Having a baby routine has tremendous advantages and disadvantages and you need to think about your lifestyle as well as theirs when setting something up...
About 8 years ago I was at a wedding talking to a woman I knew at the afternoon reception when she suddenly announced that she had to leave. Why? Because of her baby routine. If she didn’t put her baby down to sleep within the next half hour her routine would be disrupted, the baby would never sleep again, she wouldn’t ever sleep again and she couldn’t possibly deviate from the routine. It didn’t matter that it was a close friend’s wedding. A routine is a routine. This was before me and my best friends had babies and I didn’t have a clue. I am embarrassed to say I thought she was just uptight and inflexible. I assumed when I had a child I would be so in tune with it that my baby would be calm and sleep when it needed to. Hahaha!
Fast forward a few years and Sebby arrived, obviously without a manual. I read a huge amount of articles and books about getting a baby to sleep. Some that were helpful and some that made me weep in my hormone addled state with the sheer cruelty of their suggestions. Inevitably I stupidly listened to my NCT peers and when some announced that their babies were sleeping through at 3 months I again felt I was failing. After then reading a book that really distressed me about giving them water rather than milk in the night, on the premise that eventually they stop crying and asking for it, I gave up on the idea of routines until Sebby was 5 months old. I then decided that a routine for naps and bedtime was essential for both of us and I started asking friends I trusted what had worked for them.
Having a baby in a routine has tremendous advantages and disadvantages and you need to think about your lifestyle as well as theirs when setting something up. What do you want to be able to do in the day? I wanted Sebby to sleep at particular times and in his cot which worked brilliantly, but it meant that my day was very limited in terms of when we could go out. He quickly got used to sleeping in his own bed and not on the move and so for an hour in the morning and two in the afternoon we were at home always. I would drive like a maniac to get back from swimming in time to put him down for his nap, but for me it worked. I suddenly understood why the woman left the wedding so abruptly. Sebby was happier with more sleep and so was I. When Sebby dropped his morning nap I found it hard, when he dropped his afternoon nap, I literally cried. His bedtime was always set and the build up to it is a routine that both of us still love, we never deviate from it. We have supper, a bath, cuddles and teeth, he chooses his 3 books and we read them in my bed and then he has milk and his teddies in his own.
Ask friends you trust for advice, don’t go with a set routine that makes you feel uncomfortable just because millions of books have been sold and believe that at some point in the near future you will have uninterrupted sleep again. Sadly though, Sunday morning lie ins are now a thing of your past.
For more honest parenting articles by Alexandra Hunter click here.