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Am I being a bad parent... by not having a sleep routine for my three-month-old?

Is it too soon to start getting strict with bedtime? This week’s dilemma has divided our panel.

Image: Shutterstock/FamVeld

IN THE FIRST few months with a new baby, just getting through the day and night is a cause for celebration. So if your new arrival decides midnight is bedtime, then so be it.

But as your little one gets a little older and things become (hopefully) a little more manageable, you may start considering setting a sleeping and eating routine that works for everyone – not just for your baby.

Each week in our series, Am I Being A Bad Parent?, we hear from a reader who can’t figure out if they’re on the right track with a parenting choice, or if they’ve gotten something 100% wrong. To get a balanced view of the situation, we put the dilemma to a group of Irish parents, keeping things anonymous to encourage honest answers. 

This week, one parent is wondering if she should be setting a strict early sleep routine for her three-month-old, who’s already decided he’s a bit of a night owl.

Have a parenting dilemma you’d like some other mums and dads to weigh in on? Let us know anonymously in our survey here!

This week’s dilemma

Am I being a bad parent… by not having a sleeping routine yet? My son is 14 weeks old and usually goes to sleep for the night between 11pm and 12pm. He’ll wake once, maybe twice for feeds but mostly sleeps through until 8am. Right now we just follow his lead. But from speaking to other mums I know this is quite a late time for him to be going down, and I’m concerned it’ll get later as time goes on. Am I being unreasonable by not getting him into a stricter (earlier) routine now?

Our anonymous readers’ responses

No, you’re not being unreasonable at all. That sounds like a routine to me. A glorious one if this parent gets a nine or ten hour stretch of sleep.

Yes, you’re being unreasonable. At 14 weeks if the baby is happy and healthy, it’s time to stop taking their lead anymore and create your own routine. Aim to get the baby to bed at 7pm, so you can wake them for a dream feed at 11pm/12am and then back to bed after that. You can start trying to shift bedtime to an earlier hour with a bath in the early evening to make it feel like bedtime. This becomes the bedtime routine and babies start to understand that it’s the end of the day.

I’m really not sure. I think it’s up to you and I have two, possibly contradictory, thoughts on this. Firstly, it sounds like the baby is already in a routine and it might be stressful for everyone to radically change that. It’s a nice idea to have your kid go to sleep when you want, but not always practical. But, that said, those precious hours of child-free evening time are essential for parental sanity, and maintaining any sense of yourself as a functioning adult/someone who has a human relationship with their partner. So consider the situation and do whatever you feel you need to do for yourself.

So what’s the final tally? Is this reader being unreasonable? 

No – 1

Yes – 1

Maybe – 1

Have a dilemma you’re in two minds about? Let us know anonymously in our survey here and we’ll put it to our panel of parents.

Want to win a night of magical family fun at Dublin Zoo’s Wild Lights? Enter here – and don’t forget to subscribe to our weekly Family Newsletter below! 

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