I’ve never thought of myself as the type that would want to enforce a schedule for her baby. I mean, I’m a pretty easy-going go-with-the-flow kind of gal. When I first came home with my son and started reading feverishly on the web any tidbit of information that could help me out with understanding how to adjust to my new life with a newborn, I was amazed at the sheer quantity of information there was. Of course, on different subjects, different people have different points of view. One such subject concerned sleep. Some say that it’s important to initiate a well-organized routine as soon as possible. Others believe in living your life around the routine your baby sets. And, of course, there’s everything in between.
At first, I let my newborn lead my life. He slept when he was tired. He ate when he was hungry. Period. But, as time went by and he got older (ok, so he’s just past seven weeks old, but he’s already changed a lot), I started to wonder whether I should try to ease him into a schedule. I realized that I needed some more predictability in my life, especially since my boyfriend was back to work. I also figured that my baby would probably be comforted by more predictability. So I read and read and read about sleep and came across one baby whisperer’s take on putting a baby on a schedule. She calls it E.A.S.Y.
E.A.S.Y. is an acronym (duh!) for Eat, Activity, Sleep, Your time. It is devilishly simple to remember and to implement. It is based on a baby’s need to sleep, play and eat and on a parent’s need to have some time of their own. The method takes into account the baby’s age and so is adapted to consider that a four week old, for instance, will not only need to eat more often than a five month old but will also need more daily nap time hours than a five month old.
With regards to my son, he typically eats every three hours (except when he is going through a growth spurt) so I use a three-hour rotating schedule. Here is an example:
(E) 7:00 – Wake, nurse, burp
(A) 7:30 – Diaper change / change out of pyjamas and into clothing / various activities such as tummy time or playing with his foot piano.
(S) 8:30 – Whisper to him that he is tired and that it is nap time, go into room, wrap him up in his blankets, rock him, put him into his crib sleepy but not sleeping (ideally).
(Y) As soon as he is asleep – My time (nap and/or shower and/or do some chores…)
(E) 10:00 – Wake up, nurse, burp…
Please note that the hours that I jotted down are only there as examples. I do not wake him at 7am so that we can start the schedule at exactly that hour. Also, though I prefer to put him down for naps after active play so that he doesn’t associate nursing with sleep and NEED to nurse to fall asleep in the long run, I don’t force him to stay awake if he can’t keep his eyes open after being nursed, burped and changed. Furthermore, if, for instance, he ate at 7 and by 9 he looks hungry, I don’t force him to wait an hour before nursing just because he is “supposed” to eat every three hours nor do I force him to nap if he clearly isn’t tired. I use this schedule in a flexible way based on his cues. However, it does have some predictability to it.
Honestly *knock on wood*, with regards to naps, it has been going rather well now that I’ve started using this method with my son. I was actually surprised that he was able to fall asleep after active play rather than after nursing so quickly (just last week I would still put him down after he nursed). I’ve been able to get him to take about four 1 to 2 hour naps per day for the past three days and so I think that he understands the daytime routine.
I am now gradually implementing the nighttime routine which would look something like this:
(E) 19:00 – Wake, nurse, burp
(A) 19:30 – Bath (with daddy!), change into pyjamas
(S) 20:00 – Whisper to him that it is time for sleep, mom and dad give him a kiss goodnight and either one of us brings him to his room, wraps him up into his blanket, turns on the white noise, sings a lullaby and attempts to rocks him to sleep.
Now this part of the routine isn’t integrated yet. My son isn’t used to taking his bath every night and so, I think, hasn’t associated the bath with bedtime. Furthermore, I think he just doesn’t like the dark (this despite the fact that there are two nightlights in his room) because he will generally start to fuss as soon as the lights in his room are turned off. If within about a quarter-hour, my little one still isn’t sleeping, well, I get out of the rocking chair, get him out of his blankets, , turn off the white noise and bring him back into the living room with his father and I to wait for his next “I’m sleepy” cue (the eye rubbing and yawning usually gives it away). I’ll keep you posted on how are nights are doing in a couple of weeks.
Of course, not everyone would agree with this method. I mean, there are several parenting experts out there and thus several ways of seeing child-rearing. I’m a fan of reading on different methods and then picking and choosing from each one what works best for me. I am a firm believer that there are as many methods as there are children in the world as no two individuals are alike and so no single copy-pasted method can work for two children.
On the note of different opinions, there is one subject that I haven’t made up my mind on yet: waking a baby to feed. Though I do wake him during the day to make sure he eats every three hours max, I am inclined to let him sleep at night…up to a certain point. Last night, I awoke at half past midnight. My mommy brain knew that my son hadn’t eaten for a little over three hours. Now, usually, when this happens, I will get out of bed and get my son out of his crib to feed him (waking him in the process). Last night, however, I forced myself back to sleep (after getting up, going into my son’s room to make sure he actually still had his eyes closed and he was still breathing). I woke up two hours later, my mommy brain worried because my wonderful son hadn’t eaten in a little over five hours. This time, I did get out of bed to nurse him even though he was still sleeping peacefully. I guess I still think my son is much to little, at seven weeks young, to be going so long without eating.
I wonder though, what would you have done?