Getting a baby on a schedule

As we all know, humans like routine. So one of the cornerstones of parenting babies is the idea that babies need to get into a routine, and that things will go more smoothly for everyone once the routine is solid.

The problem can come in when someone tells us that we HAVE TO get our babies on a schedule from the get-go or the entire world will crumble apart. Let's look at what's wrong with that idea:

1. Schedule vs. routine. Routine is awesome. Wake up around the same time, eat around the same time, see the same people, do the same things around the same time. It gives us a structure, and lets us trust that things are going well so we can be free to think and work and grow within the structure. Schedule, though, indicates that we're on the minute, and if we get behind we're somehow doing something wrong. Is it semantics? Maybe. But one indicates that time is working for you, and the other inducates that you're trying to keep up with time.

2. Anyone who has a baby who's 6 months or older knows that babies in the first 12 weeks are a total crapshoot. Everything is so radicaly different from day to day, or certainly week to week, that trying to impose some external structure on a baby is difficult at best and extremely stressful (for you or the baby or both) at worst.

3. If a baby is healthy and his or her needs for food and comfort and touch are met, the baby's system will regulate and the baby will fall into a routine. Whether you impose it or not. (The issue then becomes manipulating the baby's routine so it intersects more closely with the routine you want the baby to have.) Some babies fall into a routine early (around 8-12 weeks) but some don't really until 4-5 months.

4. Don't believe the hype. All of the "you must impose a schedule as soon as possible" sounds to me a lot like just another way to make us feel bad about ourselves if we're not doing the exact right things at the exact right times.

5. Like everything else about parenting, routines are a collaborative effort between you and your child. Not something either of you imposes on the other, unless you want to get into a bad control game.

So, those of you who have infants, have your babies settled into a reliable routine yet?

Those of you who have older kids, do you remember when your babies settled into routines? How much of that was you, and how much of that was the baby, and how much was collaborative?

My younger one settled into a routine really early. He liked a 7:30 bedtime from a few weeks old, and even though the daytime stuff took a few months to stabilize, that bedtime stuck for years. My older one seemed more chaotic to me, but that was probably because he was my first and it took me longer to recognize patterns, and to realize that I wasn't doing anything wrong.

How did it go for you?

 

116 thoughts on “Getting a baby on a schedule”

  1. The routine was set at about 4 weeks, but it was loose and mostly indicated that feedings happened 2.5 hours after the last one and naps were had (in the stroller or whatever).The routine for the 2nd child was just an extension of what the first child did, so it was totally fine. I never worried about a schedule until I went back to work and actually needed the kids in the car at a certain time in the morning. That was kind of stressful, but it eventually evened itself out.

  2. I don’t even remember when my son fell into a predictable routine but I believe it was around 4 months or so. I knew he’d be ready for a nap around 10 AM and then again around 2 PM and then bedtime routine (bath, book, boob, crib) around 7 PM.The thing that drives me crazy about “scheduling” is when people insist you do it from day one with a breastfed baby. Not gonna work. If I had a nickle for everytime I hear from someone who is trying to put a newborn on a strict feeding schedule that their milk “just dried up!”…..

  3. Routine is so very important. And the baby will in many ways impose it on you. I.e. sleep – whether you co-sleep, don’t co-sleep, do CIO, don’t do CIO or any other permutation, the best thing you can do for your child and family is create a routine based upon what the child needs. Same thing every night at the time that the child needs. I really learned this when my 8 week old started screaming in the evenings at a time she had previously nursed through. Turns out she was tired and needed to go to bed earlier. So we moved the bedtime routine up.Routines become super-important too when kids get older. Until they are about 4, 4.5 anything out of the ordinary threw my kids for a loop. It doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth doing (i.e. vacation) but it is a window into how valuable the routine of their daily life is – Wake up, breakfast, school, home, lunch, nap, afternoon activity, Mommy home, dinner, bad. Anything to disrupt that has a ripple effect.

  4. I agree with your thinking in general – but it does include the assumption that your child is healthy and mature enough to make his/her needs known right from birth. Not true for all preemies or special needs kids, who may well benefit from a schedule at first because they can still be too “sleepy” to wake up to eat, etc. I disntintly remember my all-out-AP friend clucking at me waking my skinny, sleepy 5-pounders, and that kind of stung, but I knew from experience that my babies would sleep 6-8 hours without a feed if let be – too long for them at that time. I had my twins on the NICU schedule of feeding every three hours right after a diaper change, up until a few weeks after their due date when they’d been gaining well for a while and were clearly healthy and waking up to feed on their own. After that, we were on more of a routine and I never woke anyone up to eat, but I still put them down awake for naps at more or less the same times every day without having to let them cry. Sometimes I think there was a weird blessing in having to have my kids on a schedule to make sure they ate in the beginning – they were great sleepers. Still, if I had one healthy infant, I’m sure I’d feed him/her when asked to and let him/her sleep as she wished until a routine presented itself more clearly a few months in.

  5. I agree with your thinking in general – but it does include the assumption that your child is healthy and mature enough to make his/her needs known right from birth. Not true for all preemies or special needs kids, who may well benefit from a schedule at first because they can still be too “sleepy” to wake up to eat, etc. I disntintly remember my all-out-AP friend clucking at me waking my skinny, sleepy 5-pounders, and that kind of stung, but I knew from experience that my babies would sleep 6-8 hours without a feed if let be – too long for them at that time. I had my twins on the NICU schedule of feeding every three hours right after a diaper change, up until a few weeks after their due date when they’d been gaining well for a while and were clearly healthy and waking up to feed on their own. After that, we were on more of a routine and I never woke anyone up to eat, but I still put them down awake for naps at more or less the same times every day without having to let them cry. Sometimes I think there was a weird blessing in having to have my kids on a schedule to make sure they ate in the beginning – they were great sleepers. Still, if I had one healthy infant, I’m sure I’d feed him/her when asked to and let him/her sleep as she wished until a routine presented itself more clearly a few months in.

  6. I agree with your thinking in general – but it does include the assumption that your child is healthy and mature enough to make his/her needs known right from birth. Not true for all preemies or special needs kids, who may well benefit from a schedule at first because they can still be too “sleepy” to wake up to eat, etc. I disntintly remember my all-out-AP friend clucking at me waking my skinny, sleepy 5-pounders, and that kind of stung, but I knew from experience that my babies would sleep 6-8 hours without a feed if let be – too long for them at that time. I had my twins on the NICU schedule of feeding every three hours right after a diaper change, up until a few weeks after their due date when they’d been gaining well for a while and were clearly healthy and waking up to feed on their own. After that, we were on more of a routine and I never woke anyone up to eat, but I still put them down awake for naps at more or less the same times every day without having to let them cry. Sometimes I think there was a weird blessing in having to have my kids on a schedule to make sure they ate in the beginning – they were great sleepers. Still, if I had one healthy infant, I’m sure I’d feed him/her when asked to and let him/her sleep as she wished until a routine presented itself more clearly a few months in.

  7. I agree with your thinking in general – but it does include the assumption that your child is healthy and mature enough to make his/her needs known right from birth. Not true for all preemies or special needs kids, who may well benefit from a schedule at first because they can still be too “sleepy” to wake up to eat, etc. I disntintly remember my all-out-AP friend clucking at me waking my skinny, sleepy 5-pounders, and that kind of stung, but I knew from experience that my babies would sleep 6-8 hours without a feed if let be – too long for them at that time. I had my twins on the NICU schedule of feeding every three hours right after a diaper change, up until a few weeks after their due date when they’d been gaining well for a while and were clearly healthy and waking up to feed on their own. After that, we were on more of a routine and I never woke anyone up to eat, but I still put them down awake for naps at more or less the same times every day without having to let them cry. Sometimes I think there was a weird blessing in having to have my kids on a schedule to make sure they ate in the beginning – they were great sleepers. Still, if I had one healthy infant, I’m sure I’d feed him/her when asked to and let him/her sleep as she wished until a routine presented itself more clearly a few months in.

  8. I agree with your thinking in general – but it does include the assumption that your child is healthy and mature enough to make his/her needs known right from birth. Not true for all preemies or special needs kids, who may well benefit from a schedule at first because they can still be too “sleepy” to wake up to eat, etc. I disntintly remember my all-out-AP friend clucking at me waking my skinny, sleepy 5-pounders, and that kind of stung, but I knew from experience that my babies would sleep 6-8 hours without a feed if let be – too long for them at that time. I had my twins on the NICU schedule of feeding every three hours right after a diaper change, up until a few weeks after their due date when they’d been gaining well for a while and were clearly healthy and waking up to feed on their own. After that, we were on more of a routine and I never woke anyone up to eat, but I still put them down awake for naps at more or less the same times every day without having to let them cry. Sometimes I think there was a weird blessing in having to have my kids on a schedule to make sure they ate in the beginning – they were great sleepers. Still, if I had one healthy infant, I’m sure I’d feed him/her when asked to and let him/her sleep as she wished until a routine presented itself more clearly a few months in.

  9. I agree with your thinking in general – but it does include the assumption that your child is healthy and mature enough to make his/her needs known right from birth. Not true for all preemies or special needs kids, who may well benefit from a schedule at first because they can still be too “sleepy” to wake up to eat, etc. I disntintly remember my all-out-AP friend clucking at me waking my skinny, sleepy 5-pounders, and that kind of stung, but I knew from experience that my babies would sleep 6-8 hours without a feed if let be – too long for them at that time. I had my twins on the NICU schedule of feeding every three hours right after a diaper change, up until a few weeks after their due date when they’d been gaining well for a while and were clearly healthy and waking up to feed on their own. After that, we were on more of a routine and I never woke anyone up to eat, but I still put them down awake for naps at more or less the same times every day without having to let them cry. Sometimes I think there was a weird blessing in having to have my kids on a schedule to make sure they ate in the beginning – they were great sleepers. Still, if I had one healthy infant, I’m sure I’d feed him/her when asked to and let him/her sleep as she wished until a routine presented itself more clearly a few months in.

  10. I agree with your thinking in general – but it does include the assumption that your child is healthy and mature enough to make his/her needs known right from birth. Not true for all preemies or special needs kids, who may well benefit from a schedule at first because they can still be too “sleepy” to wake up to eat, etc. I disntintly remember my all-out-AP friend clucking at me waking my skinny, sleepy 5-pounders, and that kind of stung, but I knew from experience that my babies would sleep 6-8 hours without a feed if let be – too long for them at that time. I had my twins on the NICU schedule of feeding every three hours right after a diaper change, up until a few weeks after their due date when they’d been gaining well for a while and were clearly healthy and waking up to feed on their own. After that, we were on more of a routine and I never woke anyone up to eat, but I still put them down awake for naps at more or less the same times every day without having to let them cry. Sometimes I think there was a weird blessing in having to have my kids on a schedule to make sure they ate in the beginning – they were great sleepers. Still, if I had one healthy infant, I’m sure I’d feed him/her when asked to and let him/her sleep as she wished until a routine presented itself more clearly a few months in.

  11. I agree with your thinking in general – but it does include the assumption that your child is healthy and mature enough to make his/her needs known right from birth. Not true for all preemies or special needs kids, who may well benefit from a schedule at first because they can still be too “sleepy” to wake up to eat, etc. I disntintly remember my all-out-AP friend clucking at me waking my skinny, sleepy 5-pounders, and that kind of stung, but I knew from experience that my babies would sleep 6-8 hours without a feed if let be – too long for them at that time. I had my twins on the NICU schedule of feeding every three hours right after a diaper change, up until a few weeks after their due date when they’d been gaining well for a while and were clearly healthy and waking up to feed on their own. After that, we were on more of a routine and I never woke anyone up to eat, but I still put them down awake for naps at more or less the same times every day without having to let them cry. Sometimes I think there was a weird blessing in having to have my kids on a schedule to make sure they ate in the beginning – they were great sleepers. Still, if I had one healthy infant, I’m sure I’d feed him/her when asked to and let him/her sleep as she wished until a routine presented itself more clearly a few months in.

  12. I agree with your thinking in general – but it does include the assumption that your child is healthy and mature enough to make his/her needs known right from birth. Not true for all preemies or special needs kids, who may well benefit from a schedule at first because they can still be too “sleepy” to wake up to eat, etc. I disntintly remember my all-out-AP friend clucking at me waking my skinny, sleepy 5-pounders, and that kind of stung, but I knew from experience that my babies would sleep 6-8 hours without a feed if let be – too long for them at that time. I had my twins on the NICU schedule of feeding every three hours right after a diaper change, up until a few weeks after their due date when they’d been gaining well for a while and were clearly healthy and waking up to feed on their own. After that, we were on more of a routine and I never woke anyone up to eat, but I still put them down awake for naps at more or less the same times every day without having to let them cry. Sometimes I think there was a weird blessing in having to have my kids on a schedule to make sure they ate in the beginning – they were great sleepers. Still, if I had one healthy infant, I’m sure I’d feed him/her when asked to and let him/her sleep as she wished until a routine presented itself more clearly a few months in.

  13. I agree with your thinking in general – but it does include the assumption that your child is healthy and mature enough to make his/her needs known right from birth. Not true for all preemies or special needs kids, who may well benefit from a schedule at first because they can still be too “sleepy” to wake up to eat, etc. I disntintly remember my all-out-AP friend clucking at me waking my skinny, sleepy 5-pounders, and that kind of stung, but I knew from experience that my babies would sleep 6-8 hours without a feed if let be – too long for them at that time. I had my twins on the NICU schedule of feeding every three hours right after a diaper change, up until a few weeks after their due date when they’d been gaining well for a while and were clearly healthy and waking up to feed on their own. After that, we were on more of a routine and I never woke anyone up to eat, but I still put them down awake for naps at more or less the same times every day without having to let them cry. Sometimes I think there was a weird blessing in having to have my kids on a schedule to make sure they ate in the beginning – they were great sleepers. Still, if I had one healthy infant, I’m sure I’d feed him/her when asked to and let him/her sleep as she wished until a routine presented itself more clearly a few months in.

  14. I agree with your thinking in general – but it does include the assumption that your child is healthy and mature enough to make his/her needs known right from birth. Not true for all preemies or special needs kids, who may well benefit from a schedule at first because they can still be too “sleepy” to wake up to eat, etc. I disntintly remember my all-out-AP friend clucking at me waking my skinny, sleepy 5-pounders, and that kind of stung, but I knew from experience that my babies would sleep 6-8 hours without a feed if let be – too long for them at that time. I had my twins on the NICU schedule of feeding every three hours right after a diaper change, up until a few weeks after their due date when they’d been gaining well for a while and were clearly healthy and waking up to feed on their own. After that, we were on more of a routine and I never woke anyone up to eat, but I still put them down awake for naps at more or less the same times every day without having to let them cry. Sometimes I think there was a weird blessing in having to have my kids on a schedule to make sure they ate in the beginning – they were great sleepers. Still, if I had one healthy infant, I’m sure I’d feed him/her when asked to and let him/her sleep as she wished until a routine presented itself more clearly a few months in.

  15. I agree with your thinking in general – but it does include the assumption that your child is healthy and mature enough to make his/her needs known right from birth. Not true for all preemies or special needs kids, who may well benefit from a schedule at first because they can still be too “sleepy” to wake up to eat, etc. I disntintly remember my all-out-AP friend clucking at me waking my skinny, sleepy 5-pounders, and that kind of stung, but I knew from experience that my babies would sleep 6-8 hours without a feed if let be – too long for them at that time. I had my twins on the NICU schedule of feeding every three hours right after a diaper change, up until a few weeks after their due date when they’d been gaining well for a while and were clearly healthy and waking up to feed on their own. After that, we were on more of a routine and I never woke anyone up to eat, but I still put them down awake for naps at more or less the same times every day without having to let them cry. Sometimes I think there was a weird blessing in having to have my kids on a schedule to make sure they ate in the beginning – they were great sleepers. Still, if I had one healthy infant, I’m sure I’d feed him/her when asked to and let him/her sleep as she wished until a routine presented itself more clearly a few months in.

  16. I agree with your thinking in general – but it does include the assumption that your child is healthy and mature enough to make his/her needs known right from birth. Not true for all preemies or special needs kids, who may well benefit from a schedule at first because they can still be too “sleepy” to wake up to eat, etc. I disntintly remember my all-out-AP friend clucking at me waking my skinny, sleepy 5-pounders, and that kind of stung, but I knew from experience that my babies would sleep 6-8 hours without a feed if let be – too long for them at that time. I had my twins on the NICU schedule of feeding every three hours right after a diaper change, up until a few weeks after their due date when they’d been gaining well for a while and were clearly healthy and waking up to feed on their own. After that, we were on more of a routine and I never woke anyone up to eat, but I still put them down awake for naps at more or less the same times every day without having to let them cry. Sometimes I think there was a weird blessing in having to have my kids on a schedule to make sure they ate in the beginning – they were great sleepers. Still, if I had one healthy infant, I’m sure I’d feed him/her when asked to and let him/her sleep as she wished until a routine presented itself more clearly a few months in.

  17. @ Elita: Word.I really dislike scheduling, if only because it implies that each day will be exactly the same as the one before or the one after. Babies aren’t like that – even now (baby is 10 months) sometimes he doesn’t have good sleeps, or wakes up early, and then (gasp!) he needs an earlier nap time. Saying “Nap is at 9!” would then require keeping him awake until he is overtired, or letting him cry when he is hungry. I felt like my children fell into routines in various stages – like levels of organization from early organizing (a basic lengthening of feeding times and reduction of cluster nursing around 4-6 weeks and larger chunks of time sleeping at night) to daytime organizing (clear nap times emerging, clearer and more spaced feedings, 4-6 months). But I still put them down when they are tired, and feed them when they are hungry, esp the baby who is still nursing.
    Oh, and one of the best pieces of advice I ever got for newborn sleeping was to make sure in the first weeks when you’re trying to teach them that nighttime is for sleeping is for everyone to go to bed at the same time, so the whole house is dark and quiet when the baby is put to bed. I always went to sleep with my babies, and I think this helped them organize their early sleep.
    It’s also kind of ironic that the desire for a routine can be so strong with a baby, but a toddler’s deep need for complete daily repetition (a REAL schedule, since they often have no flexibility) can be maddening!

  18. I read a million times not to schedule my baby- to feed on demand, etc. My first daughter came home from the nicu already scheduled. She nursed every three hours, slept for three hours at a time, etc. When my son was born, he came home right away, and I tried feeding on demand, etc. It killed me. So I started scheduling him to nurse every 2-4 hours, depending on what he needed. It was a loose schedule, but it saved my breastfeeding. Nursing on demand is fine for many people, but I think the constant pressure and the exhaustion that can come with it makes a lot of women stop nursing. My son had to wait for two hours after a full feeding before he nursed again, but he didn’t starve- he thrived. I figured that if the doctors thought my premature daughter could wait 3 hours between feedings, surely my 9-pound son would make it. My milk supply didn’t suffer, my nipples stopped bleeding and I got the energy to continue breastfeeding him for another 18 months. If scheduling him wouldn’t have been an option, it would have taken about a month before he was on formula. For us, scheduling was the best way.

  19. Initial routine was set at 8 weeks, but was radically readjusted at 4 months, 6 months and then again at 15 months to the current schedule we have (21 months).That said, my kid also thrives on structure, so once he initiated a routine, sticking with it on our end worked best for him until he showed signs of needing it changed.

  20. I’m fairly anti-routine, and my daughter is too – she loves it when the bedtime routine gets switched up, stories read the wrong way, skipping bits and adding new things. It was a real struggle when she was tiny because she just didn’t want to sleep. Ever. And we were trying to just go with the flow and do things according to her internal schedule which mean that someone wound up staying up with her until 2am on a very regular basis. Part of the problem was that we really wanted to co-sleep and it turns out that doesn’t work for her at all (which took us forever to figure out). I think things would have gone better if we had tried to impose a very loose external schedule, I would have gotten more rest, breastfeeding might not have been a total disaster, we might have figured out that she really needed to be left alone in order to sleep.I think the trick might be to figure out how much of a routine/schedule *you* need, and then adjust yourself to the baby’s needs within that context. Because your baby’s health is important, but so is the mother’s health, and I wound up totally neglecting myself in a desperate attempt to follow the baby’s lead. Which is probably just as destructive as putting the baby on a rigid schedule and refusing to adjust it as necessary. But as a new mom I really had no idea what I needed – minimum amounts of sleep, minimum number of consecutive hours of sleep in order to function properly, etc.
    It took us over a year to establish a routine that actually managed to include enough sleep for everyone. In retrospect I think we probably could have done that sooner and we would have been much happier.

  21. A key for me to get a schedule/routine was looking for the early signs of sleepiness (which I recall are somewhat subtle and a longish list). Also, it was kind of a loop – eat – play – nap. [maybe in a different order, and probably a bottle/story in before nap, and diaper was kind of key also].

  22. Thanks for the great topic. As a first-time mom of a now 6 month-old, I’ve got a couple of thoughts on this topic:First, as with a lot of things, I wonder how it must have been hundreds of years ago when people were raising kids. Did they have the ability to put a kid down in a crib when he/she was sleepy. Did their lives have a consistent routine the way we think of it? The answer is probably yes and no. But sometimes when I read books about what you are “supposed” to do, I think about all of the times and cultures in which healthy babies are raised and try not to take it all to literally.
    Second, I think our daughter got into a rough bedtime sleep schedule around 2 months or so. Before that, she had been going to sleep around 8:30 or 9. But I read about babies sometimes needing earlier bedtimes and little by little she kept pushing her’s back. She now goes to sleep “around” 6:00-6:45pm at night. Anytime later than that is not good news. We do have a bedtime routine (song, books, nurse)that I think works, but I don’t really know. But her nap and feeding schedules are still pretty much dictated by the “It it’s been about 2 hours it’s probably time” rule.
    Third, I’d like to hear more from moms who have to work. I work full time and my husband works 80% so we have the following schedule: Monday at home with dad, Tuesday child-care sharing with mom at someone else’s house, Weds. day care, Thurs home with dad, Friday day care. This is what we we do to make the most of our flexible schedules. And our daughter seems just fine with all of this. So what’s that about?
    Finally, I always love to come back to Ask Moxie after feeling brainwashed by “those books”. I feel like “those books” create a rigidity of thinking that makes it seem like it’s never ok to change the routine. But really, if a couple of times a month your child doesn’t get great sleep because you are also trying to have a life, is that really so bad?

  23. Our 5 month old has had a very predictable bedtime. I remember her falling asleep at about 8:30 [sometimes as early as 7:30] from the age of 6 weeks. We are still waiting on the naps to regulate more.We can expect that about two hours after she wakes up- she will need a nap. The other naps, just depend on how stimulated she is on any given day.We have started a nightime routine- diaper, change of clothes, story, sleep sack. But,she could easily fall asleep without it. Sometimes we get through the routine and she is not ready at all for bed so we rock for like 40 minutes. Othertimes, she is crying by the end of the routine because she is overtired and we again have to rock for 40 minutes. BUT, when we get it right- we hang out with her for 10ish minutes and there is no crying! [that is the goal right- trying to get it right more often then not]I think we just have a routine because we are suppose to and hopefully we are doing this for the future.
    Distractable baby SAY what!

  24. 6 weeks for no. 2. That was when she started wanting to go to bed at around 7.00. That was also the time that she started sleeping nights ( 12 hours!). This ended at around 16 weeks though and everythign turned to seed. Naps were nonexistant till around 7 months when we sleep trained her and she settled into a proper routine (2 decent naps and 7 o’clock bed-time).6 months for no.1. That was when he would consistently nap for 3 hours in the afternoon and another hour in the morning.

  25. I’m data driven, so I started graphing his awake alert time, feedings and sleeping. Since life was pretty chaotic, I was using a small scrap of paper and a crayon to do this. It turned out to be more useful than something meticulous. I couldn’t see exact data points, but what I could see was a trend. He “usually” fell asleep about 9 in the morning and “usually” slept for an hour, etc. I then began to watch him as it neared 9am to see if he seemed ready to go down. This way he led the routine, but helped me to find out that it really was there.

  26. Hmmm…I honestly can’t remember when DS fell into a routine. I think it was probably on the later side. I seem to remember starting to figure out the routine at around 3 months (ah yes, probably just before the first sleep regression when it went out the window).As @Moxie said in reference to her eldest, it was hard for me to figure out patterns at the beginning. I had no freaking clue what I was looking for. And it was hard to make sense of what I did see.
    What helped us get into a routine was starting with the 2/3/4 rule for naps. And then everything else just fell into place.
    What I remember more vividly is that for at least the first year, I found external changes to our routine (DS going to daycare, at 11 mos, me going back to work) to be extremely difficult and stressful. Actually, come to think of it, it was more the imposing of a schedule on our routine that I found very difficult and stressful. Eventually it all comes together, but yeah, a challenge. I still kind of dread changes to our schedule now for exactly the reason @Erin points out: ‘a toddler’s deep need for complete daily repetition (a REAL schedule, since they often have no flexibility) can be maddening!’
    I just came across some daily routines I wrote out to manage the transition to a new situation. It made me smile to look at them (and to remember how important it was at the time), but I’m glad that as DS gets older it gets easier to wing it, even if it’s only now and then.

  27. I love that you make the distinction between routine and schedule. Routine is key with my 2 kids, but scheduling is more important for my younger (2 y.o. DD) than my DS (5). She gets sleepy at almost exactly the same time every night. Her naps are very predictable.My son, on the other hand, has fought schedules from day 1. He was a very inconsistent sleeper, eater, etc. Even today, he fights bedtime every night. He’s not very tuned into his body, so can’t tell that the reason he’s feeling so badly is his need for food or sleep. It makes it much more challenging.

  28. The best advice we had was this: in the first few weeks and months, think of your baby as weather. Just because it rained at 7:30 yesterday, doesn’t mean it will rain at 7:30 again today.That said, my 11-week-old is being helped into a routine that seems to be working pretty well. Lights out at 9pm, no noise, talking or distractions. He still needs a feed during the night, but this is in the dark, and my wife wears headphones while she watches rubbish on TV. Nothing interesting here, might as well be asleep.
    6am and I get up. Lights on, radio on, morning time! Feed, change, interact for a couple of hours while Mummy sleeps, and then it’s off to work for Daddy.
    This has all been achieved through negotiation with the baby. There’s no schedule most of the time, but there’s a routine emerging. This is our first, so we have absolutely no idea what we’re doing, but we do know that the truth of our baby, and the truth of us as parents, means that we could never achieve anything rigidly fixed to a schedule. What an awful life that would be.
    James

  29. I think there are babies *and adults* who are all along the spectrum of routine-dependence. Luckily for my non-routine husband and me, we got a non-routine baby too. Things did settle into more predictability around 4 months or so, but we’ve never had an absolute set mealtime or bedtime – we eat when people are hungry (scheduling around other stuff that’s happening) and we go to bed when people are tired and/or things are done happening. Mouse has always been low-sleep-need in addition to being low-routine, so we’ve never worried about her not getting enough sleep (us, yes, at times!) and we were blessed with an early end to the hell of napping. Right now (much later days, she’s almost 7) we’re teaching her to be really aware of when she’s hungry, which seems to be a bigger issue for her.We eat breakfast between 8 and 10, lunch between 12:30 and 3, dinner between 6 and 8. Mouse can have a snack if she’s hungry inbetween. Generally Mouse is in bed by 9:30 or 10, but if something interesting is going on we let her stay up a bit.
    I’m just posting this for folks who find their baby doesn’t care that much about routine and possibly they don’t either. It is perfectly fine not to have one if your baby is cool with it. You might even consider that it would be useful to vary things, so your baby won’t become dependent on a restrictive routine and make it hard when you want to switch things up. Just a perspective from one extreme.

  30. My policy is: I don’t expect from my baby anything that I wouldn’t even expect from an adult.I don’t always go 3 or 4 hours (why is always 3 and 4 in these books?) without eating (OR drinking — breastmilk is for thirst too). I don’t sleep at the same time for same duration everyday. I don’t eat the same amount of food everyday. I don’t eat, play, and sleep in that order. I don’t force feed myself a huge dinner in order to sleep longer.
    Do I sleep and eat at random times? No, but I think in the end it’s a matter of semantics, like Moxie said.
    I’ve lurked on parenting forums that follow certain books/methods, and while those parents would say they’re following a routine/schedule, they spend a huge amount of time tweaking and stressing — because their babies just won’t follow it to the letter. Then I realized their days probably looked a lot like mine, only I don’t write everything down.
    I think it’s important to understand (1) what’s typical for a baby that age and (2) the individual needs of your baby. For example, you need to know that a young baby usually can’t stay up for longer than 1-2 hours, so you don’t end up overtiring your baby, etc.
    I follow my 6-month-old son’s cues, keeping in mind everything I’ve read about the ‘typical’ baby. I put him to bed when he seems sleepy. I nurse him when he seems to want it, whether it’s been 30 minutes or 3 hours since his last nursing. 90% of his life, he’s gone to bed between 6:00-7:30pm without any difficulty. I don’t sweat the few nights he went to bed at 5:30 or 8:30.

  31. This post would have been invaluable to me had I read it before having kids. I definitely fell into the “I’m a terrible mother because I can’t get my baby on a routine” hype with my first, who will be 4 on Wednesday. She was super colicky and fussy (she still is fussy!) and never slept. She did settle into a bedtime by around 2 months, but naps with her were always a guessing game. I was actually happy when she gave up napping shortly before turning 2 1/2. My youngest, now 20 months, also settled into a bedtime within 2 months, but has definitely shifted that bedtime within the last year. It was 6PM, but is now ~8:30PM. We put our oldest to bed at 9PM, but she rarely falls asleep before 9:30PM. I would say that our life now is pretty scheduled and we can even push the limits of that schedule a bit now that my youngest is turning the corner toward 2 years old. I should mention, too, that my oldest never ever ate on a schedule and that was really hard, too. My youngest did a bit better in that area.I never had success with parent-led scheduling and most of the first two years of my oldest daughter’s life were very “on-demand”. It was a bit rough at times, but we’ve moved so far beyond that now that it’s just a memory, and even a dim memory at that. My point, is that it gets better and the family as a whole moves through those challenging times.

  32. My kids are 7, 4, and 15 months. All of them fell into a routine at about 3-4 months. For the most part I just followed their lead, but I always did (do) try to encourage a reasonable bedtime routine, for my sanity as much as anything else.

  33. 10.5 months and we’re still struggling for routine. We’ve got routine-ish around timing for bed, feeding, etc. Naps are pretty much a crap-shoot. The big problem for us is a complete lack of consistency in life rhythm. DH travels for work for 4 day stretches – sometimes over the weekend, sometimes during the week, sometimes home for 2 days then gone, sometimes home for over a week at a time. I WOH fulltime and the kid’s in daycare on weekdays when daddy is gone and home with daddy when daddy is home. I’m too exhausted to try and fix the nighttime wake up problem and DH doing things differently than me when he’s home doesn’t help. How in the eff do you get consistency in the kid with a complete and utter lack of consistency around him?

  34. Wow, I was just thinking of finally writing in with a question on this exact subject because … well, at 6.5 months, there is still no routine. I’m not sure how much of this is my fault, and how much is my daughter’s personality, but I do indeed feel like I’ve ruined her by more or less following (what I perceive to be) her cues. She was actually much more predictable at three months or so, when she’d wake up, go to sleep, and nap all around the same time, and for the same length of time. Attempts to follow what seems to be a workable pattern these days – say, taking her for a walk in the stroller around the same time every afternoon – go from wildly successful (she slept for two hours!) to disastrous (she screamed the entire time!) within a couple of weeks.This is not to say we have no patterns. I try to keep what happens after she wakes up more or less the same on weekday mornings, and afternoons are for playing with the babysitter while Mommy gets work done in the other room. But how she feels about this varies from day to day. Sometimes, she plays happily for over an hour at a time. Other days she cries every 20 to 30 minutes until I come say hello or nurse her until she falls asleep. And the only routine thing about nighttime is that she won’t go to bed without us, and will fall asleep a good 20 to 30 minutes after my husband and I would already prefer to be asleep ourselves. Except, of course, on those nights she decides she’s tired enough to fall asleep nursing on the couch, in which case, we’re able to relax and take her to bed with us an hour or so later, without her ever waking up. Unpredictable!
    Honestly, I feel like this routine resistance probably all ties back to sleep – how much of it she’s gotten, how tired she is or isn’t, and whether she’s napped for long stretches or short catnaps (common on the weekends, when my husband wears her in the carrier off and on all day while he does chores around the house). But “to resist sleep” is apparently her raison d’etre, and there is no getting her to if she doesn’t want to (see above about suddenly hating the stroller).
    Anyway, sorry this is so long, but I’m starting to go a bit bazoo. On the one hand, what’s happening is more or less working for us right now – since my daughter goes to bed so late, we at least sleep in, and I catch up on lost sleep from night wakings. I’m reluctant to mess with that, especially since she doesn’t seem to NEED routine as much as other babies (in fact, she often seems bored at home and LOVES going out and seeing new things). Then again, when I look ahead I can’t imagine dealing with a toddler this unpredictable, and I feel like I should probably tackle some of these issues soon. I just don’t even know where to start.

  35. Rbelle, absolutely do NOT feel like you have ruined her! In fact, don’t feel like you need to do anything about it — it will probably fix itself, or else there’s not much you can do about it.My daughter, now 14 months, was a non-routine baby (which she totally gets from her dad). She did get on a (semi)routine around 9 or 10 months. Before that she would have times she was more likely to fall asleep than not, and she was usually pretty good at sleeping at night, but other moms would say things like “Oh, Jackie takes a nap around 9am” and I’d wonder what planet I was on that my child would take a nap at 8 or 9 or 10 or 11, depending on how the previous day and night had gone. And it made it worse I was following one of those sleep books that said Every Child Will Take A Nap At 9am and 1pm and If She Doesn’t You’re Not Doing Your Job. And my mom would keep asking if she was on a schedule yet. ARGH.
    At 14 months she’s transitioning to 1 nap and so we’re back in non-scheduled territory for naps, actually, although at least now she falls asleep at a fairly consistent time.
    Also, heh, that’s funny that you try to have a bit of a routine — I purposely try not to for activities because I don’t want her getting the idea we always go to the park after lunch. (We got into a rut like that once and she SCREAMED if we didn’t immediately go to the park. I didn’t want to do that again.)

  36. My oldest (now 3) put herself on a schedule/routine at 3 weeks old, I kid you not. She would take her naps at roughly the same time every day (she’d just pass out, if I didn’t put her down for said nap), she ate at roughly the same time every day. She even woke during the night at the same time every night (within a 30-60 minute window). She is still very schedule-oriented, but it’s more about a rhythm than watching the clock. She’s flexible when she needs to be (and as long as you keep her busy, her naps and meals can be adjusted as needed) but she prefers and does best on her usual routine.My baby (7 mos this week) is a little more “go-with-the-flow” and really only got into a predictable rhythm within the last couple months – somewhere between 5-6 mos. Before that, i just had to follow his cues to figure out if he was sleepy or hungry, etc. He also would have slept the first few weeks of his life away if I hadn’t woken him regularly to feed him, but he got over that at about 1 month old.

  37. My older one (coslept) through the night at 10 weeks. But, regular bedtime, waking and naps was a challenge for a long time. Part of the issue was likely that I work two days and the drive into civilization is an hour, so she would fall asleep there and back, which would throw her off. Her napping seemed to stabilize for a little bit around 8 months and then again about 13 months when she went down to one nap. But she was never the 2-3 hour napper that I’d heard about. At 3 1/2 she doesn’t nap anymore and still has problems on her ‘school days’ getting to bed at her ‘usual time.’My second had absolutely no structured naps and bed for the first year. I thought I had it all figured out, but he was just a crappy sleeper. Somewhere around 13 months he randomly started to pretty much sleep through the night and take one solid nap a day. Put him down by himself and he’s out. Unlike my older one, he’s not as sensitive to the ride and maintains his ‘schedule’ even on ‘school days.’
    How much was me and how much them? And how much a combination? That’s hard to determine. I always wonder if I could have done something different with #1, but she is pretty senstive overall and I think just got really impacted by being out of the home, even though it was only 2 days. But, that said, I also learned a lot through mistakes and trial and error, so who knows? Then with #2…that’s still one big WTHeck for me? His first year was HORRIBLE. I knew more, but it didn’t matter. With him, I’d have to say he worked it out when he was ready.
    also I think overall temperament plays into this in the bigger picture, but more so after the first year.

  38. Oh @Rbelle, sweetie, my post above was totally for you! I feel your pain, but I also feel that most of your pain is coming from other people’s expectations – it sounds like you all are doing great!!! Your daughter will get better and better at telling you what she needs, and then the fact that it doesn’t go by the clock won’t matter all that much. (Of course she may adjust and be more by the clock too.) 🙂 But the baby that gets bored, likes new things, resists routine, doesn’t want or necessarily need to nap that much? I had her. @caramama and @Cloud too, with their first ones. She turns into an inquisitive preschooler who hates and resists enforced rest time, and eventually into a schoolkid who can practice her music early and do her homework on the road so you can take her to a modern-dance dress rehearsal that goes past her bedtime, on a school night. And be fine the next day.In the meantime, try to look at routines in the abstract – if she’s impossible when she gets hungry, then carry food with you for whenever it happens; if she’s ok without you as long as something really interesting is going on, then get the babysitter to take her out as much as possible. If she seems to need X amount of sleep but it doesn’t really matter when, then just plan for a spot for her to bonk out.
    Good luck!! I’ve had lots of fun with this type of kid once I stopped believing she’d be better off if she’d accept more structure. 🙂

  39. The way I see it, finding a routine with a baby serves two purposes:1) Reassuring the baby that their needs will be met by giving them a structure so they can start to predict what comes next
    2) Organizing the day predictably so that parents don’t go insane
    The first purpose of a routine doesn’t tie you to the clock. It’s more the art of reading your baby and progressively improving your algorithm to figure out when they’re likely to be tired, hungry, or bored. Today may not look like yesterday (and in the first few weeks, I’m convinced the only constant for me are the dreadful dark circles under my eyes), but it’s a good place to start, as you try/fail/modify slightly/try again.
    The second purpose is more temporal, alas: the dreaded “schedule.” Because darn it if it wouldn’t be nice if you could predict with certainty that your kids will nap at the same time, or that your baby won’t be hungry until you get back from a solo trip to the grocery store. Or maybe you need the schedule because you’re working, or you’re leaving the kid with an outside caregiver, or the million other reasons you need some rationality in your life.
    The first is far more important to me, in the grand scheme of things. Even though I thrive on predictability and sleep, I, as a mostly rational adult, can work around a temporary lack of either one. The problem is, when you start reading Those Books and listening to Those People, you start fixating on the second. I try to keep it in perspective: yes, it’s maddening to have no idea exactly how long my four-month-old’s nap will last, but that’s just part of what makes infants so adorably inconvenient (ha!). It’s my problem, not hers, and no pass/fail grade on my parenting. If my routine however theoretical or unconventional meets purpose number one, she’s doing just fine.
    It helps me feel better, at any rate.
    Now, for data points:
    My firstborn was a high-needs infant and I was a truly clueless new parent. His bedtime settled pretty quickly — at around six weeks, I think — but it was so impossible to get him to nap in his crib at the beginning that I built a routine around going out for long walks or nursing him to sleep in my arms. That, and the fact that he would nurse every two hours exactly during the day until 7-8 months, is all I remember. The routine worked OK for me, sort of, but created some difficulty when I went back to work at nine months. The nanny tisk-tisked my first-time mom naiveté and got my son on a solid in-his-own-crib nap routine after three (challenging) weeks.
    My daughter — now almost four months — has been a much better sleeper from the get-go. I also have a rough schema in my head of “how babies really sleep” so I’ve been able to recognize her routine as it has started developing. Recently she’s started to stretch her nursing out to every 3-4 hours and consequently (O miracle!) to fall asleep on her own often without nursing down. (Although a good part of me — sniff — kind of misses that cuddling.)
    Still, of her two (more rarely three) naps, one is usually 2+ hours, the other 45 minutes, and who knows which will be which. And who knows if she’ll be up for the day at seven o’clock or at eight-thirty in the morning. I’m still on maternity leave so I can flow with this, mostly, luckily.
    I guess what I want to say is that I love Moxie’s distinction between “routine” and “schedule.” Babies need routine, but schedules are for parents. Which doesn’t make them any less important for our sanity, of course, but can help us avoid adding one more layer of guilt to our sleep-deprived, addled minds. Right?

  40. This post is incredibly well timed for me, as my 14-week-old doesn’t have a good routine yet and it’s just starting to stress me out. My first (now 3 1/2) was always fussy and a terrible sleeper, but I remember having her on a good routine by this time, even though it was a major struggle getting her to fall asleep or stay asleep on her own, something that she still can’t do.I basically agree with Oothoon about being loose, based on an understanding of what can be expected; and in general I tend to let the baby show me what s/he needs, then create a routine to fit. But right now it feels like the baby needs a little guidance from me.
    So far, this one is the opposite of his sister in many ways–he is totally happy and easy, and has been perfectly fine with dozing off pretty much anywhere when tired. And he’s doing some good long stretches of sleep at night, which his sister didn’t do until she was…well, never.
    But, his daytime sleep is a mess still–the only place he will stay asleep through the light-sleeping part of his cycle is in the moby wrap. So quiet at-home days while his sister is at school, when I hope to be able to get some work done, are incredibly frustrating. Get the baby down (easy! yay! I love this perfect baby!), pee and get a glass of water, open my computer, waste 10 minutes on some blog (ahem), and then I work for about 6 minutes before he’s awake again. (crap! i will never again accomplish anything and will be a professional failure!)
    On the other hand, maybe he’s a bit better about things in general partly because I have been more relaxed and let him lead me more. So I don’t want to suddenly get all schedule-y and mess him up by asking too much of him. I found with the first that the more I tried not to care about something being “right,” the better it would go. I never achieved zen detachment about her sleep because it was just. so. incredibly. bad. But since his is passable, maybe I could?
    Sorry for the long rant. Short version: getting a routine going feels like such a complicated dance, involving feedings, family schedule, and my own emotions, all on a moving train since he’s changing so fast. I’m tempted to let it ride, but I worry that his super-short naps are the result, and they don’t feel right.

  41. @Rbelle – sounds a lot like my son, and you know what? He’s now, at 3.5, very routine-oriented and a very good sleeper, even though I wasn’t doing anything the way I was “supposed to” at 6 months. It was harder on me than on him back then… heh!I think that what some kids need more of is predictable caregiver interaction — cuddles, nursing, walks in the baby carrier — and what others need more of is temporal or spacial predictability (the same doggone thing in the same doggone place at the same doggone time), and if you’re responding to the one your kid needs most of in a consistent way, you’re doing great.
    The only thing I regret is that I assumed that since I couldn’t get my son to nap regularly in his crib at 3 or 4 months, I didn’t try again at 9. Because even though trying the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results is supposed to be the definition of insanity, it can be oddly clever when you’re a parent. (Also when you’re a software engineer, by the way.)

  42. @Emmie hit on a good point- even with healthy, term babies, we had an honest to god schedule for the first couple of days, in that we would wake them up to feed if they slept longer than 4 hours. I think there is a place for scheduling there- my first, in particular, was just a super sleepy newborn. Add to that her super skinny genetics/high metabolism- and yeah, we had to force things a bit early on.But after that, I’m firmly in the “follow the baby’s lead” camp. The first needed some help to find her routine, but once we found it, it was a godsend and she really, really needed us to follow it. Only now (she’s almost 4) do we feel OK with varying some aspects of her routine. (@Charisse- she’s like your Mouse in needing far less sleep than other babies seemed to, but she definitely needed her routines, especially early on. And I totally agree with you that the things that drive you bonkers about your baby often turn out to be wonderful in your preschooler! Hang in there @Rbelle, follow your gut, and ignore anyone who tells you you’re somehow “messing” your kid up!)
    Our second (18 months) is way more freeform. She didn’t settle into a true nap routine until she was almost a year old. I just about drove myself nuts trying to set up her routine before I realized that she didn’t really want one. Even now, she doesn’t mind it much if her routine gets disrupted. But she also throws her sleep routine out the window sometimes on her own, leaving me confused (and tired).

  43. My second is 6 mos and she is definitely settling into a routine. She sleeps about 12 hrs at night (lucky me! another good sleeper!) and takes 2-3 40 min naps per day. I keep hoping the naps will get longer, now!, but I guess I will have to wait on that. My first started to settle in around 4 mos – once I figured out she didn’t want to sleep after nursing.

  44. My 10 1/2 month old is on a pretty regular routine – at least for bedtime and morning wake up. However this Saturday our daylight savings kicks in (we move the clocks backward one hour) – which will mean his perfectly manageable 6.45am wake up will be 5.45am – way too early…Anyone got any advice on how to manage this…?

  45. Data point – On a schedule about 4 months.General point – Routines and schedules can be great. But, isn’t it true that once you have kids, you never really know how your day will go….ever again?!

  46. @RG, we generally try to move towards the “new” time in about 15 minute increments, starting with changing dinner time the night before. It has worked well for us, but transitions at under 1 year suck more.And this year, it snuck up on us and we just switched all at once, and nothing bad happened. The routine-craving kid is old enough now to roll with it, and the younger kid just doesn’t seem to mind.

  47. So – when I read the title to this post, I laughed! Really, right out-loud, here in the office. (People already think I’m a bit odd, so it’s OK!)I agree, routine is very important. Beyond that, it’s personal preference what ‘structure’ or ‘schedule’ you put to it, but do NOT expect an infant to understand that it is precisely 11:00 and they must nurse x amount of time then fall directly asleep. Can we follow those kind of stringent rules? I know I can’t. All I can remember is that by the time my kid was about 2 years old, she would go to bed for me at 7:30 without a fuss. (She didn’t nap; the babysitter would make her play quietly in a playpen, but she didn’t sleep.) Anyway, I picked my battles. The things that were important to me I stressed, other than that – eh . . whatever (The important things to me were values, morals, respect etc.) Dang – I’m all over the place with this reply. Sorry – bottom line: infants – do the best you can and just be happy when they DO sleep, eat, poop, whatever! As they get older, schedule becomes more important (time to get up for school, homework, etc.)
    OK – enough; my ‘kid’ is now 30 years old, and I’m not so sure that she has a schedule to this day!
    Hang in there new moms, whatever is bothering you now will be replaced by something else to fret over in the near future. And at the end of it all, none of it will really matter all that much.

  48. It’s tough for me to pinpoint when my son got on a predictable schedule because he started at daycare around 12 weeks and that kind of forces them into a schedule a bit. I would say that he really settled into a routine around 6 months. Naps started to get a bit more consistent and he was eating at the same times every day. He’s always been pretty spot on with bedtime, going down at almost exactly the same time every day.He’s almost a year old now and everything is pretty set within about 15-20 minutes of wiggle. Sometimes he gets up 30 minutes early but he’ll still have his bottle first then but wait until almost 8am for breakfast. It’s kind of nice to have some predictability and he seems to be the type of kid that thrives on the routine and knowing what comes next. I think that’s why we’ve been so successful with a bedtime routine for him. He likes to know what’s coming.

  49. I am not a very routine-oriented person, but when my first was born (8 1/2 years ago!), I seemed to have these voices in my head saying “A good mother gets her baby on a schedule.” I didn’t have any friends with kids, so those voices were coming from people whose children had been grown for many years. It was SO not helpful. Somehow I got my entire worth as a mother tied up in my baby’s schedule or lack thereof. Awful, especially because I did not have a baby who either a) fell easily into his own routine or b) accepted the routine I tried to foist upon him.By the time baby #2 came along, #1 was 14 months and he was in a routine. I think the routine really fell into place around 6 months, but he really isn’t a kid who is married to his routine even now at 8. My daughter was much easier and she adapted to the household nap routine pretty much right away. They napped at the same time until they were 3 & 4 which was great.
    #3 has had to go with the flow because, by the time he came along, everyone else was busy with activities, etc, so his naps have always been catch as catch can! The only “routine” things he demands now are getting dressed as soon as he wakes up and having a bath before bed.

  50. What an interesting question.In some ways we had a routine from day three or so, in terms of which adult did what in roughly what sequence, what parts of the day were things to anticipate happily, etc.–a routine for us (the new parents, as parents), not for the baby really. The comforting sense that things are going basically how they’re meant to go, or at least that the important stuff’s happening: everybody’s eating, everybody who needs to get to work is getting to work, everybody’s getting at least enough rest so we can all still love each other.
    We didn’t have a SCHEDULE, like approximate times for naps and bed and getting up, until he was about a year old.
    But the routine/schedule has always been flexible and changing. So we’ve had a basic sense of rhythm from quite early on, but very little sense of month-to-month or season-to-season predictability ever (and he’s now nearly five). I suspect that’s a reflection of how all three of us tend to live in the world and how we negotiate our own and each other’s needs together, rather than saying much about developmental stages or anything like that, though.

  51. As a first time mom I was pretty clueless when BabyT was a newborn, and I didn’t realize I had to help her sleep. So we just let her stay awake for hours and waited for her to fall asleep on her own. (And then wondered why 6pm onwards was a mess of wretched screaming.)We also figured out that nursing her was the first thing to try when she was upset – she was nearly always hungry. So the first 4 or 5 months was just a blur of nursing on demand.
    At some point in the first 8 weeks I skimmed “Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child” and ignored the annoying parts, but took away that she shouldn’t be awake for more than 2 hours at the time. So we kept an eye on the clock and looked out for yawning and baby zombie eye, and put her down for a nap posthaste.
    Apparently this worked like magic because once she started sleeping more during the day, she started sleeping loooong stretches at night (she was also an ENORMOUS baby, which I think helps).
    Somewhere around 5 months, this stopped working, and we figured out she liked to nap twice a day, and it was pretty much at the same times. Our girl is definitely one for a routine.
    We had to force the transition to one nap at 12.5 months when she started daycare so we had a couple of rough weeks there, but now she’s settled in nicely. Nap is nearly always by the clock regardless of what time she gets up in the am.
    Since I’m a very schedule-oriented person, this predictability works for me too, so I guess we got lucky 🙂

  52. I agree with the distinction between routine and schedule for babies, but think a schedule (i.e., naps and bedtime) becomes important from toddler-age onwards. I was always really strict about when our child needed to sleep, and think it did a lot to cultivate a cheerful child with good sleep habits. Now that he’s in school, I see a lot of kids who are not getting enough sleep. He’s in bed by 8 pm, unless it is something super-special.

  53. I thought S would come with her own pre-programmed routine–you know, sleep when she was sleepy. Was I ever wrong! I had to learn that she needed help to shut out the world and fall asleep, and I had to figure out her routine and work with it. At about 3 months I saw a pattern: nap 1 was 2 hours after she woke, nap 2 in the afternoon, nap 3 in the early evening.By 6 months, she dropped a nap and I had to re-figure it all out. Plus I finally created a bedtime routine (instead of waiting for her to fall asleep or just taking her to bed with me). That helped my sanity a lot.
    Now, at almost 18 months, I know she naps just the once, after being up for about 4 hours. And I know a nap is needed, and a bedtime routine is needed, and most days she’s down with a little rocking in about 10 minutes (although still up 3 X a night–SIGH!).
    All to say: You figure it out, eventually. I’m a routine kind of person, so finding S’s routine helped me ensure she slept enough, ate enough, played enough, and ensured I kept my sanity and knew how to fill my days.
    That said, don’t listen to the “experts” who tell you to put baby on a routine. It took me forever to figure out a routine that worked for us, and S is perfectly happy and fine. And a friend of mine has 2 kids who had no routine at all until the eldest started school–and they found a routine when they needed to. They’re happy and fine.
    Trust your instincts, believe in yourself, love your baby, just get through each day as best you can. It’s a hard job, and expert advice is often just blanket advice that doesn’t fit your kid, your life or your beliefs. We’ve all been there–and we all get through it! It’s OK. You’ll be fine!

  54. So glad I came back to read the comments. Thanks everyone so much for the support. Having read Moxie for years before having a kid, I honestly thought I’d be a much more relaxed first-time parent. But despite not reading any parenting/sleep books besides the Wonder Weeks, I’ve managed to internalize quite a few mainstream messages anyway – one of which is that if your child isn’t on a predictable (and early) routine, she must be miserable. While my daughter SEEMS quite ok without much routine, there’s a part of me that’s worried I’m missing something big – like that she needs an earlier bedtime (she won’t stay asleep without us) or that I should be putting her down “drowsy but awake” for naps (she won’t go to sleep without help), and if only I would work a little on these things, she would magically become a different, more predictable, “happier” baby. But given that she is already so different than the “typical” baby, and that we willingly do a lot of things that Those People/Books say not to (not only do we co-sleep, but I still put my daughter on my chest when she gets restless at 4 a.m.) it just seems like it’s not worth the hassle of trying to force change.It’s so good to hear that I’m not the only one with a child who prefers more flexibility, and that maybe I don’t have to rush out and get a bunch of sleep/scheduling books after all.

  55. This is such a blessing to me right now. My second daughter is just 4 weeks and I was feeling guilty about not having her on a schedule yet but after these past few days of trying to start a schedule I think a routine is a better place to start with this kiddo! Thanks everyone for sharing your thoughts and experiences!

  56. My little one is 6 months old and hasn’t really settled into a routine. I mostly follow his lead, and he has some general patterns to how things go in a day. He generally gets up between 6:30 and 8:30 in the morning. He is up for 1-2 hours and then he’s ready for a nap. He’s a highly distractible daytime nurser, so I usually try to catch him going to sleep, sleeping, or just waking up to feed him. His morning nap is usually 30-60 minutes long. Generally 2-3 hours after he wakes up from his morning nap, he’s ready to sleep again, and the afternoon nap lasts anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours. He may or may not take a nap in the early evening, and that affects his bedtime. We do have a consistent bedtime routine.My sense is that he’ll continue to be a child with patterns and loose routines, but one that will buck against rigid schedules. I find it easier to cue on his needs than to fight with him to be on a specific schedule.

  57. Rbelle, how many naps did your daughter take when she was more predictable? Maybe she’s transitioning from 4 naps to 3 naps — or from 3 naps to 2 naps? It happens around this age.My son is almost 7 months old, and for a while his days were really wonky. He started being able to stay up longer between naps, but seemed conditioned to take 4 naps a day. That pushed his bedtime later, but he would still get up in the mornings at his usual time, so he had less night-time sleep and was cranky about it. Long story short, he eventually transitioned from 4 naps to 2-3 naps on his own and is much more predictable now.

  58. My son, now 3, just sort of fell into a routine and would gradually do the “normal” milestones. My daughter is 12 months right now and she was the opposite. Never slept, ate constantly, was “colicky” for lack of a better term of constant crying and screaming. It was hell for the first 3-4 months. By then we had realized I had to majorly restrict my diet which really helped to calm her. As for sleep in the beginning she was held almost constantly and would fall asleep only while being held. About 5-6 months she started to be awake for longer and then it was awful trying to figure out naps. She would get so fussy I knew she needed to sleep but she was still not going to sleep on her own. I would walk her around until she was asleep then lay her down. Then about 6 months she wanted to lay down when she was almost asleep and she’d roll over and go to sleep – that only lasted about 3 weeks. Then she didn’t know what she wanted again. At that same time I started really watching her closely and about 7 months as soon as she’d yawn – which was about 1 -2 hours after she woke up – I’d quickly snatch her up and say we are going nigh night now and nurse her and lay her down. She was nearly asleep when I nursed her so I would just lay her down and she was asleep. Now here are the problems – if she was not really tired she would cry as soon as I laid her down. If she did not eat or suck long enough she would cry when I laid her down. Bottom line she was a tension increaser and would not calm herself down. So some days were better than others. With her the more and better she slept each day – the more and better she slept each day… that may sound weird but if she didn’t sleep well for her naps you would think she would be tired and sleep well at night but she did NOT. She would be fitful and not sleep well all night long. Usually after that she would be so tired she’d nap great the next day and then the cycle started over again. So what I learned and what I did – finally just realized that nothing was more important than all of us getting good sleep – I stayed home a lot. Tried to closely watch her during the day so I could hit that “sleep window” and didn’t stress if I had to wear her (Ergo) or rock or hold her a lot. Didn’t stress or feel guilty about any of it. Tried to enjoy the time and realized that she will not be a baby forever and I will not be rocking her to sleep or holding her when she’d in junior high so I KNOW she will not be doing this forever. And realized that she is a well loved and so far well adjusted baby because of all the love she is receiving. She is not a spoiled child (well not yet anyways lol). We did not make her sit and scream for hours just to make her soothe herself – she has NEVER calmed herself down and sometimes just being with her helps her to calm down. Bottom line is she is getting better everyday at everything. It’s hard being a baby! Love them and give yourself a break!!

  59. If there was one thing that I got out of the early days of parenting an infant it was that there was no sense going looking for problems/difficulties that I wasn’t having … if it was working, why sweat it?I forget how much of a schedule/routine we had, but we muddled along pretty well. There was the (lovely and well-intentioned) co-worker who warned me that if we didn’t move DS’s crib out of our room SOON he would never sleep well (once we did move him); for us, this wasn’t true — we kept it there ’til he was 15 months old (mostly out of laziness/disorganization related to a remodel we’d undertaken when he was tiny — what were we thinking? — and our failing to move the furniture we’d stashed in his room back out), and basically the only difference moving him to his own room meant was that he slept through the night instead of waking once @~4 a.m., presumably because the (minor) noises we made woke him.
    And losing the nap at ~3 years saddened me, but it was that or he didn’t fall asleep ’til 11 p.m., so no nap became the lesser of 2 trials.
    @Fentia my setup’s been like yours, with no problems. From 2 months – 3 years DS was (mostly) with some blend of me, DH, and grandma MWF (and Sa/Su) and in a paid childcare setting Tu/Th. Now he’s in preschool 4 days/week for 4 hours/day and with grandma or dad otherwise; 2 nights/week my DH is out of the house and DS and I are solo, and I’ve declared one night/week to be my night out, so he and DH are solo. And it’s all good (except when it’s not, but that’s pretty rare). DS is pretty easy going, but whether that’s an effect, a cause, or simply a blessing I couldn’t tell you.

  60. I feel like the word to best describe life with a newborn is “rhythm”. Before there is anything that can be called a routine there seems to be a rhythm or pattern to how they behave at certain times of day.Now, with my first I don’t think I ever noticed much of a rhythm and she wasn’t on any real routine for quite some time. I think b/c I wasn’t very good at reading her cues and also b/c I just adusted myself to what was going on with her.
    The second and third babies fell into a noticeable rhythm very early, about 4 weeks of age, then into a more structured routine once the naps settled down, maybe aout 4-5 months. A lot of that probably has to do with them being folded into the routine already set up for the older kids.

  61. We never had much routine except for bedtime until my daughter started daycare at 20 months. Before then my husband was home with her and his schedule varied a lot, so our daughter was really good at just going with the flow. I like some routines, but hate scheduling for myself so the thought of scheduling a baby seems nuts to me.

  62. With the older child (now 3) I had a general routine that I imposed starting at about 6 months. Before that, it was nursing and everything on demand and was very baby-led. I was very exhausted. 🙂 He was colicky and all over the map, constantly needing to be held and just very intense.At about 6 months, I realized that I needed some semblance of a routine to get through my days, and I’ve never looked back. I was always a non-scheduled, non-routine person and I just could not sustain that after I had the baby. I needed the routine to provide some structure and order for my days so I didn’t feel so lost and disconnected.
    At age 3 now, my older son is on something of a hybrid schedule/routine. Wake-up is at 7:30am. Bedtime is at 9pm. Those are scheduled. Whatever happens in the middle is more of a routine.
    The young guy (almost 4 months) settled into his own routine. It was pretty remarkable. There are blips here and there, but the little guy generally wakes at 6am (sob!), morning naps around 7am. Depending on the length of that nap, he goes down for a nap again sometime between 11am-ish and noon and then again in the late afternoon. Bedtime is always 8ish.
    Since I am back at work again, we have to be something of a well-oiled machine in our house. Not every day goes according to plan and we roll with it as that happens. But the day really starts off on better footing the closer it looks to the ideal routine.

  63. I asked my husband what the difference between routine and schedule is for our son.He said, “Schedules are for schmoes, routines are for pros.”
    I think he means that with schedules, you will lose. Everyday that you aren’t following the schedule, you’re the loser. For me, I can’t have failure hunting me down.
    With a routine, we have our comfort levels established. We have some notion of order and coziness within that order. And the notion of adventure- anything can change the routine!

  64. >>>However this Saturday our daylight savings kicks in (we move the clocks backward one hour) – which will mean his perfectly manageable 6.45am wake up will be 5.45am – way too early…< <

  65. After reading this I sat and did some thinking about our daily activities. Somehow, babypanda and I have finally slipped into a very nice routine. We tried part time daycare for about six weeks while I was looking for work (have put that on the backburner for a bit longer), and the schedule that forced us into was never comfortable for her or me. I watch the clock now only to see how long it has been since food/sleep, but I don’t worry much about the actual time of day. It winds up that she usually nurses/eats around 9, 12, 3, 6 and 7:30 (bedtime), plus the numerous nighttime wakings that I’d prefer not to think about. If we wake up early things shift to accomodate. The only rigid ritual we have is bedtime. We start at 7 – bath, lotion and songs, jammies, goodnights, book, nurse, bed. She responds well to the bedtime ritual, but is pretty flexible during the day.I had a similar experience to ARC and Tina with the sleeping stuff. My babypanda is reflux-y and extremely milk and soy protein sensitive, and we had a difficult first few months. She nursed every 1-2 hours, cried a lot, and only fell asleep while nursing. Then one day it was like a switch was flipped – she quit falling asleep during daytime feeds. It never occured to me, a parenting newbie, that she might need my help getting to sleep. We had some cranky, nearly napless days there for a bit. However, after I figured out how to help her (rocking completely to sleep, blackout curtains, white noise), she still only sleeps 30-40 minutes at a stretch (she’s 7.5 months now). She will nap longer if I lay down with her, or if we’re in the car, but neither of these options are feasable for daily use…

  66. As an aside, thank you to Moxie and all the wonderful mamas who comment and make this site so great. As a nurse and an older first time parent, I thought I had the baby thing All Figured Out. Boy, did babypanda prove me wrong! Milk/soy protein intolerance (complete with bloody stools, reflux, and screaming at every feeding), sleeping difficulties, poor growth, I feel like we’ve run the gamut of baby issues. Early on I read parenting books and blogs voraciously, trying to solve our issues. All my research did was send me reeling in information overload and undermine my instincts. I have since sworn off all the bossy “experts”, but I still love to read Moxie. Her posts never tell me what I should be doing, but rather get me to think about what I’m doing, whether it’s working for us, and then the comments provide lots of ideas if ours aren’t working out. So, thanks all!

  67. I love what @Alexicographer said about not looking for problems that don’t exist. I’m an over-researcher and over-worrier, and I have a hard time forcing myself not to find and diagnose “problems.” It was encouraging to read in Moxie’s “Quick and Dirty on Sleep” that I didn’t have to believe the “bad habit hype” — the “experts” love to tell you that everything you’re doing will turn into some sort of lifelong disaster. I still give a hearty chuckle every time I read, “Put your child down awake but drowsy.” Hahahahaha. Have you MET my child?!E is 7 months old now, and we’ve got sort of a routine (at least on weekdays — weekends are still a crapshoot and sometimes make me want to pull my hair out). The first 3 months or so were a mess, but she was a preemie with colic and reflux and we were bewildered, exhausted first-time parents trying their best to follow a frustrated baby’s cues. Once she stopped screaming during the evening and started sleeping instead, we all started feeling a bit more human. Of course, she *still* only takes 45 minute naps (I’m still waiting for that mythical end-of-nap-difficulties period that comes around 5-6 months, according to what Moxie’s written), but night times are so much better these days.

  68. I am/was a fan of routine because it helped me plan my showers, meals, email time, etc. I also found that my baby responded amazingly well to a little nudge in that direction.When he was around 6 or 8 weeks, I began making an effort to feed specifically every three hours and not a whole lot more. Doing this allowed me to think about what his other fusses were about (mostly sleepiness).Around 12 weeks, I started working on a nap routine, following the 2-hour rule – it worked well once he could go down on his own. Those two routines synchronized well and by 15 weeks he was fairly well synched up there. Overnights stayed a little unpredictable until he was eating solids.
    Now he is two-and-a-half! He does fine when we shake up the routine, but we often pay a day or two later.

  69. @Lumberjack, I think you’re on to something with this re: scheduling (vs. routines)’For me, I can’t have failure hunting me down.’
    I think it’s the same for us. If we had a scheduled day, I’d maybe hit it 1x per week. But routine we can do. Almost everyday. In a world with wee ones where it’s hard to get much of anything done, it feels good to accomplish the routine almost daily (even if that very routine can also make you crazy with its same-ness sometimes).

  70. My recollection, which may or may not represent reality, is that we lived in utter chaos and little to no sleep for a full year or more with all three. Seemingly, I did an increasingly poorer job with influencing sleep and any kind of routine with each successive baby. The third, who is now four, finally slept one night at 16 months and things kind of fell in place gradually after that. Silver lining is that once each baby finally started sleeping (nights) we never looked back. 4 yr old is a champion sleeper now. I think if you are responsive to the baby’s needs during the first year or so, the payoff comes later and it’s forever.

  71. Thank you thank you thank you to all the moms with sleep and schedule-resistant babies who took the time to comment. I have been driving myself crazy with my 13-month-old, feeling like such a failure. It’s really hard to even have a consistent wake-up time for her every day, because she is up every 2 hours at night–so zombie mom sleeps in as much as the little bean will allow.Naps are hit or miss–nowadays she seems to prefer 20 minutes in the a.m. and an hour or more in the afternoon, but you just never know what you’re gonna get. I resisted too much bathing during the winter to avoid drying out her skin, but the past month I have been going hardcore with the dinner-bath-diaper-nurse bedtime routine. I sincerely hope it will bear fruit soon. I dream of a consistent 7:30 bedtime!
    My MIL is here this week, and I thought, “finally! An expert who has dealt with many kids over the years–she can apply some order to this household!” Funnily enough, so far she, too, has failed miserably. She tends to spend a good chunk of time upstairs in the nursery glider every afternoon, trying to get my very tired daughter to drop off. We’ve tried catching her earlier (at the first glazed eye)and getting her down, or waiting later– we can’t find that ‘sweet spot’. it seems she simply has to be tired enough to give in, and that’s that. It’s satisfying and validating to see that it’s not just me, big old miserable failure mom 😉

  72. I am very very grateful for all the comments here! I’ve been struggling with the whole bad mom mentality for not having a regular schedule/routine for my son. Most people (in-laws, mother, etc) use routine/schedule interchangeably with me that I started thinking I was a real failure for not grounding my son with any regularity.It all started out wrong (so I thought for a long time) in the beginning. I was constantly trying to get him routine and scheduled but failing horribly. I read some of ‘those books’ and immediately broke down in tears thinking I was going to ruin him for life if i continued to go with the flow. I goaded my husband into helping me ‘encourage’ our son to sleep, eat, nap, etc on a scheduled routine but to be honest-no 2 days have ever ever been he same. When he dropped from 3 to 2 naps-I was determined to sort it all out…but we’re still clueless. He is now 13 months old and some days there is a semblance of routine but definitely no schedule and I still feel like I’m ruing him. Although this post has helped me feel like maybe my son doesn’t need to be sleeping x amount of hours every night, eating x many times, blah blah blah. Just maybe he needs less sleep and is ok with flexibility, on the other hand-all that reading has me almost thinking that’s a bad word.
    So please tell me–at 13 months–how routine oriented do we need to be in order to not ruin him?

  73. @twinklehead – as you may feel in your gut, there is *no* ruining your baby. Here are the things I would consider: 1) What do we need to do to help him get what he needs? In order to answer that question, consider his behavior. Does he seem overtired and miserable? Or does he actually seem just fine (which would be a sign that perhaps he needs less sleep; my kiddos have always been clinging to the bottom rung of that magical amount of sleep Those Books say small children need. We guard their sleep ferociously but only within the framework of what they clearly need)? And (2) What do you (and your partner) need to preserve, maintain, or increase your well-being? Those are, IMO, the only important questions. Otherwise, everything will. be. fine.Around 13 months my first child went through a period of disordered sleep – that whole summer we struggled with naps and then realized that he was transitioning from two to one naps. (I assumed that if he only needed one nap, he would drop the morning nap and stay awake until the afternoon; instead he did the opposite, so I wasted a lot of time trying to force him to nap in the afternoon, until I just dropped the morning nap.) And as for eating – experts would say that toddlers are just like adults. Eating 6-8 small meals is just as good, maybe even better, than eating three with snacks. As long as he’s getting some semblance of the good stuff he needs, then it doesn’t matter how often or in what format he gets fed. I know some people swear by family meals with babies, but we’ve never done that.

  74. I’ve been reading these posts with amazement since yesterday, amazed by the fabulous recall you guys have! Those first months are such a blur to me. But even yesterday I was thinking, “Wasn’t there some sequence I used to do? Some acronym? Sheesh, what was that???” Now I just remembered—it was the Baby Whisperer (Tracy Hogg) thing: EASY. Stands for “Eat, Activity, Sleep, Your Time”. In regards to the schedule versus routine thread here, this little method really worked for me. It wasn’t cast in stone, and it wasn’t hooked to any actual times on the clock, but it was a general sequence that a befuddled and exhausted mom like me could follow.

  75. So happy to see this topic . . . Everyone asks if my 4 mo is on a schedule, but he really isn’t. What happens and when during the day depends on when he wakes up and how he slept the night before. We went through a period where he slept through the night (11-12 hours), now NOT so much AT ALL. And he generally takes 2 30 min naps and maybe one hour+ nap, depends. And even if he naps well during the day, it doesn’t ensure he sleeps longer than 3-4 hours at a time at night. I definitely noticed he can’t be awake for more than 2 hours at a time. But, then he fights napping in his crib. Bedtime routine, though, is pretty regular for him, despite waking up 1-3 times (sometimes like a starving child who hasn’t eaten in days – but that’s a whole other topic). Routine, yes . . . schedule, oh h@ll no. *sigh*

  76. @twinklehead, at 13 months I think our routine was … kid wakes up, we wake up. Usually this was around 7 a.m. but earlier or later, didn’t matter. Get up (or scoop kid into our bed), feed, activity, feed, activity (repeat as needed). Kid gets sleepy (evidenced by rubbing eyes or being grouchy), kid gets put down for a nap. My kid would fall asleep when he was tired, so this was pretty easy. Then basically repeat that routine for afternoon. I think it’s possible mine was still napping 2 times/day at that age but he may have already dropped to one (in which case it was afternoon nap only). Naptimes lasted until he woke up. Bedtime was generally around 8. He slept through the night except for one 3 or 4 a.m. wakeup for a feeding.There were random moments of nuttiness, e.g. one night when he decided, “Why *not* get up and play at 2 a.m.?” when I … just got up and interacted with him, because what else was I going to do? He was perky, happy, and charming but happily did not make a habit of that.
    The only thing I was mildly obsessive about was trying not to schedule events/errands/car trips in a way that had me driving and then stopping the trip right before his general naptime (which meant, not late morning and absolutely, positively, be home by 2 — and maybe earlier — in the afternoon), simply because if I did he’d fall asleep in the car and then wake up and not take his usual nap, and oh did I (yes, I) need those naps. Him, not so much — an interrupted nap might lead to some grouchiness or an earlier bedtime, but was pretty much just a drop in the bucket for him.
    He’s now a sane (by which I mean maddeningly energetic), bubbly four year old. You’re not ruining anybody. Honest.

  77. Oothoon, at three months she was taking an hour long nap in the morning and a three hour nap in the afternoon – but only if I held her the entire time. Then she’d take a catnap late in the evening, and go to bed with us a couple hours later. She was sleeping through the night, too, waking up a few times in the early morning but probably getting 11-12 hours total. After she hit four months, it all went south, and she hasn’t regained a reliable pattern (or night sleep!) yet. She still takes about three naps of varying length during the day, but on weekends, my husband watches her while I work. Since he’s not really willing to sit and hold her for two hours, she takes more frequent shorter naps. I feel like this might be a case of “it’s not a problem if you hate the solution more” because I feel like the solution might be an earlier bedtime/wake-up, and that just doesn’t work with a child who won’t stay asleep without you (I don’t really want to go to bed at 7:30). So far, any attempts to fix some of these issues, especially trying to get her to sleep on her own, have resulted in a more tired, less pleasant baby. And honestly, I kind of like that she’s flexible – I just worry that my decision not to work harder to get her on a routine will make us all miserable down the road.

  78. My first didn’t settle into a routine for about 6 months. My latter two, we managed to hit a stride around 8 weeks.

  79. The pressure to schedule my baby was intense. I only have one child right now, and since he was my first, I was reading everything and trying to do everything “right.” You can ask anyone close to me–my stress level was at its highest when I was trying to impose a schedule on my son and it was backfiring. What I learned worked for us was routine. And, at 1 year, we are still rocking the routine, not watching the clock. (Well, I watch the clock loosely when it comes to naps, but that’s about it.) :)Next time around, I hope to have the presence of mind to roll with the punches better.

  80. @Rbelle: “Having read Moxie for years before having a kid, I honestly thought I’d be a much more relaxed first-time parent.”Glad to hear I’m not (or wasn’t a few months ago) the only not-yet-parent hanging around here. I’m still at least six months out from trying for a baby, but I absolutely love the honest, balanced, pragmatic vibe on Ask Moxie. So much of the sharing and advice-giving and introspection that happens around here is useful for life, with or without kids.
    OTOH, are you telling me that years of procrastinating by reading parenting advice won’t automatically make me an awesome, easy-going first time mom? Damn.

  81. Rbelle, maybe it’s the dreaded 4 month sleep regression? My son’s naps weren’t really affected at 4 months, but his so-called night-sleep was torture for me. It eventually got better. He hit that development phase hard.re: not sleeping alone, I wish I had some advice for you! I co-sleep out of principle, but my son will sleep alone in our bed for naps and early night. I didn’t do anything to encourage it — he was just always like that. Some babies need to feel closer. What happens if you try to slip away? Does she sleep in a crib? Is it the move from arms to crib that wakes her? Do you swaddle her? Have you tried a swing? Does she suck her thumb or use a pacifier? My son got much better at staying asleep during naps after finding his thumb.
    Hang in there, mama!

  82. I wish I had never EVER come across Those Books when my baby was a newborn. I grieve over the amount of stress they caused me in the early weeks and feel sad and resentful that they robbed me of some of the joys of maternity leave. I remember falling prey to the sacred Eat Play Sleep routine and wondering why I had to spend 30 minutes soothing a screaming baby to sleep for a 30 minute nap when I could have just nursed her to sleep in five minutes. BUT NO! I CANNOT FEED BEFORE SLEEP!!! Ugh. Slap me. That stupid Eat Play Sleep went against every natural instinct in my body – to soothe my baby to sleep at the breast!We are at at year old and JUST NOW falling into a predictable routine! My baby dropped the second nap very early – at 10 months!! – and there seemed to be a month or so of rough transition ie – falling asleep in the car on the way home from daycare every afternoon for a dreaded 5 pm nap. She has now adjusted and is now fully on one midday nap at around noon and our lives our much easier. Honestly, daycare has been the lifesaver for us in establishing routine.
    I’ve also given up the sleeping though the night fight and figure she will sleep through when she’s ready, especially since there are no “problems” that have an easy answer:
    – she goes down easily
    – the wake ups are not at the same time every night
    – she often wakes up and puts herself back to sleep
    I just respond to her needs, use my best judgement and I am happier for it.

  83. Great comments, been very heartening to read.The longest my 4 month old has ever slept is 3 hours. As a result I read about 4 month sleep regressions ruefully.
    Times between feeds are all over the shop, which renders naps different every day, which makes bedtime 8-11, just like someone commented earlier. Onto a different cycle the next day.
    Ironically when he was a newborn he slept a lot and I was told, because he was jaundiced, to wake him up every 2 hours to nurse him no matter what. Lo and behold, he nurses no more than 2 hours apart now. Reading about growth spurts puzzles me, since he seems to be on one every other week!
    So when I read about establishing routines that have some semblance to clock hours, I really am at a loss with the sleeping and eating he does. And routines inevitably mean sleep training, and though I guess his waking up 2 hours on the dot at night to nurse has become a sleep association, I just don’t have the guts/determination or perhaps am not desperately sleep-deprived enough to break it. And thus, feel like I’m failing to do the right thing.
    Is motherhood always going to involve self-flagellation?

  84. NotyetMom, it might not make you easy going, but I am one of the few parents I know IRL who had heard of sleep regressions, and I was totally prepared when my daughter stopped sleeping through the night at four months (prepared for it to happen that is – not sure you can be prepared for sleep deprivation). I think it’s impossible to know how you’ll react to being a parent, and so many things about my daughter and parenting have surprised me. Which just makes me realize how clueless I’d be if I HADN’T been reading Moxie 🙂 I think the best lesson I’ve taken away so far is that although all babies are different, somebody else has likely gone through the exact same thing you’re dealing with. It’s great to feel not so alone.

  85. My newborn is five weeks old, and seems to have a routine of taking a long afternoon nap beginning at about 4pm which lasts until 7 or 8 at night! (he wakes briefly to eat). He then cluster-feeds until about 11pm, when he finally goes down for the night. I am stressed about this late bedtime, because everything I read says babies should go to bed at 7pm-ish, but that is when his nap is just ending so we don’t start the bedtime routine until it is quite late, and then I tuck him in with me. I could wake him up from his nap early, but that just seems wrong.He breastfeeds on demand most of the day and only wakes briefly to eat every 3 hours at night, and is gaining weight, so I’m sure he is eating enough.
    Anyway, your post and the comments are helpful…it makes me feel less stressed about needing to have it figured out so early. I just want to make sure he is sleeping enough and that I’m not doing some damage by having him up so late at night!

  86. Our days/nights started to emerge with a routine ~8 weeks. At least, I think so…that’s when the daily flow of visitors seemed to end (didn’t help that muffin was born around Xmas), so it’s possible her routine would have emerged earlier had we let it.Since that time, she usually wakes up ~6:30, my husband takes her (changes diaper, plays, sometimes gives a formula supplement) so I can sleep for another hour or so. She then clusterfeeds until about 10 or 11AM, when she’s ready for her first nap. Her second nap is between 1 and 2, and then she’s ready to sleep again for a final nap by 4/5PM.
    Because our little muffin (now 15 weeks) refuses to sleep in her crib, and loves to sleep on me in the Sleepy Wrap, I try to change up the nap routine so I don’t get ‘touched out’ by the end of the day. Nap #1 I try to get her to sleep in the swing, but usually she wakes up after 20 mins so I’ll put her in the wrap to eke out another 40 mins or so (and so I can do chores around the house ‘handsfree’).
    Nap #2 we go for a walk or a run in the Chariot. She usually sleeps for about 1 h to 1.5 h, depending on how long I’m moving!
    The final nap of the day is either back in the wrap (to prep dinner), or, passed out on the breastfeeding pillow while I watch NetFlix (if it’s been a particularly long day). Shortest nap; usually 45 min if that.
    I confess there is no ‘routine’ to our bedtime. I’d lovvvveee to do the ‘read, soothe, nurse, sleep’ routine, but muffin seems to just want to clusterfeed during the evenings, and I typically end up on the couch with her until we all go to bed ~9PM. As muffin sleeps on my chest (!) , I have to sleep with her or else she pops up awake after 20 mins…This too shall pass, right?!?
    Oh yeah, and she’ll sleep 4-6 h at the beginning of the night, and then she’s up every 2-3 h until wake up time. Varies from night to night. She’s only 11.5 lbs, so I’m shocked she even gives us that much!

  87. I suppose I tried to be more particular with my first, although I can’t say she really settled down to a regular bedtime until about 6 months or so.The other ones were harder, since with each successive child I was so busy, I never thought about putting them to bed until everyone else was long in bed…
    By the fourth I realized, “Hey, that baby doesn’t need to be up- he can go to bed!”
    Whereupon I started instituting regular bed times: whenever everyone else went to bed, they did too (from about 3 months old).

  88. I liked the post a lot! However, (there’s always a however!!!!), my guy lost too much weight in the beginning. It took us two months to get it all figured out. Turned out he was mspi and suffering from such severe reflux and we had to eliminate certain foods and find the right medicine before we turned the corner. But anyway, due to his weight loss from the get-go, he would have slept hours and hours. Just like what Emmie was saying. Around 9 weeks or so, after we had found our culprits, we were able to let him sleep through the night. Until recently, I always offered food on a bit of a schedule. Naps are a different story… but eating has always been scheduled for us and we’re just barely hanging on at the 10% for weight. (We started at the 85%!) I think if scheduling works – do it! And if it stops working – then find something else. We’re adjusting to our new “routine” now that he’s 7 months old.

  89. My son was on a great eating routine but unpredictable nap routine until he went to 2 naps at around 7 months (which was when we also started to night-wean). We had about a month and a half of two nice 1.5 hour naps a day before we hit another wonder week and then one of those naps got short (45 mins) but I could never predict whether it was the morning or the afternoon one. By 12 mo we were on the move to one nap (i.e. definitely one short nap and one long nap, not both), and at 14 months he switched to one nap which meant the heavens opened and I had a life again. At that point nap was always after lunch, which was always around 12:30-1pm, and would nap for 1.5-2 hours, with a 8 to 8:30pm bedtime and 7:45-8:30 wake up time (we don’t make him get out of bed – we are late people and prefer to sleep in). Now at 2.5 years he’s relatively flexible with everything, including having short nap, no nap, staying up late, etc. We just have to re-adjust the following day for him to catch up on sleep.I do remember the futile attempts to get him on a schedule and driving myself crazy. I’m going to avoid doing that with my second, who is one week old.
    Also, the other thing I really really regret is letting my son cry it out. I was Type A and really rigidly wrote down everything that my son did and at what times on the day. Looking back at those charts made me cringe in shame – at the 4 month sleep regression there were weeks when he’d be crying 30-40 minutes per night. I wish I had learned about sleep regressions earlier and not made him cry, particularly as it didn’t work! (We stopped after a couple of weeks, but still…) It’s hard to not feel parental guilt about that sort of stuff in hindsight. I had a very traumatic delivery with him though, and had a really hard time bonding with him until at least 6 months (after some work with a therapist). Now that his sister is around I’m having to figure out how I’d do it differently this time around.

  90. We have night time down pretty good at 9 months. She sleeps from 8 to 8. Naps on the other hand are total crap. She gets tired about 9:30-10am but does not want to nap which sends us into a cranky spiral that ends with me needing to get out of the house and her ultimately falling asleep in the stroller/car seat. I would love for her to nap in her crib, but for now I am taking solace in her night sleeping.

  91. @rbelle, @jenni, @renee … i hear you! must be a 6-7 months thing. my boy has never been on a strict schedule, or much of a routine at all.but then the teething got serious, and he started flipping himself over on his tummy during sleep (so we had to lose the swaddle, which he had liked/had helped him sleep), and trying to crawl in his sleep.
    i am so freaking exhausted! the non-schedule that “worked” has become the “nothing is working” insanity. that’s why i have resorted to one of the sleep books (The No-Cry Sleep Solution). personally, i am not a big fan of schedules, and i wish i could just keep responding to his needs as they seem to arise. but i’m gonna do all this scheduling nonsense to see if it will get him to sleep the night through again.

  92. I think Schedule for Baby is a such a good Thought. Schedule for Babies is a great Stuff, Because Baby have getting the Best Routines for the Particular Activity and it’s Best for The Babies.

  93. I don’t think I ever noticed much of a rhythm and she wasn’t on any real routine for quite some time. I think b/c I wasn’t very good at reading her cues and also b/c I just adusted myself to what was going on with her.

  94. Nushi’s mom:Another recommendation for Weissbluth. The wrniitg is kind of confusing but he sets you straight on circadian rhythms, natural nap times, duration of sleep etc. Some of his approach was harsher than we were comfortable with but like anything you take the parts you like. Any doctor or dentist reading this will be angry with me but here’s what worked for us: At ten months we put a very dilute bottle of Apple Juice in his crib (50% water) and let him find it in the middle of the night. We gradually diluted it to water only(fluoridated- for those of you already groaning.) At 14 mos we still keep the water in his crib each night. I know it’s not ideal for their teeth but the weaning from diluted juice to water can be done over a 2-3 wks which seemed like a rather controlled risk. My feeling was the exhaustion itself was presenting greater risks in terms of affecting our (parents’ but particularly mom’s) alertness and moods!

  95. crying it out for early morning wake-ups also weokrd for us if it was before 5. he never cried long — a couple minutes or he just whined, and then he’d go back to sleep until 7 or so.but after waking up at 7:30 for a long time, the past couple weeks charlie has been waking up at 5:30-6:00am. Their sleep is just ever changing!It could be that Finn’s little mind is working on mastering some skill. When Charlie was around 1, he was getting his molars and working on walking, and that affected his sleep for the first time since we sleep trained (at 4 1/2 months).The one thing you can probably bet on though is that it’s a phase. 🙂

  96. Thanks for all your suggestions. I will have to find the book for some peace of mind. What I tried over the weenekd was feeding at 11 pm and not feeding at 4 am but giving water. Worked. She slept in 2 minutes and then again she got up at 6 and asked for milk. Eventually I plan to withdraw the water but that will be tough because she is still on the bottle. Nevertheless we are trying have to cope with too much attitude. I never thought 8 hours of sleep at night would be at such a premium !

  97. Ben,My daughter is 18 mohnts and I am still struggling with a regular sleep pattern. Its the 8 hour at a stretch that we crave and havent got it ever. Wonder if we went wrong in the training bit. She does 9 pm to 3 am milk ( still !!! ) ( this is after a 11 pm milk feed) and then 3:15 am to 6:30 am. Then 6:30 am feed. DOnt know whether to withdraw the milk or not. Its become a reflex action for us to do the milk routine. And yes , I havent slept through the night this century !Your blog is awesome.

  98. Aahahhaaaa!! The render was about 2hours, 1.5hours to print and 500mins to upalod. I have a pretty fast quad core. It is the upalod that thats the longest for me. The 8hour rain one I did took 1700mins to upalod.

  99. omg same here when i check how long it had played the file after 8 mins my pc speels and and i knock out along with those 8 mins even thoug it seems like an hur or two

  100. Don’t stop eating. That could be bad, and to an erxetme point: lethal. And food is what gives you energy. If you are not taking in energy you will become more tired. The metal taste baffles me. If I were you, before I go to sleep drink water. Take a water bottle to bed with you. If you ever wake up during the night, drink more water. It’s healthy, it can clear skin problems, and it may fix the metal taste. Or stop eating metal. LOL

  101. You need to go to the doctor ASAP! A metal taste in mouth is a sign your brain is lkanieg spinal fluid. I can’t remember the name of the condition but saw something on Discovery Health about a woman who had similar symptoms to you and the doctors finally discovered her brain was lkanieg cerebral spinal fluid.

  102. 1. How old is your LO? 26 Months2. How many naps does your LO take a day? 13. How long are those naps? 1.5-3.5 hours4. What’s your schedule like? She wakes up beewetn 7:30 and 8:30, naps around 1:30 then sleeps at night around 8-9:30. It’s a bit of a mess right now actually, but she really seems to need that nap still.5. How old was your LO when they started taking 1 nap a day? (If they’re at that point). She dropped to one nap at 11 months and then at around 14 months decided that she needed two again and continued to have two naps until around 18 months.And the baby is three months old and just a mess at the moment, I can’t wait for her to get out of this little stage and start sleeping more predictably.

  103. 1. How old is your LO? – 9.5 months2. How many naps does your LO take a day? – 2, somitemes 3 (just like you)3. How long are those naps? – min. 1 hour, max, 3 hours. Usually, 1.5 hours – 2 hours.4. What’s your schedule like?7am: Wake up9am: Nap #110:30am: Wakeup1pm: Nap #2*3pm: Wake up*6pm: Bedtime* Depending on the quality of this nap, there may be a third nap at around 4:30pm lasting only 30 minutes…And then her bedtime would be 6:30-7pm.5. How old was your LO when they started taking 1 nap a day? (If they’re at that point) – Not yet!Hope this helps!

  104. LO’s schedule is ptrtey set these days. Sometimes she’ll wake up earlier than usual and sometimes she’s more tired than usual. She usually has 2-3 hours of wake time before she needs a nap.

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  107. Sep03Evang.Shelby Porter Hi,I think that the CD is great. May God bless you to record many, many more. Pastor Black, I am proud of you. I love you.Sincerely,Evangelist Shelby PorterP.S. I will share it and prsahcue one.

  108. Speaking of fried foods, we were watching the news last night and they were tkailng about a fair in Iowa. Their best-selling fave new fried item this year? Fried BUTTER. That’s right, a stick of butter (stuck on a stick, of course!) dipped in batter and fried. I was pretty nauseous as it was, but when they showed people chowing on it I really almost ran for the toilet! DIS-GU-STING!!!

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