Routine Vs. Schedule

How much sleep does an eight month old baby need? Apparently the average is 16 hours, which only means the range is 12-20 hours per day. New babies get all the sleep they need because they simply take it, brains shutting down to rest whenever and wherever. As babies get older, however, they gain the ability to keep themselves awake. If they are in unfamiliar surroundings, or if it seems like lots of fun is happening, babies can opt to resist their own tiredness and stay alert to the world, taking in all the information they can.played outThis is a good thing, but as with all developmental milestones it is hitting me as a parent as a mixed blessing. Growing up isn’t sad, after all, and I would never wish my child to be narcoleptic, but now that his body won’t simply take whatever sleep it needs, my responsibility as a parent has expanded. And it’s stressful.

It’s stressful because at 8 months old we don’t have a consistent schedule, and I worry that I am short-changing him. I keep hoping a pattern will simply emerge, but the days of our lives vary so much, and my cheerful, sociable baby doesn’t seem to mind long stretches of being awake as long as there are friendly faces to keep him company. Torre is so accommodating to us that we haven’t really needed to create a consistent framework for when he eats/sleeps/plays – we take each day as it comes, and that in itself is kind of a luxury. But then we’ll have a bad day, or a cranky afternoon, or an up-6-times-in-the-night and I spiral into crisis mode, doubting my parenting skills, feeling overwhelmed and frustrated at all the information I have when none of it helps me, and mourning how long it will be before I sleep more than 3 hours at a stretch.

Last night was one of those nights, so this morning found me reading over all the same suggestions: have a bedtime routine; it’s okay if your baby cries but not too long because then they’ll be stressed and that will keep them awake; consistency is key, even if it’s a struggle at first; babies who need less sleep will spend more time learning about the world, so that’s good!

Deep down, I know we have it easy and this is all a learning process. I reminded myself this morning that Torre isn’t holding any grudges, and neither should I (against him or myself). And really, being stuck in a schedule is the last thing I want! We have plans to visit family on the West Coast in a few weeks, and will see family on the East Coast before the year is over. That means time changes, which are not fun for adults, but even less fun for rigidly scheduled infants. As I learned with being productive with chores, I think when it comes to sleep I need to lower my expectations and take what I can get when I get it. We will keep our before-bed routine, but I won’t stress whether it starts at 6:30 or 7:30 or 8:30. The time will come for a more consistent schedule, but I think at this point it would be getting ahead of myself, so I will try to save my sanity by settling for a somewhat consistent routine.

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Susan 15-10-2013, 12:14

So much of parenting is like this – figuring it out as you go, sometimes doing what has worked well for others. Maybe you’ll get 8 hours of sleep all in one stretch when you’re here. 😀

alyssa 18-10-2013, 21:31

Haha oh yes, I have comforted myself with that very thought several times in the last few weeks 😀

Learning about sacrifice and how to get a baby to sleep | Always Learning 15-10-2013, 13:27

[…] aren’t going to work for their family right now. The parenting lesson she needs to learn (which she blogged about) is to lower her expectations and let go of the guilt-tripping “expert” advice she […]


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