MUM SAYS I was a 'clock-watching' mum but not anymore

A mother confesses that she was once obsessed with sticking strictly to her baby’s sleeping and feeding schedule…


“It probably began right from the start ― just a few days after my firstborn Christian arrived.

He had pretty high jaundice levels, so we were advised to either ward him at the hospital, or rent a phototherapy bed for use at home. Since we couldn’t wait to go home and get settled, we picked the second option.

‘Place him under the UV light for half an hour, every two hours,’ the neonatal nurse told us, as I dutifully took down all the information in my notebook. ‘And every time you pick him up, you can feed him, change him, then put him back under the light.’

Don’t get me wrong, I ‘m not blaming my intensive clock-watching habit on the nurse. Indeed, I’d been a serial reader of parenting books and websites during my pregnancy, many of which had information like ‘newborns had to feed every two hours in the day, and every three hours at night’.

Or, “change his diaper at least every two or three hours”.

Or “your baby should not be awake for more than an hour and a half at a stretch”.

Or “he should take his first morning nap at 9am”.

And of course, “babies need routines”.

All this advice was great. But then, I got a little obsessive.

Christian wasn’t a great sleeper as a baby ― as first-time parents, we’d count the number of daytime naps he was getting, the number of hours of sleep, and worried that we would be hurting his brain development if he didn’t get enough snooze-time.

We’d avoid all evening appointments, since we had to be home by 7pm, so that we could start his bedtime routine.”

We based our day on when his next nap was due. Should we lunch with some friends at noon? No, we’d better move it to 1pm, since Christian might need some quiet time to settle down and have his nap.

We’d avoid all evening appointments, since we had to be home by 7pm, so that we could start his bedtime routine.

Even though I was sleepy by midnight, I’d force myself to stay awake because I knew that he would wake up in 45 minutes for his next feed.