Some Tips on Baby Raising

I am only 6 1/2 months into this, and am not even close to knowing the “best way” on how to do anything. But, in an effort to A) Record what I did with the first baby so that I’m not a total basket case for baby #2, and B) As a way to share my trial and error with anyone who cares to know, I’m going to share a few things that have helped me in the last 6 months.

Tip 1:

At about 6 weeks, I started working on putting Kinsey down for naps. I think I started a little late, because at this point, I didn’t realize that I shouldn’t let her stay awake until she falls asleep. Next time around, I’d like to start at 4 weeks. While a schedule at this time isn’t achievable, putting Kinsey down for a nap after she’d had some awake time helped me evolve this “loose” schedule, into a real schedule.

Tip 2:

The Two Hour Rule. I wasn’t completely aware of this until I saw my pediatrician. Kinsey at 2 months was sleeping 5-6 hour stretches at night. I saw my pediatrician for the usual 2 month visit and she said that its best to not keep her awake for more than 2 hours. She said the more that Kinsey slept during the day (good naps), the more she would sleep at night. I came home determined to put her “2 hour” guideline to the test. This new rule changed things: she would take 3 solid naps making her total awake time about 6 hours. Kinsey slept 10 hours that night. The following night? 11 hours straight. Kinsey was sleeping 14 hours at night in total (waking up after a 10-12 hour stretch, eating, and going back down until 9am). This completely changed my life. I was nursing every 2 hours during the day, putting Kinsey to bed around 7, and she predictably slept amazingly.

Tip 3:

The “Two Hour Rule” is an awesome guideline, until 5-6 months. At least for us. I didn’t know that things were changing, so my nights got screwed up for a few weeks, and my naps were messed up for a few weeks (usually lasting only 45 minutes), and basically, things went to crap. I was trying to force Kinsey into this “Two Hour Rule” when she was getting older, and wanted to be awake more. She’d cry through her 3rd nap, and then we’d have a painful evening before bedtime. Then, she’d wake up a million times at night, crying for me to come in and hold her. I joined a Sleep Webinar by ISIS parenting, and one of the archived chats explained that most 5-9 month olds, kick the 3rd nap. So, for the last week, Kinsey now takes a nap after 2 hours in the morning, but then has a 3 hour awake stretch when she wakes up, and then goes another 3 1/2 hours before bedtime (generally). So, the “Two Hour Rule” has become more of a 3 hour rule. We have two 1 1/2 hour naps, and Kinsey is awake for about 8 hours total during the day. She sleeps 12 hours straight (most nights), and is awake for the day between 7-8am. So Tip 3 is that babies become less newborn, and can be awake a bit longer as time goes on. It’s easy to miss, but if you find that naps are getting shorter, and nighttimes are getting a bit crazy, try to push the awake time by 15 minutes a day and see if the naps get longer–pretty good indicator that they can be awake a bit longer than before.

Tip 4:

I am in breast feeding heaven right now because I always had to feed every 2-3 hours up until we started solids a few weeks ago. It was a lot of work, and really exhausting for me. We are now doing 2 solid food feedings a day, which has made it so that I can nurse every 3-4 hours instead of every 2. I dropped two nursing sessions, and it feels more manageable. So, while you should decide when you feel comfortable starting solids, my tip is that by starting them, you may feel like you’ll be able to nurse your baby longer. I now feel like I can actually make it to the 12 month mark without a problem, whereas before, I was seriously questioning if I WANTED to be this tied to my baby. Breast feeding is such a commitment, and the stress around going to a hair appointment was enough to make me want to quit. I am happy that I didn’t, and now that I have a rhythm, I am 100% recharged to keep it going.

Tip 5:

Pump. I know, it sucks, but it has saved my sanity. I pumped a lot in the first few weeks that Kinsey was born in order to boost production. Then, I would pump a bottle once a day so that Bryant could feed Kinsey at night before ‘bedtime’ giving me a couple extra hours of sleep before her next feeding. When we moved, I stopped. I didn’t want to try to travel with a bunch of frozen breast milk, so, we got on an exclusive nursing routine. Then, everyone I knew (not really, but it felt like it) turned up pregnant. Three of those pregnancies were unplanned, and my friends already had children under the age of 1. My nightmare. They were upbeat and ok with it, but it scared me into pumping to monitor my supply. Any drops in supply would warrant a legit pregnancy freak out. I changed my birth control method, but kept pumping, because I realized that the freezer stash allowed for me to go get massages. It also allowed for me to get my hair done. It also allowed for me to go get coffee, and sit and read by myself and not worry about my baby starving. Then, about a month ago, I got sick, and Kinsey hit a pretty intense growth spurt at the same time. My supply dropped a bit, and Kinsey was HUNGRY. I felt so bad for her, and nursed as much as a could, but she was having pain because of teething, and basically, I was losing my mind. We pulled from the freezer stash, and I pumped instead of nursed. My supply went back to normal in a few days, but I was really thankful that we had back-up milk on hand. I remember struggling for over an hour trying to nurse, then struggling trying to get Kinsey to sleep, and then decided to give her a bottle just to see if she was hungry–the girl downed 5 ounces and passed out! I went and pumped, and got about 3 ounces. So, I have no idea how effective that hour of nursing actually was, but it was clear that I wasn’t making enough and/or Kinsey was too frustrated to eat efficiently. Case and point. Pumping, while annoying to do at 5am, completely and totally worth it.

Tip 6:

Get out of the house. My walks to Starbucks in the mornings creates some variation in my day that is SO needed. Any sort of regular activity other than the usual naps and nursing, has made being a Mom, fun! Bryant and I do our grocery shopping together on the weekends, so for me, being able to meet my Mom friends at the park once a week, or going out for coffee–the activity makes me feel like a person! It is easy to stay at home because staying at home is easier, but, I’ve found that I enjoy my days a lot more when I mix up the routine a bit. I’m going to graduate school currently as well, which can be exhausting, so that is another reason why leaving the house and taking breaks has been incredibly beneficial for me. There are weeks when things are hard, and those are the weeks that I hunker down and become intensely scheduled, but once I get things back in order, I’m breaking out the stroller and heading out!

I’m a new Mom. I don’t have it all figured out. I think what happened last week proves it. But, I find peace in the chaos sometimes. It helps to know that I am not alone in my imperfections. I’m hoping that while the 2nd baby (that won’t be happening for a LONG time) will have it’s own set of challenges, maybe my lessons from this time around will make the process go a bit smoother. Here’s to hoping.

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Comments

  1. I have a seven and a half month old baby- so identify so much with these! It took us a while to work out naps and sleep- they change so fast. unfortunately if she does wake in the night I just feed her straight away since I’m too tired to do anything else, even though she can sleep 8pm- 7am! No.6 is an important one for me- I go a bit nuts with no adult company, but wondering how the winter will shape up- pram plus snow…! xx

    • I’ve been wondering how the weather will affect our outings as well. Seasonal depression might be real! 😉

    • Oh, and! (sorry, I was out when I first replied to your comment), I wanted to say, I was nursing Kinsey back to sleep too. Because, as you said, I’m too tired to deal with soothing her when I know that nursing will put her back to sleep quickly! So, last week, in my ugly cry, tired state (because the girl was waking up like every 3 hours and requiring me to nurse her back to sleep all night long!) my dear husband made me wait. She woke up at like 11pm, and started fussing, and the fussing turned into a cry, and he held my hand and told me to wait, I started to get sweaty, and after about 5-10 minutes (I’m not sure exactly how long it was, but I’m not a cry it out person at all, so it wasn’t long), and she went back to sleep, then slept straight until 7am. Unreal. Since that night, she has slept straight through 6:30-7:30 every night. If she wakes up again, I’m going to try to practice my pause button before I react and nurse again. I really think she is smart enough to know that if she gets upset, I’ll go right in there, and I think she was using me. EVERY baby is different, but know that I COMPLETELY understand. Nursing is my go-to, and its hard to stop, especially when you are exhausted. 🙂

      • Last night Phoebe didn’t wake until 5.30 so that was good 🙂 The thing is I bring her into our bed and fall asleep myself if I nurse her- it’s strange that some nights she seems hungry and others not, I guess she just gets disturbed really. When we were out and a babysitter was here she woke at about 9.30 but then got back to sleep and slept til 7, so it can’t all be hunger! (But then she only naps for average half an hour at a time in the day, a separate battle entirely!)

      • Babies are mostly guesswork I decided. I will suggest, for the naps, we had a time where Kinsey was waking up at 45 minutes on the dot for every single nap. I mentioned it to my sister and she told me its a common thing. Something about sleep cycles being shorter during the day, so they wake up. You can google it, its the “45 minute intruder.” But! What helped: I let her fuss for 5-10 minutes. If she was crying, I went in, but if it was just a yelling/fussing, I waited it out. She started just falling back asleep, and then after a few days, stopped waking up at that mark entirely. You could try it? It really is all just testing things out. I hate messing with anything, but better to do it during the day then at night when you are trying to get valuable sleep! Good luck! Also, so happy you commented! I love finding new Mom friends who have babies similar in age 🙂

      • Phoebe did exactly the same as you said last night- woke up at 11pm but we got her back to sleep without picking up or a feed, but lots of back-patting was needed! I also kept her awake for four hours and then she slept over an hour at lunchtime, but then her evening nap was appalling! Swings in roundabouts I guess! I’ve enjoyed finding and reading your blog, it is great to be able to share epxeriences!

  2. haha, love it. i totally know about tip 1, 2 and 3. I don’t know if you’ve read it.. but “healthy sleep habits/healthy child” is actually a REALLY good book and talks about all 3 of those that you mentioned.. and more. It’s not a “you HAVE to sleep train your baby THIS way” sort of book (because i HATE those kinds of books!), it gives you options (ie cosleep or crib, nurse to sleep or cio, etc etc and the timing and how kids grow as you said above.. and adjusts it as time changes.

    I have a Q… do you wake kinsey up an hour and half into her nap to keep her on schedule? we basically follow the same routine.. 12 hours at night/2 hour wake/nap/3 hour wake/ nap/ awake/ bed… and repeat!. But sometimes (like right now) i battle myself with the decision of waking her up into her nap so that she isn’t sleeping too long in the day or letting her sleep and risking an odd night. What do you do?

    • I started waking her up. After my meltdown last week, I realized that if I let her sleep 3 hours for her morning nap, our afternoon nap will be crap, and then the evening will be painful for everyone. So, I’ve been waking her up after an hour 1/2 if she doesn’t wake up on her own. Some people I know do an evening cat nap (like 30 minutes) so they can stretch the bedtime a bit later, but I’d rather just put her to bed for the night between 6:30-7, then deal with her fuss. I went back and forth on whether or not to wake her, but I definitely prefer a solid night of sleep, and logically, I feel like the two have to be related. But, I honestly don’t know.

      I heard that book was good! I should just get it. I was worried it was a CIO book, and I didn’t want to read it and mess with everything that I’ve had going. But, your take on it makes me feel like it would be helpful and not force me to do anything that I don’t want to do.

      • hmm. i’m SO SCARED to wake her up (bcuz then what if her next nap is still crap and then the whole day is crap?!) LOL 😛 but thanks for the advice. i hate experimenting! Oh.. and if you ever try that catnap.. sometimes it doesn’t work on babies. we did it for a bit, but then she used to fuss and scream for half an hour in order to get a half an hour nap! after a week of that i decided it wasn’t worth it and just eliminated it. 🙂 life has been better with that decision.

        You should DEFINITELy get the book. i still refer to it frequently, and it continues to when they are over 12 monnths and even into preschool age! what i like about it is that he will give you ALL the options and then say what sleep problems you *might* run into if you say.. nurse to sleep beyond xx months.. or.. rock beyond xx months… or etc etc. so you are ‘warned’ but you can choose what path you want to take. the guidelines about awake times and diff methods of soothing to sleep are pretty much on target though. 🙂

  3. ps. enjoy the good sleep while you can, because once teething sets in, it’s like the poo hits the fan and everything goes out the window. sigh.

    • Oh no!! Don’t tell me that! She’s teething but it hasn’t affected our nights. Bad days I give Tylenol before bed. I’m hoping it doesn’t get worse…yuck.

      • i’m sorry. but it’s better to be warned than caught off guard, right? some nights we are fine, and then we have a night like last sat where she slept 7-9pm then screamed till 1:30 and would not go back to sleep regardless of what we did, then finally passed out with rocking, then screamed again every hour from 3 to 6am. we didn’t do the tylenol though. i’m thinking of starting that. 😦 isn’t mommyhood FUN?! 🙂

      • Oh girl! Give her Tylenol! Will save your sanity! That sounds horrid. Has she cut any teeth yet? Kinsey hasn’t & somedays she’s so uncomfortable, I think it’s coming, but nothing.

      • we gave her tylenol last night.. but it still took 1.5hours for it to kick in. yesterday she was ok (like not horrid) during the day but then when bedtime set in it looked like she was going to go to sleep and then all hell broke loose. so i don’t know when to “dose” her before and then it’s too late. sigh. She’s cut one tooth.. it’s above the gum but not all the way out, i wonder if it still hurts as it’s coming up all the way.. because i don’t see anything else and some days she is just screaming insanities. 😦 hang in there. maybe when we are 60 we will look back on this and laugh 😛 or maybe not.

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