So many parents with new babies are told, “get your baby on a schedule. Things will be a lot easier and you will get more rest.”
The problem with this advice is that it comes too early and without enough information. When babies are born, they schedule us and we do not schedule them. We need to follow their lead. For three months they should be spoiled. After three months children can learn some scheduling. But the first thing to work on is night sleep. After three to four months, children can learn to sleep for longer stretches. So parents can let up on their responsiveness to their children at night and see if they can learn to fall back to sleep again without cues from us.
After night sleep is accomplished, children develop into nappers over time. Napping is usuallly haphazard until closer to 9 months of age. By that time children start developing a natural schedule of two naps a day. By 15 to 18 months those two naps become one longer nap and then you have your child scheduled! But you didn’t do it. Children evolve into that schedule over time. Don’t let anyone tell you to push your child into a schedule before they are developmentally ready.
From the time that I became a pediatrician, thirty some odd years ago, I have been counseling parents to stay a way from three battles. We all know we “have to pick our battles”. Early on in my career I saw an article that explained the three areas that I am talking about as “no-no’s” to battle with your kids.
As we engage with kids we often try to take control in areas where we do not have control. The result is a battle we cannot win. I intend on doing a podcast on this issue too. Perhaps I can elaborate more there. So what are the three areas to NOT battle with your kids over?
- How much they eat! They have ultimate control of how much they put in their mouth and how much they swallow. You cannot make a child eat. REPEAT…you cannot make a child eat. Nor should you worry about how much they eat. You can control what choices they have for food. And you should take control of that!
- You should not battle over sleep. You cannot make your child sleep. But you do have control of bedtime, where they are to go to sleep, and the total hours of bedtime.
- You cannot make a child poop in the potty. They have control over where they put their poop. You have control of incentives and discouragements. In other words you have control over your responses after they go to the bathroom. You can act disappointed and cold if they are not pleasing you about their choice of going in their pants. And you can be pleased about when they succeed in the potty. So there are the three no battle areas. Good luck! Actually this takes a lot of stress away when you realize what you have control over and what you do not. More details of approaches are in other articles on this website and in podcasts to come. Check them out….thanks
The Nursing Mother’s Council of the North Shore offers a drop in meeting for nursing mothers every third Friday of every month. The meeting is at Brian Orr Pediatrics at 1 Blackburn Drive in Gloucester from 9:30 to 11. Drop in when you can. No such thing as being late!
Every family should have some rules around food and eating. From the time I was trained as a pediatrician until today, I have been taught that food should not be a battleground. As parents, we think we need to get kids to eat. But we DO NOT. They will eat what they need to grow on from the balance of food we present. Here are some rules every house should apply.
Do not pressure kids to eat.
Do not worry about how much your child eats at any age!
Make them eat from your choices , not theirs.
Their choice should be to eat or not eat.
Do not play around to “get them to eat”.
Do not pay attention to their behavior around food.
These rules should make your house more peaceful around meals and dinnertime. To learn more join our discussion of these rules on Thursday October 30th at 11:30 at our parent coffee. Good luck.