I'm linking up with Megs for Tips and Tricks from Mom again this Tuesday! You really need to read her blog. Her little Chase is beyond adorable. :)
This week I'm going to touch on a (slightly) controversial topic...scheduling your baby. Again, as always, I am merely relaying what worked for me with Rory/Trace. It may work for you, it may not. I'm not offended if you think I'm crazy! Try my tips, let me know how it works for you.
Now! On with the show.
I used one method with Rory and Trace both: Babywise.
I used the sleep methods in this book, not the playtime or other suggestions. I didn't need to, because Rory and Trace have enjoyed independent playtime from day one.
The basic principle behind this method is this: Eat. Play. Sleep. Repeat. A baby needs to be AWAKE after eating, each time, with the exception of right before bed. This helps a baby learn to fall asleep with out having to eat. It also puts the parent in control of sleep and wake times, as you would when a child is older. You wouldn't allow your 2 year old to decide it's bed time. A baby needs guidance, they don't understand days and nights! :)
At the beginning, R and T ate every 2.5 hours. That became 3 hours and then 4 hours. Each time they would eat, I would encourage them to eat as much as possible. This often included flicking toes, changing positions often, singing, etc. It's important in the Babywise method to get in full feedings. That started out as 4 oz, then became 5, 6 and now 7. After each feeding, I would keep the kids awake for 20 minutes at the start and slowly increased that time increment up to staying awake between feedings entirely through out the day. I took charge of the sleeping, putting T/R in their cribs at nap time and waking them when it was time to wake up.
I still do this in the mornings, I decide when it's time to come out of bed, not the kids. Rory knows if she wakes up before it's time to get out of bed, she can play quietly in her bed but she has to stay quiet so she doesn't wake brother. (Also known as...Mom needs a full cup of coffee chugged down before she tries to do the morning routine. :))
At this time, Trace eats every 3-4 hours. He also naps 2 hours each afternoon and 45 minutes most mornings. Rory eats breakfast, lunch and dinner as an other toddler does and snacks when she's hungry. Considering she snacks on apples, oranges and whole grain Goldfish crackers, I let her when she's hungry. She naps 2 hours each afternoon as well.
I think a schedule gives a baby a good sense of comfort and normalcy. As a working mom, a schedule is absolutely invaluable to me. I can adjust as I need (wake up early, move feedings around, etc) and anyone who is staying with my kids knows with a few minutes when Trace will be hungry. Dave knows the routine, my mom and my in-laws know, it's easy. It makes our days predictable (to a point) and easy to plan for. Our schedule isn't SO RIGID that it can't change around, but it is structured enough so the kids know the deal.
It's NEVER to late to get your baby on a schedule!! Eat-play-sleep is the easiest schedule to get kids on. It merely takes a couple days of "bugging" your kids to stay awake after eating and encouraging full feedings at regular time intervals. You will be dealing with some crying the first few days as a baby gets adjusted. DEAL WITH IT. Walk, sing, bounce, turn on some music and twirl your baby around. A couple days of crying between feedings, learning to get on a regular, predictable feeding schedule will pay off so quickly. Honest to goodness, it is a relief to your weary mind!
Babywise scheduling helped my kids sleep through the night in no time. Rory was a champ. She slept an 8 hour stretch at night starting July 3, 2009, right before she turned 8 weeks. From there, it go longer and longer and it was (IS!) 13 hours a night. Trace took a little longer, because of all his digestive issues but by my birthday in January (about 10 weeks old) he was doing 8-9 hours a night and by Valentine's Day, every night was 13 hours. This was achieved because I helped them learn the difference between day time sleep and night time sleep.
They have also ALWAYS slept for the night in the crib. And I do mean 99% of the time. Trace spent a few nights in his swing or cradle, but again that's due to his digestion issues. I really think that independent sleep helped my kids sleep longer and fall asleep faster. There were no distractions, no disruptions, just sleep. That is just my opinion though, not fact!
Okay this post is crazy long. If you want to know more about my scheduling techniques, please email me! Babywise is absolutely wonderful and I highly recommend it. But as always, it's merely a guide. Take the parts YOU agree with and apply them. Figure out what works for you and your baby, not me and my kiddos. You will get there. And you will sleep!