I know, shut up, right?
Let me also say that I only moments ago I was washing smeared oatmeal off of a little yummy chin, and shaking dried crusty oatmeal from a pair of pajamas. And there were blueberries for breakfast, which ensures a nasty diaper later today. Ahh, magical.
So. Enough about oatmeal and Cub and coffee. A reader recently sent me an email inquiring about Naomi's schedule. She wanted to know if Naomi's schedule was something that I set or something that I let Naomi set herself. Her little one is breast feeding and seems to want a snack every hour or so, and needless to say, she's a little worn out!
Well, friend, let me offer you some encouragement.
Firstly, a disclaimer: I'm not a doctor. I'm a Mom. My advice is purely from my own limited experience with my two little ones. I do not have a PhD, but I have had a baby spit up in my mouth whilst tossing her in the air. I think that qualifies me for something, right?
To answer: Naomi set her own schedule, eating every three hours during the day (sometimes it's 2.5, sometimes it's 3.5, depending on the kind of day we are having). I prefer to use the term "routine", simply because books that typically use the word "schedule" are books with which I do not agree. Scheduling is a bit hardcore, whereas a routine is able to be both predictable AND flexible, offering some wiggle room. Which is important, seeing as life often requires lots of wiggle room.
But, Naomi's routine did not come easily. It was only after overcoming the dairy hurdle, around 7 weeks, that Naomi gave herself a routine. Before then, there was a lot of screaming, short naps, frustration, and many middle-of-the-night feedings.
And lots of coffee. And tears.
Once we realized the dairy issue, things smoothed out quite a bit. Now. Naomi set her own routine, BUT, there are a few guidelines I've followed with both of my kids to help us negotiate that routine a little. I've always said that I believe babies join your life, you don't join your baby's life, so there needs to be a bit of compromise on both sides. Babies and parents alike need to learn to adapt. This means letting go of some of your plans so your baby can nap, and then other days waking up that baby so you can do your plans. Compromise. So, here are a few of those guidelines:
(If you've read my blog for a while now, you can go check your Facebook now, as I've mentioned these several times here before!)
1) Wake-up Time: I wake Naomi up around 7:00 every morning, if she isn't already awake. I do this so we can get our day going. That gives us our starting point, and from there she eats every three hours. She typically stays awake for an hour or more after each feeding (it depends on the time of day, really) and then goes down for a nap. With babies you typically either choose an early morning or a late night, and I choose an early morning! If she wakes up randomly at 5:00, then I feed her on one side and put her right back down and wake her up at 7:00.
2) Naps: Unless Naomi has had a particularly harried day, I typically do not allow her to nap longer than two hours at a time. And, I wake her up to feed her once it has been three hours since her last feeding (if she ate at 7:00, I'll wake her up around 10:00 or 10:30 or so). I do this because she still needs to eat every three hours, but I want her to learn that during the day she gets woken up, but at night, she can sleep as long as she wants! She still wakes up once at night, so I still wake her up from naps. Call me crazy, but this tactic has works for both kids. As her feedings become more spread out, her naps will become fewer and longer.
3) Eat, Activity, Sleep: After Naomi eats, I keep her awake for a bit. The only time she goes to sleep after she eats is at bedtime (or moments of desperation when we are out of town and with family and the baby WILL NOT SLEEP and AHHH and you get what I'm saying). This teaches her to fall asleep on her own, and to not need to nurse to sleep. Of course, there are always those days where she just WON'T NAP and a little jaunt to Starbucks while she is in her car seat work like a charm. I'm not gonna lie. This is the good thing with setting rules: There are therefore always exceptions. :)
Here is a very rough example of what Naomi's day might look like:
(Give or take 30 minutes or so with each feeding and nap. Life isn't quite that predictable.)
Now. There is always great variance with each of these techniques. Sometimes, Naomi has a crazy day and needs to sleep a little longer. Or, sometimes she gets hungry a little sooner. That's all fine. I'm not rigid with our routine, but I instead use it as kind of a road map to refer to throughout our day.
This is what works for us. If you are concerned whether or not your baby can go a full three hours between feedings, call your pediatrician! He/She knows your baby's health and can help you determine what's best when it comes to feedings. Remember, too, that every baby is different and every family is different. You have to do what works best for your family! Some of my dearest friends co-sleep. I do not. Some of my dearest friends use formula from birth. I do not. Some people will look at this routine and think I'm nuts. But, we all love our kids and our number one goal is to be good moms and that is what matters most. You will find what works best for your little guy. Go with your gut. And, the fact that you've asked for advice shows that you are a good mom. Asking for help is a very fantastic thing to do.
I hope I haven't completely confused you. I started this post alone on the deck with my coffee, and now I'm ending it with a toddler running around yelling "FISH IN THE WATER! FISH IN THE WATER!" and the sun is getting in my eyes. Some of those last paragraphs might seem a bit muddled. :)
Good luck, friend. And thank you for sending that email. Your little one will figure it out. Don't worry.
Have a great day!