Since my LO was about 4 weeks old, I decided (together with my husband) that we would try and implement a routine rather than the demand-led feeding that we had been following up until then.
For those of you who know me, will know that I like to research everything! The whole shopping experience of buying for a new baby was a whole new world of researching for me but that is a story for another day. The point is, I decided, after much reading, surfing the net and talking to others, that putting LO on a routine was the best thing for us a family.
One of my best mates gave me a book by Jo Tantum called Baby Secrets and told me that she had followed the principles in the book with her own two children. This made my eyes light up for a couple of reasons – one, I trust my best mate implicitly and so if she likes this approach, the chances are that I’m going to like it too. Secondly, a memory immediately came to mind of being at said best mate’s house and listening on the monitor to her little girl who had been put to bed some time earlier, singing away to herself quite happily. When I questioned best mate (who I will now refer to as “BM” in my true lawyer styley) about this she told me that her LO would always go to bed happily and amuse herself until she fell asleep. Hmmm, I thought. This sounds amazing! So when she handed me the Baby Secrets book, I scurried away and started reading through like a possessed woman.
I realised fairly early on in my pregnancy that following a routine with a baby -v- demand feeding is pretty controversial. It’s up there with breastfeeding -v- formula feeding and the big social new-mummy-no-no of using wipes on your newborn as opposed to trying to scrape off meconium with cotton wool. Anyway, I digress. The point is, I knew that I was on tricky ground and would have to tread lightly in terms of who I told about our decision. The NCT teacher had already made it perfectly clear to us that baby knows best and we should always follow their lead. She mentioned Gina Ford and then pulled a face as though she was going to projective vomit (she didn’t, I think it was just for dramatic effect). My good friend and neighbour told me that her midwife had referred to Gina Ford as a witch!
Well, just as well I wasn’t following Gina Ford then hey! But in true me style, I did read the Gina Ford book about having a contented baby. I realised that whilst I understood and agreed with some of her principles and the reasoning behind them, I felt the routine to follow was too prescriptive for me. And so, back I went to Jo’s book and I have been using this ever since.
LO is now 14 weeks old (where on earth does the time go!) and under the guidance of Jo and her book, I think that LO and I are doing ok together.
One of the most frequent questions that I get asked about LO is whether or not she is sleeping through the night or still waking me up frequently. I can now honestly say that she is mainly sleeping through the night! The reason for moving to a routine was not so that I could answer this question so smugly (although I have to ‘fess it does give me a certain satisfaction!) but because (a) I’m sure both LO and I are benefitting from a longer period of uninterrupted sleep and (b) having a routine means that I am more confident in knowing why LO is crying when she does as I know when she is due a feed, when she is going to start getting tired, when she is likely to wake up etc.
And yet, despite LO getting great sleep at night, regular naps during the day, putting on weight as she is supposed to and being alert etc etc, to some observers, you would think that I was regularly hanging LO out of the window Michael Jackson styley! The Health Visitor who came round to see me whilst LO was having a nap was horrified that when LO woke up early, I didn’t immediately go in and when I did, I didn’t pick her up and bring her out of her cot, but left her in there and soothed her until she went back to sleep.
She suggested to me that I might want to try more “baby-led” care after I came back into the lounge after spending about 6 minutes soothing LO. Why? I asked her. Well, clearly that question was a difficult one as she wasn’t able to answer me other than to suggest she might be hungry. Then followed a large cough and splutter as I confidently replied that I knew she wasn’t hungry as she wasn’t due a feed for another hour and a half. Ooooh you sinful naughty mother!!! I then found myself in a rather frosty exchange with said health visitor who only shut up about the apparent malnourished state of my starving baby when I explained that I knew LO wasn’t hungry as I had put my [clean and scrubbed with disinfectant] little finger in her mouth and she hadn’t tried to suck on it. On mentioning this, I could see HV’s shoulders visibly relax and she shut her book and then got up to leave. How ridiculous is that! That HV had NEVER met my baby before and had been with me for about half an hour before making the very bold assertion that basically following a routine with my baby was wrong. And that, quite frankly, really winds me up.
Unfortunately the HV isn’t the only one who feels compelled to make clear to me their own feelings about our choice of how to bring up our LO. It has been suggested to me that by not picking my baby up when she cries, I’m not showing her enough love. And also that I might want to try and have a more “normal” life and stop working to a routine. I have bit my tongue on many occasions as these kind of comments and others like them but now I’m starting to fight back. And, as you can tell from this ranty style of posting, i’m getting a bit fed up with having to justify our choices to others.
So for the record, here is my own personal view on demand feeding -v- routine:
DO WHAT WORKS BEST FOR YOU AND YOUR BABY
Phew, glad I got that out of my system. I realise and completely understand that routines for babies are not for everyone. And do you know what? I’m ok with that. I can talk about what I consider the potential benefits of a routine are, I can explain that I do pick my baby up when she is upset and crying but I don’t always do it immediately and I can justify why I put my baby to sleep in the dark as this actually helps re-create the environment where she grew for 9 months(!) but I’m tired of feeling like I have to.
So from now on, I’m not going to try and justify myself. I’m going to show people the video here of my happy little baby and ask them to enjoy watching her laugh as much as I do and leave it at that.