Friday, April 26, 2013

Our Schedule

Like I said in my post Nap Baby Nap, I have followed a flexible parent-directed feeding (PDF) schedule from the moment my little guy was born.  This idea comes from one of the many books I read while pregnant called On Becoming Baby Wise: Giving Your Infant the GIFT of Nighttime Sleep.  According to authors Gary Ezzo, M.A. and Robert Bucknam, M.D., "a baby cannot maximize learning without experiencing optimal sleep.  Optimal sleep is tied to good naps and established nighttime sleep.  These advanced levels of sleep are the end result of consistent feedings.  Consistent feedings come from establishing a healthy routine.  PDF is the pebble that creates the ripple effect leading to all these outcomes."

With lots to juggle on most days around here and wanting to give my baby a great foundation for healthy growth and optimal development, I knew this type of routine would work best for me and was hopeful that my baby would catch on quickly, which he did!  Like clock work, I could anticipate his needs before they arose.


If you have read Baby Wise but are having trouble remembering the details, this post is for you.  Or possibly you have the book but don't have time to read it and before you know it, your bundle of joy will be making his/her debut!  While I highly recommend that you read or at least skim through the book (It has TONS of great advice and way more details that I can post here.), I've made it easy for you by sharing our schedule!  Just click here to download...and print, if you choose.  PS - There is a boy version and a girl version, same schedule just different colors. :)

It may seem overwhelming at first, but stay calm.  Take it one day and one week at a time.  Give yourself time to get to know your baby and your baby to get to know you.  Do what seems right for you, your baby, and your family.

Some notes:

Yes, following this schedule, you will have to wake your baby in the beginning during the day if it's time to feed him but he is sleeping.  This helps to stabilize the baby's digestive metabolism and helps him organize his sleep patterns into a predictable routine...naps during the day, sleep at night.  Let baby wake naturally at night, but don't let baby sleep more than 4 hours without feeding during the first 4 weeks.  Following this schedule, your baby should be ready to sleep 5 hours at night at 5 weeks old, 7 hours at night at 7 weeks old, and so on until he is sleeping 11 hours at night.

The goal is to transition through Merge 4 after solids are introduced.  Before then breast milk or formula is all your baby needs for his daily nutrition.  Check out the book Baby Wise II for more information on starting solids.  We were on the 6 liquid feedings a day for a long time until my little guy started solids (beginning with baby rice cereal/baby oatmeal) around 22 weeks, but even then he wasn't quite ready to drop a liquid feeding.  For a few weeks, we worked on dropping a liquid feeding once he got used to the solids.  Breastfeeding moms should maintain at least 4-5 nursing sessions in a 24 hour period to keep their supply up.

Please note that your baby has to be ready and capable for the merge/transition.  Some babies are ready sooner or later than others.  Don't force them to drop a feeding if they aren't ready.  Obviously, if your baby is showing hunger signs, you should feed him.  He may be going through a growth spurt or extra thirsty at that time.

I say flexible schedule because as much as I tried to stay on track with the set times, the feedings would give or take 30 minutes on most days.  Following PDF is a combination of watching for hunger cues and the progression of time, so if your baby is showing hunger cues a little early than scheduled, feed him.  Or if you just got home from an errand, need to put the groceries away and he isn't showing hunger cues, he can wait a little bit.

Remember, not every day will be perfect and it doesn't have to be.  Just enjoy your time with your baby.  It may not seem like it at first, but it will go by fast.

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In addition to having our schedule print-out handy all the time, I used this adorable Baby Diary for the first month or so.  Then after the first month, I switched to a Note I created on my iPhone.  I know there are some different smartphone apps out there for keeping track of feedings, diaper changes, etc. but I liked my simple Note better.  Here is a sample from the schedule we were on from around 11 weeks and continued until about 25 weeks when he got used to some solids (baby rice cereal and oatmeal) and transitioned through Merge 4 and 5.


The template stayed the same, but here is what I would change on the Note throughout each day:
  1. Since I'm nursing and it's best to start on the side you ended on, I kept track at the top by changing the L or the R so I knew which side to start on for the next feeding.  You might think I'm crazy but with mommy brain in full swing, it helped me to keep track.
  2. I would add the actual time I fed him and adjust the schedule accordingly if it happened to be earlier or later.
  3. I would also keep track of his naps trying to make sure he got between 3-4 hours of good sleep during the day.
  4. Try not to have your baby nap between the last two feedings.  This could cause him to not sleep well at night.
  5. 11 hours sleep at night!  Woohoo!  Now, if I would just get to bed before 11:00pm, we'd all be well-rested!
I hope this is all helpful to you.  You don't have to follow a schedule to be a great mom.  These are just some of the tools I used to make life easier for us.

{I am by no means an expert and don't claim to be such.  As a new mom, I'm going through this right now, learning and loving my little guy the best way I know how.  You may not agree with my strategies, but please be kind and open to others' opinions and ideas.  What works for one mom and baby may not work for another.  These are just some of the techniques I've come up with through my research and experience.  I'd love to hear about your experiences.  We can all learn from each other!}

13 comments:

  1. I used to keep a notebook that looked just like your iPhone note...including which side, how long, etc. I forgot I did that until I read this post.... :)

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  2. What was your schedule then after merge 4? We have pretty much the exact same schedule now as in your note and she is 18 weeks. We have not started solids yet. I'm curious what your schedule was after solids and you did merge 4. I'm having trouble wrapping my head around what that may look like. Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. Hi new momma! First of all, congratulations! Being a mother is one of the most wonderful gifts in the world yet one of the most challenging responsibilities. I'm glad you are seeking advice. It helped me a lot being a new mom by talking to other new and experienced moms as well as reading reliable blogs and helpful books. Did you download "Our Schedule" (link above in the post)? It might help give you a visual. After Merge 4, I would give him milk first then solids. I also pretty much stuck to the Feed Wake Sleep routine. So, it went something like this...

      7:00am wake for the day with milk and solids (bkfst)
      waketime
      naptime
      10:00am milk/solids (lunch)
      waketime
      naptime
      1:00pm milk
      waketime
      naptime
      5:00pm milk/solids (dinner)
      waketime
      8:00pm milk
      down for the night

      Hope that makes sense but remember, do what works best for you and your baby. Sometimes it's just trial and error to find what works well for you and your little one. Best wishes :)

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    2. Thank you for responding! It is very helpful to hear what other mothers are doing. I did check out your PDF schedule and that is also helpful. Is your little guy awake after he wakes up from the 1pm nap cycle until 8pm? I get confused by the book and some babywise blogs I've read about how many naps should be happening. Babywise II says a 5 month old should be taking 2 naps a day plus a catnap, but how does that work with 5 cycles? With 5 cycles wouldn't there be 3 naps plus a catnap? My little girl still has trouble being awake for longer than 1.5 hours before getting fussy and getting too tired to go down happy for naps and at bedtime, so it makes only 2 naps a challenge at this point. Could you share with me how long your baby is awake within each ews

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    3. Yes, after Merge 4 (occurring btwn 16-24 weeks), ideally the baby would be awake after the last (3rd) nap until bedtime. He should be getting 3 good naps at this point. After Merge 5 (occurring btwn 24-39 weeks) is when the 3rd nap becomes shorter turning into a catnap. My little guy generally would be awake for 1.5 to 2 hours between each cycle. Here is a chart I posted recently summarizing nighttime and daytime sleep. Hope it's helpful to you. Sounds like you are on the right track. Remember, some babies need more or less sleep than other but generally I've found the chart to be pretty accurate.

      http://lifeislikehoney.blogspot.com/2014/04/sleep-baby-sleep.html

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    4. Hi Jessica! We are moving to a 4 hour schedule and I wanted to take a look at the link you have in this post that gives you the chart with the merges and changes. But the link now says it's disabled. Could you repost it somehow? Thanks!

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    5. Hi! Sorry about that but thank you for the heads up...the link should be working now. :)

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  3. THANK YOU for this. I don't like that the book stops giving times for the merges and I'm like, what should I be aiming for?! :) Thank you again!

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  4. You're very welcome, Lauren! Glad it is helpful to you. :)

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  5. Hello there. My daughter is currently 21 weeks and was on a 3 hour schedule with the start time at 6:30am and the end time at 9-9:30pm. All of a sudden she isn't sleeping throught the night. We are trying to see if she is ready to do a 3.5 hour schedule, but she is having a super hard time with it towards the end of day (this is the 3rd day we have been trying it). She still wakes up way before it is time to start the day. My questions are these: 1) How do you know when a baby is ready to merge? Do they naturally do it on their own? 2) Are you supposed to have a consistant start and end feeding with feedings in between dictated by baby? Thanks so much for your help.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Anna,

      Thanks for reaching out. Sorry it has taken me a few days to respond. Has your little one started solids? If not, she might be ready for those but you should check with her doctor. She also might need to go to bed a little earlier say 8:00-8:30pm to get a good night's sleep. Is she getting quality naps during the day? As for when a baby is ready to merge, everyone is different. But I'd say since she is changing her sleep patterns for several nights in a row, she might be ready for a change. Just test it out and see if she is ready to cooperate with the merge. So, she was on 6 feedings/day and you're trying to go to 5? I think if you do that she will need some solids to supplement the feedings. Yes, be as consistent as possible with start and end feedings with flexible parent-directed feedings in between based on the clock and the baby's cues. Scroll up in the comments to see a sample 5 feedings/day schedule. Hope this helps!

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