Disclaimer: This is a total stereotypical mommy blogger type of post. If you’re not a mommy, this will be extremely boring to read. Feel free to exit blog immediately and enjoy some sort of non-mommy activity, like shopping at Target by yourself or getting tipsy at happy hour with friends.
A couple of weeks ago, we decided to try to get Everett on a schedule. It’s been two whole weeks, and I am somewhat shocked to say: I THINK IT’S WORKING.
When I first started reading Baby Wise, I freaked out a little bit. The book stressed the importance of starting this routine from birth, and I was worried that we were too late starting it at eleven weeks. Looking back, I wish I would have started around six weeks. From birth to six weeks, I was perfectly content feeding on demand and letting Everett sleep whenever he wanted to sleep. We were both new to the game (me new to motherhood and him new to….the world), and I can’t imagine enforcing a schedule during that time. I loved the feeling of freedom and flexibility while we established good breastfeeding and got to know each other.
Weeks 6-11 were a little rougher because the sleep deprivation started catching up with me. We had no routine, and there were no “regular” feeding times, especially during the night. Sometimes he got up twice at 1:00 and 4:00, other times he got up at 2:00, 3:30, 5:00, and 6:00. There was no rhyme or reason—every night was a guessing game. Which, to be fair, is pretty expected with a newborn. But after eleven weeks of only sleeping one or two hours at a time (sometimes three if we got lucky), I was ready to try something new.
Enter: Baby Wise. I was hesitant to follow this book wholeheartedly, mostly because it seemed very stressful, so Brett and I agreed to use it as a flexible guideline. We had already been following the eat-play-sleep routine, but immediately implemented the following three elements:
1. Switched from feeding on demand to feeding every three hours. Our goal was to feed eight times a day (7-10-1-4-7-10-1-4).
2. Enforced a nap schedule based on a 60-minute awake time. That is, we are only keeping Everett awake for 60 minutes at a time. After 60 minutes, we put him straight down for a nap.
3. Let him cry it out before every nap and bedtime.
The first day we let Everett cry it out was ROUGH. He screamed all day long, refused to nap, and had me second guessing everything. But the very next day? He was eating every three hours and taking two hour naps. The day after that was somewhere in between, but I noticed a few key changes fairly quickly:
1. Everett cut out the 1:00am and 4:00am feedings. He hasn’t woken up before 3:00am since the third night of Baby Wise, so I knew for sure that the 1:00am feeding was done. After experimenting a bit last week, I realized that if Everett woke up at 3:00am or 4:00am and I didn’t feed him, he was still a) able to fall back asleep, and b) wake up happy between 6:00-7:00am. And just like that, I was done with middle of the night feedings! He now eats six times a day at 7:00am, 10:00am, 1:00pm, 4:00pm, 7:00pm, and a dream feed at 10:00pm.
2. Out of the fourteen days, Everett has slept through the night three times. Sleeping through the night, in our house, is defined as sleeping from 10:00pm-6:00am without any crying or fussing whatsoever. HALLELUJAH. Three nights ago, we moved Everett into his room and it has made the biggest difference in my sleep (and let’s be honest, overall happiness). Now, he usually wakes up 1-2 times a night, cries for 10 minutes, and puts himself back to sleep. We can watch him on the monitor to make sure he’s okay, and let me just tell you: letting a baby cry in their room versus your room is the difference between being 95% asleep and being 95% awake. I’ll let you guess which one I prefer.
3. Everett stopped crying before bedtime. He doesn’t need to be rocked or swayed or cuddled to death, we just swaddle him (with a Swaddle Me), kiss him goodnight, and set him down in his crib. Sometimes he falls asleep without a peep, other times he babbles for 20 minutes and then falls asleep. He still cries before naps, usually about five-ten minutes, but he goes down for bed at 7:30pm on the dot and doesn’t make a fuss.
Of course, we are still learning and making adjustments as we go along. I think part of implementing any sleep training or scheduling method is figuring out how to make it work for your baby and your family. We live a pretty active lifestyle and are out of the house a lot, so I knew a super rigid schedule would never work for us. I wanted Baby Wise to be more go-with-the-flow for our family. Because of that, a lot of days don’t go according to “plan” and sometimes it can be frustrating to get back on schedule. But, overall, it has definitely added some routine and predictability to our days, which I am really enjoying. It’s nice to know that I can take a shower during his first nap, eat lunch during his second nap, work during his third nap, etc.
If you’re thinking about trying Baby Wise, I found this blog super helpful. Here are my tips (take em or leave em):
-Don’t be OCD about the schedule; you’ll drive yourself crazy.
-It’s totally okay to take a shower or otherwise distract yourself while your baby cries it out before a nap.
-Make sure any caretakers (husband, mom, babysitter) are on board with the plan and willing to stick to it.
-Don’t be scared to try different things and alter your variables. Perfecting your baby’s schedule is a never ending challenge because it’s constantly changing.
-Once your baby starts sleeping through the night, MOVE THEM INTO THEIR OWN BEDROOM. You will sleep so, so much better.
-If you don’t already have one, invest in a video monitor.
-Be patient! (I know, ironic coming from me, but it’s true).
Mommas, did I miss any tips and tricks? Any other advice for new moms trying to put babies on a schedule?