Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Routines, Routines and More Routines

So I mentioned the other day that we were starting to get on a routine. Well...scratch that! Starting daycare has apparently thrown my routine out the window! I'm a little frustrated, but hoping that it's an adjustment thing...we'll see.

I still want to do this post though, so we'll talk about what my routine USED to be. You know, back in the BD days - Before Daycare...

Let's start at the, not when I had baby Jax, but back 8 years ago when I had my daughter. Back when I was pregnant with Jenna, my SIL gave me a book to read. It was called On Becoming Baby Wise, and she shared with my Mom that it was the BEST book ever for new moms.

SIL swore by the success of her own kids sleeping patterns and what-not and attributed all of that success to this book. So I read it. Then I read it again, to make sure that I wasn't mistaken in my initial thoughts...And then I decided for certain that this man had A) never had kids or B) smoked crack. Now, keep in mind that at this time in my life, I was all of 25 years old...worldly in all of my wisdom on children and sleeping and routines and at that stage in my life, I pretty much knew better than most what I was doing and how I was going to do it. You know, because I was an "expert" on kids...

Yeah, if you've stopped laughing along with me, then I'll continue! Anyway, to sum what I remember up (since I think that I actually threw the book away because I was so certain of points A and B mentioned above) the book follows the basic principal that most parents have trouble getting their kids to sleep because they do not realize how essential routines are to babies. And not just ANY routine, but there is a certain order to follow in your routines. These "doctors" went on to say that most parents follow the routine of eat, sleep, play and repeat. When in reality, babies really need to follow the routine of eat, play and THEN sleep. And not just any sleep, but sleep coming from putting themselves to sleep. As in, no rocking, no soothing, just letting them cry themselves to sleep if that's what it took. And this is where I started thinking that maybe they smoked crack: the book encouraged parents to regularly let their children cry themselves to sleep. Even if that meant letting them cry for an hour...

This was all questionable in theory to my 25 year-old brain, but when I tried to actually act on their lessons and teachings? Oh not just no, but HELL NO was I going to slowly drive myself insane by not comforting my child. She's crying! She needs me! (These are the thoughts that I had back then...and the ones that led me to toss Baby Wise into the never-need-to-read-again pile of books since I was joking about throwing it away!)

So long story short, I really showed those guys who knew best. I followed my own "wise" instincts and raised my daughter as I saw fit. I adjusted my schedule to fit her schedule and we all jumped to her call. The results of that? My daughter cried all the time. She slept only if you held her. And then she only took little cat naps during the day lasting maybe 30 minutes. And you couldn't put her down without waking her up. Yeah, who's laughing now? It wasn't me!

This time around, I was determined to do things differently. Although I still wasn't 100% sold on the Baby Wise practices, my 33 year-old self could now reasonably process the bulk of what those guys were trying to say and make a much better attempt at working their routine in this time around. For one thing, I was the anti-holding-the-baby-Nazi for the first week of his life. My poor Mom, you guys. She came for his birth and stayed for a week and every time those first few days that she even looked like she was going to pick him up, I was all "Don't you touch him!" and "Don't hold him until he falls alseep, just put him down!" I don't know that it was all that much fun for her. Luckily, I noticed the little tears in her eyes before she left and I relaxed the rules about holding him after the first few days.

She probably laughed at me, but I was serious about not repeating the mistakes that I had made previously. I created the monster of a baby that my daughter was, and I was woman enough to admit to it, own up to it and make the attempt to not do so again. So this time around, I changed things up quite a bit. We've already discussed the "no holding" policy that was in effect for the first two weeks. And truth be told, as long as he was swaddled up, or in his Boppy pillow, he was truly fine with not being held. It didn't seem to bother him all that much.

I also saw that there was some validity to the eat, play and then sleep theory. I know that the first few weeks or month of their lives, babies don't really do much other than eat or sleep (and poop!), so adjustments are to be made for those weeks, but now that we're past the 6 week mark, Jax has more alert periods. Times when he comes close to "playing" if you will. And I try to make sure that those periods immediately follow his feeding times. He eats, then lays around and plays, and then eventually falls asleep. If he gets cranky after playing for a while and won't fall asleep on his own, then I've got him "trained" to recognize the swaddle. If he gets swaddled tightly, then that means that it's nap time, and lights out for Jax.

And for the most part, he's ok with that. Sure, there are still times that he fights the swaddle (mainly at bedtime) but during the day, after he's played and I can tell that he's ready to go to sleep, the fighting is minimal if it's even present. More often than not, he goes right off to sleep for a little nap. That nap might be taken in his Boppy pillow, maybe on a quilt on the floor, in his crib or in his swing...depends on his mood. But either way, he's put into/onto those places while wide awake or at least drowsily awake. Then he puts himself to sleep.

The cycle repeats every three hours. Right now, or BD times, he was on a pretty tight schedule where his feedings were at 8a, 11a, 2p and 5p during the day. So he would eat at 8a, then he would spend between 30-45 minutes "playing" or just alert and awake, and then he would pass the rest of the three hour window asleep. He would usually wake himself up within 15 minutes of the next feeding time, and every once in a while go 15 minutes past his feeding time. I rarely let it get more than 30 minutes out of whack though...and he seems fine with that.

Keeping to this tight schedule during the day seems to help his nights as well. He takes his "bedtime" bottle at 8p, then gets his bath (for his awake time) and then he's tightly swaddled and rocked for a little bit. I do not rock him to sleep. I rock him until he quits struggling against the swaddle or until his eyes get a little droopy looking. Once he gets to that stage, I put him down in his crib. Sure, I try not to disturb him too much in the process, but if I do, no big deal. His eyes are usually at least partially open when I put him down, and then he starts to settle himself down. I won't lie - some nights go better than others. Some nights he puts himself to sleep in about 15 minutes, and other nights it can take almost an hour. Most nights it takes less than 30 minutes though, and by 9:15-9:30 he's down for the night. During the time that he's putting himself down, I don't typically pick him back up, and I don't stand right there beside the crib either. I stay in the room, close enough to hear him, but not watching him intently. While I do other things, like get myself ready for bed, I will give him his pacifier again as needed since he tends to spit it out repeatedly - it's a fun little game that we play.

Becuase he's adjusted to this pattern, this is how the middle of the night feedings go too, and there are two of them. Typically he sleeps until around 1a and wakes to be fed. I feed him, then swaddle him tightly again and rock him for a few minutes to that drowsy point. Then he goes down into his crib and I walk away with him still awake. We play the fun pacifier game for a bit, and the time on it varies from night to night. Usually it's less than 15 minutes, but he still gives me a run for my money some nights and takes almost an hour to fall back asleep. He'll wake again around 5a hungry, and we'll go through the same routine again, including a diaper change at this point. The good news? If he doesn't go right back to sleep after the 1a feeding, meaning he's awake for a bit, then the 5a feeding is as smooth as butter. He's tired and worn out and pretty much "eats" himself to sleep at the 5a feeding.

We start the whole process over again at 8a...and the day continues on. He's starting to stay awake for longer periods of time this week, and I've noticed that he's taking a really good nap after the 11a feeding and just shorter "cat naps" after the 8a and 2p feedings, which is good. I give him enough room to make him think that he's calling the shots, but I run a pretty tight ship. I think that it's good to show him early on that women rule his'll make it easier on him later in life! LOL! Just kidding...

So that's our routine right now. Like I mentioned before, starting day care yesterday threw "our routine" into a tail spin, but he still did pretty good once at home. We'll see how the rest of the week goes before I make any final rulings on this transition.

What sort of routine do you follow? Are you having success with it? I'm curious to know if I just had a "difficult" first baby...or if others see a big difference in using a routine the second time around when maybe you didn't use one so much with the first child...

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