I’ve never claimed to be a parenting expert; I just read a lot of books that have taught me the importance of schedules, routines and sleep. Sleep is so important, especially in the first year of life, because the human growth hormone is released during deep sleep, which is crucial for development. I thought I would share something that has worked really well for us. One of the books I read after Olivia was born was “On Becoming Babywise”. This book teaches you to put your baby on a schedule to help separate their days from nights, which will result in them sleeping longer stretches at night. The “Babywise” philosophy teaches PDF (parent directed feeding) which is a combination of the clock and your babies’ cues.
What tends to happen with newborns is they fall asleep while eating, sleep for a few hours, then wake up and eat a little more and with this method they never really get in full feedings. They eat just enough to tie them over and this cycle continues over a 24-hour period with your baby waking several times in the middle of the night.
With “Babywise” you wake your baby every three hours getting in full feedings and then you let your baby wake you up at night. (If your baby falls asleep while feeding you would want to change their diaper right away to wake them up and get them to finish the feeding)
A baby needs 2.5 oz. of milk per lb. (breast milk or formula) in a 24-hour period. You want your baby to try and eat this amount throughout the day so they can sleep longer at night. If your baby wakes up at 7 am then your feeding times would be 7-10-1-4-7-10. If your baby were showing hunger cues earlier then the scheduled feed time then you would go ahead and feed them. You will see that the routine feedings encourage a Baby’s hunger metabolism to organize into predictable cycles.
On average a six week old will feed for approximately 30 minutes stay awake for 30-50 minutes and then nap for 1 ½ – 2 hours. You do this all day long and then at your last feeding you put your baby down for the night and let them wake you up when they are hungry. When they wake you at night you want to provide just enough light to see your baby and keep things quiet and you only need to feed them as much as they desire.
What happens is as your baby grows they consume more food at each feeding during the day and will start to eat less at night. As a result, your baby will begin to eliminate night feedings all together. The best part is one day you will just wake up and realize that your baby has slept though the night.
I know this method is not for everyone, as it takes time and discipline but I would highly recommend it. If you follow what the book explains, it produces tremendous results very quickly. I am very aware that babies are not robots and there has to be room for flexibility and growth spurts. However it worked for Olivia and is working for Jordan who is two months old and is now sleeping 6-7 hour stretches at night.
“On Becoming Babywise” by Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam
Enjoy your sleep…..