Earlier than that, there are some kids who make their own schedule pretty easily and some who don't.
bedsharing, knitting, toddler-nursing, nerdy, babywearing mama!
Texmati-- Knitter, Hindu, vegetarian, WOHM. Wife to superdad and mom to DS 24 months, and DD 8 months! .
Both of my kids are healthy and happy. I really have not seen a need for a lot of structure and I have 3 kids. I value flexibility and my kids seem to enjoy it, too.
I think all a baby needs for structure is knowing his parents are there to give him what he needs, when he needs it.
Mama to 3 awesome girls: DD1 born 2001, DD2 born 2002, DD3 born March 2011
But that's just us. Every person is different with this.
Mama since 2010
Multicultural living in Europe
Wifey to my DH 9/2005 and always busy SAHM to my beautiful boys Elijah 12/2008 and Caeleb 6/2010
Our baby girl is arriving October 2012!!!
It just never suited us. We have a vague plan as to how the day is going to go, and she sleeps and eats around that. She's always been a very flexible baby, but then so are we. We've always been the sort of people who wake up on a Saturday and say, what shall we do today? And the day unfolds from there!
I'm finding now she's more communicative, she's taking control a little more. She just learnt to sign 'Food' and is now leading the way on what time we eat breakfast/lunch/snacks...which is lovely!
We Sling, Sign, BLW & use Gentle Discipline
But it really depends on the age. Obviously a five-week-old is not going to have a rigid schedule that will last for months and months. What works one week will not work next week, etc...
But yeah, once you get to a year old, my daughter had a "routine" down, dictated if anything by meals. It's not good at that point I think to skip meals, because it can lead to blood sugar dips and make for a fussy toddler... she has eaten 5-6 small meals a day, at regular intervals, since she was about 12 months (now 17 months). That doesn't mean it has to be exact down to the minute every day, but, you know, regularly spaced. And because we had a routine in terms of eating, and she wakes up/naps/goes to sleep at a regular time, activities kind of fit in around that schedule. We tend to stay in and do cleaning and playing in the morning, go out in the afternoon after naps, etc.
Kelly (28), in love with husband Jason (38) and our awesome babies: Emma 4/09, and Ozzy 8/10
It's got to be an individual thing. The idea that human beings require some sort of daily structure in order to grow up healthy individuals is bizarre to me. I doubt our ancestors had a great deal of structure in their daily lives. The baby napped when it fell asleep on mom's back or in grandma's or big sister's arms. They moved around a lot. They ate when it was convenient and food was available. There was no schedule. They survived. Some kids like one, some don't. To say that they all need one is just nonsense, IMO. How can human beings need something they never even had an opportunity to have until the last couple centuries? If your kid enjoys routine, then they should certainly have one. If not, they aren't going to fail to learn boundaries because you didn't always do snack time after stories and nap time after snack. Just do what works for you and yours. They'll be fine.
That said, babies aren't going to follow rigid schedules, nor should they. My 3 month old has a very easygoing schedule, designed around his naps. He gets up at about 6 and goes to bed at 8. Eats about every two hours with naps at 8, 11 and 3 ish.
DD naps around noon, DS naps about 2 hrs after getting up, is up for another 2, then goes down again. Sometimes this coincides with DD's, sometimes not. Bedtiem is at 7pm.
If I were trying a routine for the first time, I would definitely commit to doing it for at least a month before making any judgements. It takes time to get into the groove.
A routine gives the day a sense of rhythm. After all we all have routine in our lives - what time we get up, eat, when we shower etc. I think it's natural to begin incorporating that.
I personally believe that routines and rituals give kids a sense of security in knowing what to expect next. This is especially so once toddlerdom hits, IME as transitions can bstart to become trickier.
We did a bedtime routine from when DS was 10 days old. With DD (the first child) it was 6 weeks. It saved our lives.
Although it might seem rigid, in a funny way it gives you SO much more freedom. I 99.999999% KNOW that my kids will be asleep by 7-7.15pm so if I need to schedule an appointment to pop out (leaving kids with DH) I can do it with certainty. If we used a babysitter I would know what time to book them so the kids were already asleep.
Leila, mama to Eleanor (10/08) and Emmett (4/10)
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Get up (when you want unless we need to be somewhere) breakfast, tidy up, lunch, supper, quiet play... then sleep...
I have never had nap times or scheduled times to eat.. we eat when we are hungry, sleep when tired... Babies just follow our routine and sleep when they want/need to... easy, no fuss, no worries...
I honestly coud never have a schedule in my house, it is too restrictive and doesn't allow kids to get comfortable with change or different situations... We like having a bit of impulse in our lives and the kids have no trouble adapting...
Mama to Xavier (July 02) , Colin (Sept 04), Khéna(Nov 06) & Wilhelmina (Jan 10)