.  Listen to your baby and get to know their unique little personality.  Then you will be able to figure out something that works for the both of you.
Enjoy your new baby.  They are special times that fly by ever so quickly.


8 comments:

  1. Ahh that was so refreshing! I read baby wise too. It helped a lot but I went with advice from mum over everything, she was my lifesaver on what to do.

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  2. This sounds so familiar to me, I was just the same when my first was born. My book of choice was The Baby Whisperer and I tried so hard to follow it relgiously. I'd often try and string my little girl out until "feed time" and spent hours worrying about her not following as she should. In retrospect I still think it was a useful guide, but with my second I'd learnt not to panic so much. As a new Mum there's so much to learn that the reassurance of a book telling me how & when was great for me.

    Kate x
    Just Pirouette and Carry On...

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  3. Now following via Bloglovin. Would LOVE for you to also link up on my Bloglovin Blog Hop. The link is below:

    Bloglovin Blog Hop

    Take care,
    Meg
    Happy Kids,Inc

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  4. My sister was a 'by the book' new mom, whereas I was the 'fly by the seat of your pants' version. ;)

    Such a GORGEOUS baby!! :)

    Psycho Mother Nature

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  5. I was the same way at first- trying schedule after schedule. I had pages and pages of notes. Once I gave that up, things got a lot easier. Much better, in my opinion, to just go with the flow. They're only little for a little while- my wee one is almost a year old!

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  6. Oops- forgot to mention I saw your post on Ducks n'a Row Blog Hop!

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  7. Thank you for sharing your experience and wisdom here. I am so glad you added it as a link on Wonderful Wednesday Blog Hop. Hope to see you again this week!
    Blessings,
    Sinea Ducks ‘n a Row

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Thank you for your comment! I read and greatly appreciate every single one.

Aanie x