Monday, February 8, 2010

Implementing Structure and Routine

When I was pregnant, deciding on whether or not we were going to have a schedule/routine for Davis was one of our biggest decisions. What would the benefits be? Are there any? Is it even worth it? And of course, will it even work? I have to say, that if we did not have a schedule/routine for Davis, I think I may be a mad woman. So many people let the baby decide when he's hungry, when he wants to sleep, when he wants to play. That's wonderful if that works for you, but I don't want to let my baby dictate my life. I was on babycenter.com recently and had a post up asking a question about a four hour schedule. Everyone that I spoke to had similar schedules and agreed they work best to help the child learn and grow. Except for one not so nice lady telling me she lets her child do whatever they like and I was such an awful person for doing this. She obviously wasn't the brightest person ever, seeing as how she couldn't even spell and her 6 month old baby still wakes up 3 different times during the night. So, I decided to write a post as to why I have a schedule, and some of my opinions about it.

Having a regular schedule can be stressful for you and I, but having one for baby provides framework that orders your young child's world. Children thrive on sameness and repetition. This helps them to learn and feel more self confident in their environment. Babies, especially, need routine as far as sleeping, eating, and even activities that lead up to those. "Knowing what is expected cuts down on parenting struggles," says Jodi Mindell, child psychologist and author. Schedules and routines give you control over the situation, which also reduces anxiety because both you and your baby will come to know what to expect next. When it comes to implementing a routine into your life, flexibility plays a vital role. Routines also help babies learn to self-settle and how to be great sleepers. It also helps children deal with separation from their parents and allows them to feel secure and safe. (For example: Davis was sleeping through the night at 8 weeks...on and off for a while....having being used to his sleep schedule. He has now been sleeping 12 hours straight through the night for a few months.)

Routines also help parents know what is wrong with their baby. It helps them to differentiate the different types of cries and what the baby is needing at the time. After you fall into a routine, you will be able to learn the hunger, sleepy, or bored cries. (Davis does this one quite well!) Right around nap time for Davis, he is ready to go down and wants to be put in his bed. If he is kept up too long, he will let us know...for sure. But we also have to be flexible with the schedule as far as getting out of the house and doing things. If we are planning on going to be at someones house for dinner that cuts into his sleep, we are those parents that will bring his pack and play and set it up in a guest bedroom. Otherwise, the night just is not fun at all. He is really good at being able to sleep in new places and will just fall right to sleep.


An infant's brain grows faster during the first year of life than at any other time. By the age of one, their brain will more closely resemble an adult brain. The foundation for healthy physical, emotional, and intellectual development is laid during this time period. Acclimating your infant to a routine has many benefits in these areas of development. By responding to hunger and the need for physical activity, you are providing for healthy physical development. Being attentive to their needs allows them to develop strong bonds and teaches them to trust their caregivers, thus increasing emotional development. Since the most effective learning comes with repetition, intellectual development is strongly supported by a structured routine. The repetition of the routine is what the baby remembers, thereby nurturing memory skills.

We absolutely love having a schedule/routine for Davis and so far it has worked wonderfully for us. No, we are not "programming our child" or strict and freak out if something goes wrong. Having this routine also leaves Michael and I with much needed time to ourselves everyday. As soon as Davis is in bed, it's "our time." Whether it's a late dinner or watching a movie, it has really helped us out a ton to relax and unwind.

12 comments:

lifewithsweetpeaches said...

I absolutely agree! We have a schedule for Molly that we stick to, much to the chagrin of visitors that want to see the baby at 8 pm or to stop by during her nap time. Sometimes, I will go to lunch or the mall and therefore miss naptime by a short time, but I don't do this everyday. Flexibility is key! So glad to see another mom's thoughts (that mirror mine!). :)

Danielle said...

I have also always used a routine. I don't see how people survive that don't. Loved this post!

Shell said...

Schedules work for us, here, too! Well, after the first few weeks anyway. A newborn can't really be scheduled too much, in my opinion. But, shortly after that, schedules are the way to go!

Eclipsed said...

When I was pregnant I was a super cool laid back mom who was all hippied out and planning on letting my baby take the lead, until I had said baby and got a dose of reality.

Scheduling has saved my sanity. I did let the schedule develop organically and based on her cues. But she knows that 7pm is bed and when lunch is and play time. I mean there's room for flexibility, but there is definitely a schedule in place.

mom2three said...

oh my crap people I am so laughing at that lady who gave you crap for having a schedule.
I have 3 kids and with each of them I had a schedule and I stuck to it as much as possible. Meal times, nap times, bath time...all at the same time. My in laws and I got into it quite often about this because they didnt understand why I couldn't just bring a tired or hungry baby over on their time....oh my gosh I was so angry for people not understanding that scheduling works for us and my kids are great because of it!
Everyone has to do what works for them but I fully believe in having a routine!

~Stephanie~ said...

I couldn't agree with you more! We have our 6 month old daughter on a routine and it has been wonderful for everyone! Like your son, she has been sleeping through the night (usually 11-12 hours) since she was 8 weeks old. So, so glad to hear that there are other mommies out there that agree and are working hard to create a schedule and routine for their children! Hope you have a great day!

ASREEHER said...

OK I AM WANTING TO DO A SCHEDUAL WHEN I HAVE MY LITTLE MAN SO WHEN DO I START AND HOW DO I START?? OR IS THIS IN ONE OF THE BOOKS YOU TOLD ME ABOUT? LOL

Heather@WHMB said...

All about the schedules myself girl! Everyone needs a little structure to in their chaos. :)

C H R I S T I said...

Totally agree with you on the schedule!

Cindy said...

Schedules are great. Before I got my baby on one, she got overly tired and cried for four hours. Too tired to sleep. It was so awful!

Ashley said...

Have to agree to disagree with you on this one. :) I'm glad it works for you guys, I just feel differently. My baby's on demand and it's not bad at all. I think all children grow and learn on their own and all develop somewhat of a schedule at some point anyway. It works for us. And.. on the opposite side of where you are.. I've heard 'baby them while they're babies and they won't need babied all their life.' :) His first year is his first year.. I'll get 'my' life back eventually.. and when I do, I'll miss this!

LMJ said...

yes! yes! Emma has a schedule!! It doesn't always work out to the minute, but the times everyday are very similar. Her naptimes are always the same everyday.

When she cries, I look at the time, and I know it's either naptime, she's bored, or she's hungry.

I'm all for schedules. Children need structure!