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Do children really need a routine? - and do they set it themselves if so?

(21 Posts)
katechristie Wed 30-Sep-09 10:58:18

I would really love to hear both sides of this.
DD is 24wks and DS is 2.7yo. We don't do anything at a set time although we do things in more or less the same order every day I suppose - DD can wake anytime from 5.30 - 7.30am for the day, so her feeds and sleep during the day will follow whatever time she woke - and they are never the same gap from one day to the next - e.g. she isn't ready for a nap 2 hours after she last woke every time, and doesn't go 3 hours between every feed - sometimes it's 1.5 hours, sometimes 3.5 hours.

Sometimes DD gets overtired (watch as I do for sleepy signs, they're just not always there), which gets stressful for me and DS and I suppose I'd love a baby who is fairly predictable with nap and feed times, but have wanted her to settle into her own routine, rather than impose one on her, and am hopeful that over the next few months this will happen as we start weaning, as I'll be offering her meals at the same time as us, so am hoping sleep and feeds will settle around these.

However, do you think babies and children themselves need a routine - do they need to know what's coming next and is the fact she's still not there yet, due to me not helping her out along the way? - I get stressed when she's hard to settle at nap times and wonder if I need to start putting her down at the same time each day so that she'll get used to it, as she's round about the age for 2 decent naps now.

I would really love to hear how you got into your routine with your DCs, or if you don't have one at all, how it works for you. TIA.

roseability Wed 30-Sep-09 13:44:05

Hi there! I just posted with a very similar problem!

I have DS aged three and DD aged 15 weeks

Like you I don't want to impose routine but I do want my DD to sleep when she needs to without the battles and melt downs I seem to be having!

It is making it tough for my DS as well. Like you I wait for sleepy signs and then try to settle her with a BF, rocking etc. She gets to sleep but wakes up after a short spell still tired and then meltdown usually follows.

BonsoirAnna Wed 30-Sep-09 13:45:38

No they definitely don't need much of a routine at all - in fact, routine is pretty boring IMO.

DD is nearly 5 and hates too much routine - she says it's very boring to do the same thing all the time.

waitingforbedtime Wed 30-Sep-09 13:46:53

I only have one dc but we didnt have a routine really when he was little but now he is the same age as your oldest one and he DEFINITELY thrives on routine now. I think he'd be a bit lost without it tbh but it is one that has just occurred naturally. However, I think that if I am lucky enough to have another anytime I will have to try and make themm 'fit' into our existing routine as much as pos ; like you say that will probably happen once the wee one is being weaned etc.

roseability Wed 30-Sep-09 13:51:19

BonsoirAnna - What did you do when DD needed a sleep?

BonsoirAnna Wed 30-Sep-09 13:53:42

She was one of those babies who fell asleep at the breast and could be put down any time - I had a pram in the dining room for short daytime naps and otherwise would put her upstairs (I was living in a house at the time) with the baby monitor on. It was all very approximate! She slept a lot in her buggy from about 4 months, while I was out and about. Or in the car.

womblemeister Wed 30-Sep-09 13:54:22

Used to be a big believer in daytime routine but have now totally abandoned it (DD1 is 5, DS2 is 4). Because they were so close in age, the post-lunch nap just turned into a farce of pillow-throwing and shrieking, so I stopped after they reached 3.

The only thing I absolutely insist on is bedtime, which has to be the same time every day. As long as mine get minimum 10 hours' sleep out of 24, they're fine.

abra1d Wed 30-Sep-09 13:58:26

I can only speak from my own experience, which was that my two were much happier and so was I when we had some kind of guideline routine to a day.

It wasn't carved in stone but the children seemed to be more settled when it was established. It was basic: eg, both children in double buggy in late morning so that they fell asleep on the dog walk and allowed me time to have something to eat at lunchtime in peace. Daughter in electric swing at 5.45pm so that she would sleep at a time when she could be colicky but when I needed to bath her older brother and put him to bed.

As I am NOT a routine-lover this has been hard for me. But both of them slept through by about 7 months with little 'intervention' from me, so I am assuming that the routine helped them. Unbroken nights are important for me because I feel quite ill if I lack sleep.

castille Wed 30-Sep-09 14:00:24

Routines are only any use when you have older children who need to get to and from nursery/school on time. I didn't have one at all for DD1 or DD2, but when I had DS it was essential he had his (much-needed) nap at the same time on each school day so as to be up again for the school run.

Weekends were, and still are, chaotic thoughgrin

roseability Wed 30-Sep-09 14:07:49

womblemeister - LOL at a farce of pillow throwing and shrieking! I am having a crap day and that made me laugh grin

Tee2072 Wed 30-Sep-09 14:17:15

Daytime we have no routine at all. DS is 16 weeks (as of tomorrow) and it all depends on what is on our agenda to do. He rarely sleeps for long in the morning, although will settle down for 45 minutes to 1.5 hours in the afternoon, after lunch.

Night time, he's actually set his own routine. He started falling asleep at 8, so DH and I took our queue to start bath/story/song time around 7:15/7:30. He doesn't always sleep the same amount at night, although he's sleeping longer and longer at night.

BlueKangerooWonders Wed 30-Sep-09 14:27:58

Whether you're looking forward to it or not, when the older one starts pre-school or nursery the younger one will also fall into some sort of routine as you'll be leaving the house at set times each day. Until then, I think it sounds like the lack of routine suits you all very well! Go with it

Egg Wed 30-Sep-09 14:30:49

All mine have a routine although ds1 slightly less so than dt's. Dt's really do not do well without their sleep after lunch and meal times are usually same times each day except breakfast which depends on thetime they get up.

Ds1 is 3.7 and is ok to a point without too much routine but meals and bedtime still always same time. Saying that he is much happier during term time with nursery routine and got a bit wild during summer hols with less structure to his week. He likes to know each day what we are doing 'after this sleep' and feels happier if we have plans even if they are only plans to stay at home or play in garden.

I couldn't cope without the routine for the twins. Knowing i can get rid of them for a couple of hours each day really helps me! I did have to put them to bed at same time each day when they were small to get it established and it never worked for them both until they both slept through meaning they both woke up at similar time each morning.

Tortington Wed 30-Sep-09 14:33:09

i have long been of the mantra " do whats easiest for you"

i think a routine is a must for young children, set routine before bed and set bedtime - children need lots of sleep.

however this isn't a hard and fast rule. do it most of the time - but sometimes the day is just too hard - give yourself a break.

as long as the routine is a routine - and not something done ad hoc

Miggsie Wed 30-Sep-09 19:07:39

We have a routine but it is really:
breakfast almost immediately after waking up otherwise she is bad tempered.
Lunch about 12- 12:30
Tea about 5pm
Bed at 6:30.
Stories end 7pm then DD can keep the light on and play till 7:30
She need s sleep and regular food intake...

Everything else inbetween varies depending on what we want to do (park, swim, school, etc).

iwantitnow Wed 30-Sep-09 19:09:10

I never understand routine for those under 6 months or even older. It all depends on what time they wake up, or maybe I'm the only one with babies that don't ping awake at exactly 7 o'clock in the morning. Routines are often in the mind, witnessed loads of people saying they are doing strict GF but evident only in words not when their babies actually sleep - always an excuse provided. I follow a strict routine from day one - let them sleep when they are tired (around every 2 hours at 6 months for DS but sometimes more/less) and feed them when they are hungry except solids are at settish times (depends on their sleep and preschool run). Also very rarely wake a sleeping baby except for preschool run and DS who often would sleep through dinner...

abra1d Thu 01-Oct-09 12:55:34

Well you've said it, iwantinow, your non-routine is in fact your routine. YOu do actually feed solids at more or less the same time. You wake a sleeping baby for preschool run.

It's a routine. Not a hide-bound, cast-in-iron one, but a routine. It's the natural human way of dealing with a newborn.

fandango75 Thu 01-Oct-09 13:05:49

we had a rough routine from the start on a 4 hour feed schedule (mixed feeding so easier to moniter the amounts as didnt have gallons of breast milk) but we have a rough structure to the day ie breakfast time, lunch, nas etc 9 months old now and slept through from about 20 wks - was one of our main aims to get sleep sorted first theory being the less tired we are the better parents we'll be. Whatever works for you though. GF is mad and my husband threatened to burn her book just fyi. Quite useful for feeding times etc though as was clueless - these were the only pages i read in the end - was a bit OTT for us

Allets Thu 01-Oct-09 13:14:31

I believe it is good for children to have a routine.

I am not saying that things have to be done to the letter and at the same time every day, but for my family letting the kids go to bed whenever they feel like it and wake up whenever they feel like it is a recipe for disaster. We end up with overtired and uncooperative children who are more prone to tantrums. I also find with my eldest that his schoolwork seriously suffers if he isn't in a predictable week time pattern.

My lot all have tea around 5pm. They have a bath around 6pm, teeth, stories; then DD (2) goes to bed at 7/7.30, DS2 (5)goes about 7.30/8 and DS1 (8) goes no later than 8.30 in the week.

Similarly they all know that mealtimes are not negotiable. We eat a healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner. I don't make them eat anything that they particularly do not like, but I do insist that the basics of fruit and vegetables are eaten at all meals.

Without these basic rules aka a routine the house falls into disarray and I become a nervous breakdown waiting to happen.

AvrilH Thu 01-Oct-09 13:15:10

Imposing a routine at 7 months definitely helped us. Made for a happier baby and more sleep all around. If we have another, I would do it earlier, it just did not seem to be happening of its own accord.

The great advantage to a routine is that it makes you more sensitive to the baby's cues - you are more aware e.g. that the baby might be hungry, because they fed less than usual, or tired because they started the day earlier. And you can, to an extent, plan the day around the baby's needs.

Allets Thu 01-Oct-09 13:18:05

Oh and FWIW, when mine were little we did have a similar routine and tried where possible to keep feeds at similar times in the day.

Just as I wouldn't eat my breakfast at 10am or my lunch at 3pm, I wouldn't expect my baby to either.

All of mine have been reasonable sleepers and all enjoy their food now that they are a bit older.

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