I used to make fun of “schedule moms.” Now I am one.
Ella is 10 weeks old and she is sleeping through the night. Almost every night. And by through the night I mean 8 hours! Took this pic this morning after she ate . . .
I am writing this blog not because I’m the expert, but because if I didn’t have friends who shared this information with me, I would be so lost. So I’m sharing it with you. It comes from the “Preparation for Parenting” material, which is written by the “Baby Wise” authors, Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo. I have become a believer! I know every baby is different, but in the book they provide the statistics of how often this philosophy does work for families.
According to their samplings of Preparation for Parenting babies, 87% of breast fed girls and 84% of breast fed boys began sleeping through the night between weeks 7 and 9.
All I’m saying is its working for us so far! The book is based on the idea that babies need to operate on a feed-wake-sleep cycle. They eat, energy comes from the food, they have wake time when they expend their energy, then they fall asleep. When they wake, they are rested up to eat again.
There are two main practical principles that have helped me tremendously.
1. Make every feeding a full feeding. This is the first priority. Why? Because this is what helps your baby get on a feed-wake-sleep cycle. It’s not always easy, especially in the beginning when they fall asleep while nursing, or poop 3 times during the feeding. And it’s also hard with a newborn to know exactly what constitutes a full feeding. But it does get better. You continue to learn your baby and they learn to eat more efficiently.
2. Start the first feeding at the same time every day. At least aim for a certain time and try to get within 20 minutes or so on either side. Why? Because this is what helps your baby regulate their metabolism. Their little bodies need structure to regulate.
This is simple, but it is not always easy either. For example: What do you do if your first feeding is supposed to be at 7:00am but the baby wakes up at 5:30am? Well that has been my question as well! You just do the best you can. Ella woke up at 6:00 today for some reason so I tried to hold her off for awhile. We looked in the mirror and smiled at each other for 15 min but then I had to feed her because she became disenchanted with the mirror and started her hungry cry. Babies aren’t machines or computers so you have to give yourself some permission to not get it perfect every day! But the more regular you can be at that same time, the better their bodies can adjust to sleeping at normal sleeping hours. They will take in the calories they need during their daily feedings and soon be able to sleep longer.
When Ella was 6 weeks I emailed Mandy, a good friend of mine (who gave me the book) with lots of schedule questions. She has 3 kids who were all sleeping through the night very early on. It was so helpful to me when she emailed me back and told me the schedule she used for all her kids at Ella’s age. They nursed at 7:00, 10:00, 1:00, 4:00, 7:00 and 10:00. So we adopted this schedule. Once I got over the fact that I would have to actually set my alarm and feed Ella at 7:00am (even if she was sleeping), the schedule fell into place and she adjusted well. She is supposed to be awake for awhile and take a nap each time, but that’s one thing we are working on. She doesn’t nap very long! Occasionally she won’t fall asleep at all between feedings and will be fussy. Her bed time is after the 7:00pm feeding, then we wake her up for the 10:00pm one. She is usually so tired at 10:00 that she can barely stay awake long enough to eat and get a clean diaper, then she goes right back down for the night.
There has been some controversy over the legitimacy of the Preparation for Parenting material, but all I can say is we have the most updated version (2011) and I think it’s great. It has certainly worked for us so far!