Thursday, August 14, 2014
BFBN: what I wish I had known about babywise
Today is Babywise Friendly Blog Network day so all of us in the network are sharing a post on another member's blog. Elaine from Faithfully Infertile writes about the main points of Babywise here. It can seem overwhelming at first, especially for first-time moms. This post is a great reference point for anyone starting out or needing a Babywise refresher!
When my oldest daughter was born five years ago, I had not heard the word Babywise until a friend gave me a copy of On Becoming Babywise by Gary Enzo when my daughter was three months old. Since that day, I have been learning and applying the Babywise principals to both of my children and seeing amazing results.
I have several friends who have recently become mothers and, like me when I was a new mother, they are desperately seeking to figure out their babies and fall into the groove of motherhood. I have introduced them to Babywise and it has been amazing to see their confidence as new mothers soar!
When you first read On Becoming Babywise it can seem a bit overwhelming to a new mother. Here is what I wish I had known about Babywise from the start:
1. Focus on full feeds first. You want baby to get used to taking full feeds. This can be quite challenging with a sleepy newborn, but you want to do whatever it takes to get those full feeds in. Changing baby’s diaper mid-feed, undressing baby and tickling toes all work quite well to wake a sleepy newborn so they will eat.
2. Wake a sleeping baby every three hours during the day to feed them. The whole “don’t wake a sleeping baby” is a myth. Babies are born with unstable metabolisms and sleep patterns. If you want all of that to regulate, you need to wake your baby every 3 hours to eat during the day. This does not mean that you only feed him every 3 hours. It means if baby is still sleeping at the three hour mark, you wake him and feed him, and you don’t allow him to sleep past the 3 hour mark from his last feeding. Waking him during the day lends to longer stretches of sleep during the night, eventually, once his metabolism and sleep patterns have regulated.
3. Work on establishing an eat-play-sleep routine that repeats itself all day long. Babies thrive on this routine! Baby wakes from sleep, eats, then he plays and then it is back to bed for a nap until he wakes again and then the cycle repeats itself. This is a great way to teach a baby the difference between day and night. During the day baby plays after eating, but during the night baby eats and goes right back to bed without a playtime.
4. Figuring out optimal wake times is imperative to baby taking good naps. Wake Time is defined as the time a baby is awake from one sleep to the next sleep. A baby that is awake too long before being laid down for another nap is a baby that is more likely to get overstimulated. An overstimulated baby will not nap well. For a young infant this is one of the main reasons they aren’t napping well. They have been awake too long and are overstimulated and cannot fall into a restful sleep for long. To solve this nap problem the solution is very simple. Decrease their wake time! Whenever someone comes to me with a young infant who is not napping well and asks me “What do I do??” I always start by telling them to try to lay them down earlier than they had been. The majority of the time, this fixes the problem and the baby starts taking long naps again!
5. Determine when you want your baby’s first feed of the day to be. I remember my oldest daughter would wake up some days at 8am and other days at 10am and other days at 6am. Then I was so frustrated throughout the day because I could not get her on a predictable daily routine! I wanted to know that a certain time of day would be her feeding and sleeping time so that I could plan our days and know when I needed to be home for her to nap. I needed to establish a “Desired Wake Time” - a time of the morning when she would get her first feeding of the day and start her first Eat-Play-Sleep cycle.
6. Swaddle baby with a Miracle Blanket, use white noise and put a black out curtain on windows for naps and night time sleep. These three things were a recipe for blissful sleep for both of my babies. I also found that my babies gave these sleep props up easily once they were developmentally ready and no longer needed them to sleep well. A newborn baby is used to being snug in the womb and hearing your heartbeat which the Miracle Blanket and white noise both help recreate outside the womb. Most people sleep better in a dark room so why wouldn’t a baby sleep better in a dark room, too?
7. I would have loved to know the big picture of Babywise. I could have figured it out from the book but I wish I could have seen a clear cut “map” of what I could expect my baby to do on Babywise! Here is a “map” of sorts that you can expect your baby to follow on Babywise from the age of 0-12 months:
Birth to 4 months old: Baby goes from 8-12 feeds per 24 hours to 4-6 feeds per 24 hours and 8 naps per day to 3 naps per day.
5 to 12 months old: Baby goes from 4-6 feeds per 24 hours to 4 feeds per 24 hours and 3 naps per day to 2 naps per day.
12 months to 18 months: Baby is now a toddler and has 3 meals per day and goes from taking 2 naps per day to 1 nap per day.
Of course this “map” is for the average baby. Your baby may meet one of these milestones earlier or later, and that is perfectly fine.
8. It is okay for baby to nap on the go, occasionally. My babies never slept well when we were out and about past 3 months of age. If I had made it part of our routine to have my babies nap on the go every so often, they probably would have been better on-the-go nappers! Don’t feel like a slave to your baby’s napping schedule! Before baby’s wake time increases to 2-3 hours it is very difficult to get out and go anywhere but, do it anyway! Put your baby in a sling and train them to sleep there occasionally. I’ve been known to take my babies to a friend’s house and put them in a ventilated closet or bathroom for a nap! It works and it also teaches your baby to sleep in a variety of environments which creates flexibility in them. The rock n play sleeper and this sound machine make transporting a sleep area for your infant super easy and super convenient.
9. Be consistent. Ok, I know I just said to be flexible above and let your baby sleep on-the-go occasionally, but it is also very important to be consistent with your baby’s schedule. Consistency is what helps everything regulate and fall into place. A good rule of thumb is that if your baby had a day of an on-the-go nap, the next day, if you can at all help it, the baby should be at home taking all naps. Let baby recuperate from the busy day before going out again. This can’t always be helped, of course, but when you try to abide by this rule it makes going out easier and helps to keep all your hard work of training your baby to sleep in tact when you are home. If your baby is on a very predictable schedule, when you do stray from that schedule for a day to go on an outing or to go on a family vacation for a week, baby’s schedule might get all “messed up” while you are gone. The beauty of a consistent schedule is that once you are home and things return to normal, baby has something to fall back on - his predictable routine that he is used to! As infants and toddlers, both of my girls got back to “normal” within 2-7 days upon returning from week long vacations where they got “off” their schedules. Being overall consistent with their routines and schedules is what made them fall back to it after the disruption was over.
10. Babywise is a work in progress. You will begin to implement Babywise and some days you will probably be asking yourself (after your baby was up two times in the night and now it’s 1pm and he has only slept 45 mins that day total!) why you are bothering to do Babywise since your baby is obviously not sleeping anyway! Just keep plugging along. Babywise IS totally worth the time and effort it takes to implement it. There are rough patches when sleep is just a little wonky for all babies at that age, but press through it, stay as consistent as possible with the implementation of the Babywise principals and you will reap what you sow. You can’t just look at one day’s worth of naps and night sleep to see your baby’s progress. It is something that will slowly develop over time. You will go from having a newborn that is up multiple times through the night (and should be so he can eat!) to a toddler who is sleeping 10-12 hours at night and taking a nice, 2-3 hour nap every afternoon. You will have a rested child who is a delight to all he meets. And, most importantly, you will have a family unit that functions, most of the time, in an orderly, predictable manner.
(I'm over at Rachel's blog sharing Part 4 of my nursing story. I'll post it here on my blog tomorrow as well.)