If you are an avid reader of our blog, you may have gathered that we pull on the collective knowledge of our NCT group of mommies. (For those living outside the UK, NCT is a maternity preparation course that brings together parents-to-be with similar due dates living in the same area). Our group is very close yet highly multicultural in that we have British, American, German, Spanish, Greek, Italian, Korean, Irish and South East Asian mommies and daddies in it. This means we have the advantage of witnessing a variety approaches to child rearing, and while we have all benefited from sharing experiences, we’ve each found our own way.
We thought, that by sharing our group’s experiences we could help other parents find their own way too. So we will kick off a new series to tackle the issue of routine vs. no routine. This blog post, written by our very own Mrs V, will focus on her experiences following a schedule with her very happy baby. (In case you were wondering, she happens to be British, but don’t be fooled- the Greeks and Spaniards in the group did the same!)
“As a Mum-to-be I found I was faced with numerous decisions to make about how best to look after my baby and was bombarded with so much conflicting advice. One of the biggest decisions was whether to follow a routine or not, with some professionals/experienced mum’s/grannies/complete strangers advocating that a routine is the only way to go and just as many advising against it (and some even going so far as to suggest it could be detrimental to your baby’s happiness). After doing my research and speaking to a number of friends who had recently had a baby, I decided to try and follow a routine after my baby was born. I have not looked back and thought I would share my top 3 reasons for this:
1. You have peace of mind that your baby is getting enough food and sleep in the day.
We all will admit that one of our biggest goals in the first few months after our baby is born is to get them to sleep through the night as soon as possible! With structured feeding and sleeping times, I found I was able to try and make sure my baby was getting enough milk and not too much sleep in the daytime, so that he gradually started to sleep for longer and longer at night the bigger he got. After 8 weeks, if he woke in the night I felt comfortable in the knowledge that he probably wasn’t hungry and giving him a cuddle, and maybe a sip of warm water, would be enough before trying to put him back to bed.
2. Your baby is relaxed and secure in the knowledge that food and sleep will be on its way.
I honestly believe that one of the biggest reasons I have a happy baby is that he knows when naps and food are coming. I think it is a general misconception that you have to push babies into a routine and that some books/professionals even advocate this. I can hand-on-heart say that I have never ever left my baby to cry. Of course you sometimes have to be flexible – your baby may be going through a growth spurt or not feeling very well so may need his bottle earlier or a bit more sleep than usual. You know your baby best.
3. It gives you flexibility to get on with life.
If you follow a routine you know when the next feed is due, which means you can get out and about/have some you time/do some chores. Once the routine was established, it was such a relief to be able to meet friends for lunch or do some shopping without worrying about whether you might have to duck into a loo somewhere to breastfeed, or whether you’d be lucky enough to make it home before the next feed.
Of course, there are times when something happens to ensure the routine goes out the window. I suggest you take a deep breath and just start again the next day”!
For those of you who are keen on following a routine, we’ve found Gina Ford’s “Contended Baby” to be very comprehensive, prescriptive (although sometimes too much) and generally helpful. After all, a lot of the maternity nurses base themselves on a variation of her approach. Don’t be fooled- establishing the routine can be a challenge at first – but as you hear from Mrs V its benefits are rewarding. If you decide to go for this, we wish you the very best of luck, and encourage you to share your experiences with us/and or reach out to us for any support/advice you may need throughout the period. It’s a ride but well worth the effort!!! Don’t forget that the moomboo can be a great companion during this process as it will allow you and your baby to adhere to a sleep routine no matter where in the world you are. Moomboo will provide the continuity needed in spite of changing environments. To learn more about moomboo take a look at our first post.
Watch this space for a post extolling the advantages of NOT setting a schedule. . .and please do let us know your thoughts and experiences!