5/30/2012

Huggies: Right on Schedule



When I had my first child, I didn't worry much about a schedule. He was one of those kids who could sleep anywhere and through anything. If I had to run an errand he could sleep right through it.
He was the same with his eating schedule. He would nurse and take a bottle with ease, and even today he is the least picky of any of my kids when it comes to food. As long as I don't try to get him to eat an egg, he is a happy camper.  We also didn't have much of an outside schedule to contend with. I worked only a couple of short shifts a week, and during that time he would be home with Dad or happily hanging out at his grandparents' for a few hours twice a week.

Baby number two came and blew my easy-parenting dreams out the window with one word: COLIC! Our schedule consisted of only two phases: crying and not crying. We spent three months in survival mode.  Luckily I had quit work to stay at home full-time, and her older brother wasn't old enough to be in school yet, so we had even less need for a schedule.

When I had baby number three, a schedule became a little more important. I was still at home full-time, but I had two children in school. There was no more sleeping in if we had had a rough night. There were lunches to pack and kids to drop off.
One important step I used in establishing a sleep schedule was to make sure that any nighttime sleep interruptions--a needed feeding or diaper change--were completed quickly and with the least amount of light and interaction as possible. I kept all of the fun, stimulating interaction for the hours I wanted her to be awake.

Now baby number four is on its way this fall. I can't even wrap my head around the crazy schedule this is going to create. I will have three older children at three different schools: middle school, elementary school, and preschool. Throw in all of the extracurricular activities like sports, dance, and music lessons, and I don't know what schedule is going to be possible.

The thing I know for sure is that there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to creating a schedule for your baby. This is an area where you are going to have to measure your needs, the demands on your time, and the character of your little one to create something that works for you. Although I am keeping my fingers crossed that this little guy will be as flexible as his older brother was, I will still implement a lot of the same steps I used with all of my children, like a very structured bedtime routine. It may not take place at the same time every night, but the same activities will occur to help the baby learn the habit of bedtime. Nighttime interactions will be as peaceful as possible, and I will continue to not use a sound machine to drown out the noise of the house. I feel that the earlier the little one learns to sleep through some real-life chaos, the better.  And number one on my list: I will pray that this one doesn't have colic!

What tricks do you use in your house to implement a good sleeping schedule?

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