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Thread: 4 month - start schedule or continue baby-led?

  1. #1

    Default 4 month - start schedule or continue baby-led?

    I have a 4 month old baby girl. I'm exclusively bf-ing. So far we've been doing baby-led everything (sleeping, napping, feeding). I'm told that at this point we should get her to start napping on schedule (and I assume everything else), or she would not sleep regularly at night (which is a nightmare for working parents like us). She has been gaining weight very well, at 2 month and 4 month checkups, she was at 70s percentile for both height and weight. I plan to continue doing exclusive bf-ing until 6 months then introduce solids when she's ready.

    What do you ladies suggest? Should I continue feeding the baby on cues or start doing schedules only for naps?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: 4 month - start schedule or continue baby-led?

    Do you have a daily routine in general?
    Also- currently, how does she sleep at night? does she fall asleep around the same time every night, wake up around the same time?
    Last edited by @llli*usafreat; March 24th, 2014 at 03:27 PM.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: 4 month - start schedule or continue baby-led?

    Who is telling you that you "should" get your baby on a schedule?

    Feeding schedules are generally the enemy of breastfeeding success. Milk supply is created by demand. So any time you space out the baby's demand to some artificial interval, you risk ending up with decreased supply. This is particularly bad for working moms, who are dependent on pumping much of the time. Pumping is not as good as nursing at maintaining supply, and working moms can rarely pump as often as a baby would nurse. This is why one of our working moms here calls night nursing "a working mom's best friend", at least when it comes to maintaining milk supply. Night nursing can, to some extent, make up for missed nursing or pumping opportunities during the workday.

    This article about milk production helps to explain why there is no one schedule that works for all moms, which is that some moms need to nurse or pump more frequently than others in order to maintain the right level of supply.

    Now, when it comes to things other than nursing, like sleeping and napping, it really does help to embrace a routine. Not a schedule, because schedules are by definition inflexible, but a routine that can flex and respond to changes in your lives and the baby's needs. So try to make bedtime happen in a consistent way every night. For us, it was: lights dim, then bath, then lights out, nursing, and bed. We tried to open the shades at around the same time every morning, too, and to make sure the baby got some natural lighter the course of the day. Doing these very simple things can really help set the baby's circadian rhythms and build a consistent- but never entirely predictable- pattern.

    In short, I vote nay when it comes to a schedule. But shoot for a routine!
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
    Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"

  4. #4

    Default Re: 4 month - start schedule or continue baby-led?

    Thank you, ladies. I guess I'm confusing routine and schedule. My baby sleeps generally well at night.
    We co-sleep and she wakes up about 2-3 times a night. I just feed her right when she moves/fusses at night, then we both fall back to sleep.
    She falls asleep around 9-10 pm at night and usually wakes up with me between 6.30-7.30 am.
    However, we both have had cold (congestion and cough) for the last 3-4 weeks, so it didn't help.
    I'm not a walking zombie but I just want to do the right thing for her long-term sleep habit.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: 4 month - start schedule or continue baby-led?

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*blueteapot View Post
    I just want to do the right thing for her long-term sleep habit.
    It sounds like you already are! Your baby has a pretty consistent bedtime and wake-up time, and that's really the basis of good long-term sleep habits.

    One thing a lot of people forget is that babies are different from adults, and can't be expected to sleep like adults. Adults have long sleep cycles and wake infrequently, babies have short ones and wake up often. Most adults don't need to take in calories at night, most babies do. When adults wake up, they can generally get themselves back to sleep because they have had decades of practice at doing it. Babies and young children tend to need help from their parents in order to transition back to sleep. So anyone who is telling you that your baby should sleep like an adult is ignoring the fact that your baby is a baby and has different physiology and psychology than an adult.

    If you're interested in a breasfteeding-friendly book on infant sleep, I suggest checking out Elizabeth Pantley's book "The No-Cry Sleep Solution". It has a realistic look at infant sleep, it's not anti-co-sleeping or pro-cry-it-out like so sleep many books are, and it gives you some gentle strategies to use that might foster some longer stretches of sleep.
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
    Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"

  6. #6
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    Default Re: 4 month - start schedule or continue baby-led?

    That's great! I don't see a prob here. If she tends to take naps around the same time of day too just be proactive about it and it'll help reinforce it. I don't think you have much to worry about.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: 4 month - start schedule or continue baby-led?

    We have a very strict schedule at my house, and I don't even need to enforce it. My babies go to bed at 8 or 8:30 and sleep until 6 or 6:30 and never nap, although sometimes I think they need one.

    Oh you mean little babies. Mine are 7 and 10 years old!

    In case you missed it, my point is schedules for babies are never necessary (there is no proof they have any bearing at all on sleep habits in older children or adults.) It is entirely normal for a 4 month old to wake frequently at night and this is likely to continue for some time.
    Routines will establish themselves over time and will probably vary from house to house. A mom who is at work until 6:30 pm is unlikely to want to enforce a 7:30 bedtime for baby, for example. Or what if baby is made to nap every day at daycare from 11 to 1, but that is the time you want to take a Saturday family outing? Are you going to change your home schedule or spend even less time with your baby in order to keep to some schedule OR routine? Why? Again, there is no evidence this is needed or even helpful long term. If your baby is going to fall asleep at 11 am or 7:30 pm, there is not much you can do about it, but certainly there is no reason to try to make such a regular schedule happen. Assuming you are nursing baby to sleep or comforting baby to sleep some other way, you have lots of control over when you will promote sleep. And it can vary. In fact, no matter what you do, the times your baby wants to go to sleep & how long she will usually stay asleep each time will probably vary considerably over the next few years. Totally normal.

    For getting more of your own sleep when you are working during the day, consider trying some of these ideas:

    Bedsharing with baby, at least part of the night
    Don't get up to change diapers unless it is clearly necessary
    Napping on weekends or when you get home from work
    going to bed earlier
    taking turns lying in on the weekend.
    Last edited by @llli*lllmeg; March 25th, 2014 at 01:56 PM.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: 4 month - start schedule or continue baby-led?

    This is our 3rd baby, both hubby and I work, and I am a very organized/structured individual so I understand needing and wanting to get your sleep. Although I think the best schedule for a baby is no schedule at all, I DO feel that a bedtime in necessary. I think the routine of having the baby go down for the night at the same time every night does help you and the baby significantly.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: 4 month - start schedule or continue baby-led?

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*lllmeg View Post
    In fact, no matter what you do, the times your baby wants to go to sleep & how long she will usually stay asleep each time will probably vary considerably over the next few years. Totally normal.
    I cannot agree more with this. I see so many parents and families driving themselves absolutely bonkers trying to control these things when there is ultimately nothing to be gained by this control, and so many things to lose--like breastfeeding success, for one!

    I would also add to this conversation that as hard as it can sometimes be, night nursing is not only normal, but it is also really, really important for working moms. It's fantastic for keeping up supply, and important for off-setting the amount of milk we need to pump for our babes while we are at work.
    Apologies for the short responses! I'm usually responding one-handed on my smartphone!

  10. #10
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    Default Re: 4 month - start schedule or continue baby-led?

    With hubby and I both working I have asked myself this question as well. We decided to start a bedtime routine a couple weeks ago (R is 10 weeks now) and it is going well. At about 9pm (earlier if she seems tired, later on the days I work late) I change her, swaddle her, turn on the white noise and lay down in bed with her and let her nurse to sleep. I usually doze off too. I move her to her bassinet when I wake up, usually about an hour later because my arm is uncomfortable. I nurse her any time she wakes up overnight, usually around 3am but sometimes sooner.

    I am only working half-days right now, but once I go back full time daddy is going to start a nap time routine as well. He works nights and needs her to nap during the day so he can sleep a little too. I think nap time will look a lot like bedtime except with a bottle instead of nursing to sleep.

    I don't plan to schedule feedings, but I pay close attention to her habits so I can try to predict when she will be hungry.

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