I’m the type of person who over analyzes situations and worries that I’m not doing the right thing. I’ve had many insecurities about being a good mom and raising Rhys well enough. I guess I had high expectations since he was my first and I was first and hit every milestone early and was always an excellent student and a very active child. I want that for Rhys, as well.
Ever since Rhys was born 5 weeks ago, I’ve been going back and forth as to how I want to manage his eating, sleeping, and wake times. I read numerous articles, numerous forums, What to Expect The First Year, and BabyWise; asked my mom and my friends who have babies for their experiences; and asked my aunt (who is a nurse that works with babies) and my SIL (a lactation specialist) for their advice.
At first, I noticed that by around 2 weeks old, Rhys had sort of developed his own eating pattern: 7AM, 10AM, 1PM, 4PM, 7PM, 10PM, 1AM, 4AM (give or take). So, I started to follow that very strictly the next week. I’d even wake Rhys to keep to this schedule during the day (I know, I’m terrible). But, Rhys’s spit up amount hadn’t decreased–he spits up at least once right after a feeding, and often he’ll spit up within an hour of eating. So, I decided to take some advice and try just to do feed on demand–it was pretty similar, but with larger gaps (such as feeding at 4:45, rather than 4, but I never let him go more than 3.5 hours without feeding). Well, that didn’t change the amount of poopy diapers or spit up, which means, it worked just as well as his pattern.
A few friends mentioned how young their babies slept through the night (5 hours minimum) and mentioned BabyWise. So, I read it through. I also noticed a huge negative attitude towards it online, many saying it’s a terrible book because it advocates crying it out and “starving your baby” to sleep-train them, as well as the whole thing not being supported by medical journals. But, as I read it, I liked it.
The most appealing thing to me was the fact that their example schedule for a baby of Rhys’s age was the same pattern that Rhys had developed on his own. Also, I didn’t find that it was trying to get parents to follow a strict schedule or starve their babies at night. On page 87, it specifically says, “But what are parents supposed to manage? The short answer is the continually evolving, changing, and growing needs of their baby.” They also mention to feed you baby when he is hungry, always. And they mention that when your baby is going through a growth spurt, he’ll eat more; and when you are traveling, or there is some disruption, that is ok, too! To me, BabyWise had some great principles for setting up a flexible schedule. And that’s what I’m doing, a flexible schedule, following Rhys’s cues, but sometimes intervening. I don’t want him going more than 4 hours without eating and I make sure he has at least 8 feedings in a 24 hour period.
One of the biggest pieces of advice I am following from BabyWise is the schedule of Eat-Wake-Sleep. As soon as Rhys wakes up from his naps, I feed him. Then, I try to keep him upright for a while because of his reflux. Then, we play. Sometimes I play with him, which includes tummy time and other skill training, and sometimes, he has independent play time. When Rhys has been awake for at least 50 minutes, he starts to get tired, so I put him in his bassinet and put a blanket on him so he can fall asleep. For the most part, he is very good about falling asleep on his own. Sometimes, it take 5 minutes for him to drift off. Sometimes, it takes upwards of 20 minutes. But, he’s always calm (for the most part). If not, I give him a pacy and caress his head for a bit, then he’ll start to drift off.
Rhys still hasn’t slept through the night. The longest has been 10:30-2:30, then 3:00-6:45, and that has only happened a few nights. Most nights, he wakes up between 1-2 and then 4-5. He typically wakes up by 6:30, but Justin and I aren’t ready to wake up then, so I make sure his pacy is in, pick him up, and put him in bed with us until 7. Sometimes, he won’t even fall back asleep after his 4-5AM feeding, due to fussiness, so I’ll put him in bed with us then, too. And it works wonders! Cuddled up to his momma and daddy, he falls right back asleep. (I’ll sometimes put him in bed withe me during naps to help him sleep, too, so I guess you can say I’m a part-time co-sleeping follower.)
BabyWise does say that by 5 weeks, he should have merged his two night-time feedings. And by 6 weeks, he should be sleeping 6 hours a night, if I have a consistent Eat-Wake-Sleep schedule with at least 7 feedings during the day. Well, I do, and he hasn’t. A few of my friends babies, (a week older and week younger) are consistently sleeping through the night already! I started to get a little jealous. But, again, BabyWise states on page 161, “Do not worry that your baby is not following the plan exactly like the book describes. no baby can.” And I’m just thankful that Rhys doesn’t wake up at night with loud screams. He’s too good of a boy for that. I wake up to fussiness and grunts, because as a new mom, I’m a light sleeper. But, sometimes, it still takes strength not to compare Rhys to other babies. He’ll sleep through when he’s able. What to Expect The First Year does suggest that once babies hit the “magic weight” of 11 lbs, they’ll begin to sleep longer. Well, Rhys has about one pound more.
Again, I do a flexible schedule with Rhys, but with my Type A, anxiety/worry-prone personality, and being a first-time mom with huge curiosity, I bought an app called Baby Log. It’s only $4.99, and totally worth it. It tracks Rhys’s age, weight, lenght, and head circumference, as well as his vaccinations. It also keeps track of his feedings and how long they are, his naps, and his diaper changes. There is also an option for play time, bath time, and poo (I think that’s for potty training), but I don’t use those 3.
As you can see, for the most part, Rhys has a pretty consistent schedule with some variation due to running errands, extra long naps, growth spurts, etc. With this app, and reading BabyWise, and taking advice from my aunt, SIL, and mom, I’m beginning to feel a little more confident with being a mother and managing Rhys’s growth. I’m sure I’ll never feel 100% confident raising a child, but I’m more confident that I’ve been since he was born!