Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Art of Scheduling

There's a lot of opinions and books out there about scheduling. Some big proponents of using a schedule with your child are Gary Ezzo (On Becoming Babywise), Tracy Hogg (Secrets of the Baby Whisperer-I'm in the process of reading this right now) and Gina Ford (The contented Little Baby Book). I've also heard that the "Super Nanny" has a book out about scheduling, but I don't know a lot about it. If you re interested in scheduling for your child I would recommend going to (of course!), typing in the title of the book and reading the reviews; they all have good and bad ones. Then, make your own decision if this is right for you and your baby.

I've also read that the temperament/need of a schedule for babies can depend on the type of scedule mom had while baby was in utero- which makes sense. I live (or used to B.B.-that's before baby) a very scheduled life- got up at the same time everyday, ate all my meals at the same time, worked-out at the same time and went to bed at the same time everyday (sounds boring right?? I promise, I loved it.) So, Miss Isla June was use to being fed, sleeping, on a schedule, so it would only seem natural for her to gravitate towards that once outside the confines of the womb. So, here's our schedule time-line, what we did, what I recommend (remember, you're reading my blog so you only get my opinions-right?), and what didn't work for us.

Week 1- Ahh the joys of this beautiful new life! Your baby will be so tiny with sweet angel cries that just melt your heart. Waking up 3-4 times a night won't be a problem because you just want to stare at her anyways. Enjoy this time and nap whenever you can. Don't worry about schedules yet. Focus on baby getting a full feeding at every single meal- that means no falling asleep after just a few min of eating, even if you have to use a wet washcloth to keep her awake. Feed baby whenever baby is hungry (demand-feeding) which could be every 45 min or every 2 hours- doesn't matter, just feed. Hopefully at night, you will get a 3-4 hour stretch where you and baby can get some sleep.

Week 2 to 4 - yeah, it's getting tough right about now, the sleep deprivation is wearing on you and baby is crying more. Continue to feed on demand, don't listen to other people, just feed the baby. Around 3 weeks, we started a bedtime routine (bath, massage, swaddle, nurse, rock/walk). It didn't always work, but trust me, it will pay off. Do it at the same time every night, no matter if baby actually falls asleep or not. S/he probably won't because baby will really like to be awake between the hours of 9pm-1am or some variation in this time frame. It's normal and you are not alone- all the other new parents in the world are up with you. I did hear a recommendation from some other parents that they swaddled at 9 pm every night, no matter if baby was asleep or not, just so that she could get used to the idea of being swaddled for bedtime at the same time everyday- I thought that this was a good tactic and one I wish we would have thought of earlier-try it, it may work out great for you. Also, we introduced the pacifier at this time.

Week 5- Ok, this is when we started to kind of schedule and shape Isla June's day. I based a lot of it on Gary Ezzo's book, but I didn't adhere to it religiously. We followed a 2.5-3 hour schedule with the schedule of events being eat, play, sleep. Isla June was typically eating and playing w/in 1 hour, and then we would start nap time. Sometimes she slept for 1 hour, sometimes 2 hours. it wasn't perfect, but atleast she was napping. Right now I am reading Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Mark Weissbluth, M.D., and he says that not enough sleep for an infant can cause cognitive disorders down the road (such as ADHD), so we really started to focus on getting Isla June to sleep, even though she didn't want to (which we discovered can be fairly common for babies). Also, I never implemented the "cry it out" method. I've always soothed her to sleep. Also, she started sleeping in her crib at night. Week 6- Get ready for the growth spurt! Continue to attempt the schedule, but don't get all freaked out (like I did!) when the baby throws your plans out the window. There will be less/more erratic sleeping and a whole lot more eating, especially at night. So try to fit in a lot of those feedings during the day so maybe baby will sleep more than 3 hours at night.
Week 7- the good news about making it through the growth spurt is that your baby will start to do wonderful things like smile, laugh and SLEEP!! Isla June started to sleep 6-7 hours straight at night. Stick with the schedule. We were traveling during this time, so there was a lot more ups and downs, but I tried to continue the eat, play, sleep, even when strapped in the car seat. It worked and didn't mess up our routine too much.
Week 8 and on....- We continue with the schedule, but there are good days and great days (Isla June is a really easy going baby). Sometimes, if she is tired right after a feeding, I let her sleep. Sleep is more important to me than a schedule. And if she's hungry, I will feed her, no matter what the timer says. It's much easier now to know what she needs and wants, which gives me more confidence as her mom. We continue to swaddle for every sleep event, naps and bedtime, she wakes herself up without it.
Week 11- Isla June sleeps 8.5-9 hours at night and generally starts her day around 7:45 every morning. Our problem now is that she is so aware of the world, and thinks that we are the greatest things (so sweet, I know), that sometimes she doesn't want to take naps. This has even become a problem during feedings- she wants to "talk" to me instead of eat. So now I try to make sure I'm super chatty during our nursing sessions, and occasionally she'll let go, respond, and then continue eating. Also, according to Healthy Sleep Habits, this behavior is typical for a 4month old to want more time with you (IJJ's advanced, we know), so we may have to start implementing the cry it out method if we can stand it.

Here's what our day looks like (times are general, not strict):

  1. 5:00am-6:00am First Feed of the day (she's been asleep since 7:30 or 8:00.)
7:45 am-8:00am Wake up and feed, lay w/ momma and then lay in crib and watch her mobile while momma cleans up. Go downstairs and have breakfast w/daddy. Swing in her swing. Start sleep routine (change diaper, turn on music, swaddle,walk, pacifier)
9:00 am to 10:30 am Nap
10:35 am to 11:45 pm Eat (for about 15 min), give her probiotics, read a book, then we walk around the house (I try to keep her upright for around 10-15 min, helps with any kind of reflux) and then it's activity mat/tummy time, swing, and then start sleep routine.

11:45 to 1:00 Nap

1:00 to 2:20- same routine as above w/out probiotics
2:20 to 3:45 Nap
3:50 to 5:30- same routine as above w/out probiotics
5:30 to 6:15- I attempt a nap at this time, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't
7:00 to 7:30- bath time and bed routine (if she hasn't napped, this comes earlier!)
7:30 to 8:00- bedtime
And then it starts all over!

So, this is what works for us. It really is a learning process of hits and misses along the way.

If you are a new mom (or an old mom!) tell me what worked for you, and what didn't...

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