Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Just what is "scheduling"?

As you are preparing for your baby, you might start picking up on the two main camps of parenting styles: Scheduled Babies VS. On Demand Babies. We are going to give you our honest opinion. No sugar coating.

Pretty much every human functions on some sort of schedule. Babies THRIVE on routine. They like to know the basic time they are going to eat, play and sleep. So do adults. Project Mom is an advocate for having some structure for your baby.

What does scheduling look like?
Your baby wakes up at pretty much the same time every morning. And he eats at about the same time everyday. And he plays for the same amount of time between feeding and naps everyday. Oh, and he naps at the same general time everyday. And SHOCKER. He goes to bed the same time range every night.  You don't walk around with a stopwatch, but you do pay attention to what time it is.

Read On Becoming Baby Wise by Ezzo for an explanation as to why this is good for your baby and how to get it done. Personally, we do not do every last little think they suggest, but it is a good guide for setting up a schedule. They are a little more intense then we like, but their logic and methodology is spot on.  The No Cry Sleep books are also great reference points.
Why is scheduling helpful?
For Mom: you know what is going on with your baby and what to expect. When it is 9:00 AM and you know baby ate at 7:00AM and then had a diaper change and played for an hour or so, it is not tough to figure out when he gets a little fussy at 9:00 that he is tired and ready for a nap. You can PLAN to go the grocery store after a feeding because you know baby is cool for an hour and a half or so before he will get tired. If baby is more than two months old and has been sleeping 12 hours every night for three weeks now and RANDOMLY wakes up at 3:00 AM you KNOW something is up because it is NOT the NORM. Oh, he pooped in his sleep. Diaper change and back to bed for everybody. Yippee.

For Baby: he knows what to expect out of each day. Babies are smart little suckers and they fall into a schedule pretty easily if you LET them. Without a general game plan for baby, it is like living in constant jet lag. That is not fun for anyone. Again, Baby Wise does a great job explaining what happens to baby without a schedule. It is not pretty. Although people who don't schedule CLAIM that scheduling is mean, THEY are the ones who tend to have babies that CRY and are FUSSY a lot because their poor little child doesn't know which end is up. Like we said, no sugar coating. A scheduled baby gets a full nights sleep. Get a full belly at every meal. Get ample play time and development. Is rested during the day. Goes to sleep easily because his body clock knows when he is sleepy. Baby is happy!

For Helpers: A scheduled baby is much easier for a babysitter, nanny, daycare, church nursery worker, etc because they don't have to try every trick in the book to figure out why baby is cranky. And they don't have to stress about "reading" baby for possible signs of hunger and tiredness (is that a word?). In fact, nannies daycare workers, teachers, etc PUT kids on schedules under their care because they know it makes life easier and more enjoyable for them AND baby.

So those are a few of the pros to scheduling your baby. In fairness, we should also share some of the cons. You have to be committed. Not in the mental institution way. In the I am going to stick to this basic routine kind of committed. For example, if your baby takes a nap everyday at 10:00, you need to make sure that happens. Either skip the 10:00 shopping trip to IKEA or let baby sleep wherever you are. There is flexibility in scheduling, but you have to make the effort to keep your schedule to the best of your ability each day. It's not a big deal. You just plan around it. You do have to make some concessions here and there in the spirit of what is best for baby (and mommy too).

Those who DON'T believe in scheduling will think (and sometimes say to your face):
- It is mean to let your baby cry (they think that you let your baby cry for hours on end) This is a scheduling MYTH. The TRUTH is that after a little coaching your baby RARELY cries because they know what to expect and so do you)
-Your baby won't know you love them (another MYTH. Just because you can lay your baby down and he pretty much goes right to sleep doesn't mean you don't love him. It means he was TIRED and READY for bed. There is plenty of time for rocking and cuddling for long periods of time when baby is AWAKE and wants to play and interact. Unless you want to rub your baby's back EVERY night for the next SIX years, try scheduling)
-Your baby will never develop a sense of independence (WRONG. A baby is not developmentally able to tell you when they are hungry and tired all the time. If that were true, babies would come out as 30-year-olds. They have parents for a reason. Because they NEED someone to take care of them. No offense to any demand feeders, but we would rather our child know that Mommy is in charge and is making decisions with baby's best interest in mind than having a child that thinks THEY are in charge and can tell Mommy what to do and when to do it. Have fun with that when baby is 2 and 3!! )

Check out our next post on what On Demand parenting looks like and why people choose that. Most don't CHOOSE it. They just do not know about scheduling and how FABULOUS it is for all involved.

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