Wednesday, November 5, 2008

My two cents on babies and scheduling

With five children, I would consider myself pretty organized, and more and more so as our family continues to grow. I have a basic schedule that I follow every day, and I will not go to bed until I finish up at night unless I am very ill. It's just easier for me and the kids when we know what we need to get done when, and who is responsible for it.

Having said that, let me give you my thoughts on scheduling young babies. First off, we do not practice birth control. Breastfeeding, if practiced right, naturally spaces children. So any method of scheduling babies that interferes with on-demand breastfeeding is out of the question for me. There are many books out there, such as My First 300 Babies and Babywise, that I cannot condone for that reason. These books were developed for bottle-fed babies, and the schedules were later adjusted to "fit" breastfed infants. Even if your milk supply will not suffer from feedings spaced that many hours apart, most women will not be able to hold off ovulation that way, and will find themselves pregnant within months of giving birth if breastfeeding is their only form of spacing pregnancies. Obviously, I feel strongly about not bottle-feeding babies, but that is a different post for another day.

So what are you to do as a mom if you still want to get a shower and get at least the basic housework and cooking done, while your baby wants to eat around the clock?

The first few weeks after your baby is born, you really should just focus on getting rest and holding your baby. Hopefully, your husband or other family members and friends can help you around the house during this time. Once the baby gets to be a couple of weeks old, you will usually be able to see a predictable pattern of when they sleep best (most do so in the morning), and then you can schedule your errands etc. accordingly. So you will be able to follow a simple, basic schedule, but it is one set by the baby, rather than imposed on him/her by an author of a book who probably had 2 kids themselves.

As the baby gets older, the nap times will change (they will be fewer, but longer), until most children will eventually only take one long nap per day (starting around age 1).

I think where many parents miss the boat is that they allow their children to dictate their own schedule as said child gets older and older. This will also make the child want to have their way in every other area of life, and you will soon find yourself with a brat on your hands.

My rule of thumb is that once a child is capable of understanding what I tell them to do, they are expected to do it. So while I can't explain to my 2-week old that she needs to go to sleep on her own, and that I will be in bed myself shortly, a 9-12 month old baby does have a concept of bedtime. I don't think kids should ever be left to "cry-it-out". If they are too young to understand, it is your job as a mother to comfort the child just like it is your job to feed and care for them in every other area of life. But once they get to an age (usually around age 1) where they understand that it is now bedtime, they are not allowed to throw an angry fit just because they would rather stay up and play longer.

Our kids are taught to go to sleep on their own once they only take one nap per day and are around 1 year old. To ease this transition, I start by putting said child down for their naps on their own when they are still awake, but sleepy (as opposed to feeding them until they fall asleep and then laying them down). I will then find something quiet to do in the room as they fall asleep, such as folding laundry. If they get up, I remind them to put their head back on the pillow. It has never taken me more than a week to get them to take their nap on their own. Once they have learned that, I do the same at nighttime, with the same results. Your life will become easier at this point, and your child will have learned about obeying in general, not just in regard to bedtime.

I guess what I am saying is that you can and should expect more and more from your children as they get older, but that it does not mean neglecting your babies. Just like you would not expect a young baby to go to the fridge and feed themselves a meal, you can't expect them to settle themselves down when they are upset and wanting to be held, but you can expect that as they get older, smarter, and more independent.

Just my thoughts.


  1. I have a question -- how many children do you think you should have? Should you keep having children until your body can't have them anymore or does God "let you know" when you've had enough? What about paying for them? I know your husband works two jobs to support you and your growing family and I applaud that -- but how many can you afford? I know the Duggar family in Arkansas has um 17 or 18 and doesn't seem like they are close to stopping anytime soon. Do you and your husband want as many or more? I'm just curious.

  2. Just wanted to say "Congrats" on the new little one! We are pregnant with #5 right now, due in June. My milk starts to disappear around 6 months, so our babies are pretty close together (well, except for our 10 year old!) we have 10, 4, 2, and 14 months. Our 4 and 2 year old are 17 months apart and the 2 and 14 month old are 19 months apart. This last baby though, I found using an essential oil REALLY boosted my milk supply and I was able to nurse him for 10 months! Then, 3 short cycles later and another little blessing is on the way. I am not going to fib, I am already dreading labor and delivery. They are getting easier though, with the last one being just a 3 hour labor (the midwife was only here 45 minutes before he came!). Thanks for your post on the scheduling – we have never scheduled – at least not until they are a year or so. I saw the pictures of your little boy; his resemblance to my 4 year old boy is uncanny 

  3. Hope,

    I am guessing that you do not have any children? I have always wanted a lot of children, but once our first one was born, I realized that they were a much greater blessing than I had ever expected. I think I should have as many as God chooses to bless us with, and I pray that it will be many.

    If I had to guess what number that would work out to be given my current age and the (natural) spacing of our children so far, barring any problems that could keep me from having more, I would say about 12 to 15.

    As far as supporting such a large family - I honestly never ever worry about that. My husband does not take a salary for pastoring, so we live off a single income (not two jobs). God has blessed us more and more as our family has continued to grow, and I know that He is more than able to provide for us. Besides, it's not like kids live at home forever - I'm pretty sure that at the current rate we would never have more than 10 living at home at any given time - halfway there!


    Thanks for the vote of confidence!

    Frontier Farms,

    I didn't mean to sound like there is a certain amount of months that pregnancies should be spaced. I know that even with the best efforts at breastfeeding, some moms have more milk than others, and some are more fertile than others. I for one really struggled with our oldest, and had to use lots of herbs to maintain my milk supply somewhat. My cycles returned when he was 5 months old and I got pregnant again within a couple of months. During that second pregnancy, I read every breastfeeding book I could find, and nursing was much easier with the second child. He also did not like solids until he was like 10 months old, which helped hold off my cycles. They pretty much come back within a couple of months of the babies starting solids, even though I keep nursing them, and I have never had more than 2 cycles between pregnancies. Our shortest gap between babies was 16.5 months, the longest was 2 years 2 months (but I had a miscarriage in between). The last two kids were 20 months apart, which was the second shortest gap.

    With the first three, I was really scared of labor and birth. It's SO painful, and there is no way to get out of it, which made me panic, which made the pain worse. With baby number 4, I really prayed about birth a lot. Not so much that it wouldn't hurt, but that I would be able to handle it and not lose control. It was a really good labor, and I stayed on top of things right up until the end, but by then things went really fast. So with this 5th baby, I was not worried about giving birth, because I knew I could do it. This was a harder labor, but I stayed calm and in control the whole time in spite of the pain. It really helped to just take it one contraction at a time, and also remembering that I would soon be holding a new baby. I have found it also helps tremendously to talk to the baby calmly. It sounds funny, but they DO hear you, and I'm sure it must be at least as frightening to the baby to go through birth as it is for the mom. How much more so if Mom is screaming, rather than talking reassuringly? Plus, I think giving birth to girls is easier because they are smarter and know what to do! :)

    Different things work for different people, so once you figure out what works for you it will be less scary. That's why home birth is so much better, because you never even get a chance to experience any of this at a hospital.

  4. I am curious. How do you feel about Natural Family Planning? Let's say that you feel like you need to wait for 3 years before your 6th child? I do understand that you don't believe in birth control pills. Some of my friends use NFP and they have not had children in years.

    I am curious about another thing. You have never addressed it before. What if a couple is told that it would be unwise for them to have children due to bad genes and that one of them needs to have surgery such as tubal ligation or vasectomy? How do you feel about permanent sterlization. Tubal ligations and vasectomies don't cause chemical abortions at all. I am not talking about you. I just would love to hear your belief on this in general.

    How big is your house? Do you think you all will ever move to a bigger house when you have more children?

  5. Misty,

    Good questions. The reason why I reject NFP is because it requires about 4-6 days of abstinence each month, which the Bible speaks against:

    1Co 7:5 Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.

    So, as a rule of thumb, I take it you should not practice abstinence for longer than you would be willing to fast.

    I would say that maybe there are times when it would make sense to try not to get pregnant, such as after a still birth or a miscarriage, to give the body time to heal. The Bible does say to abstain for certain lengths of time after having a baby, so those time periods could apply in such a situation.

    I oppose sterilization for any reason. Genetical disorders that would make it impossible for a couple to have children are very rare, and I believe that God is in control of that.

    Our current house has 4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. One bedroom is our bedroom, one the kids' bedroom, one room is their play room, and one room is our school room. The house is not huge, but it's big enough for us right now. In the future, we could either add on or buy something bigger, but I won't start thinking about that until I have to. I hate moving and anything related to it!

  6. Do you think you all will ever turn the playroom to a bedroom for the girls? Does Rebecca ever sleep in the kids' bedroom? I am sure that you love the current house because you all have a swimming pool. Maybe you all could get some men from church who may have carpenting skills to build extra rooms to the house. I know you all would have to pay them of course, but they would probably charge less than most people.

  7. I came across your blog a few months ago and I really enjoy reading your thoughts on things! Since these comments seem to be on the topic of children, I have a question for you as well. At what point does one stop getting pregnant because of previous c-sections. I've had three already (I attempted a VBAC but was not successful) and I am not a candidate for any type of home or hospital vaginal delivery. My dr. said everything looked fine after my last c-sec and gave us the go ahead for a fourth. But when do we stop? When she says so? Do you recommend a second opinion at that point? I know of a lady online that's had 10 c-secs so I know it's possible, but obviously, I don't want to die during birth Any thoughts on this? Neither hubby or I believe in sterilization but I'm thinking at some point, it could be a health issue, ya know? Thanks for any insight you have! Keep up the good work! And congrats on that precious new baby!


    p.s. This is hubby's account if you're wondering why I'm signed as Kevin. haha!

  8. You & I are different people in many ways, but I wanted to thank you for reaffirming that the way I parent my son is right... I always knew scheduling had to be based on his development - not my wants.


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