Suddenly Parents

Keeping Our Sanity During Baby's First Year

To Schedule Or Not to Schedule – Is That the Question?

Before I had Eliza, I thought Baby Wise was going to be my Bible. Most new moms will know what Baby Wise is but for those that don’t, Baby Wise touts “training” your baby so they follow a schedule for feedings and sleep. Some people swear by it, others hate it and cite major controversies surrounding the Baby Wise method. Personally, I have friends that can’t stand it and others who say it saved their lives.

Being a former attorney and a somewhat orderly person, I read and re-read Baby Wise and was ready to go when Eliza was born. From the time she was born, I stuck to the feeding schedule of feeding her every 2.5 – 3 hours. I was flexible if she seemed extra hungry but, for the most part, I stuck to it. It was pretty easy because she seemed to naturally follow that schedule.  But when she was about 3 weeks old (about when Baby Wise says to start a routine) I tried to follow their rule of Eat, Wake, Sleep (a rule which many “sleep trainers” mandate, not just Baby Wise) but I was finding it impossible to follow because she would fall asleep immediately after feeding.

Around this time, Eliza also began to develop what seemed like colic – she was fussy, gassy and waking every 15 minutes. We set her bassinet at an angle, gave her Maalox (my doctor’s suggestion) and gripe water, played the white noise machine at an almost intolerably loud volume, swaddled her with her hands under her butt (another suggestion), and used the 5 S’s to lull her to sleep. During this time, her feeding schedule was thrown way off and I couldn’t even begin to do the Eat, Wake, Sleep routine. I was stressed.

I started talking to some of my friends who told me to throw out the books and just attend to Eliza’s needs. My mom told me the same thing. So I did just that. I threw out the clock and fed Eliza whenever she seemed hungry and I let her sleep when she wanted to sleep and didn’t worry about the rest. This new approach, combined with everything we did to help her gas, seemed to work and Eliza started settling down and sleeping for 3 hour stretches at night. It was great.

Until this week. On Sunday and Monday, Eliza started to demand food what seemed like every 30 minutes. This wasn’t your usual cluster feeding, this was an all day affair. We started a bad cycle of her being hungry and me feeling like I didn’t have enough food to give her because she had just eaten. We were both frustrated and by Tuesday night, I was on edge and told Rich that I couldn’t go on like this. So, Rich convinced me to start implementing the 3 hour feeding schedule again. I was resistant at first because I didn’t want to follow a regimen but I was willing to try anything.

Starting on Tuesday, I re-focused on trying to get Eliza to eat as much as possible during her feedings and then made her wait 2.5 hours in between each feeding. I then slowly stretched it to 3 hours in between each feeding. We distracted her with pacifiers and other soothing techniques and soon, she was happily eating every 3 hours. On Wednesday, we went to the doctor and she told me that if Eliza will take a pacifier or will calm down with other techniques (swinging, singing, baby-wearing, etc.) then she probably isn’t really hungry and is just looking for comfort. She said that if Eliza remains inconsolable, then go ahead and feed her but otherwise, following the 3 hour schedule is fine.

Eliza is now sleeping 4-5 hours at night (she slept 6 hours on Wednesday!) and seems perfectly content in between feedings. What a relief. I feel like my day is so much more predictable and I can actually do other things besides breastfeeding.

Unfortunately, my doctor also said that I should try to get into the Eat, Wake, Sleep cycle as it gives the baby a predictable routine and will help in the future with bedtime, etc. So, I am doing the best I can with that but it is hit or miss. But I am not going to stress about it. If there is anything I have learned so far, it is that stressing doesn’t help and you have to go with the flow and follow whatever works for you. But easier said than done, right? This may work for now but it may all change next week. In fact, it probably will all change next week and we will just have to figure out what works again. And again. Until she is 18 years old. Wow, what have I gotten myself into??

3,994 Comments

  1. I think life is easier once you and the baby are on a schedule, but I also think the key is to find the schedule that is right for your family and Eliza. Once Ella was on a schedule, having multiple care providers was also easier since I could clearly explain what to expect in the time that the other person was watching the baby. If day care is in Eliza’s future, you may want to find out their schedule and work Eliza towards it so that transition is easier.

  2. Looks like someone made her the perfect baby quilt! She is so precious! :)

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