Thursday, 29 March 2012

Sacking the Schedule

I know, I know. I really hesitate to bring this up because schedules (of the baby sleeping, eating, playing variety) are somewhat of a marmite subject for mums. But as usual I have to have my two pennyworth so here goes...

I like schedules, I do. I am all for (trying) to instil some good habits in my little monster before the point where it becomes really painful to break the bad ones. So it may be surprising that I've sacked mine off.

And the reason?

One of my best friends has had a great experience with establishing a routine and her son sleeps through 7pm-7am with set naptimes during the day. When I heard this, I wanted a piece of that...who wouldn't? So, I read up on the approach and I really thought I could make it work. Having a little instruction manual for how to deal with the (albeit cute) creature from outer space that had descended upon our household seemed really appealing. On top of that, the midwives and doctors seemed to support the approach too, by instructing me that my little one should be fed every 3 hours.

The thing is, what I -heard- was that he only needs to feed every 3 hours, when in fact they meant 'don't leave him any longer than 3 hours'. Five weeks down the line, I was tired and tearful and frustrated. Josh didn't seem to understand that he was supposed to be able to last 3 hours between feeds, he wanted feeding every 1-2 hours. He was telling us he was hungry - chewing his fists, rooting, turning his head - but the schedule and advice made us question everything. Perhaps he's just feeding for comfort? If he's only supposed to feed every 3 hours, perhaps all this feeding will make him overweight? We tried to stick to the schedule and distract him from his perceived hunger. We assumed his crying was overtiredness and tried to settle him.

Reading this back, it sounds obvious that he was hungry and I feel guilty now for even admitting that we didn't immediately feed him. But in trying so hard to do the right thing, we got it wrong.

So at 6 weeks I canned the schedule, at least for the time being, until Josh really can last longer between feeds. Yes, it's exhausting being a human milk machine and yes, I often feel like a prisoner on the sofa because going out just doesn't seem like an option. But Josh is happier and I am less stressed because I've accepted that right now, my son needs me. He needs to feed often and snuggle against me to sleep. I don't think I will spoil him by feeding on demand at this stage and the breastfeeding specialist assures me you can't overfeed a breastfed baby. For now, I will try to just take pleasure in this time to bond with him - there's plenty of time for making plans tomorrow.


  1. I found it took a while to get into any kind of routine for a similar reason. Breastmilk is supposed to be digested quicker so I figured perhaps this is why the 3 hours was optimistic.

    I used the schedule as a guide as to how much sleep/feeds might be needed the only thing I stuck to once night and day were sorted out was bedtime being 7pm so there is adult time in the evenings.

    I liked the idea of Tracey Hogg/ Baby Whisperer EASY routine (rather than schedule) Eat, Activity, Sleep, You time. This didn't work for us for quite a long while as whilst my little boy could last for 3 hours between feeds he needed to sleep every 2 hours so it all got out of synch. For us this started to work out at about 3/4 months. Sometimes it seems like there are more days when the routine is in the bin than not. I spent a long time agonising over routines and came to the conclusion that as long as they're happy and healthy then you're doing the right thing.

    1. We sound pretty similar. We have done a bath and bed routine with a 7pm bedtime since about day 8. I think starting it so early on he's never known anything different and it works well for us. Some nights he fusses and doesn't settle until 8.30 or something but most of the time he is asleep around 7 and the 2 hours of 'us' time in the evening is soooo nice.

  2. Yeah, they are pretty much eating machines until sometime after the 6 week mark as they are in a constant growth spurt. We feed between 3-4 hours and have flirted with a couple of 5 hour stretches, but that lasted a we are back to 3.4 and 4 hours!

  3. Oooh 3 hours would be a dream! I normally get one 3 hour stretch first thing in the morning when there is a good supply of milk on offer. After that my supply dwindles a lot and I normally get a max of 2 hours! Hey ho. It's lucky he's cute ;)

    Thanks for stopping by xxx