When I browse through Pinterest, I get hundreds of "Routine with Your Newborn" etc. etc. pictures that give you minute daily routines to the second that you should implement on your child as quickly as possible. In the many, many books I've browsed, many also speak of daily routines with exact nap times, wake up times (whoever woke up a sleeping baby has clearly never had one) and feed times.
In the beginning, these routines stressed me a lot, as Lily had her very own routine and every day is a little different than the other. I beshoulded myself with how she should always get up at the same time, eat at the same time and poop at the same time, until I reminded myself that she is a human being and not a machine. I've written in previous posts that I feel many parents want their children to "function" as quickly as possible - sleep through, fall asleep on their own, feed at the same times - so they can quickly return to their previous life rhythm before baby.
I find requiring your baby to function demeaning. What if she's had a bad night and needs the eytra 30 minutes? What if she's just not so hungry today? What if it's hot and she's thirstier than usual? Sure, it is very tempting to read these books that promise your baby will fall asleep within seconds and then sleep twelve hours straight, but in the end they always include trickery and/or harming sleep trainings that deeply affect the bond between mother and child. For me, it is important that I see Lily as a human being with her own personality, needs and preferences. I cannot "train" her like a dog so she obeys when I need her to - and I don't want to do that. Imagine someone told you you had to eat, sleep and poop at the same time all the time, wouldn't you feel humiliated? I certainly would.
So does that mean I don't think a structure to the day is important for us? On the contrary. I think a daily rhythm that generally repeats itself is very important for babies and children as it gives them signposts within the day on which they can rely on. Little rituals help them realise when what is done and I am all for it. However, a baby doesn't know whether it's 7 or 8 am, neither does it know when you put it in bed half an hour earlier or later. I put her to bed sometime between 7 pm and 8 pm when she's tired, but I don't count the minutes anymore.
When you think about it, in the history of humankind, the clock makes up for probably the very last quarter of an inch in a very long rope. Humans had children long before the clock was invented. They fed their babies when they were hungry, put the down when they were tired and they lived on as well. I feel this time-picking isn't good for anyone. For the mothers it leads to frustration when your baby doesn't fall asleep at the same time as you intended to - and for the baby it's confusing because she doesn't know it's 4 o'clock now, she just knows she's not tired at the moment, so why go to sleep?
I feel grooving into a mutual rhythm also allows you much more flexibility. Especially in the first year the rhythm of the babies changes continually. The minute you think you've got her figured out, she's changed again - so why enslave you and your baby to a stupid routine made up by someone on the internet? For me it only led to stress, so we now trust the rhythm we've grooved ourselves in and I let her take over most of the day - at that age they're pretty good at telling you what they like and what not, so let's not drill that out of them, but listen carefully and enjoy more quality time and less looking at the clock.