THAT is the question!
With my first baby, I had questions about EVERYTHING (see this post), and I quickly learned that if you Google anything baby-related you will find VERY passionate opinions on BOTH sides of the coin. Thankfully, we survived that first year (barely), and I’ve been MUCH more confident about my parenting decisions this time around. Well, I’ve been confident about everything except whether or not to push for a schedule…
On the one hand, I believe that babies probably do thrive on routine. (I thrive on routine, so this makes sense to me.) I also think (see previous parentheses) that my life would be easier and smoother if I knew my baby’s basic schedule and could count on consistent meal, nap, and bed times. To be totally honest, I think I’d be able to be more present with Nora when she is awake, if I knew that a nap was coming instead of having to constantly attempt to load the dishwasher, write a blog post, and make the bed in five minute intervals. Are you with me? I really LIKE the idea of a schedule for my baby…
I really like the idea of a schedule UNTIL I actually try to implement one. 😉
I nearly lost my mind trying to put Sam on a schedule; and, so far, I don’t think Nora is much different. My babies don’t seem to be “schedule-able” per se. Both of them do/did OK with a three-hour eating schedule; but, try as I might, they sleep when they feel like it and – almost exclusively – in my arms. They also laugh in the face of the wisdom that “baby may cry for five to ten minutes before falling asleep” and would cry for days if I let them (which I don’t). I like to say they have minds of their own (also gassy stomachs).
In addition to the above, and as unpopular as admitting this may be, I rather like the fact that I don’t have to be at home every day at a certain time (Sam napped basically whenever we got to it) and can go out to dinner etc. in the evenings without rushing to make a 7PM bedtime.
Sam turned out fine with no schedule. He still has a late bedtime, but he napped well for a full three years (sadly, no more) and sleeps great at night now. He also is super flexible and has almost always been able to skip a nap or stay up later as needed with virtually no problem. He is proof that going without a schedule isn’t the worst thing in the world.
Of course, there’s a flip side to that though… Our first year with Sam was HARD. And, I’m finding that life with TWO kids on no real schedule means I have virtually ZERO time to myself these days… Even when I’m home alone with Nora, twelve hours can disappear in a flash, and when I finally fall into bed at night I realize that I spent the entire day trying to get her to sleep and accomplished NOTHING else. It’s hard.
So, Nora is six weeks old today. So far, I’ve been letting her do her thing; but, I just finished reading the Moms on Call book, and I’m considering putting a little extra effort into a schedule with her… I can tell already that it will NOT be easy; but, will it be worth it?!?
I’d love some input on scheduling… Did you do it? Do you recommend it? Do you think ALL babies can be scheduled? What worked for you?
ALSO, I’m going back to work in a little over a week… Should I try to get her on a schedule before that or just wait until summer break when she will be around 12 weeks?
I would LOVE to hear your thoughts, experience, and wisdom!
Thanks in advance!
Oh Lord! The first three months are SO HARD! I caught myself thinking with both kids, “If only I could give birth to a three month-old,” which is so sad and pitiful. However, I have done Moms on Call with both girls, and I cannot sing their praises enough. My second was a ridiculously gassy baby, and even she THRIVED on this plan. Both girls are completely scheduled but also completely flexible. Because we have a routine, we can break the routine. If you’re going to do it, I really suggest starting the plan sooner than later (before 8 weeks). I have had friends start at 3 and 6 months, and they have a harder time making it work. MOC is a bit old-school, so you have to be ok with some crying. Also, they don’t have much advice for certain milestones: breaking the swaddle, sleep regressions, and dropping the paci; however, it works if you stick with it–even with a gassy, mildly colicky baby. Good luck!!!
P.S. she’s beautiful!
I like to think that with all 3 of my babies, ages 5, 3 1/2, 19 months, we had (and still have) a loose schedule. I didn’t set a firm schedule with mine when they were babies, they let me know when they wanted to sleep and eat. I learned their schedule and worked around it. And like you said, to this day we are very flexible. Do NOT worry about not getting your list accomplished during your days home with sweet Nora. Those dishes and dirty clothes will be there another day, baby girl is growing right before your eyes. Both of your babies are precious, and even though we are far, far, far from each other it’s pretty cool the similarites. God chose you and only you to be Sam and Nora’s mommy, so he will guide and equip you on how to take care of them and raise them.
I am so not an expert on this as I only have one 16 month old… but I am firmly in the “no schedule” camp. Babies know what they need when they need it… to me it was way more stressful to force my lo to sleep when he wasn’t ready or eat when he wasn’t hungry or be independent when he wasn’t ready. Right now he is like your Sam in the fact that he is SUPER flexible and are lives aren’t ruled by having to be home at a certain time or having to go home for nap (he will nap wherever we are). As an unscheduled person myself, I LOVE this. I take him most everywhere and it is fairly easy. He is also really easy to travel with since he is so flexible. I say all this with the knowledge that I may feel completely differently with another little one and maybe it doesn’t even apply to you since you have two… whatever you decide though I just say you will make the right decision because they are YOUR babies and no one else knows them like you.
I haven’t read that book, but we are a “schedule” house. With C, part of me did not want to force her to be on such a routine, but at the end of the day, it was the lifesaver for us. I don’t know how we would have survived without a schedule, her, me, a 3 year old and a traveling dad. For example, before I tried to “schedule” her, she would inevitably fall asleep or worse yet, wake up and want to eat, right when we needed to go and pick up big sis from preschool.
However, having said that, and maybe I’ve just lucked out, she is still fairly flexible…if we aren’t home at exactly nap time or bed time, she adjusts and does just fine!
My first daughter needed a schedule – badly. She couldn’t sleep anywhere. She would scream and scream in her carseat or stroller before she would even consider taking a nap anywhere but her crib. It was really, really tough. That being said, at 2.5 she has the best relationship with sleep now. Takes great naps and sleeps wonderfully at night and totally goes with the flow and is ok staying up really late or missing a nap. My second daughter is 2 weeks old and I’m trying to learn her ways 🙂 She seems more flexible in the sleep camp, but it’s still so early. I’ll have to check on Moms on Call! I really don’t see how the second can be on such a firm schedule – I feel like we’ll be trapped in the house!
With my dude, I fell firmly between the two opposing ends of the spectrum. We had a “rough” schedule but didn’t let it consume me. And like your little ones, I had a very collicky baby. His happiest place was on my chest which is why I baby wore for as long as I could (hello naptime for both of us in the recliner)! I would suggest spending a couple of days without much on the agenda and note the times your little one seems to be ready for things – naps, feedings, etc. Then plan a rough schedule around that. To this day, when we seem to have gone off track, I can usually attribute it to falling too far off the schedule. In some cases, major changes (like our move) also hurt us. But a few days of being a little more strict about and attentive to our schedule and everything gets back on track. And remember, the first 3 months are SOOOO hard (and I only have one!) so cut yourself a little slack. You’re totally right that Sam turned out great with your decision of not set schedule. Whatever you decide will work in the end.
I used baby whisper books and Good, Night Sleep Tight by the sleep lady for my sleep training! I needed a schedule/routine to keep my sanity.
Nikki Miller says
Here are my thoughts on baby scheduling:
1) Do what feels BEST for you
2) Follow your momma gut because you know what is best for you and your baby
3) I find a bedtime routine and an “approximate” bedtime way more important than a nap and eating schedule
4) When your house is on the market with a 1 and 3 year old… ALL showings and open houses will be scheduled for naptime and bedtime!
5) No kid goes to college needing a swaddle, paci and sleep machine and if they do maybe they can room with my kid so they can swaddle each other… joking.. sort of
#5–so true! Bahaha!
Liz Balazs says
From my experience a loose schedule emerges at 10 or 12 weeks. My first was not a good sleeper, but an excellent napper. She is now almost 4 and just gave up naps, but still wakes at 6am! Ouch! Our newest addition is a much better sleeper and at 11 weeks, he’s getting a schedule with naps and bedtime. He does well with things going on, but missing a nap or delaying bedtime leads to fighting sleep for a while so I try to get him down before we reach that stage. He’s at 3-4 naps a day, the longer the nap the longer he can stay up after and then he’s ready for bed around 7pm. It may seem early, but he soothes himself back to sleep well and he’s now sleeping 6-7 hrs in a block before waking. (I am a lucky mom, I know!) I think, as in all things baby, you have to work what works for you and your child. I’m a schedule person and with an older child it is nice to have pickup/drop off/errands worked out between the two.
Michelle Harris says
Will is 13 months, still no schedule because I need his schedule to fit into mine and it’s different each day. He is super flexible and we are fine with it 😉 But I’m a firm believer that every mama needs to do whatever it takes for her to be as happy and rested as possible and all else will fall into place. Enjoy that sweet thing!!
I am definitely in the “scheduled” camp. I actually find a lot of freedom in it! I generally know what to expect each day, and I enjoy that! With my first we had a loose schedule that I would follow, but with my second (12 weeks) we are following Moms on Call. I love it! She is sleeping through the night, sometimes all the way until 7am. I like that Moms on Call gives me a schudule to aim for but also a few things to stick to for those crazy days! We have been able to tweak their schedule to what best fits our family, which includes a later bedtime. I really can’t sing their praises enough!!
We were schedule-less for the first 3 months. Foot loose and fancy free, dinners out, lowes, grocery store whenever, coffee with friends. Then I realized I was miserable!! Not baby- mama. I needed to know when a break was coming as bad as that sounds. Now we have a set schedule of morning/afternoon nap, they vary it’s not always the same but it’s within the hour. Somedays the morning nap has to be in the car running errands even. When we’re home though those hours alone to nap myself, look at my phone without guilt, housework are recharging and a relief in a huge way. Bed by 7/8- which means I finally get to see my husband for 2-3 hrs before we do it all again. It’s a bummer when we can finally do stuff with friends or want to go out for a late dinner but the majority of our life we’re home at 8 so it’s what we do.
You’ve already gotten a TON of sage advice (I haven’t read it all, so I’m sorry if I repeat people!) but for my daughter, a set schedule did not work. What did work was a routine. We mostly stuck to the “eat-play-sleep” routine, which would occur at all different times of day, but at least it was something predictable. And by the time she was about six months old, we were able to settle into a schedule. But I just want to commiserate with you – even implementing that simple routine wasn’t easy! I just think little babies are hard. Hang in there mama! And by the way, Nora is too adorable!
I loved Moms on Call–not because I followed the schedule to the letter, but because it gave me a general idea of what we should/could be doing at a certain point in time. And I think it’s realistic to go for routine while realizing that some babies take a while to fall into a dependable schedule. I never felt like routine and schedule necessarily meant the same thing.
Frankly, I don’t want to add to the mom wars. I want you to know that your babies look healthy and I’m sure you’re happy and if something works for your family, that’s great! Any time we start the “well, the blah blah blah recommends so I’M not going to do that” we just make moms feel badly about something that may work for their family.
You’ve got a gorgeous girl on your hands, there, Mom. Love her well.
Stephanie Oprea says
It is so funny, because I just blogged about our schedule yesterday! We’re using the Moms on Call toddler + newborn schedule. You can see it written out in my latest post. I will warn you, it’s a little intense, but it’s really just because Finn is so young and still very much a baby himself. I would lose my mind without some sort of schedule right now, but I may feel differently if he was Sam’s age. On the plus side, I started it two weeks ago at around 4 weeks and Ryder now sleeps 6-8hrs straight at night and both boys take a 3 hr nap at the same time in the afternoon. I say do whatever works best for your family!
Your baby girl is so sweet! Seriously, that picture made me “Awww” out loud. 🙂
As a mom-to-be, I’m really appreciating all of these posts about pregnancy, birth, and newborns. I’m pinning lots of things to think about later! Scheduling isn’t something I had thought much about before, but with my personality and the timeframe I’ll be working with (of maternity leave and then back to work), I think a schedule will make sense for me and my family.
We are on a loose schedule. My husband is a cop so his schedule is never consistent. So to keep some sanity, we try to stay somewhat on a schedule so the nights he is away I am not losing it by myself. But that being said, I like that it is loose so when we have stuff planned on the weekends, I know George wont be a severe hot mess if he doesn’t have a full two hour nap. The only thing we do keep consistent is the routine before bed. Other than that we do a rough schedule, but we don’t always keep it. (Which can be hard with the planner in me)I think you have to do what makes sense for your family and your babies!