It seems as though anytime someone finds out you have a new baby, they want to know three things: how your birth was, is your baby formula or breastfed, and does your baby sleep? So, I felt like it was only right that as I kick off my new blog, I complete the trifecta and talk about Baby J and our (sleep) schedule.
When people ask us how Baby J sleeps, they are often surprised to hear that he pretty much started sleeping through the night around 4 months. Granted, we would have good nights and bad nights, but for the most part, we would put Jason to bed at 8:00pm (ish) and he would sleep until the next morning, with only a couple wake-ups for a soother and no feeds until morning.
It is usually at this point that veteran moms, or moms of multiples smile, knowingly nod and say, “he’s formula fed, isn’t he?”, to which I say yes. I know that TYPICALLY formula-fed babies learn how to sleep through the night earlier because they stay “fuller.” However, we do count our blessings that baby J started sleeping through the night so early because while that is usually true about formula-fed babies, I know some breastfed babies who do sleep through the night and some formula-fed babies who don’t.
Now that we are at the 6 month mark, the last few months don’t seem as bad as they were. 4 months to get back to a state of “normal” doesn’t seem like a long time in the big scheme of things, when you’re IN it, it seems like the days all just blend into one LONG, LONG day.
I remember the first few weeks after Baby J was born being absolutely EXHAUSTING up until about the third or fourth week. Around week three/ four, Jason got into a little bit more a predictable schedule and started sleeping 2-3 hour stretches at night (woo hoo!). Up until then, he had been feeding on demand, so being able to go 2-3 hours between feeds was glorious.
Being as tired as we were, I was obsessed to all things sleep. I was Googling how much sleep was “right” for Jason’s age and I would start every morning by counting the hours – how many times did he wake up? How much sleep did he get? Also, how much sleep did I get? How much sleep did David get? Looking back on it now, I know how crazy it was how desperately I was trying to get baby J on a schedule, but I hated the unpredictability of all of it. I hated not knowing if it was going to be 2 hours or 3 hours between feeds, especially since Jason was formula-fed. I couldn’t just stick him on the boob and feed, I had to heat up a bottle and those then EIGHT minutes (now 11) of waiting, while your baby wailed for food was painful. So I knew I had to find a schedule that could work for us. It was a bit crazy to try and fit a baby into a box, but my type-A personality demanded it. I would Google sample schedules left, right and center, trying to find one that could work for us.
BUT before I really, really get into what eventually did work for us, I have read that things are only a problem if YOU think they are so if you are a mom/ dad who likes to feed on demand/ doesn’t mind being up and cuddling with baby in the middle of the night, etc….then more power to ya!! (The other day my sister-in-law said, “they are only little once!” which was a really great reminder for me to enjoy the cranky days now that call for extra cuddles, and not always be rushing to find a solution, all the time.)
So, anyways…off on a hunt I went for routines…
THEN, my sister-in-law told me about the E.A.S.Y routine that she followed with her babies. The E.A.S.Y routine, by Tracey Hogg, was this: your baby “E”ats, has “A”ctivity/ play time, then “S”leeps, while you/ dad have “Y”ou time. The idea was that, your baby would not fall asleep RIGHT after eating so that they wouldn’t get in the habit of NEEDING a bottle to fall asleep. THAT, and the “Y”ou time, sounded awesome, we were in!
So off we went with trying to implement the E.A.S.Y routine. At the time, the E.A.S.Y routine pretty much took place every 2-3 hours, revolving around Jason’s feedings (he was sleeping around 15 hours a day at that point). We did this around the clock, and when the 7:00/8:00pm mark rolled around, David and I would try and get to bed shortly after we put Jason to bed, to maximize on sleep! David and I joked that we no longer lived in 24 hour days, but rather in 3 hour cycles.
We switched exclusively to formula at around week 7/8 (see my other post on here on our decision to do so) and around the 3.5 month mark, Jason started doing longer stretches, here and there. David and I slowly started to feel “normal” again. I remember, the FIRST time Jase did a 6 hour stretch. I woke up in a panic around 3:00am and rushed to his bassinet, thinking that he had died because he didn’t wake up!
So, there we were, living through our 3 hour cycles, thinking we had it somewhat figured out when, of course, we started noticing slight changes in Jason’s
Around the 3.5 month mark, Jason started to go through some changes. He was no longer screaming bloody murder at the 3 hour mark for his bottles and started not finishing his bottles. He started to fight his naps and was no longer ready to sleep after 1 hour of “A”ctivity time, like he was before. He also started to wake more frequently at night, once again (yay). So, NATURALLY, back to Google I went. I came across articles titled: “The 4 Hour Schedule At 4 Months That Helped Us All” and I said, “YES. Help ME!”
It was then I found out that babies go through”sleep transitions” and that’s what was happening to baby J. I decided it couldn’t hurt to try moving Jason to the 4 hour routine that the article talked about, and it was the best change we have made to date.
Side note: it was also around that time that David convinced me that it was time for us move Jason out of our room, and into his own crib/ room. It made me a little sad, but it was the best decision for all of us because it meant that I also didn’t wake up at Jason’s every whimper. (SO, David partially credits Jason’s amazing sleeping to this decision.)
The 4 hour schedule stated that instead of feeding every 2-3 hours/ on demand, you fed your baby on a schedule, every 4 hours. In theory, this would mean that your baby would be hungrier for their feeds and by finishing their bottles during the day, they would then get enough calories and sleep through the night. Again, it sounded glorious, so we were in.
Over the next few days, we started to stretch out his feedings and wake times. We moved to feeding Jason at 8:00am, 12:00pm, 4:00pm and 7:30pm (ish). By moving to the 4 hour schedule, Jason dropped a whole feed during the day. It worked great for us, and it meant that we could actually plan out our days, and could plan how many bottles to bring with us if we went out, instead of guessing.
And the the sleeping was a success!!! Now, at 6 months, Jason goes to bed around 7:30pm/ 8:00pm, if we are not out that evening and depending on when he napped last. On a good night, he will not wake up at all, and sleep until about 6:30/ 7:00am the next morning. On nights he does wake up, we don’t do any night feeds, but give him his soother and/ or pat his bum and shush him back to sleep. We attempted dream feeds (a.k.a “top-up feeds”) a couple times, during sleep training, but never had any success and eventually stopped trying because we felt that it did more harm, than good. Lucky for us, we had a cooperative baby and he eventually learned to sleep long stretches, without having to do any top-up feeds. (I’ve heard its CRUCIAL that once you establish this, you don’t revert back to doing night feeds, even if your baby is going through a sleep regression/ is teething.)
While Jason’s feed times are now predictable and easy to manage, his daytime naps are still a bit iffy, ranging anywhere from 32-90 minutes. These days, we keep Jason up for around 2 hours at a time, before he naps again. This happens around the clock, until bedtime. Despite his sporadic naps, I feel like I can’t really complain about him being an “okay” napper when he is such a great night sleeper!
I’ve been warned by various parents that I shouldn’t go flaunting our “great” sleeper around because we will get strangled by sleep-deprived parents. BUT I wanted to do this post and talk about how we got such a great sleeper. My mom laughs at me and my addictive Googling and how much I SWEAR by schedules. She tells me, “you just have an easy baby!” While I agree with this, and it is true that we have an “easy” and cooperative baby, I still think routines are SUPER great, IF you are schedule-oriented (like me).
The E.A.S.Y routine, combined with the 4 hour schedule, worked for us and if you CRAVE routine (like me), I 100% recommend it (especially when you start to notice changes in your baby’s habits around the 4 month mark).
This is part 1. Next week, I’ll tackle part 2, and talk about HOW we implemented the E.A.S.Y routine, and what a typical day looks like for us! Pssst…SUBSCRIBE to our blog and never miss a post!