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"Let Me Help You Get Your Baby on a Schedule"
by Jeri CarrMy baby girl loved to nurse and I loved to nurse her. She nursed on demand and nursed very often. After a couple months of happily nursing her on demand (often the only way to help keep her content), I began trying very hard to get her on a schedule.
She was getting close to three months old, and I had read that they naturally start getting on their own schedule by then. My daughter hadn't the slightest resemblance of a schedule yet, so I thought that maybe she needed a little help from me.
Another thing that pushed me over the edge and made me decide to try and get her on a schedule was the horrid offer I had from an otherwise kind lady. Let me explain. . .
A friend gave me a baby shower when my baby girl was about two and a half months old. My baby was usually especially fussy in the evenings, and I had trouble nursing her in public. She wouldn't latch on well, and I thought it was partially because I felt so nervous nursing around other people that my milk didn't let down fast enough. That night at the shower I did try to nurse her around the other moms, but she refused. I felt certain she wanted to nurse even though she wouldn't latch on well, plus I felt the noise and activities going on around her were probably too stimulating for her and she needed quiet time alone with me, so I made everyone wait while I went back into a quiet, darkened room to try to nurse her alone.
While back there trying to relax and nurse my little girl, a lady came to talk to me. You'll never guess what she offered. I still can't believe she actually did this. She offered to come over to my house and watch my baby and help her get on a schedule. Her plan was that I could nurse my baby every few hours and she would take care of my baby for me while I was out of the house so I wouldn't have to hear her cry.
This felt very wrong to me. I think this lady had probably never even nursed, not to mention that I didn't really know this lady that well and my baby didn't know her at all. I politely thanked her, but I knew I could never do that to my baby. I do believe, however, that her suggestion nurtured my insecurities for it was after that incident that I decided to try and start putting my daughter on a schedule.
My daughter had trouble going even one and half hours between feeds. I would hold her and dance with her and sing to her and try everything to help her be happy while waiting to nurse. . . all the while knowing that she would be content if only I simply nursed her. When she was six months old, she finally started going about three hours between feeds. . . but, of course, I didn't realize that at around six months babies commonly go through a growth spurt. She wasn't that interested in solids until she was seven months old, and even then only ate about one or two solid food meals a day.
At eight months I took my daughter to the doctor just because I was a curious new mom who wanted to know how much her baby weighed. I thought she seemed fine. But her doctor said she hadn't gained enough weight and that I needed to start feeding her three solid food meals a day.
I started emphasizing the solid food and she started nursing less and less. I had gotten on the Internet during this time and had joined an email support list for those who practice attachment parenting and extended breastfeeding. Attachment parenting--a high-touch, responsive style of parenting which is based on and nurtures the trust between parent and child--was new to me, but it sounded very good, and I became convinced of the benefits of demand-feeding, child-led weaning, and extended breastfeeding. I feared my daughter was on the road to weaning, so I threw out our schedule and started nursing on demand again and encouraging her to nurse. Our nursing relationship blossomed, and she didn't wean at that time.
It felt so right to follow my heart and answer my baby's cries and nurse on demand and do what I felt was best for my baby. It gave me such peace. It nurtured the bond between my child and me. Scheduling did not give me peace. I feel that it hurt the bond and attachment between my sweet little girl and me. Being free to meet my children's needs--and trusting that they are needs--at any time, not just when the schedule says it is time, and being free to listen to my heart rather than looking to a clock for guidance has helped me to become a better mother.
Copyright 1997-2015 by Gentle Christian Mothers™
Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.