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...to wonder how "routines" (GF et al) actually work in reality?

(59 Posts)
MsElisaDay Fri 10-May-13 10:24:19

Usually DS (6 months) goes to bed at 7pm ish, has a last feed at 11pm ish, wakes once or twice, and is up around 7am.
However, last night he was up virtually non-stop between 11pm and 4am. I think his teeth were bothering him, as he finally settled back down at 4am after some Calpol. He then slept through til 8.40am (a lie in!!) as clearly he was shattered.

Anyway. The backdrop to this is that various friends are telling me I should have him on a more strict routine to try and encourage him to sleep through. They also say that his mealtimes and naps should be more set in stone, rather than fitting around whatever we're doing during the day.

What I'm wondering is, if I were doing a GF routine, what would I have done last night? Would I have woken him at 7am despite the fact that he didn't sleep properly until 4am?
AIBU, therefore, to wonder how routines work in reality? Or do people just abandon them when teething issues or other problems come along?

LimitedEditionLady Fri 10-May-13 10:34:26

I think routine is great but you have to be a bit flexible with it.i wouldnt go waking him up at 7am if hes tired!i think its harder to do a set in stone routine with a small baby but you can try simple things like trying to do bath and bedtime at same time and also mealtimes around same time but its not bad to be a little flexible.some children will become distressed if their routines arent kept exactly the same so i think its good to show them that it is ok to be a little later or earlier so they are more comfortable.tbh it can be hard to start a proper routine but with persistance it pays off x

ChilliJo Fri 10-May-13 10:44:32

Do you want him in a strict routine? If yes, then fair enough.

If you don't, then don't and tell your friends to butt the hell out of it. If a friend of mine tried to tell me what I should be doing with my DC then I suspect we wouldn't be friends for very much longer.

And FWIW, I never enforced any routine on mine, not my cup of brew at all.

DeWe Fri 10-May-13 11:01:43

A strict routine is not necessarily the answer.
I looked after a little girl who was on a very strict routine because she had to take medicine at particular times, so she needed to be in a routine to work out her medicine times round food (had to be on an empty stomach) and sleep.
That was necessary for her. But there were times that it would (for her) have been nice to be able to stay a little longer, or do something at a time when she couldn't. If she got out of routine, it was hard to sort her medicines out so she had to be woken, fed etc. at the stated times.

However I think strict routine for routine's sake is for the parent's benefit not for the child's.
Having had a conversation with someone who wants you to do them a favour (look after their child) and every time you say you can come is met with a shriek of horror "but he needs to be asleep/eating/watching cbeebies" with complete expectation that you should fit in round their timetable even if it means your children missing out on activities...

katiecubs Fri 10-May-13 11:03:04

Don't have a clue - would have loved a better routine with my 2 but their napping/eating was all quite random. I think Gina babies have 2 hours at lunchtime, i'd be lucky to get 30 mins!

jacks365 Fri 10-May-13 11:05:14

You need a certain amount of routine around meal times and bed times because it does help but i wouldn't force any baby onto a strict routine i'd work the routine round their natural times. Its always worked for me but my sis did gf and although it worked to some extent i'm not convinced it made her life easier for example she commented that mine have always weaned easily now that could be because i let them pick when they were ready rather than checking a calendar.

Gf didn't stop dn waking in the night up till about 4.

givemeaclue Fri 10-May-13 11:07:53

Work brilliantly. I would have woken a bit after seven but not let sleep till 8.40

I never did routines for my DC - TBH our lives were, and are, just too disorganised and changeable for it to work. But I have a friend who has 2 small DC who are both "clockwork babies" and it does seem to work for her. She is very organised herself, and doesn't do well with chaos (it stresses her out) so being able to predict when the DC will nap, eat, etc works well. It's not absolutely set in stone - when they come to stay with us we adjust our plans and she 'bends' their routine so that it works for everyone, but even then it helps to know the routine - for example, if we are out past her DC1's nap time, we will make sure we have snacks /comfort objects /etc with us.

I was always 100% anti-routine, but I can see both sides of the argument nowadays.

mummybare Fri 10-May-13 11:10:08

I don't understand these people who tell you what you 'should' do with your baby... Do what works for you.

We have/had a reasonably strict routine for DD (1yo) as it works for her (she used to get overtired so easily and never seemed to give sleepy cues as she was just so easily distracted). Her day sleep had a great effect on her night sleep too and she sleeps very well now she is used to a good nap. But they're all different and what is right for her is not necessarily right for your DD.

If you want a routine or there is a particular sleep issue you want to fix then that's one thing, but there's no reason why you should do anything. And waking up once or twice a night at 6mo is totally normal.

WilsonFrickett Fri 10-May-13 11:12:34

I was quite routine-focused (though not to a GF level) and always felt that the point of them was they could be broken. So while I always put DS to bed at a set time, if we were out, or there was something else going on, I didn't sweat it. Just went back to our routine the next day.

So in this situation, I would have done exactly as you. Let the baby sleep, eased back into the routine today (so even though he's up a couple of hours later, I'd still put him down for naps etc at the 'normal' time).

Your friends can do one though. It's up to you how you do things.

MsElisaDay Fri 10-May-13 11:23:44

My gut instinct is that, if today DS wanted to sleep til 8.40am whereas usually he rarely sleeps past 7am, that's because he was tired and needed the sleep.
Also, after a horrendous night, I wasn't inclined to set the alarm for 7am and get up with him then - I'd much rather just sleep as long as he sleeps (lazy mother).

So, to me, the sensible thing to do was let him sleep as long as he needs, take meal/nap times as they come today, and put him down at 7pm ish (as usual) tonight.

I've been going with my gut and following a vague routine - directed by DS - since he was born. I'm happy with that. He seems happy with that.
But it's very difficult to know what to do for the best, when people say that the reason he's not sleeping through is because I haven't got him in a fixed routine.

WilsonFrickett Fri 10-May-13 11:57:22

Honestly, sounds like you do have him in a routine, albeit a routine that's led by him. Nowt wrong with that.

brew hope tonight's better for you.

I don't like routines, my DC all slept through without one, I think some DC do and some don't.

I always think routines sound awful, I've seen it on mn, although rarely heard it in the flesh, things like "I won't come round for dinner as I don't want the baby's routine being moved by half hour" or "I can't meet friends for lunch/at the park because the baby sleeps at 1pm and only in his cot".

All ridiculous, DC are portable and flexible, I can eat my lunch everyday at 1pm but still meansI'm sometimes hungry before 1:00 or not until after, it depends on what else is going on, I think babies are just the same.

RedPencils Fri 10-May-13 12:09:08

GF routine says bed at 7pm and wake at 7am, so you're already in the routine. Illness throws everyone off their usual routine and babies are no different.
I followed GF with my DTs (loosely because her timings are hard to achieve with two). DT1 slept through when he was 3 months old. DT2 slept through when he was 8 months old, although he was almost 1 before it was reliably every night. The 'routine' doesn't help them sleep through the night IMO.

redskyatnight Fri 10-May-13 12:21:32

I think a rough routine is a good idea. And one led by the baby. And one that changes frequently.

I found GF is too rigid. DS has never (and he's now 9) slept for 12 hours overnight - so there was never a chance he would go from 7-7.

Sianilaa Fri 10-May-13 12:25:40

I used GF (feed/sleep times) and it was brilliant, but my two were textbook easy babies and formula fed. Once you get the hang of it, it was easy to be more flexible IME. Illness is one of those times to be flexible and ease back to routine today.

If you want a strict routine then fine but you have to do what works for you not what others tell you to!

A strict routine is not about slotting a baby into your routine - it's about adapting your life around what works for the babies. Yes, I missed out on some meet ups with friends when my little ones are napping which is hard. But my friends wouldn't have been there in the middle of the night if he was awake! So it worked for us.

Pobblewhohasnotoes Fri 10-May-13 12:27:05

I never did routines, we were totally baby led. DS got himself into his own routine with feeding and the only thing we did was put him to bed at the same time. Even now he naps when he is tired, not when I make him.

I don't like strict routines, babies aren't robots. If I'm not hungry at the same time everyday, why would a baby be?

Teething, illness and growth spurts throw it all out the window anyway.

stopmovingthefurniture Fri 10-May-13 12:31:21

Some babies seem to need a strict routine. Others seem fine without it. My DD thrived on it, so we mostly kept to it because it made our lives so much easier.

If you have the GF book (or equivalent) you'll find answers to these questions. Speaking from my own experience, I think we would have tried to get something into her about eight after a night like you've described, then held off until midmorning feed (if that was still going - can't remember) and tried to edge closer to being good to feed again late lunchtime. Then, every evening, we counted up how many mls she'd had and worked out how well she needed to feed. We then gave her exactly the amount that was needed, even if it meant waking her at ten and keeping her awake for long enough to do a split feed.

You're always trying to shave off time here and there to protect that golden period when your baby is not sleeping and not feeding mid/late afternoon, in order to ready for tea and bedtime. I realise some people would hate it but we were fine with it and DD was generally only cranky when we let the routine slip.

I did always think 'is this really necessary, would DD not be happier being left to sleep rather than woken to feed...'. Hard on the heels of that thought would come the realisation that I lacked the experience to manage her eating and sleeping without a routine. Left up to me, she would have been up most of the night and we would have been worn ragged. This was proved by a few 'experiments' after which DH declared that DD paying this small price was far preferable to everything else disintegrating. For us, that was the right call.

My mum was a bit of a hippy where babies were concerned and she'd been horrified at the thought of DD having a routine. But when she saw it in practice, she was quickly converted.

People will often claim credit for their baby sleeping through, inferring smugly that their gentle yet firm routine/high parental expectations/refusal to take any nonsense, feeding choices - or even, nursery decoration scheme (ha!) were responsible for their baby sleeping through.

Then they have a child who doesn't sleep well, and their smuggery recedes as they realise it's the luck of the draw.

I do think regular bedtimes and meal times make it easier on most kids though, but the idea that you do a routine = they sleep is not based in reality.

ppeatfruit Fri 10-May-13 12:35:35

Totally agree with pobble all babies are different as are parents. Routines for the sake of routine is weird IMO.

cornflakegirl Fri 10-May-13 12:35:38

I used GF with DS1 because it made me feel like I was in control of the situation. It worked well for us, but I was that annoying mother who couldn't do anything that clashed with the schedule. I probably would have woken him not far after 7am in the situation you describe, because I would have been a bit scared of what would have happened otherwise (DS1 was pretty easy on the routine, but hard to settle when overtired, not least because him being pretty easy meant I didn't develop the skills).

By the time DS2 came along, I knew I wasn't going to break him and there were places I needed to be with DS1, plus he was a velcro baby, so he pretty much the antithesis of a Gina baby.

OutragedFromLeeds Fri 10-May-13 12:44:36

In reality you aim for a routine, but are flexible with it.

I love a routine personally, but it cannot be fixed to the minute every day.

In your scenario I would probably have woken him at 7:30am maybe, so a bit late, but not so late that it would 'mess up' the rest of the day. I would then have put him down for his morning sleep a little earlier as he would have been tired and maybe left him a bit longer. By lunchtime he should be back on track.

If you don't like a routine, don't have one though.

freddiefrog Fri 10-May-13 12:46:58

We did follow routines, but were quite relaxed with them and adapted/adjusted if we needed to.

If we were on holiday, for example, we'd let them drop off in a push chair then transfer them to bed if we wanted to eat out rather than tying ourselves to an apartment all evening. Or if we fancied a walk along the seafront on a nice evening we'd go and if they fell asleep in the push chair, then so be it. If we were having a takeaway at a friend's house they'd happily sleep in a carrycot

We have some friends with a 2 year old on a very strict routine, and when they stayed with us over the summer it was very restricting. We couldn't even walk down to the sea front for an icecream after tea as he had to be in the bath at 6:15pm, then in bed by 6:45pm. We couldn't leave the house until after lunch because he had to have a nap at a set time in his cot, followed by lunch at a set time. They won't go round to friends houses for a takeaway or something in the evening as their DS has to be in bed

I was never that tied to routines, and we were lucky that my girls would happily crash out anywhere, but did find having some structure helpful

Glittertwins Fri 10-May-13 12:48:24

We did our version of GF with the DTs but I never missed out on meet up times with friends as they used to nap quite happily where they were and I didn't put them in cots for a nap until about 5 months old. We did 7-7 as I was going back to work after 6 months and 7 would be when I would need to get up so it made sense to do that from the beginning. We were rigid on the 7pm bedtime for the first 18mths, holidays excepted, the sleeping pattern worked fine for all of us.

TheSecondComing Fri 10-May-13 12:49:51

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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