This trio – ‘eat,wake,sleep’ is what HJ, my mom and parents-in-law keep hearing from me so what exactly is it?
It is actually from this book titled, On Becoming Babywise from my ex-college. I was actually clearing my bookshelf towards the end of the 1st month post-partum and was going to donate the book but decided to just take a quick read first and boy, was I wrong about not keeping the book!
In a nutshell, it is about how to sync your baby’s eat, wake, sleep cycle such that eventually your baby sleeps through the night (my mom says that my sis and I naturally started doing this at the 2nd month! God Bless her!)
Am now going to summarize a few things we learnt from some chapters of the book, especially those that we are currently in the midst of implementing.
The 1st Chapter, Your Baby Needs a Family, is about achieving a balance and the importance of protecting your marriage. An earlier post about “couch time” is from this book.
Life doesn’t stop once you have a baby… date your spouse… continue those loving gestures you enjoyed before the baby came along… invite some friends over for food and fellowship and at the end of the day, spend fifteen minutes sitting with your spouse discussing the day’s events.
The 2nd Chapter, Feeding Philosophies, talks about the various ways that parents feed their babies. As I started reading this when Nat was a month old and was already on half formula and half breastfeeding, it was quite reassuring that we had somehow naturally adapted the “Parent-Directed Feeding” which combines having a schedule (guidance by the clock) and the assessment of hunger cues of the infant. So for weeks 2-4, baby should be on a 2.5-3 hourly feeding interval and this extends a bit to 2.5-3.5 hours during weeks 5-8. Of course this varies and there is a need to be flexible esp. during growth spurts or evenings when they just cluster-feed.
Hunger is always a legitimate reason to feed less than two hours.
- For Nat, his intake of milk was not really increasing that much (100ml of milk on average per feed) and this saw him drinking every 2 hours. The PD did tell us to gradually increase by 5ml a week but I think for the whole of December we got stuck at 100-110ml ourselves. So what we tried to do over the past 2 weeks is to slowly increase his intake (he’s now able to take 130ml of milk on average per feed) and his intervals have increased to 2.5-3.5 hours.
- For the next phase, which is weeks 9 to 15, we’re suppose to try and stretch out his intervals further to it being consistently 3.5 hours, maybe even 4, so we’ll see how that goes.
Then the 3rd Chapter, Babies and Sleep, came in most useful at that time when I started reading the book (early December) as HJ had been struggling to put Nat to bed on a nightly basis. He was a late sleeper and waker such that every night between 10pm and 1am, he would not sleep unless carried. Once he was put down, he would cry and HJ would pick him up to try and cradle him to sleep. Little did I know that Nat’s poor nighttime habits is linked to the lack of a fixed eat/wake/sleep routine in the day. It also can be attributed to the inconsistent bedtime routines that we had (which I’ll talk about in another post).
- The gist of the chapter about sleep is about having a parent-guided feed/wake/sleep routine, first comes feeding, followed by some waketime (this is when stimulation and playtime takes place), then naptime concludes the cycle. This was the first time I heard of such a routine because I had always assumed that infants should nap immediately after a feed. This eat/wake/sleep applies to the daytime while at night, it is just eat followed by sleep (with no stimulation). This is because too much stimulation and/or an overly tired baby also cannot get to sleep.
- The other super important thing that we had to learn was the need to put the baby down before he falls asleep – this would allow him to learn how to sleep on his own. Previously, we carried Nat until he was soundly asleep before laying him down in his own bed. Dropping this carrying habit was really not easy because it meant leaving Nat there for 5-10minutes to let him cry it out as a way of getting comfortable and ready to sleep. After a while, we discovered that Nat likes sleeping on his side flanked by 2 bolsters (this made putting him down much easier). We also found out that Nat likes have his bum patted firmly just as he is about to fall asleep so somehow by lots of experimentation and trial and error, Nat is now able to nap on his own in the day and on good nights, fall asleep on his own after his night feed.
Currently, the practice that we are trying to implement is to have a consistent first feeding of the day. This is by right suppose to happen while implementing the whole eat/wake/sleep cycle but I did not diligently adhere to it so what happened was that Nat will have regular eat/wake/sleep cycles in the day but each day starting at a different time and with a different rhythm.
- So for the past 2 days, we have been trying to establish the first feeding at 630AM – it can be 15min earlier or later but the idea is to have a consistent first feeding time that sets the rest of the day.
All I can say after approx. 4 weeks of trying out the book’s guidelines, one thing that I need to keep telling myself is that every baby is different. Some babies may be able to drop the middle-of-the-night (MOTN) feed and/or sleep through the night. Nat’s longest stretch through the night is 5hours and we noted that those long stretches could be due to the dream-feed he had at 10pm.
Whatever it is, I am already very thankful that we at least have some daily rhythm going with the routines and with each stage, there will be its own bout of challenges and some regressions so moral of story… I cannot be too hard on myself (sounds very familiar haha)