When I was pregnant with #1 we decided that we didn’t want to do the whole “go with the flow” parenting style. I needed to have a bit more of a plan, after all, I’m quite the planner. As much as I knew a new baby would throw a wrench into this mix I was still determined to do my best to keep a routine and continue to live life like we did pre-kids with some adjusting.
The following is the schedule that worked wonderfully for us with baby 1. Baby 2 and 3 were a bit of a different story which I will detail in another post.
We knew right away we were going to attempt to have a schedule as opposed to just feeding him when he was hungry and letting him sleep whenever he decided to. Some people call this “parent-led” vs. “baby-led” parenting. To me this made life so much simpler with a newborn, things were predictable, I could plan my day, I knew what to expect and so did my child. A routine made things seem less overwhelming.
So what did we choose as a schedule? Well in the first weeks it was pretty much solely a feeding schedule since those first several weeks they just eat and immediately pass out. We left the hospital on a 3 hour feeding schedule, 4 hours at night. So HL would eat every three hours during the day until about 10:00pm at night and we would bump it up to 4 hours so we ended up with a 2am feeding and a 6am feeding, then we were back onto 3 hours. That way the night feedings were manageable, we weren’t up 8 times a night and this saved our sanity! If he got hungry in between the night feedings we would first offer a pacifier and usually this would get him to sleep for that extra hour, if not we would break the schedule and feed him and try again at the next feeding. Again, a bit of parent led philosophy with some baby flexibility thrown in. Figured we’d run with this until we couldn’t and cross that bridge when we got there.
At about 2-3 months babies “wake up,” they start having a lot less sleeping time during the day and more play and awake time. This is where the schedule started really coming into play. We decided after reading dozens of books to combine a lot of techniques, but the one we really stuck to was the E.A.S.Y method. Eat time, Awake time, Sleep Time, You time. Essentially the point of this method is to interrupt the eating and sleeping cycle by putting awake time in between, this is to teach baby to fall asleep on their own instead of using a bottle and food to fall asleep. So we would start this method every morning when we’d get up. I would get his bottle or breastfeed and then we would play. From there I would watch his cues as well as the clock and then put him down for a nap. Repeat throughout the day.
This is the schedule we are still on and it’s wonderful. I also changed his routine at about 2 months to a 4 hour schedule with 5 hours at night until he was sleeping through the night (which was at about 2-3 months).
Now the key to our schedule is the amount of wake time involved. This is something I wasn’t sure about. I mean how long are they supposed to be awake for? I am sure it’s a little different for each child and you can watch their cues to see how long it takes for them to start showing signs of being tired. I found a wonderful website (Chronicles of a Baby Wise Mom) that uses the Baby Wise techniques and it outlined a good guideline for awake times based on age. I used this guideline and also watched his cues which actually aligned exactly. We started with 1 hour of awake time and have gradually bumped the awake time up as he’s gotten older, right now we’re at 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Alright our typical day, here you have it. This is literally what I write out for every family member that watches him and all they have to do is glance down to see what they’re supposed to be doing. Makes things much easier!
9:00 awake and 8 oz. bottle
11:00 down for nap
1:00 awake, 3-4 oz of baby food and 8 oz bottle
3:00 down for nap
5:00 awake, 3-4 oz of baby food and 8 oz bottle
7:00-8:00 down for night
9:00 dreamfeed* 8 oz bottle
*for the dreamfeed we keep HL as much asleep as possible, dim lights, no noise, and feed him his last bottle. He’s barely awake for this feeding and goes immediately right back to sleep when he’s done.
Pretty simple huh! Now I’m not a freak about it, if he doesn’t fall asleep until 30 minutes after nap time, we live and if he skips a nap entirely…. we live… usually 😉 But for the most part this is our day. Each day is a little different, if he wakes up at 10 instead of 9 we adjust the schedule for the day. Sometimes he will wake up an hour early from naps and that’s fine. But this is what works for us.
I hope this gives some insight into a parent led schedule and our reasoning. So many of the philosophies on parent led parenting take a lot of heat for being detrimental to the baby’s well being and teaching them not to trust the caregiver. I can’t even tell you how much I disagree! Obviously HL is doing just fine, happy, thriving, and is much happier when we keep to his routine.
Recommended Reading: Like I said we consulted a million theories and ideas to come up with our “plan” for parenting. We use a lot of Baby Wise techniques and Baby Whisperer ideas. For sleep I like the book 12 Hours Sleep By 12 Weeks Old and there’s a few others in the mix too. And definitely check out the baby wise blog mentioned above, it is AWESOME! Very easy to reference lots of info and I check back there frequently.