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Baby's Routine - Different Strokes for Different Folks

baby routineA strict approach to routine worked for mother to 4-year-old Rhys, Lindsey van der Westhuizen. She says, “Michael, my husband, and I stuck to the routine like glue. Rhys slept when he was supposed to and ate every four hours. This worked really well except when carers didn't stick to my requests.”

Gradually, Rhys's sleeping patterns changed and Lindsey says: “We started sleep training at around 8 months. We encouraged calm before sleep time, put him in his cot and walked out the room. If he cried, we walked in and patted him on the back – we never picked him up and we didn't make eye contact. Sometimes, I'd have to walk into the room five times, but eventually he got the message. This took about a week and our au pair, Michael and I all abided by the routine. Now, it's a breeze.”

Laurinda Suddaby, mom to 4-year-old Aimée and 14-month-old Ethan, says demand-feeding and following natural rhythms worked for her. “I found it extremely difficult to follow a strict routine and I think I wanted to with my first, but when they're teething or sick you have to adjust and let go of those strict routines.” She adds that her children both have different personalities and she has had to adjust her routine to suit their needs as well as her own.

Laurinda explains, “I breastfed until they were both 7 months old, giving them milk every two to four hours, depending on when they were hungry. Feeding them more often during the day did make them sleep four to six hours at night, and even more after a couple of weeks, with both of them sleeping through the night at a very early age. Ethan puts himself to bed and this is not the result of anything I have done. He just loves his sleep.”

Even though Laurinda demand-fed her babies, they have naturally developed set meal times – breakfast half an hour to an hour after they wake up, lunch at 12 and then dinner between 5 and 6pm. Early on, Laurinda established a sleep routine – bath, playtime, story time, bedtime. She says, “It's nice to have two calm kids in bed by 7.30pm most evenings, so we can have some well-earned mom and dad time.”

Some babies might settle quickly into time slots. Others might be feistier or simply more sensitive. For these children, forcing the issue can lead to an extremely distressed child and very upset parents. Equally, some parents find that sticking to a strict schedule makes their lives more difficult than going with the flow.

What the experts say [more...]

Article first published in Your Baby magazine, available online at

Child Development 5th edition, Laura E. Berk, (Allyn & Bacon)
Ask Suppernanny, Jo Frost, (Hodder and Stoughton)
Secrets of the Baby Whisperer: How to Calm, Connect and Communicate with Your Baby, Tracy Hogg and Melinda Blau, (Ballantine Books)
Complete Baby and Child care, Miriam Stoppard, (Dorling Kindersley)