Even with all the challenges, I have been able to implement Babywise from birth with Sweet Pea.
And I feel this has made all the difference in the world.
I know there is a lot of controversy out there about Babywise, but I feel the controversy comes from a misunderstanding of the Babywise principles. Contrary to what those against Babywise believe, Babywise is NOT a program that starves babies and leaves them crying in their cribs for hours on end!
My blog is certainly not a Babywise discussion board (and never will be!) but I do want to keep track of everything I am doing with Sweet Pea.
So, what is Babywise?
It is a lifesaver!
I did not start BW from birth with Little Bug and just from my experience of doing BW from birth with Sweet Pea for her first 6 weeks of life, I know that I would not have felt nearly the amount of stress I felt as a first time mother had I had the guidance of BW to follow!
BW (to me) just makes total sense! I was talking about BW with a friend. A coworker of hers asked, “So, you just let your baby cry?”. (Typical stereotypical assumption about BW.) My friend responded by saying, “No, Babywise isn’t about just letting your baby cry! It’s about meeting your baby’s every need before they even have to cry!”
That is so true and has proven to be my experience in doing Babywise with my girls. I’ll be the first to say that Babywise is NOT for everyone! As with everything concerning parenting, you have to do what you feel is right for you and your baby! Babywise works for us!!
So, what am I doing with Sweet Pea?
Babywise is broken into four phases. The first phase is the “Stabilization Phase” and it lasts from birth to 8 weeks.
It is just what the name describes—a period of time where you work to stabilize baby’s eating and sleeping habits. It is the foundation laid that creates good, healthy eating and sleeping habits in your baby.
Here is what I am doing with Sweet Pea from birth to 8 weeks:
- 2.5 to 3 hour feeding schedule: It is important to feed Sweet Pea every 2.5 to 3 hr. during the day. (We do 8am, 11am, 2pm, 5pm, 8pm, 11pm) This is especially important from weeks 2-4 to establish her body’s metabolism. Sticking to this feeding schedule during the first 4 weeks helps her organize her sleep. This means, at 3 hours if Sweet Pea is sleeping, I wake her up to feed! I cannot tell you how many times I let Little Bug sleep 4-5 hours straight during the day! Then, what do you think she wanted to do at night? Eat! Because she hadn’t gotten those calories she needed during the day. Rookie mistake that I will not make this time around!
- An exception to this feeding system is growth spurts!! If she is in a growth spurt, she eats whenever she is hungry and the feeding schedule goes out the window until the growth spurt passes. (This happened for her during week 2.)
- After the 11pm feed, we let Sweet Pea wake on her own to feed. During weeks 2-4, she typically woke in the 2-4am hours and then anywhere from 6-8am. At 6 weeks old, she is typically eating at 11pm and then waking to eat usually in the 3 to 4 am hours. Then she usually wakes again around 7-8am.
- Sweet Pea’s first feed of the day is 8am. It is important to have Sweet Pea’s first feed be at 8am or within a 30 minute window of that feeding time. Making Sweet Pea’s first feed of the day be consistent daily will help Sweet Pea organize her feed/wake/sleep cycle during the day. The 30 minute window means her first feed can be anywhere from 7:30 to 8:00am.
- So what happens if Sweet Pea wakes before 8am?? If it is in the "window" I try to hold her off (with paci, holding, etc.) until 8am. If she is screaming for food and it is earlier than 7:30am, I go ahead and feed her but just do not give her a full feed so that she will be hungry at 8am. If it is in the 7am hour I give an ounce or so and see if it will hold her over. If it is in the 6am hour I give her 2ish ounces. If it is anytime before 5am, I give her a full-feed because by 8am, she will be ready to have another full feed. If a half-feed isn’t cutting it for her, of course, I give her a full feed and we just adjust the eating schedule throughout the day until we are back on track.
- Daytime: With Sweet Pea’s withdrawals, I did not try and force her to have awake time between day time feeds until I could tell she is was ready for this. Around week 3, we started working on wake time between feeds. Taking her out of the swaddle and making the room light but not too bright helped her realize it is daytime and not sleep time and she needed to be awake some throughout the day. Between weeks 3-5ish, I didn’t want to pull out any baby activities for her that might be too over stimulating (because of the drug exposure). So we kept her wake time activities to: siting in bouncy seat, holding her and singing/talking to her, siting in swing (not swinging), laying in crib with mobile on, looking at black and white images that came in the mail with formula (I do want her brain stimulated to some degree asap and as much as possible!!). At 6 weeks I pulled out some baby toys for Sweet Pea but have still not pulled out the playmate. I still feel like that is too stimulating for her at this time.
- Nighttime feeds: It is very important to keep the nighttime feeds strictly business so that Sweet Pea learns that nighttime is for sleeping, not playing! We do this by not talking to her, feeding her, holding her upright for how ever long she needs and then putting her right back to bed. It helps to change diaper before feed, reswaddle and then feed. Of course in the early weeks she sometimes pooped after a feed and then I still had to change her diaper after feeding. But as a general rule, I try to do the diaper change before the feed so she settles back to sleep while eating.
There are always exceptions to the above guidelines I am following.
For example, I wrote up there that I wake Sweet Pea after 3 hours to eat, even if she is sleeping. If Sweet Pea has had an awful spell or has been extra sensitive to withdrawal symptoms and did not get a good rest in between feeds, I will let Sweet Pea sleep beyond the 3 hour mark so that she can get some rest.
Reflux/gastrointestinal issues, withdrawals and hospital stays have certainly created some challenges to doing BW, but we just do the best we can. I am actually very pleased with how things are going in spite of all these challenges.
After a very chaotic start to life, BW has given me the ability to give Sweet Pea some stability starting at her first few weeks of life. Order and stability go a long way with babies. She is on the right track to developing a healthy, consistent, predictable, eat/wake/sleep cycle!
We are now in the second half of the stabilization period — weeks 5 to 8.
During week 5, BW says that some babies are ready to eat every 2.5 to 3.5 hours.
I’ve kept Sweet Pea on the 3-hour feeding schedule, so far, because with her tummy issues I think eating less more frequently is better for her.
When I notice that she is not eating well every 3 hours, I will extend some feeds to 3.5 hours to give her more time between the feed so she will be more hungry and ready to consume a full feed.
At 6 weeks old, she is still eating very well every 3 hours (3 ounces).
I am SO thankful I have this knowledge the second time around!!