Friday, November 9, 2007

Schedules and such

When Gavin was born, the plan was to feed him on-demand, which in my mind was whenever he was hungry, and sleep whenever he decided to sleep. That worked for a while. About two weeks ago, however, I realized that Gavin was not sleeping when he needed to sleep (he would yawn and rub his eyes but then not go to sleep for another few hours). In addition, he had started eating on only one side at a time but every hour to hour-and-a-half. (I actually caused this to happen, because when he started throwing up/spitting up a lot all the time, the doctor suggested that I try feeding him on just one side in case he was over-eating, which he wasn't.) The very frequent eating also made it impossible for him to get much sleep at all. And, he basically has never been good at sleeping anywhere other than in someone's arms or right next to me in the bed. So, all that bundled together made me reconsider what we were doing about two weeks ago.

I've always said that I would never put my child on a schedule, and I've always hated the "cry-it-out" method. But it was obvious to me that I had to get Gavin eating on both sides at a time again (partially for my milk supply - he wasn't sucking very much/hard each time because he wasn't all that hungry). And, for his sake and for my sanity, he had to be able to sleep by himself. So, I decided I'd try the schedule thing - regular feeding times and regular naptimes. I realized that I would have to be pretty strict about it at first to get his body into more of a rhythm, so he and I both ended up enduring a lot of crying. I tried putting him down in his cosleeper and staying there, with my hand on him, comforting him, but it only made him madder.

Happily, it is actually working out really well. Two weeks later (and after a lot of trying to figure out what his actual eating and sleeping needs and patterns are), I am not super strict about when he eats and sleeps, but I do have an idea of what is normal for him. I am much better at reading his sleepiness cues and putting him down when he needs a nap (since he actually will be put down now!). I need to be a little more observant about the hungry cues and not be too reliant on just the clock (for instance, last night he needed to eat two hours after the last time rather than three, but it took us about 15 minutes to figure that out). He sleeps in his cosleeper just fine now, and most of the time with very little or no fussing or crying when we put him down. He has even been fairly happy when he wakes up, just making noises for at least a few minutes (unless he wakes up really hungry). In general, a day goes like this, at least for the moment: wake up around 7:15 and eat, possibly go back to sleep until about 8am. For the rest of the day, eat about every 3 hours, taking about 45-minute naps sometime in between. Go to sleep around 8:30 or 9pm, sometimes eat at 10-ish. Eat once during the night.

I think all of us are benefiting from more of a routine. I know that I will have at least 4 45-minute stretches of time when Gavin is sleeping and I can do things that need to be done around the house, during the day (like showering!). Gavin is getting regular sleep and full meals and is much more comfortable being alone. Even while he is awake, he doesn't get really unhappy whenever there's no one in the room (at least for a little while). He is also much less fussy in general during the day. Chad gets to have a sane wife and sometimese even clean laundry, clean dishes and/or dinner. I know that there are many people who are against any kind of schedules for babies, and I understand the arguments and generally agree with them. However, I think that every child is different, as is every mother, and I am for whatever works for the baby and family's best in a given situation.

1 comment:

the mama said...

isn't it funny how we quickly learn that what we thought was the sure fire way we would parent can change at a moment's notice. good for you for being so open to different ideas. glad to hear you're finding a little peace in life.