c. Darby Herrington
Wendy S. asks:
The short answer is, "it depends." I know moms who swear by keeping their baby on a strict sleeping and eating schedule. I also know moms who let their baby sleep and eat on command with amazing results. Pediatricians even have differing opinions on what is best. The only one who really knows what is best is your baby.
Elizabeth Pantley, author of the book The No-Cry Sleep Solution, states in her article "Newborn Babies and Sleep" that the best thing a parent can do is become informed and recognize the signs your own baby gives you. Read books and articles, attend classes and talk to other moms. Pay attention to what your baby is telling you.
Pantley says, "During the early months of your baby's life, he sleeps when he is tired, it’s that simple. You can do little to force a new baby to sleep when he doesn’t want to sleep, and conversely, you can do little to wake him up when he is sleeping soundly." In other words, if he is hungry he will wake up. If he needs more sleep, he will keep sleeping.
Although some pediatricians recommend that infants sleep no longer than four hours between feedings, it is perfectly safe for him to sleep longer. As your baby gets older (around 6 months), you may want to try to get her into a more defined schedule. Just keep in mind that flexibility is key.
Trying to keep to a strict schedule can bring on unnecessary stress which is not good for you or your baby. It is okay to stay longer at the park when you are enjoying a nice day together. Do not turn your life upside down for fear of getting off-schedule. Adaptability is a good thing for your baby to learn early.
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