Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Thinking about Scheduling

I have been reading some books on what to do once the baby is here, and I thought I'd report what I'm thinking about. I'd love to hear from some of you who are experienced moms (or just moms at all, if you don't consider yourself experienced), or big sisters (like me) who have lived with babies in your life.

First, I read My First 300 Babies by Gladys Hendrick, who worked with hundreds of babies and their parents to train them to be on a schedule. I am not sure, but I think this book was written in the 50's or 60's (possibly 70's), just by the dated content -- glass bottles, cloth diapers, length of time women stayed in the hospital after giving birth. I found much of what Mrs. Hendrick suggested to be helpful. Her motto "It's not what the baby does, it's what you do about it . . . because babies are unpredictable," made a lot of sense to me. Her experience seemed to speak for itself, and the families who had her help seemed very pleased with the outcome! However, she was RATHER strict on her scheduling. She starts with a schedule the day you come home from the hospital (I'm imagining that really means when the baby is about a week old, not 2 days old like they are now), and plans for the baby to go 4 hours between feedings right away (3 during the day). That seemed like a lofty goal, and maybe not possible, but her firmness reminded me of a grandmother figure saying "honey, don't freak out. . . your baby can deal with it." Though I don't think I'll actually go with her schedule, I think reading this book will help me to stay calm and let my baby cry a bit when she lays down to sleep, etc. It should also help with planning parts of the day when the baby gets a bit older -- she advocates teaching a child how to play and entertain itself first in the playpen, and then in it's bedroom during part of each day. I think this is helpful especially when you only have one child, and you feel the need to be his/her constant entertainer.

Now I'm reading Babywise by Gary Ezzo. So far, this has been much more flexible, but with structure. In case you aren't familiar, Babywise advocates putting your baby on a 2 1/2 to 3 hour feeding schedule after it's a week old, and carefully monitoring your child's growth. This book deals a lot more with breastfeeding -- every aspect -- which I find helpful. Friends that I know who have done Babywise have told me the same thing: that the baby is more pleasant when he/she is awake, because they wake up hungry, you feed, and then during their alert times, they are happy! It makes sense. I know quite a few families who have done their own version of Babywise (someone told me it's like a recipe -- take out what you don't like, or put in what you do), and seem to have success. I know my mom used a flexible schedule with my sisters, and I recall clearly setting the timer for 20 minutes every time they cried when they were put to bed.

I guess at the end of the day, I'm going to have to do some sort of schedule, even if I weren't convinced of the benefits, because I'm going back to work. Hopefully, things like sleeping through the night, and being able to successfully breastfeed will just be additional benefits that come along with the territory!

What have you done? Weigh in on this topic, please!


Elizabeth said...

4 babies with Babywise; 2 babies without. My first 2 I had NO idea what I was doing and made alot of mistakes. By the time I had baby number 3, I knew there had to be a better way. My last 4 babies have all been great sleepers and nappers and have been more or less on a schedule since they were very young. My first 2- no schedule at all; my first son didn't sleep through the night until age 2! I loved Babywise; however, you have to remember all babies are different and you do have to be flexible. A schedule is a good thing- it makes for a happier baby which makes for a happier mama. You and Josh will figure it out!

Sarah said...

I did a modified approach of Babywise with all of my kids.

I think the biggest advice I have for you is: each baby is different! If it doesn't work for you how you had hoped, don't get too frustrated with yourself. Elise was a terrible infant(bless her :-) and needed to eat more often to gain weight at first. But once I calmed down a little, and broke out of my "plan" that I had all set for her, she fell into a schedule on her own and it was wonderful. Definitely develop a schedule--but know that it may a different one than other people's schedules. :-)

Rachel W said...

Dear Gretchen,
I'll add my two cents. I've used the Babywise principles with all three of my girls and it has worked very well. The benefits of a schedule are numerous though I feel that I am always tweaking the schedule to allow for this or that. But their principles are great: not making the baby the center of the family but rather welcomed into to your family, helping the baby from early on to stabilize their sleep/eat/play cycles so that they and you know what to expect, training them to fall asleep on their own and even encouraging them to have a bit of alone play time each days. Babies are easily overstimulated and so the routine makes life stable and secure for them.

I have also had the experience of each of my babies being different. Clara Anne was an excellent sleeper but always cried a bit before she fell asleep. She could really play well by herself. Chloe had a few more issues with sleeping but whined and fussed very little and was a really smiley baby. Christin has been my easiest to train to sleep by herself (she did it already the first week, 5+ hours straight at night by a few days old) but she usually wants someone to play with her since she is used to sisters being around! So it's true, every baby is different and you can just expect that not everything will go according to the book.

A funny anecdote: During Clara Anne's first few weeks we were reading Babywise over and over, trying (in vain) to apply it to every single situation. I remember being frustrated that she was acting in ways that the book didn't seem to cover, and John quipped, "well, I don't think she's read the book!" That's true of all babies!

You will do wonderfully; relax and enjoy your baby and do the things that make sense to you. Congratulations again!

Rachel W

Mandy said...

In the beginning a schedule is hard, but before long they pretty much make their own schedule. I think laying them down BEFORE they get too tired is a biggie.

I have read on the twin message boards that it is sometimes easier to get on a schedule when mom works. (one plus to having to go back!) I think because the baby's day always starts and probably ends at about the same time.

PS: keep the baby bump pictures coming...you are too cute!

jillybean said...

you know me, Gret. I think the scheduling helps mom maybe even more than it does baby. those first few weeks and months can be so confusing and difficult even without a schedule, but the schedule at least gives a framework. and the rewards of babies being better sleepers, eaters, and in general happier because they know what to expect and are not overly tired far outweigh any sacrifice of a "free" lifestyle. for me, i felt like it has made me more "free". oh, how i value sleep and time with Greg in the evenings. it is a blessing to be able to put your baby down at bedtime and have her go to sleep. and starting that process from the beginning made it a natural process rather than trying to undo different patterns already established.

i apologize that my sentence structure is a little frazzled, but I think you get my point. :)
love you and you look beautiful!

Sarah said...

P.S. I think the idea of a schedule helps even MORE when they are older. I know people who think we are crazy bc our kids go to bed at 7 (or shortly after) every night, except on special occasions. It is nice for them....they sleep so much longer and more peacefully, the earlier you put them to bed. Crazy, but so true!!! You need your afternoons during naptime, and your evenings with them in bed!

Micki Lyons said...

I hesitate to even post this because so many have such positive scheduling experiences. That's great, I'm glad it worked for them but for me, my Ezzo experience was short lived.
A very sweet lady with very good intentions passed Babywise on to me when I was expecting. While a baby who eats and sleeps on my demand (I know that sounds inflammatory but there really isn't a gentler way to say it) sounded great and convenient, it was a disaster for me. My little guy just didn't fit the Babywise mold and had needs that contraindicated his methods.

J had severe reflux and letting him cry was actually physically causing him even greater pain. Not only that but he had obstructive apnea causing his sleep cycles to be very unpredictable. I hate to even think about what the end result would have been had I stuck with it. You may want to look into the many cases of Failure to Thrive associated with Ezzo's methods.

What did work for him was setting more of a flexible routine based on his individual needs rather than a structured schedule.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that with Ezzo, and all parenting book really, your mileage may very. The recipe analogy is perfect! Pray for wisdom on what is best for you and your baby and use what works and throw the rest out.

Congratulations and prayers for a safe delivery!

Devin said...


I have three boys, as you know, and I have used the babywise program with my last two. Though I didn't use the exact system with my first son, I was pretty strict about napping/eating/playing around the same times each day, so I do feel as though I was doing a modified version of babywise without even knowing it--and here is what I have to say:

I would (and have) recommend this program to anyone. I would say first of all that your recipe analogy is good. You have to be able to be flexible. I didn't like the word schedule, but rather a routine. We stuck to about the same routine every day--with some exceptions, of course, but you will have that! That is normal--you should be able to break out of the routine and still have your sanity--but to stick to the same general timeline each day is only a good thing for baby.

A routine only helps you out as well--you will come to know when you are able to do things for yourself (free time), and you won't have to even think about things like "Is she hungry? Is she tired?" because you will just know. Especially early on. I just do not have one negative thing to say about Ezzo's system!

Good luck--I hope you can find what works best for you and your little girl. That, after all, is the most important thing, no matter what any of the rest of us do!

Brenna said...

I found a schedule difficult when I first brought my daughter home, but it's nice once you sort of figure out your baby. Eventually I got her on an 'every 4 hours' schedule but often doubted myself because she seemed hungry in between that. Then I would feed her, she'd only eat a little, then want to eat again in two hours! Then we'd be off the schedule! It took a little time to figure it all out, but you'll know your baby. :-)

Dayna Greeson said...

I'm sure you have a million thoughts swirling in your mind... All the what if's, the question of "Can I do this and work too".... I couldn't afford to stay home like so many I would trade spots with in a heartbeat. However, the best advise I could ever give you is to just take a deep breath, stop worrying about all the little details........ Your baby will tell you when he/she is hungry and when tired, wants held, etc. You will learn to pick up the signals. I promise-it's amazing how those things that didn't seem to be built in, start to come out in a person once they become a mommy.
I'm sure you'll do great- read all you want, take all the advise you want, but remember, listen to your baby and your instincts both are usually pretty right on!

James and Christen said...

With all the advice, I won't weigh-in! :)

You look great and I am sure that God will give you both wisdom!

Love ya! Christen

Anonymous said...

Gretchen! You are so large! :) hahahaha. My friend said, "she is so tiny!" You are tiny and large. Both at the same time. :) And how IS that bibble?


Anonymous said...

ummm I have a lot of motherly advice to give. NOT! butI will say taht Cede has always had kind of a schedule but I think someone already said its easier for babies when their mommies work. The only other thing is that she could definitly have played alone more often. I think she plays alone WAY more at home than when she's hanging with the aunts. As to be expected. :) haha.

I miss you! Can't wait for the bundle of joyfulness!


julie warner said...

Gretchen, have you read Secrets of the Baby Whisperer by Tracy Hogg? If not, you might enjoy it. I liked it a lot. It's helped me understand our babies, especially when they were little tiny babies and were sometimes hard to read/understand. The author was British (she died several years ago.) and she uses the word "bloody" alot in the book. (I distinctly remember her disdain for the practice of letting babies fall asleep in a swing. She referred to the swing as "the bloody swing".) I found it amusing.

I am sure that you will be a great Mommy. Just relax and enjoy your precious little gift!

Jason and Andrea said...


If you have any problems with breastfeeding, I have the # of the best lactation consultant in Louisville. She is awesome! I am so excited for you! I cannot wait to meet your little one.

Tina and Todd said...

Gretchen...being the mother of only1 right now...every baby is different-so I think that it is hard to apply a book exactly as written to your baby! Only you will know her cues!
I would suggest any book by Dr.Sears - we went with Attatchment Parenting - and it has worked very well giving us an emotional closeness with our baby also. We also read the book - The No-cry sleep solutions...very good also. Babies cry for a reason...when we are hungry we eat...babies do not have that option...it is our responsibility to determine those needs at or before their cry.
I am sure you will be a great mother who will love your baby well.

Phyllis said...

I'm just catching up on your blog, and I know that since you wrote this you have a MILLION other things on your mind... but for what it's worth, I'll go ahead and let you know my experience, and you can read and think about it when you get a chance.

When I was pregnant with Ladan, I was around a lot of new moms who were doing the Babywise thing, and they were fairly anxious all the time. Of course, it came out differently with each woman, but at the bottom of it all, they were anxious because none of their kids were doing things just like the book. So I just stayed away from reading the book at that point. I did pick up on some helpful hints, but a "schedule" was definitely not something that would have been helpful for me with either of my boys.

I guess what I mean is that we did do things in an order (eat, wake, sleep), but it was not at the same time every day. Honestly, that would have made me insane, because my own life is not that structured. At the same time, I did not necessarily run to stop my kids from crying every time they hollered out. If there was something I needed to finish, I knew they weren't going to die if they waited 20 minutes or something. They did end up working into their own groove and ending up on something of a schedule that had some leeway of about 30-60 minutes given the day... but I didn't necessarily impose that.

Our kids have always been great sleepers, meaning that they get enough hours in a day (except for Ladan who had some trouble burping effectively enough when he was awake and so woke up some just for that reason). And Gabe had some reflux issues and wouldn't sleep longer than 20 minutes on his back, but when I gave in and let him sleep on his tummy, he immediately became a good sleeper. However, until they were 9 months or just a bit older, they both woke up every 3 hours to eat in the night. I had many people telling me that I should let them cry it out and make them go the full 11-12 hours. However, it honestly was easier for everyone involved for me to get up and take the 10 minutes every three hours to feed them (thankfully they were quick eaters) and let them go right back to sleep. As it turns out, they just have pretty fast metabolism... and as it turns out, I was thankful I hadn't made them skip these meals because they were both dropping off the charts dramatically anyway. And, at about 9 months, they both started sleeping through the night on their own.

All that to say, I am certain that there are lots of helpful concepts in Babywise... but there are also lots of opportunities to get yourself and your baby frustrated if you're overly legalistic. And, like someone else said, if your baby has reflux or anything of that nature, it may actually be harmful to take a strict approach.

Julie's suggestion about The Baby Whisperer may be helpful for sure. You'll learn quickly that if you just try to feed your baby every time she cries, you'll have some bad training going. Often, that's not even what they need. My kids sometimes just needed some help burping even if it was 60 minutes after they'd eaten. Or sometimes they had gas. We learned quickly with Ladan that he absolutely hated having anything in his diaper that resembled moisture. Essentially, what I'm saying is that I did feed my kids on demand... but only when they were actually demanding to be FED (as opposed to just needing a diaper change, a burp, someone to hold them if they had a tummy-ache, a nap, etc.).

All of this has been about feeding stuff really. I do think that the concepts of crib time/room time while kids are awake is a LIFE-SAVER... for you, for your child, and for people who may care for your child when you're away.

I am not an ANTI-Babywise legalist, but I think I definitely fall into the camp of taking a few helpful hints from it and not becoming overly caught up in the actual time of day that everything is happening.

The great thing about all of these different stories is that you can look at them and see that there are just as many ways to parent appropriately as there are kids on the planet. There are kids who go to bed at 7pm and kids like mine who go to bed at 10pm (or so), and they may all sleep 12 hours or more every night. A lot of it will obviously depend on your own personal schedule and how you and Josh decide to work it out... but the majority of it is stuff you will get to learn along the way when you meet this little girl face to face! The really amazing thing is that you are literally surrounded by godly parents who can help you with just about any issue under the sun!