This subject can be quite divisive so I’d like to begin by stating that I do not and will not assume to tell you what you should do with your children. This is not a post for me to tell you what I believe is “correct” or not. In turn I would like to think that once you find out which choice we made, you won’t pile on the judgement.
One of the reasons I want to talk about this, is because it can be so controversial. However one thing I quickly came to realise, is that once you cut through all the bullshit, there is no right or wrong answer.
Fawn was our first child so the first day we brought her home we didn’t have a clue was we were supposed to do. The main advice we were given was to follow the baby’s lead. Let her sleep when she wants to sleep, let her be awake when she wants to be awake. It’s about following her routine and what she needs, not about you.
Being naive to the world of parenting thats exactly what we did. We fed her when we thought she was hungry we let her be awake when she wanted to be awake and we let her sleep when she wanted to sleep, which for the most part was during the day. As you can imagine a baby that sleeps mostly through the day is hardly going to be sleeping at night.
We soon got into a situation where we just not looking after ourselves. This got me thinking, this can’t be good for Fawn. Surely taking care of ourselves would allow us to better care for her?
Routine is “Old Fashioned”
We had a conversation with the health visitor on one of her visits and aired the idea of putting Fawn on a routine. Health care professions don’t seem to be able to tell you what you should or shouldn’t do specifically, I assume it is for arse covering reasons in case anything were to ever happen, fair enough really.
Although she couldn’t tell us not to put Fawn on a routine, she strongly implied that routines are a very old fashion way of parenting and we should be thinking about what Fawn wants and not what we want.
After she left it took us all of about 5 second to call bullshit on that!
A book, on parenting?
We had a friend who put her daughter on a routine, she had this book which laid it all out for you which she said was a life saver. She gave it to us and we decided straight away routine was the way we were going.
We wrote out the routine and stuck it up in the kitchen. Our first mission was to get her to switch from sleeping through the day to sleeping at night. We needed to make sure she got all her milk intake during the day to tide her over through the night.
We planned our her meal times and nap times and decided on a “bedtime routine” consisting of nappy off time, bath time, story time and then bed for 7pm.
She took to the daytime routine instantly and had no issues adapting at all. However when it came down to putting her to sleep it took a little longer. Another perhaps controversial technical we used to overcome this was spaced soothing. It’s not quite the full cry it out method but rather a version of it. Essentially you comfort them and if they cry you time a minute before going back. Then you gradually increase the time until they are able to settle themselves back to sleep.
After about two days of using spaced soothing we were able to put her down for bed at 7pm and she would sleep through. At first we still had an 11pm feed but after a few weeks she naturally dropped this. From 8 weeks old she was sleeping from 7pm to 7am (for the most part!) we have had a few times she has woken during the night but mainly if she has been ill with a cold for example.
The book our friend so confidently claimed was a lifesaver turned out to be just that. instead of being restrictive as some people have told me routines can be, it actually gave us more freedom. During the day we knew when she was going to feed so we could prepare if we were going out. And during the night, well, we didn’t have to worry because she was sleeping through.
I have had a lot of mixed reactions with regards to routines in general and what some people think is the right or wrong thing to do. Some people can be downright rude and accusations of people being bad parents are not uncommon.
I’d like to end on this…
What works for one person, might not work for someone else. Something that works for your first child may not work for your second. So the way I see it is, if you have found something that works for you, stick with it.
Everyone is different and as long as what you are doing works for you and your baby then thats the “right” way.
Instead of judging parents for not doing the same as you, lets support them for doing what works for them!
Do you use a routine or are you baby led, or maybe a mix of both?
Let me know in the comments!