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The evils of schedules 

Do you have her on a schedule yet?

Just like "does she sleep through the night?" and "is she a good baby?", this is one of the most inevitable and annoying questions that parents  get. You see, having your baby on a schedule means you're in control and apparently, in the eyes of society, if you don't have your baby on a schedule you are spoiling her and letting her run your life.

I'm a Type-A personality. I like being in control. I could easily have translated that into a parenting style that involves strict parent-led schedules for my kids. I could have picked up Ezzo's Babywise and Hogg's Secrets of the Baby Whisperer at the bookstore and used a combination of Outlook and spreadsheets to plan every aspect of my baby's life. I could have ensured that my kids stayed in line. That they knew who was in control. And others would have praised me for it, for my success at exerting my authority and not letting the baby run my life. But that isn't what I want for my kids and the fact that society wants that signifies to me another place that we have gotten off track.

Using a schedule for a baby or a child is a way of achieving short-term goals with regards to a child's behaviour. Unfortunately, I don't think that people have thought through the long-term consequences of parent-led schedules. This is true of both baby schedules (feeding times, sleep times, play times, etc.) and over-scheduling of older children (on top of school, there is hockey, ballet, piano lessons, gymnastics, soccer, French tutor, Sunday school, and so on).

But why are schedules bad? What are some of the repercussions?

There are a number of reasons that schedules can be detrimental, including:

  • Don't take individual needs into account: Not every baby or child is the same and every baby and child will go through periods (e.g. growth spurts, developmental milestones) where their needs are changing. Parent-led schedules do not take this into account. Instead they assume that the needs of every baby can be met in the same way all of the time.

  • Dangerous for breastfeeding: Putting babies on a schedule can be especially detrimental  for breastfed babies. It can lead to failure to thrive if the baby is not feeding frequently enough and can result in the mom's milk supply decreasing and not being able to meet her baby's needs. The American Academy of Pediatrics put out a media alert to affirm this point due to the proliferation of baby scheduling advice in books and the media. For more information see Right on Cue: Can You Breastfeed on a Schedule?

  • Stifles creativity and sense of self: Kids need free play time to develop their imagination and creativity.  If kids don't have this free time to themselves they aren't able to develop their own personality and figure out who they are. Their life ends up being about ribbons, tests,  and competitions instead of being about thinking, imagining and developing a personality.

  • Makes kids inflexible: Babies and children that are put on strict schedules come to depend on those schedules. It makes them very inflexible. With babies, staying out an hour past their bedtime can result in a major breakdown and throw their sleep off for a week or more. With older kids, they can get upset if their schedule gets disrupted or needs to be changed. This is something they can carry forward into adulthood and they can have difficulty adapting to changes or new environments. They do not learn how to make decisions on their own or take risks.

  • Gets in the way of family time: For a lot of families every weeknight and every weekend is taken up juggling various activities. Dad takes Johnny to hockey practice while mom takes Jane to swimming lessons. Dad and Johnny grab a quick bite at a burger joint on their way to Johnny's piano lessons. Mom gives Jane a sandwich to eat in the car on her way to ballet. Between each kid's activities and play dates and the errands that the parents need to get done in between them, there is little or no time for the family to just hang out. No time for an afternoon at the beach, a lazy family brunch at home where everyone pitches in, a family meal in the evening at home. These things get forgotten and deprioritized in the shuffle.

  • Can be stressful for parents: Even if a baby's schedule is parent-imposed, the parents can later end up feeling trapped by it and have difficulty planning around set nap times, bed times, and feeding times. With older kids, it can be stressful for the parents trying to keep up with the busy schedules of their kids, including driving them to and from activities, organizing uniforms and equipment, planning meals around them, and so on.

So if schedules are bad, what should we be doing instead?

For most people, having some scheduled activities is inevitable and just part of life. But there are some strategies you can employ to make it more manageable and minimize the negative impacts.

  • Use a sling: With babies, using a sling meant that I could follow my baby's cues without becoming a slave to them. I went about my day doing the things that I wanted to do and she just came along in the sling, slept when she needed to sleep and nursed when she needed to nurse. Just because your baby isn't on a schedule doesn't mean you are a martyr. You juts need to find a way to harmoniously meet your baby's needs on cue while continuing to live your own life.

  • Be organized: I think it is worth mentioning that being organized and having a schedule are two different things. I like to be organized and being organized makes it easier to assess the impact of changes to plans and ensure that I don't forget anything important. Game Theorist posted about using a Google calendar to keep track of family activities and while I hope that our lives don't ever get that complicated, I think the idea of keeping a family calendar is a good one.

  • Schedule unstructured play time and family time: Kids need time to play in an unstructured fashion and families need to spend time together. If you do have a busy schedule and it is unavoidable, at least build time for these things into the schedule. For example, block off Saturday afternoons and agree that it will be used for a family activity. Agree that Monday, Wednesday and Friday everyone eats dinner together. Kick your kids out of the house and get them to just play outside, with sticks and rocks, with mud and grass, and let them be kids. Stop at the park on the way home and just kick the ball around or lie down and stare at the clouds. Plan an evening of boardgames for the whole family.

  • Don't forget your activities: When creating schedules for their babies or their children, parents sometimes forget about themselves. Other than work, their live devolves into being a chauffeur and short order cook. If your family is booking activities, stake a claim for yourself and book in a team sport, a regular visit to the gym, a bike ride, or a coffee date with a friend and give it the same priority as your kids' activities.

  • Look for things you can do together: Try to find activities that parents and kids can be involved in together, such as mom and tot yoga or going for bike rides or taking a cooking class.  Consider whether there are things you can teach your child yourself. I will be teaching my kids to swim and skate myself, rather than signing them up for lessons.

  • Wherever possible, go "free range": A number of books, articles and bloggers are coming out that suggest we should stop the paranoia and hyper-parenting and just let our kids be kids. This article Free-range children in Macleans magazine and the blog Free Range Kids are great places to start if you are exploring this concept.

We have so far avoided the urge to schedule our kids lives. Our friends have signed their kids up for gymnastics, swimming lessons, hockey, language classes, music classes and so on. I know our day is coming too and I do plan on having our kids involved in some activities (of their choosing, not mine), but I do hope to keep it in check so that we can keep being a family and they can keep being kids.
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Reader Comments (36)

What an interesting post!

My kids are teenagers now but I remember the baby years.

Here's my two cents:

I was never really organised enough to have a strict schedule but I did have a loose one.

We also had a bedtime.

That meant that our kids grew up going to bed by 7pm. After that was MY time.

It was the only thing that I stuck too really! (and this was past the baby baby stage)

This meant that I could have guests over for dinner at 7.30 pm, or teeball meetings or whatever and my kids would be asleep.

When I would go out to other people's houses and their kids were still bugging them at 11pm I used to get quite frustrated (on the inside).

In the early years I used to have lots of lessons. Swimming, cello (at age 4 - what was I thinking?!!), dancing, but as they grew older and I grew tireder I let most of them go... and you know what? My kids found their own interests and rather than me dragging them I found them wanting to drag me.

So I guess what I'm saying is that kids need boundaries but they don't need to be programmed to within a minute of each day.

Having said that - I looked after my nephew when he was little and his mum - an ex nanny - gave me a list of instructions. At 12 give him his bottle, at 1 put him down for a nap, at 3 he will wake up. And you know, he did everything on time, without crying or fussing. Amazing and so easy for me to look after him.

Even today he and his sister will ask to brush their teeth and take themselves off to bed.

They are Stepford children!

February 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCellobella

@ Cellobella - Thank you for your comment. I agree that kids need boundaries, but don't need to be programmed. I'm certainly hoping my kids aren't Stepford children...not what I'm aiming for at all!

February 15, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

I enjoyed this post, because everyone kept nagging me about the schedule thing except my mom who advised me to build a routine to help make good sleep associations. I am more laid back anyways and after having spent 5 years in a very stressful deadline related career, I enjoy the easy going life with the baby. I do also think moms should keep trying different things until they find a routine they are comfortable with. We play the same games, sing the same songs when she wakes up and before she goes to bed so that now she understands that it's morning and we can get up and play or that it's night time and we should go to sleep.

February 15, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjessyz

@jessyz - I agree that routines can be useful, especially for sleep. I think that is the problem - people often confuse routines with schedules. I see the value in having a certain order in which you do things at certain times of the day to make things go smoothly, but when people plan every minute and hour of their life, that becomes problematic.

February 15, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

I'll agree that people often confuse schedules and routines. To me a schedule is certain activities are done at certain times and routines are a typical order of events.

While I think that schedules can be a bit detrimental, I find that routines, used loosely, are good. Especially for my very anal type A older child.

With my infant, I just let her dictate how things are going. She'll let me know if she needs to eat, be held, or cuddled to sleep. As I type this, she's hanging out in the sling watching her sister take a bath.

Even before all the research came out, I felt that over-scheduling children was not really that healthy. In my own childhood, that free time to play in the dirt and imagine and dream was very important. I vowed never to take that away from my kids.

I have a fiesty, spirited 3 year old with a big imagination. While she can be a little hard to handle sometimes, I wouldn't have it any other way.

February 15, 2009 | Unregistered Commentertjwriter

This is such a tough issue to argue with the in-laws and parents, I've found. When we say that it's 7pm and he's in bed - of his choosing, not ours, because that's when he is exhausted - they just cannot figure out why we can't schedule him to be up later so that we can all have dinner at 7:30pm. Yikes.

I do believe that kids need boundaries of some sort, though. As an above poster mentioned, if kids can just stay up until they decide that they are ready for bed and are still around at 11pm, that's tough on working parents. I also think that kids need an idea of "this is bed time" and "this is awake time". However, scheduling naps? That would never work with my dramatically inclined almost-10-month-old. Nor would I want it to.

February 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJuli

Interesting post. I was asking myself this week if I had signed us up for too many things... but here's my two cents:

All babies/toddlers are different. I never wanted to have a schedule of any kind with Peanut. I had a sling, she slept wherever and nursed wherever and it was wonderful. Except that it wasn't, because I didn't get any sleep. Scratch that, I did get an hour or sometimes two at a time. I co-slept to keep my sanity, but every time she woke up, so did I. By month 8, I was a zombie. It was affecting my memory, my health and she still wasn't sleeping more than a couple of hours at a time. We did have routines, but no schedule. I then decided to really look at her needs. I did break out the spreadsheets and monitored when she got tired, when she needed rest and slowly developed a child-led schedule (I like the way you clarified that you are talking about a parent-led schedules).

Turns out, my daughter needed a schedule. Once I figured out the kind of schedule she needed and implemented it, she was fine. She started sleeping through the night, taking regular naps and I got some sleep too.

That being said, she is definitely one of those kids who likes to be able to say what's going to happen next. I do schedule free play time and outdoor time (unstructured) into her schedule, and she does very well with it... as long as she knows when it's happening.

I love the suggestions you offered here, but just know that some mothers aren't scheduling to be militant or to look good, they may be doing it because it's what is best for their children. My parents never understood this. Apparently, I was a more laid back baby and didn't need a schedule, so my mom is constantly pressuring me to break our schedule, to be "flexible". The problem is, whenever I do, we end up paying for it. She's fine at the time, but then for the next few night's she'll wake up and obviously that will impact her mood on those days.

That being said, I definitely don't plan every minute or every hour. That's too confining for me as well, but we have a set nap and bedtime, a set activity (usually an hour or less) every morning and the rest of the day follows her natural plan.

February 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle

Thank you so much for this post. You've put my exact feelings into words for me. I often have very strong instincts about how things should be handled when it comes to my daughter (and future son), but lack the ability to explain why I think these things are important - I just somehow *know.*

I have been a victim of the "spoiling" accusation many times because I respond to my daughters tears, comfort her when she needs me and don't schedule each and every thing that happens in her life. We don't have a set schedule for anything in our house, even bedtime. I simply watch her ques and respond accordingly. As adults, we aren't always tired at the same time, and don't always wake at the same time. Why would I assume that my daughter is any different? We do aim for a general time frame to get her to bed, say between 8:30 and 10, but by no means will I force her to go to sleep at 8:30 if she woke up late that day and is clearly not tired yet.

February 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRhyah

Schedules are not so bad. They keep the kids knowing what to expect.

February 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSwimming lessons in miami

One of the things that often gets lost in the "schedule" discussion is how very healthy RHYTHM is, and how even non-schedulers have health rhythms in life. Look at montessori, waldorf, etc. . . I "scheduled" my first two infants/toddlers. What a mistake. By the time the third and fourth came along we didn't want a "schedule" or need one -- but we had a great rhythm to our life.

February 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTulipGirl

I totally agree with you, although I can acknowledge there are cases where it is difficult to always be relaxed about your child's schedule.

I have three children, 5, 3 and 1. They were/are all breastfed on demand until they were ready to wean. I wore them all in slings, took them anywhere, nursed them anywhere, let them sleep when they were tired, go to bed when they needed it, etc. None of them are in any scheduled activities and we are very big in family time and just hanging out together.

However . . .

I have really struggled this past year b/c my oldest son goes to J/K each afternoon. I also watch a friend's son, who is 11 months old. That means I have four kids ages 5, 3 and two 1 year olds - almost the entire day every day. I have to take my son to the bus stop at noon and I need to pick him up at 3:15 - it is quite a walk which means twice a day I take all four kids to the bus stop, at those scheduled times. That means my daughter and the boy I watch have no choice when they nap. They MUST nap between 12:30 - 3:00 or else they get woken up to be dragged down the street. I really do wish I could let my daughter nap when she was tired, however, I have been pleasantly surprised that this has worked out better than I expected. It was more difficult back in September, but now she sleeps at that time like clockwork, with no issues. So I do feel compassion for those in difficult situations which makes it hard to always follow your child's lead re sleep, eating, playing etc.

Great post.

February 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterShannon

I'd never thought of it this way but you are right, we have been trying to read the clues our girls give us and if you pay attention you'll see that a certain age they get tired (or hungry, or want to read, etc) at similar times every day so you can plan your day according to that.

February 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKat

@Michelle - I agree that some kids have their own internal schedule and it is great when parents can pick up on that and work with it. But as that child grows, they may need to find ways to encourage the child to be flexible.

@Shannon - I agree, it does get difficult when there are other people's schedules to work around. With the recent bus strike here in Ottawa, I heard about one family that was having to wake their baby numerous times per day to drive one parent or the other to work because they worked different shifts. That must have been exhausted for all involved.

February 15, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

For us, it has changed as the kids get older. We still don't do "schedules" per se, but my older kids really have to go to bed at around a certain time, we have to plan meals for certain times, etc or the whole household is miserable. It's a lot easier to get the biggers to bed on time if the littlers follow the same basic routine, and if we don't get up at predictable times, everybody starts to fall apart. But for newborns, I try not to pay much attention to the clock at all.

February 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMeagan Francis

THANK YOU for this post!!

I want to thank you especially about the "Dangerous for Breastfeeding" portion of the article. I can't believe how many of the hundreds of families I have worked with have read the two books you mentioned and tried to follow the advice contained in their pages. Those children either ended up not gaining well, not sleeping well or, as was most often the case, both. And the poor parents were SO stressed out! They often contact me to ask me if they are doing it wrong? No! The books might say so but I keep trying to tell them to listen to their hearts and the requests made by their baby.
I always remind my couples that their child will show them a path if the just stand back and "let the baby drive" (to quote FAB writer: Lu Hanessian). Our children will grow to respect us when we show them respect.
Maybe my own next blog entry should be about "Giving Your Child A Vote!!" (The concept of a child having a "say" in the dynamics and functioning of a family scares many adults.)
You continue to write what is in my mind. (And you do it so well.) Thank you for that.

February 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterbabyREADY

Just to correct a point: Tracy Hogg (of Baby Whisperer fame) does *not* advocate the kind of strict schedule where you plan every aspect of your child's life out with a spreadsheet. In fact, she's firmly against it. What she advocates is *routine* - which, as you've pointed out, is a different thing, much more about doing things in a particular sort of order and pattern rather than feeling that because it's 9.00 it must be naptime no matter what. I am no great fan of her work and I do feel she pushes the routine too much, too early (BabyReady - if you're still reading this, I'd love to hear about your experiences with women trying to breastfeed using Tracy Hogg's methods). But it's incorrect to imply that she's the kind of scheduler you're talking about.

February 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSarah V.

@ Sarah V

While you're waiting to hear back from babyREADY, I thought I'd post a few articles I am aware of that look at the problems with Tracy Hogg's methods with regards to breastfeeding:

1) A http://www.ezzo.info/Articles/BFg%20Frequency%20and%20AAP%20vs%20BW%20and%20.doc" rel="nofollow">chart comparing AAP recommendations for breastfeeding with the advice of Ezzo and Hogg
2) A http://www.kellymom.com/store/reviews/review_babywhisperer.html" rel="nofollow">review of Hogg's book pointing out in particular the problems for breastfeeding (her routine/schedule is just the start of the problems)

Some people may call what Hogg suggests a "routine", but I would liken it to a schedule. From the book review I listed above:

The backbone of Hogg's parenting system, a "structured routine" she calls E.A.S.Y., has four components: the amount of time she prescribes for eating (25 to 40 minutes every 2 ½ to 3 hours), activity (45 minutes), sleeping (one half to one hour), and you (an hour or more for mom while the baby sleeps). While she acknowledges that the exact amount of time will vary from baby to baby and with the baby's age, she makes it clear that following a schedule such as the one she outlines is crucial to preventing "chaos in the house.

This type of advice can be dangerous for babies that need to eat smaller amounts more frequently and preventing a baby from feeding because it isn't time for that yet in the routine/schedule can be dangerous. My daughter had a horrible time with spitting up. It wasn't diagnosed as reflux, but her stomach capacity was obviously low and if she ate too much, she lost her whole meal. As a consequence, we did block feeding (feeding only on one side for a specified amount of time to avoid oversupply/overactive letdown), but she could feed as often as she needed to. She would only feed for 5 minutes at a time because that was all she could take without spitting it back up, but she nursed frequently during the day and then slept for 6 hours straight at night a lot of the time. This was completely different from my son who nursed every 3 hours around the clock except for a period of cluster feeding in the evening.

February 16, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

@babyREADY - Thank you for your comment and for the real world confirmation of the dangers of this type of advice for breastfeeding. With regards to your blog post idea about "Giving Your Child a Vote", you might be interested in some of the concepts from http://www.phdinparenting.com/2008/11/27/consensual-living/" rel="nofollow">Consensual Living (which I'm still grappling with myself).

February 16, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

Hi SarahV

You asked me about my "experiences with women trying to breastfeed using Tracy Hogg’s methods" and I wanted to answer this promptly. The issues, worries and health concerns reflect those I wrote about in my response.

An example (which I have seen often) is the idea of not feeding baby too often. For a child who a gastro-esophageal reflux this can be dangerous. Their tummies need filled more frequently but for shorter lengths of time.

Babies with Infantile Colitis also have histories of gaining poorly and often need to eat on a more open (read: their own dictated) schedule.

I am also concerned about the significant health risks to baby when a mother is encouraged (or supported) by Hogg to offer her child Artificial Baby Milk as an alternative food option. For some babies, like those with Infantile Colitis for instance - which is a much more common infant ailment than many would think - using ABM could be a death sentence.

On top of the health concerns I think it is dangerous to put an infant on any kind of schedule. For one thing it means nothing to them, as infants. For another, it doesn't allow for them to adapt and change freely, as we do. Some days we are hungry all day and could eat non-stop, morning until night. Other days we don't even want to look at food. Some days we feel like hanging out, reading quietly while other days require that we get up and get busy because we are too restless to sit still.

I know you have said that you are "no great fan of her work" and so I don't need to sell you on why you might be best served using her book as a paperweight instead of as useful advice. You did ask me about some of my own experiences with how her words can be dangerous re: breastfeeding, and so I wanted to give you an idea of where I am coming from.

I hope this helps.
Take care

February 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterbabyREADY

I used Tracy Hogg's EASY schedule, which is basically a routine to help you and your baby to know what's coming next in your day. It was never, we have to eat at 2, sleep at 3, play at 4, whatever. It was super helpful, especially as I was a working mother and she slept through the night by the time I had to go back to work. And she's super easy-going. We never have specific things to do during the day, but we do know about what time she's going to be tired for a nap and bedtime and we can schedule anything that comes up (doctor's appts, whatever) around that. She gets plenty of unstructured play time, but in advance I know when she's most likely to have a meltdown. Win/win for both of us.

February 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSara

For me, a combination worked great.. flexible enough to breast-feed all four children very successfully (flexibility worked great for 3rd and 4th child since by the time they came #'s 1 &2 were either in school or activities) and yet also incorporated enough of a schedule where our lives ran smoothly and were not in constant chaos.. don't think that really works well in the long run.. this site looks like a great source for young parents to access and evaluate..

February 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterVicki Zerbee

@Sara - But what happens if your baby eats, then does an activity, then wants to eat again. Do you say, no you need to sleep now because that is what the schedule says? I get that the routine isn't necessarily tied to exact times of day, but it does give a strict order to things and also gives approximate timeframes that do not necessarily correspond to the needs of all babies. Some may be able to fall into that pattern, but depending on that pattern may teach them to suppress their needs at certain times or to eat out of habit at other times because it is eating time rather than because they are hungry. It might "work" for some families, but I don't think it is the healthiest approach and for some babies it can be downright dangerous.

February 16, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

I remember those early days. :) I used to smile and say "Of course we're on a schedule... His schedule." and I'd say he was an easy baby, a delight. A pleasure.

And he was. He wouldn't sleep anywhere but in my arms, so we co-slept. Often with him on my chest. He wouldn't let anyone hold him for very long unless it was me, and so I took shorter showers less frequently, and worked with him on my boppy pillow. He wouldn't take a bottle the few times one was offered. I was okay with that. He woke up every three hours for the first 6 months of his life to nurse.. When he wasn't going through a growth spurt, and every hour when he was.

But I meant every word of what I said.

Having needs doesn't make you "difficult". It makes you human. And an infant with needs? oh.. My.. word. Who'da thunk?

Now my little guy is a crazy independent two year old. And I miss the little infant he used to be, even though I'm crazy about who he is now and who he will become. :)

February 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSara

Part of it is learning to listen to your baby's cues. You know if his/her cry is a hungry cry, or a mad cry. It's not that you HAVE to do it in that schedule, it's just a starting point and part of it is common sense.

My experience is different that some in that I wasn't able to breastfeed, perhaps that schedule wouldn't work for breastfeeding moms as easily as bottle-feeding, but it did pretty well for us!

February 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSara

@Sara - I think that is one of the big problems with the book. It takes concepts that may work with formula fed babies and applies them to breastfeeding without any understanding of the consequences. The whole BabyWise book shows a significant level of ignorance about and disdain for breastfeeding. You didn't mention what your reasons were for not being able to breastfeed, but with way too many moms the reason they aren't able to breastfeed is because they get bad advice at the start. Tracy Hogg's book fits nicely into that category of bad advice because it can lead to low supply (for mom) and low weight gain or failure to thrive for baby.

February 16, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

What about the body clock, though? Sleep and hunger are strongly tied to circadian rhythms. With my first child we did a loose mix of on-demand and untimed routine. With my second we did more of a schedule, but based it on her evolving developmental needs. Knowing the timing if when she got tired was liberating in terms of knowing when would be a good time for various plans throughout the day since I needed to get out with my older child, too...and sleep came more readily to #2 when we worked with her body clock not against it. I didn't schedule feeds at all, but with the regular sleep patterns she ended up having her major nursing sessions just before and after sleep, and then comfort nursing ad lib any other time.

February 16, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermezzaluna

Well, I tried breastfeeding, I had a lactation consultant, and my daughter just wouldn't do it. She would scream, milk would be everywhere, we'd both be crying, not a good situation for anyone. The LC said that I was doing everything right, she just didnt want to, so we switched to bottles and formula. Sucky, but maybe the next kid will want to do it. :-)

February 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSara

A great post.
Us personally we have a routine....so Ara knows what happens next. If she's tired we start doing things that lead towards bed...it might mean between 12 or 1 or 6:30 and 7:30 as I don't go to bed bang on the clock every time why should my child?
In my childhood my parents didn't have a routine or a schedule and I hate not knowing what is happening it makes me very stressed…product of my up bringing? My personality?
Before learning about attachment parenting I tried the whole minute by minute thing as I thought it would make my life easy and my child would just love to know what is what, but truly from a person who loves to check her watch every 15mins or less it made my life hell as well as unsocial....as some friends yesterday said...we made a choice to become parents and its a life changing event which means YOUR LIFE CHANGES... if you don't get to play tennis when you want to and your unhappy about that well maybe you should look at the reasons why you became a parent.
I think there is a post in there some where.
But great post…we live in a day an age where we need people to be creative, flexible and understanding and that is not going to come from ridged schedules.

February 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMegan

@Annie and @Babyready: I think we're more or less on the same page as far as recognition of the potential problems with Tracy Hogg's EASY routine goes. The point I wanted to make is that it isn't the kind of strict, parent-led, break-out-the-spreadsheet schedule that you were implying by mentioning it in that paragraph.

I clarify this partly because I believe in representing people's views fairly even when I happen to disagree with those views (when I say that I disagree with Hogg's view on this issue, I mean not that I feel that there's anything wrong with using an EASY routine if that's what an individual mother happens to feel would suit, but that I disagree with Hogg's view that it's an objectively better way than any other to do things and that it's what we should all be striving for). However, I also say it because I think it's worth recognising that trying to implement EASY in the early months can potentially have drawbacks and problems (especially for would-be breastfeeders) *despite* *not* being a strict schedule. I don't see it as something evil; but I do see it as something with potential disadvantages, and that wouldn't really come across to someone who had read both 'Secrets of the Baby Whisperer' and your post, because what you said doesn't really represent what Hogg says and would thus be easy to dismiss.

February 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSarah V.

Wonderful post. Very much in line with thoughts swirling in my head.... I love the idea of free range kids. I am having a tough time not putting DS into programmes and he is ONE. I keep being told how he needs schedules and scheduled activities.... he couldn't possibly be OK playing in the garden while I work in the garden (eyeroll) He needs a professional leading a group to learn anything (another eyeroll). I'm getting used to be 'fanatic' about not wanting adult ideas of what he needs pushed on him.... and eyebrows will just have to be raised when I don't force him into any expected behavior.

Love your style

February 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMegan

@Sarah V: Sure, fair enough. I allow myself a bit of creative license here and there. I'm sure there are people that use spreadsheets to track their Baby Whisperer routine and plenty of others that don't. There are also people who do let their child lead that use spreadsheets for whatever reason (e.g. to start to understand their sleep patterns, to keep track of how much milk they pumped if exclusively pumping, etc.). Mommy brain can be daunting and spreadsheets can be helpful! I was just trying to write a compelling intro. Nothing less, nothing more.

February 19, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

[...] Annie at PhD in Parenting talked about scheduling infants [...]

Thanks for linking to this post. It was great! I haven't read Baby Wise and don't plan to. I, as you know don't have my baby on a schedule now. I notice we tend to follow routines but not strict ones. I think one of my concerns with scheduling is when I return to work. My husband will be home with her for a few months, and hopefully he'll be able to wear her (gotta teach him) but I know if she were in daycare she'd be on a schedule. Hopefully we can avoid that as long as possible but at some point, a schedule may have to come into play.

While I'm at home, I'll keep feeding on demand.

As for your comment. You're right. 140 characters just isn't enough for deep conversations. But links to personal opinions and posts like these are helpful, and do fit :)

August 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBabyMakingMama


I think it is a point worth considering when looking at different daycares. Certainly a lot of preschools and schools have schedules, but I think that daycares for infants and young toddlers should have enough flexibility built in to allow the children to eat and sleep when they need to. They will probably have a routine (e.g. everyone goes outside at 10:00am), but most should not be imposing a strict feeding/napping schedule with babies. It is certainly something to ask about when you are considering different care environments.

August 29, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

[...] Harvey Karp’s Happiest Baby on the Block. An anti-thesis to many of the baby trainers and baby schedulers, this book offered suggestions for creating a “fourth-trimester” like environment to [...]

[...] Having these activities available at the school would help appease those parents that worry their kids are “falling behind” compared to Asian nations that have kids learning more at earlier ages and would also cut down on the need to schedule these types of activities on evenings and weekends, which cuts into family time and creates overscheduled kids. [...]

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