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Kid isn't born yet. I would like to know at what age should we start fixing the sleeping and eating schedules for the kid, and also expect the kid to follow?

Besides eating and sleeping are there any other schedules which need to fixed for kids?

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4 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

By all means try to establish a routine as soon as possible because in my experience a routine is a big help -- but don't despair if it doesn't work.

Some parents try to establish routines after one or two weeks. For some of these parents that plan actually works out and their benefit is that they can plan their time better. However, some babies won't adapt any kind of regular routine until they're older, so it doesn't always work and it's not worth trying to force it.

A major reason why routines are good is that it allows the parent(s) to plan according to the routine. It's much easier to go for a 1-hour grocery shopping trip when you know with reasonable certainty that the baby won't need much attention (feeding etc.). It helps minimize the risk of having to find a place to sit down to breastfeed - something that can be difficult in the middle of a big store.

Older babies also benefit from routines because they get better sleep in terms of length and intervals, and regular feeding also helps them learn to sense "I'm full" or "I'm hungry". But the age when this works varies wildly, so you'll just have to try and see if it works. If it doesn't, try again 2-3 months later.

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Thanks I would say. –  TheIndependentAquarius May 23 '13 at 11:21
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There's no right or wrong answer to this as there is more than one school of though. One is that these things should be baby led, ie your baby sleeps and eats when it wants to. The other is that you start a routine as soon as the baby is born. Last are those that follow the baby led method and then transition into a routine later when they feel like it.

Any one of these methods will work fine, remember that the most important thing is that your baby has enough to eat and has enough sleep. In my opinion using a routine or not is more for the benefit of the parents than the child. Most parents live busy lives, holding jobs and needing to do things according to the schedule that society sets, and in order to do this they need their child to work towards that. Or the parents just want to sleep at night and wake during the day. Either way, a routine makes that work out. It also helps you schedule things if you know when your baby is going to need to sleep and eat.

Both my children were on a routine within 2 weeks of birth and responded very well to it. Several of my friends started on baby-led schedules but established routines within weeks or months as they found it really difficult to live to a baby's schedule. Your experience may differ, as I said there is no right or wrong answer as it's more about you than them.

Once you have a routine working for eating and sleeping you'll find everything else falls into place.

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But "how" can you put a 2 week old baby to a "schedule"? The question is "how". Don't you "have to" feed him when he cries and breaks his schedule? –  TheIndependentAquarius May 23 '13 at 11:09
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@AnishaKaul: You're right with your question, but it's the wrong question to think of -- yes, when the baby cries for food then it's feeding time whether it fits your schedule or not. But the trick is that you can introduce feeding time when the schedule says it's time -- don't wait for the baby to ask for it. Same goes for sleep. When the baby demands X, provide X (and reset the schedule's timer). When the schedule indicates X, also provide X. The baby will learn the schedule that way! –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun May 23 '13 at 11:13
    
@TorbenGundtofte-Bruun Thanks, I have started understanding now. I will ask a separate question on what can be an ideal schedule to be set for a baby when the parents are working. –  TheIndependentAquarius May 23 '13 at 11:18
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There are people who argue that a child should be put on a schedule very early (Ezzo, Gina Ford) - literally days or weeks old. The American Academy of Paediatrics, however, recommends breastfeeding on demand rather than trying to stick to a parent-led schedule.

There's a good article with references and pros and cons here: http://www.babycenter.com/0_parent-led-baby-schedules-baby-wise-gina-ford-and-others_3658361.bc

Personally I think this is another of those cases where you have to play it by ear; don't be wed to any one particular idea of how things will work before the baby arrives, babies can't read parenting books and what works for one family will not work at all for another.

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thanks, will study that link. –  TheIndependentAquarius May 23 '13 at 11:22
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The following is mostly for when your child is a little bit older.

From personal experience only, a fixed schedule is pretty impossible. There are so many variables to account for during the raising of the child. While they may be hungry at 12:00pm one day, they could be hungry at 11:00am the next day. The same applies to bed time.

Children, especially very young children, are growing rapidly and I mean they make the bullet train look like molasses. Intake and frequency of food will vary often. A set schedule could maybe work for a week and then it will change heavily the next. This is what has happened with my child. The longer you go on, the better you will be able to pick up on the signs and whines of what your child wants (that just comes with the territory).

As for bedtime, we have set a lower limit and then a range to adhere to rather than an exact time. Every parent is busy at night, with the completion of dinner, after bath time tasks, and other life encounters, so it may not be feasible to set a bedtime.

What my wife and I have done is set a lower limit (7:00pm) with each other of when to unfold the bedtime process. The process never starts later than 8:00pm. That is our range. Then we pick a time to start that process. This changes every single night. The process involves:

  • Bath time
  • Putting on pajamas
  • Daily hygiene (finger nail cutting, cleaning out the ears and nose)
  • Then to bed

By the time we reach the final bullet, my child understands what is going on and she is ready too and while she may stay up for a bit, she's usually fast asleep in about 10-20 minutes.

A helpful thing to do is, when they are older, involve them in the process. My child helps put her toys away so she understands that playtime is over. She also helps set the mood by helping to turn out all the lights as I take her to bed.

Summary

For mealtime, while you can get in a set routine, be flexible. Flexibility is the key. Sometimes it will work and sometimes you'll have to go with the flow.

For bedtime:

  • Set a lower and upper limit. Allow the starting of the process within that range.
  • At the start of the routine, follow it through to completion. (Consistency)
  • Involve them when they are old enough

The pattern shouldn't take long to grab hold of. If you lead, they will follow.

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Thanks for the nice answer. –  TheIndependentAquarius May 29 '13 at 4:33
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