All the ‘how to’ new born baby books offer you tips about how to help your baby settle down to a routine, how to schedule feedings, night time sleeps, naps, bathing, etc.; since the sooner the baby ‘settles down’ the better it is for the baby as well as the parents.
And yet when you think about it, whose benefit is this scheduling for? Yes it would be nice for the parents if the baby settled into a predictable pattern.
But it doesn’t do so much for the baby to be fed at particular pre set times, to be set down for a nap at someone else’s convenience and so on, surely?
Babies are variable, sometimes they are hungrier than at others; at other times they want a meal earlier than usual, so does it really make sense to hold them down to a pattern? If for some reason she got hungry earlier one day than another, will you make the child wait to be fed just because it isn’t time yet?
Also how does it make sense to put a wide eyed baby down for a nap just because a schedule says it’s time to do so? And to leave a squalling baby in the crib just because it is time for the nap till he tires himself out with the crying and finally falls asleep, hardly seems sensible.
At least for the first few months, the baby is still getting used to being on the outside and seems to be marching to the beat of an altogether different drummer. Getting him to adapt to your schedule may not only produce stress and angst, it may prove altogether futile. The baby is not trying to annoy you by not falling asleep – he simply doesn’t have the mechanism to try and fall asleep at will.
There is the apprehension that ‘giving in’ to the baby will spoil the baby and that not scheduling is somehow tantamount to pandering to unreasonable whims and fancies of the baby. Not so! The baby will not get spoilt if you feed her on demand, and it is not going to have bad sleep habits if you don’t regiment her sleeping.
Yes in the interests of everyone in the family the child should learn that lights out mean quiet time, and so on, don’t rush it. She will figure it out soon enough. Trying to force the pace in the first few months simply means you are setting yourself up for disappointment when baby does not oblige.