Babywise from Birth

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! Smile

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!!

Wish I Had Known…

I LOVE these seven guidelines that On Becoming Babywise shares on page 111.

I wanted Little Bug to be on a good eating/sleeping routine and these guidelines certainly helped us get there. I wish I had read these guidelines before Little Bug’s birth, but since I wasn’t introduced to Babywise until she was around 3 months old, I didn’t learn these guidelines until later on.

1. This is just a FYI point: The time between feedings is measured from the beginning of one feeding to the beginning of the next feeding. (That is nice to know, thanks. Keep reading. It does get more interesting than that – I promise!!)

2. Between weeks 2-4 feed baby approximately every 2.5 to 3 hours. The routine feedings will help establish and stabilize metabolism. Now, since I started BW late, I took this tip to mean that I just needed to get Little Bug on a consistent eating schedule. It was true that once Little Bug got on a 3 hour feeding schedule it helped to stabilize everything – sleep and eating!

3. Wake baby to eat at 3 hours if they don’t wake on their own. This is a BIG HELP tip. Before BW, I would let Little Bug go 4, sometimes even 5 hours between feedings if she was sleeping. You know that whole saying? Never wake a sleeping baby. HELLO!! That was the kind of stretch I wanted her to do at NIGHT – not during the day. After I started BW, I woke her little booty up (that saying is a TOTAL myth!!) if we got to the 3 hour mark between feedings. Making sure Little Bug was eating every 3 to 3.5 hours during the DAY made all the difference for long stretches of blissful sleep for both of us during the night! This tip does seem like a no brainer but to the new mom, we so easily fall into the trap that you should never wake a sleeping baby. Not true. So not true – if you desire nighttime sleep for both you and your baby!

4. After the first week start a feed/wake/nap routine to encourage nighttime slumber! I’ve written an entire post already on the feed/wake/nap routine.

5. This tip seems a little redundant to tip #2 but here it is anyway: Between weeks 5-8 feed baby between 2.5 to 3.5 hours during the day. I guess the point here is that by 8 weeks baby could be ready to extend the eating schedule to 3.5 hours. I wasn’t doing BW at 8 weeks with Little Bug, so at this time I am sure our eating schedule was still random.

6. This would have been a good one for me to read: There will be times when your baby’s routine will change to fit your schedule and other times you will plan your activities around your baby’s needs. After I started BW Little Bug took 99% of her naps in her crib (or in a pack n play at her grandparents’ house). I was a stickler to the nap schedule. Which is good, to a certain degree. But I had this false belief that if Little Bug missed a nap in her crib, I would undo all the hard work I had put into sleep training her! BW Rookie Mistake! I could have, every once in a while, not rushed to get back home for naptime and instead let her fall asleep in the car seat/stroller if we were out shopping or something, but I would make sure to be back in time for naptime. As a consequence, I had a baby who would not nap unless she was in a crib! Actually, for my lifestyle, this wasn’t an inconvenience at all for me (most of the time) because A) I hate to shop. I never go out just to shop. It is always with a purpose to grab a certain something that I already know I need. and B) I am not certain Little Bug would have ever really learned to sleep on the go because of her extraordinary curiosity. If we were out and about, that girl was looking around, not wanting to miss a thing. I highly doubt she would have fallen asleep and stayed asleep long enough to get enough rest. and C) When Little Bug was a baby she NEEDED her naps or else things weren’t pretty for anyone! So, all that to say, looking back, I could have been a little less drill sergeant-like as far as naptimes went, BUT not much, because I had/have a baby who always lays down for her naps without a fuss, sleeps and wakes up happy and ready to go again and THAT is worth any kind of sacrifice it took for me to ensure she got good naps in. And like I said, given my lifestyle, it wasn’t much sacrifice at all for me. (I have probably jumped the gun on a post I intend to write called, “Respecting the Nap”. Coming soon!)

7. Oh, this one would have saved me A TON of frustration if I had only known this SIMPLE trick of the trade: Make sure you establish a first feeding time to help organize baby’s feed/wake/sleep cycle during the day. After reading this tip (well after I started BW – not sure how I missed this very vital piece of the BW equation!), I was finally able to establish a routine/schedule with Little Bug that was the same every day. And it was heavenly, because I like predictability and so do babies. I set Little Bug’s wake time at 7:30 and it was after that that we established set naptimes of 9am, 1pm and 5:30pm with a bedtime of 8pm. From there we just tweaked the schedule as she moved from needing three naps to two naps to one nap. Bedtime has done a little shifting too. It’s moved from 8pm to 8:15, to 8:30, to back to 8:15 to 8:45 (now) depending on Little Bug’s sleeping needs at the time. Wake up time shifted from 7:30am to my ultimate wake up goal of a glorious 8am! Setting that wake up time originally is when everything else fell into place. Such an IMPORTANT piece of Babywise!

Like I said…if only I known all this from the start…