I’m not a structured person. I like to have a general pattern to my day, but I hate clocks and deadlines and appointments. I’d prefer to live in a culture where you met someone “in the late morning,” as opposed to “at 11:15.”
So I’m not considering a baby schedule because I looooove schedules so much.
“Not sleeping through the night” is a big reason other people pursue baby schedules, but that’s not a draw for me either. I don’t mind sleeping for two segments of 3-4 hours each night, then catching a nap with Phoebe in the afternoon. Early morning diaper changes don’t bother me. Neither do early morning feeds.
I’m considering putting my baby on a schedule because I think it’s the best thing for her and the best thing for my relationship with her.
I believe a sleep schedule will give Phoebe the sense of security that she needs in order to be able to rest well. I’ve noticed that, when she is not on a schedule, it is often difficult for her to sleep, and when she gets overtired she cries and cries herself to sleep, even if I’m right there trying to comfort her. I believe having a predictable sleep time and awake time regimented into her day will help her have defined cycles that will then, in turn, help her rest better when it is time to rest.
I also believe that, in teaching Phoebe the emotional skills she needs to get herself to sleep, I am helping her mature and grow as a person. Being able to do this in a loving and safe environment is the kind of parenting that I want to be able to provide for her.
I believe that babies crave structure and respond well when we give it to them, and I recognize my unwillingness to add structure to her day speaks more about my insecurities as a parent than anything else. Thoughts like this have held me back in the past: “How do I know how much sleep she needs? How could I force a schedule on her?” What has changed? I think I have a pretty good idea of how much sleep she needs each day, and I think I understand when she’s trying to tell me she’s tired and ready to go down. I trust her, her ability to communicate her needs for rest, and I trust my ability to understand her cues and respond appropriately. I have more faith in myself as well as Phoebe.
I’m also considering putting my baby on a schedule because – while I love babywearing naps, bedsharing and nursing/cuddling her to sleep – if Phoebe is physically attached to me all day every day, it makes it very difficult to get anything else done. As she gets heavier, it will also hurt my back! I’d like the freedom of knowing she can sleep on her own, while still keeping the option of babywearing her for a nap, or cuddling up with her while she sleeps.
So, in short, this unstructured, “go with the flow” Mama is considering a sleep schedule for her baby because:
(1) I think a predictable structure will give her more peace of mind and help her get better rest
(2) She doesn’t seem fully content with the current state of sleep affairs
(3) I want to help her grow emotionally and to teach her how to take care of herself, with my constant support
(4) I want freedom to be apart from my baby so that I can enjoy the times we are intimate, instead of (potentially) setting myself up to resent her.*
*Note: I don’t resent her. But I see how this could develop.
Wow. This post is a lot longer than I expected. I wanted to talk a bit about the method we’re planning to use, but I’ll have to save that for another day.
Do you use a sleep schedule? Why or why not? What are your attitudes on the topic?