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Baby Whisperer - pro or anti structured routine

(11 Posts)
dorisbonkers Thu 04-Jun-09 12:04:38

Up until my daughter was 7 months I had next to no structure in the day. I was living abroad and mentally 'put off' any idea of a routine until I got back to the UK and started weaning. Plus I was exclusively breastfeeding and she was small at birth so I was pretty much feeding round the clock -- that wouldn't have really fitted any routine.

But now I'm back in the UK and getting more settled all my friends pity me as my baby does not sleep through and still breastfeeds quite frequently.

Philosophically I am sort of anti a strict routine. I enjoy my baby and like to think (stress on the 'like', I have no idea really) that I respond to her cues. But I've read a bit about the less strict routines and because I'm a bit sleep deprived I'm losing some of my confidence and now beginning to think that I'm doing my daughter a disservice by not training her to sleep through or settle by herself.

I'm at a bit of a crossroads. I read a bit of Baby Whisperer online and it sounds sensible-ish, but a little joyless I have to say and her tone is a little 'if you don't do this you are 'accidental parents' and that's a Bad Thing.'

What is an accidental parent? Am I one? Is it bad? Should I try this to restore a better structure?


Wigeon Thu 04-Jun-09 12:51:54

I was definitely a "follow your baby's cues" person when my DD was little, and we didn't have a routine at all, but after a while she and I worked out a routine which worked for us (it did take quite a while (weeks) to figure out what naps she wanted). Maybe around when she was 6 / 7 months? I was pretty turned off by Baby Whisperer to be honest. Now she's 11 months she's pretty much like clockwork, but I didn't get a routine from a book, I tried to do what worked for us. And I do try to keep it flexible-ish.

For what it's worth:

Wakes up usually about 6:30am
Morning milk and breakfast
Nap 9am for 30 mins - 1 hour
Lunch 12 noon
Nap 12:45pm for 30 mins - 1 hour
Milk at around 2:30pm / 3pm
Bedtime milk 6:30pm
Bed 7pm

Doesn't always sleep through, but it's soooo much better than it was! (She first slept through at 8 months by the way). So I suppose I'm saying that it's possible to follow your baby's cues AND have a flexible routine.

gabygirl Thu 04-Jun-09 13:46:16

Ignore Tracy Hogg - none of her books are based on any sort of proper research and she has no qualifications in child development - she trained as a fricking paediatric nurse, not a child psychologist. You are doing a wonderful job in parenting your child responsively. Ignore what other mothers do - find your own way.

That said, you can find your own routine if the way you are doing things right now is making you unhappy. I night weaned my 3 at 8 months, 18 months and two years, when I got sick of waking up and feeding at night. You will know when you're ready and what is right for the both of you.

GothAnneGeddes Fri 05-Jun-09 04:12:57

Oi! Less of the digs at paed nurses, not all of use would misuse our professional qualifications in order to guilt trip parents for fame and profit. wink

I loath her books. They would make anyone feel guilty and nervous.

It's much better to work things out between you and the baby. I have a routine, but it's very much lead by dd. For example, I never wake her up to feed her unless we have to go out. I like to let her sleep for as long as she wants. (Which BW doesn't recommend grr).

Reading your OP again, having a bed time routine, doesn't mean you have to be super structured throughout the day, feel free to mix and match.

Wigeon Fri 05-Jun-09 13:17:37

I should add that I also never wake my DD from naps - she sleeps as much as she wants (which I reckon is whatever she needs), and the amount she naps does vary quite a bit from day to day, and that if she seems hungry I always feed her - I certainly never look at the clock and think "it's only 11:49, you can't possibly eat until 12 noon!".

dorisbonkers Fri 05-Jun-09 14:23:11

Thanks guys. I'm glad it's not just me that finds it offputting. I am just having a bit of a confidence wobble because I've moved 7,000 miles back to my own orbit (albeit with a baby) and it's fried my head a bit.

Glad other people have looser structure and their babies' nap times vary.

Of course these books have to make money, so can't just say "You could, if you are struggling, try feeding, putting her down for a nap, then playing with her" but no. They have to create a system and effectively scare parents into following it.

I shall carry on as is and ignore the books. I don't feel the need to live my life according to any random book (even the Good Book) so why I should feel the need to listen to some random person giving advice about how to care for my baby is anyone's guess. But other people's advice did nag me at the back of my mind, so I thought I'd ask. Cheers

bohemianbint Fri 05-Jun-09 14:44:08

I started the same way with DS2 and was totally baby-led until a couple of months ago (he's nearly 10m now.)

I have to say towards the end it was nearly killing me (was co-sleeping as well, or co-notsleeping) and something had to give.

I now follow a sort of routine which has it's basis on Gina Ford, in as far as that I don't let DS sleep for longer than 2.5 - 3 hours per day and no sleeping past 4pm. I then put him down at 7pm and he tends to stay pretty much down for 12 hours although he does want feeding a fair amount in that time. It's better than it was, but I still don't get enough sleep. There is room for flexibility though, which is good as a had DS1 who is early 3.

Bollocks to what your friends do, you have to find what works for you. If you're happy, it's not a problem! HTH

GothAnneGeddes Sat 06-Jun-09 03:36:59

I'm not actually anti routine. I actually quite like the Mumsy tone of Rachel Waddilove's books (don't agree with it all though).

I detest BW because I feel it deliberately sets out to undermine parent's confidence. Unless you do exactly what she says, you will be DOOMED and lumbered with a hellish brat. angry

Tambajam Sat 06-Jun-09 07:15:56

I have spent a long time reading and pondering Baby whisperer/ Tracy Hogg.
I think it sucks many in with notions of being 'middle of the road' and anti-structure. If you read the first book it suggests how natural EASY is and it all sounds reasonable. The second book ('solves all your problems') shows the true colours a bit more and actually it is revealed to be as structured as anyone else.
I completely agree with the pp who says she sets out to undermine a parent's confidence. The BW site (where I was once a moderator) is full of miserable people who are spending the first few months of their baby's life wrestling to push their baby into a routine and then either giving up feeling like a failure or just not doing it. A minority have a baby who fits naturally into the patterns with little effort.
On site the number of people (and moderators) actually following an EASY routine as she outlines is hilariously small. Having said that the boards are actually a very supportive community and filled with nice sensible people (they just bitch about BW in private).
The information she gives on breastfeeding is painfully inaccurate. So many piece of information that are just plain wrong and potentially dangerous.
'Accidental parenting' is a parent who follows their parenting instincts and places a high priority on love and comfort. Rocking perhaps (the horror) or even <hushed tones> cuddling a child 'when it's not necessary'.

GoingLoopy Sat 06-Jun-09 20:07:43

Doris, are you sure you are sleep deprived and losing your confidence because of your dd, or is it the oter mothers feeling sorry for you that is making you feel like that. With ds1 I had no idea what a routine was and it didn't suit me because I liked to be out a lot and not good at time keeping. I had no idea about parenting or babies. I had no family around me and only one of my friends had a baby so I was pretty clueless and just followed my instincts. We slipped into a feeding pattern and when he was eating real fod I realised that he was much happier (less tantrums and crying) with regular meal and snack times. He was sleeping through by 11 months. I remember feeling exhausted and tired a lot, but by the time he was just over a year I felt I had enough energy for another baby. I got twins which was a whole different story, a routine was necessary to survive.

I would say, do what you are happy with, go with the flow and follow your instincts as you have been doing unless you are unhappy or not enjoying your child, then something has to change.

Drenched Sun 07-Jun-09 01:25:11

I read the Baby Whisperer before my DD was born and as a result spent many frustrating hours trying to get her to take her afternoon nap in her cot because to let her sleep anywhere else would be the slippery slope of accidental parenting and lead to disaster for all of us... Eventually I gave in with much trepidation and let her sleep in the living room with me and guess what? It was fine, she didn't end up deciding the sofa was her bed or what have you! I do think that the Baby Whisperer give some good advice to complete novices like me, e.g. the baby will be tired an hour and half to two hours after waking. And I thank God I took the tip to put DD down awake in her cot when she was tiny and use the shush pat to settle her - its so great now she's bigger that she's happy to go off to sleep without my help. As others have said, if you and your DD are happy as you are then why worry? I like a bit of routine though and I don't mind guiding her a bit since in my opinion I probably do know what's best for her... I just have an ideal sort of day in my head and we shoot for that but don't get too stressed if it doesn't happen. Its more a case of offering her the opportunity to eat or sleep when I think its an appropriate time rather than trying to stop her eating or sleeping when she wants to, if that makes sense. And if I ever find myself turning down the opportunity to meet a friend because it doesn't fit into the routine, I give myself a shake!!

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