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Getting Baby To Sleep
Using the "Anti-Schedule"
Scheduling Approach

There is no magic "Getting Baby to Sleep" switch. Some babies do it on their own. Chances are, yours doesn't.

(Otherwise, why are you searching online? Shouldn't you be writing an ebook or something?)

Luckily, I've got something better than energy drinks and cold showers.

How about a good night's rest?

(Sha-blam! Thas what I'm talkin' about!)

Our first step in the Getting Baby to Sleep Promenade is to figure out if you're on the right dance floor.

Here's a two-question quiz to find out.

First, do you believe in setting the agenda? Do you want to choose the sleeping and non-sleeping times during the day?

Yes? Then you're probably better suited to use the Queen Mother Method of getting baby to sleep.

Or are you a free spirit? Do you want to have your baby tell you what he feels like, letting him set the schedule?

Are you nodding your head? Then congratulations! You're on the right stage. Time to two-step our way to an undisturbed night of blissful unconsciousness...

getting baby to sleep 2

I'll bet you one (virtual...) dollar I know what you're thinking. Isn't the phrase Anti-Schedule Schedule an oxymoron? How can you have a schedule that is, by definition, against schedules?

    au contraire mon frere!

In an Anti-Schedule Schedule, the schedule is seen as a list to be checked off, rather than set-times to be followed. Your baby, not you, is the one who makes the list.

This doesn't mean your days are entirely unpredictable. There is a schedule...of sorts. It's just a fluid, moving, adjusting, schedule.

Your baby will eventually form his own regular patterns of sleeping, playing and eating. The schedule itself may vary from day to day, depending on the signals your baby gives you.

On Monday she may nap at 1 pm, but on Tuesday she's doesn't seem sleepy until 3 pm. No problem. The schedule adjusts.

Parents take their feeding, playing, sleeping hints from the baby, although they usually have a mental idea of what the day will (most likely) look like. They "go with the flow".

You keep a record of your baby's cues, taking notes to help you learn and understand her unspoken lanaguage and natural habits. Without these important notes, it's entirely possible that your "with the flow" can turn into "up a creek without a paddle".

This tracking will be useless if you write it on scrap paper all over the house. You need a centralized location for all your notes. After endless frustrations of "tracking systems" with my previous two children, I've finally landed on something that actually works. (And looks pretty...)

Check out this beautifully bound journal in faux Italian leather. It even has "Super Mom" embossed on the cover. How did they know...?

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Where Does This Approach of
Getting Baby to Sleep Come From?

This baby-led method of scheduling was born from the mind of the famous pediatrician Benjamin Spock in his 1946 book, The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care. (See today's 8th edition here.)


See the other side of the feeding debate.

In this paradigm-shifting book, Dr. Spock bucked the then-conventional wisdom and suggested that babies had distinct personalities and individual needs that required they NOT be placed on a set feeding and sleep schedule.

He strongly encouraged moms to breastfeed on demand rather than according to a schedule.

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Distinguishing Characteristics of the
Anti-Schedule Schedulers

Perhaps the most well-known proponent of Dr. Spock's method of getting baby to sleep is Dr. William Sears.

Dr. William Sears coined the phrase "Attachment Parenting" in connection with Dr. Spock's theories. The Attachment Parenting philosophy has now become a major cornerstone of the of this approach.

getting baby to sleep 1 There is no shortage of books on getting baby to sleep.
See the best ones.

Here are some of the other guidelines of Attachment Parenting

  • Newborns up until 6 weeks old should nurse every 2 hours, around the clock. (And they strongly advocate nursing.)

  • Follow your infant's lead in regards to sleep: hold, rock, and cuddle him to sleep.

  • It is entirely normal for babies to wake two to three times a night from birth to 6 months old, and one to two times a night for 6 to 12 months old.

  • Insteading of a goal of getting baby to sleep through the night, your focus should be on cultivating a healthy sleep attitude with your infant.

  • Wear your baby in a sling as much as possible to promote bonding.
  • Co-Sleeping safely is the best way to bond (attach) with your infant and is an effective tool in getting baby to sleep.

Two sides of the same coin.

Just as there two troupes of moms dancing in this ensemble. On one end are those who follow Dr. Sears' suggestions (listed above) to a perfect "T". They are very deliberate about being non-deliberate. smiley

On the other side, are those that find the "attachment parenting" suggestions a little too loosy-goosey. This troupe includes the regular-jane moms who aren't following a written hourly schedule but aren't "winging it" either.

They have learned their baby's cues and use those and a general knowledge of their baby's needs to form each day's routine and getting baby to sleep at night.

People who say they sleep like a baby usually don't have one.
~ Leo J. Burke

Advantages to this approach.

  • Moms say that paying such close attention at the beginning gives them an intuitive sense of what their baby needs.

  • Depending on which parent-led expert you are following, this approach to getting your baby to sleep may provide more flexibility and freedom to your daily routine.

  • Babies become more adaptable, sleeping easily on the go or at different times during the day.

  • If you have multiple children and are juggling multiple schedules, adding one more formal schedule may be simply too much. This approach provides structure without causing your cup to completely overflow.

Disadvantages to this approach.

  • Parents can sometimes get frustrated if they don't feel their "reading" their baby's cues correctly. Especially in the early months when you're getting to know each other, miscommunication can lead to guilty feelings and parental disillusionment.

  • This philosphy can be very exhausting for a new mom. You are so focused on synching with your infant, attending her every cue, wearing her everywhere, co-sleeping safely, feeding every two-hours during the night, that you can completely exhaust yourself. Set reasonable limits for long-term success.

  • If your baby is completely dependent on you to read her signals, leaving her with a caregiver may be difficult. They may not be able to understand her cues, getting her frustrated, and since she's dependent on you for soothing, she may not be able to be comforted without you.

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How to Use This Approach
in Getting Baby to Sleep

Obviously, in a baby-led approach like this one, you'll need your baby to lead the way in setting up the schedule. My role here, then, is not to provide you with a schedule, but to help you learn the cues and signs you need to know in order to make the schedule up by yourself.

What does he seem to do with his hands and mouth when he's hungry? Does he rub his eyes when he's sleepy? (My Bella's eyes always get red-rimmed when she's tired.) These are the clues you're looking for.

To help you match these clues with the "normal" behavior of babies, browse through my general baby schedule guidelines.

Free Download for Exhausted Parents

Several months ago I developed a cheat sheet to help mothers struggling with scheduling for an issue of The Merry Mother. But since I consider providing more Zzzz's to exhausted parents a humanitarian act, I've included it for you to download for free.

You'll need a free adobe reader ( If you have trouble opening it, drop me an email.

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The Experts Weigh-In on Getting Your Baby Sleep
Using the "Anti-Schedule" Approach

Wondering which experts use this baby-led, mom-follow method of getting baby to sleep? How convenient! Here they are!

baby sleep books william sears
The Baby Sleep Book
by William and Martha Sears
baby sleep books aap
Caring For Your Child: From Birth to Age 5
by Steven Shelov and Robert E. Hannemann
baby sleep books dr spock
Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care, 8th edition
by Dr. Benjamin Spock and Robert Needlman
baby sleep books touchpoint
Touchpoints: Birth to Three
by T. Berry Brazelton
baby sleep books elizabeth pantley
The No-Cry Sleep Solution
by Elizabeth Pantley

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More Getting Baby to Sleep Articles

I don't know about you, but without adequate sleep I turn into a knuckle-dragging neanderthal, drooling over the lineolum.

Neither is very becoming. Here are some other articles to get your groove back.

heather sig

Using the Queen Mother Method of Sleep Training

baby sleeping through the night 2

The Queen Mother Method (coined by yours truly) believes that Mama's word rules. You set the schedule, the agenda, the routine, and your baby follows it.

See why experts like Supernanny Jo Frost, say this is the kindest and most effective way of helping your baby sleep through the night.

Setting Up a Baby Sleep Schedule from Ahhh to Zzzz

baby sleep schedule

The baby sleep schedule is one of the best kept secrets of the parenting world. From the moment the baby schedule is explained (Ahhhh!) to the moment it's implemented (Zzzzz...), it remains a wonder-tool in the box of parents everywhere.

The Top Baby Sleep Books and Programs

baby sleep book reviews

Baby sleep books are big business nowadays. Sleep-deprived parents are a vulnerable population. They'll try anything to try and score that one night of peaceful slumber. Consider this article an ace up your sleeve. A secret weapon of defense.

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