by: Kimberly Bowman
Along with everything else to fret about, scheduling is one of the top issues where the typical breastfeeding and formula feeding moms differ. This is largely due to the reasoning behind on-demand nursing which entails feeding the baby anytime she desires. On-demand feeding is particularly beneficial in the first several weeks post-partum when you and mini-me are working together to establish your milk supply and pack on those fantastic rolls of baby fat. This baby-led schedule almost never follows your pre-parent days and nights. While this is good for starting off breastfeeding but not so good at increasing your level of sanity, it is important to remember that it, like a million other things, is temporary. Let yourself get through the first six weeks of life as you knew it having changed drastically and forever before you start worrying about schedules.
Once you are through that initial period of adjustment, and the first two growth spurts at three and six weeks, you can start thinking ahead. As with adults, each baby has an individual personality. Though there are similarities among infants, each new person comes with their own ideas about how they wish their days (and nights) to go. You are the one who is supposed to be in charge but in a bit of foreshadowing, you will find that baby’s opinions are not always as easily swayed as you would like.
You will begin to see the initial pattern of your baby’s chosen schedule within a few weeks. Working with that as a basis you can begin to affect the changes that will make a difference for you. Guarding your baby’s intake and weight gain is the primary thing to remember when scheduling. Any schedule that risks a baby’s ability to thrive is not a reasonable one. By keeping a regimen loose enough to accommodate growth spurts and comfort at the breast you will keep yourself and baby happy. Once any blips on the radar pass, get back to the routine quickly and consistently.
As your baby grows, using the same reasoning behind scheduling can be used for discreet nursing of an older child and sleep routines. Recently, a study of babies through their first several years found a connection between routines at a very young age and decreased anxiety further on. We hear all the time that toddlers thrive on routine, but they are not the only ones. While spontaneity is nice, having some predictability in life is comforting and you will find yourself seeking that comfort more and more as you and baby grow together.