As most of you know, we just recently had a new baby added to our family. While there have been some stressful moments as I seem to not have enough hands at certain times of the day, having a schedule can make you or break you as a mother of multiple little ones. I'm serious. I have definitely seen the difference this summer as opposed to the school year. This summer, we have been very casual around here...watching more TV than I'd like, many more outings and hardly any schoolwork (I know, I know, I thought we might get more done, but that didn't happen and somehow I knew that deep down...ha!). When we slack more on our older children, I've seen a difference in not only behavior, but they have definitely been more bored (not that that's a bad thing...boredom sparks creativity and ownership over self-created projects) and they don't always know what's next. There's uncertainty.
Well, it's the same with a new baby. They're born into this strange world, new sights, new smells, new sounds, not knowing what time of day it is or that time even exists. As parents, it's our job to "show them the ropes" and get them worked into the family schedule. I've seen first-hand families who don't believe in scheduling. Children napping at whatever time of day they feel like it, napping in whatever area they wish, going to bed when they feel like it, wherever they feel like it. No structure. This not only makes life unpredictable for the kiddos, but parents as well. When can you schedule a time of no interruption each day that you can depend on to make phone calls, do laundry or dig into the Word and pray? This can bring about a lot of frustration on the parents.
Hence why I (just Kelli's opinion...to each his own) advise a schedule for every child at every age and stage of life. This includes a newborn baby. My pediatrician recommended this book The Secrets of the Baby Whisperer and I've been a different mother ever since. My newborns have also been a "different breed" as well. :) I've been able to successfully get them on a flexible schedule (I say flexible because it's not down to the same minute everyday, obviously) by around a month old. I'm seeing it in Isaac now and that's encouraging. He's 5 weeks and for the most part, on a loose schedule that I can depend on as a mother.
I'd love to share some of the major highlights from this book and hopefully, be a blessing to any other moms of new babies. (Please note that I am not a pediatrician and this is simply advice from one mom to the next.)
*During the day, don't let baby sleep longer than 3 hours as this may allow them to get their days and nights mixed up.
*Night time...By the time baby is 6 weeks old, feed him/her every 2 hours before bedtime (for us, this is 6:30ish and 8:30ish). Then "dream feed" (meaning no diaper change, burping, clothing change...don't even wake them up, just feed them in their sleep to fill their tummy one last time before bed.) This allows their bodies enough calories to sleep for a good 5-6 hours. This also makes for a great Daddy job. Then baby can successfully go to bed at 10:30/11:00, about when we go to bed.
*How Much Should Baby Be Eating?
4-8 weeks...nurse up to 40 minutes. This can vary with each child. My girls took longer to feed than my hungry boys who could eat in 10 minutes flat! (formula, 2-5 ounces)
8-12 weeks...nurse up to 30 minutes (formula, 4-6 ounces)
3-6 months...nurse up to 20 minutes (formula, 5-8 ounces)
*Growth spurts usually happen every 3-4 weeks and last around 48 hours. Baby will eat about every hour and after the growth spurt, sleep a lot. ;)
Sleep Needed Per Day:
Newborn - 16-20 hours...nap 1 hour in every 3 hours; sleep 5-6 hours at night
1-3 months - 15-18 hours until 18 months...nap 3 times a day, 1 1/2 hrs. each nap, 8 hours at night
4-6 months - nap twice a day, 2-3 hours each nap, 10-12 hours nightly
6-8 months - nap twice a day, 1-2 hours each nap, 12 hours nightly
8-18 months - nap twice a day, 1-2 hours each or one 3 hour nap, 12 hours nightly
E stands for Eat
A stands for Awake
S stands for Sleep
and Y stands for Yourself
This is the schedule you can keep throughout the day with your new baby...he/she should Eat, then be Awake for a while (45 mins. to an hour), as baby starts showing you signs of being sleepy (yawns, eyelids becoming red and drowsy, cranky crying) place baby in a safe environment (crib, bassinet, etc.) with no loose blankets or stuffed animals (suffocation) with dimmed lights and we always use a fan for white noise and drowning out the noise of other siblings. ;) Then you have time for Yourself to sleep, get a few things done or just relax with a glass of sweet tea and a book. Ahh!
*Remember to read your baby!!! He/she will show you signs of what kind of mood he/she is in. Sometimes, they just want to be talked to and paid attention to. Isaac is very much this way. He LOVES attention and can often be soothed with a conversation with Mommy or a song from big brother or sister.
*Remember that a bad habit takes 3 days per habit to break, so don't give up when breaking a habit you want to change.Don't try one strategy one day and a different one the next. You'll end up encouraging the very behavior you're trying to change!
Finally, a peek into our newborn schedule:
7:30 - Isaac wakes up...I'll usually sing to him, change his diaper, feed him and dress him. He then hangs out with us until he starts showing signs of being tired. Often, we're going on an outing just in time for his nap, so he will sleep in the car.
When he wakes up, diaper change and eats. (Remember the EASY schedule.) He hangs out until we all go down for quiet time/naps in the afternoon in which I'll try to keep him awake until then. One thing that I found very helpful (brownie points to my sister-in-law for sharing this with me when we had Norah) was that it's okay to let your baby cry for a few minutes when you put him/her down for nap. Think about it, they're changing positions from a nice warm, comforting embrace of your body to a (probably) cold blanket/sheet in their crib and the motion of putting them down mimics a falling type movement. It usually always wakes them up. We tried letting Norah cry for 3-5 minutes with each nap time when she reached about a month old and although it was hard hearing her cry, after about a week, she went down without a problem and it was so nice to know that it was her nap time and she would just go down for nap! Easier on her and me. It's also okay to go in every so often, rub baby's tummy (my babies always like their foreheads stroked and a light "shh" sound) letting them know that you're still there and they're not alone. A pacifier can also help soothe. Stay patient with this as it can be harder on mom and dad than your actual baby.
Isaac usually takes a long afternoon nap and then wakes for a feed, diaper change and plays until a short evening nap around dinner time. Wakes, eats, diaper change and then a bath around 9:00ish. I'll feed him again after the bath and then a "dream feed" right before bed as he's still sleeping.
Each day is different. Some days harder than others. Some days Isaac throws me totally off (especially last week during his growth spurt). Just be in tune with your baby and read their cues...sucking on hands and a "Whaa" type cry can mean they're hungry, a more cringed-type cry can mean they have gas bubbles they need to get rid of.
Having a newborn can be such a sweet experience. Pray every morning for God's guidance and wisdom as you parent your new little bundle. Be patient, be patient, be patient! Blessings to all you new mommies!