The Queer 4th Month

Queer because most literature I’ve read says strange things will happen this month – the most dreaded being sleep regression. So after 2 weeks of nighttime bliss when Nat slept through and woke up at 6am+, the streak has been broken. On two different days, he awoke at 4am hungry because he wasn’t able to take a full last feed. He also has taken to finishing a full feed in two parts which makes me wonder whether he is ‘rejecting’ his formula because even when hungry, it takes a long time for him to finish a feed.  This is a strange period indeed.

Even his morning tummy time has become sluggish. I don’t blame him, I mean who isn’t groggy after waking up at 4am haha

Thankfully two very crucial things remain constant…

  • Nat seems to still be interested in his books (hooray for the Kino sale over the weekend)

  • Nat can still go down for a nap with relative ease after his wake time

I think if his eat/wake/sleep routine gets totally uprooted, I don’t know what I’ll do.

So now to solve the other mysteries…

Milk In Segments:

  • When he’s hungry, finishing 150ml at one go isn’t a problem but the last 30ml needs to be separate because he likes his milk warm. If we give 180ml in a bottle, he won’t finish the last 40-50ml because by he time he gets there, the temperature is no longer warm. As Nat takes both breastmilk and formula in the day time when we’re at home, I usually give 100ml breastmilk followed by 60ml formula. If he isn’t hungry enough to finish everything, I rather he waste the formula than the precious liquid gold aka breastmilk.
  • We have also changed the teat to his appropriate age i.e. 3months+, medium flow (not the variable flow one which is meant for thicker liquids) so it’s not a case of the milk flowing out too slowly, making it challenging to finish the whole feed. As such, I don’t have a definite solution to this segmentation of his milk intake – or is a solution even necessary? As long as he finishes his feed (160-180ml) in a sitting, does it really matter if it’s taken at one shot?
  • We’ll definitely let his PD know about this at the upcoming appt this Friday and see what she says. I suspect maybe he isn’t that interested in his current formula anymore but am not sure if it warrants a switch because the whole point about Nestle NAN HA (hypoallergy) is that it is the closest tasting to breastmilk… but if Nat is going to be weaned off breastmilk soon, does the resemblance of the formula’s taste to breastmilk still matter?

The Return of the MOTN feed: 

  • On nights with a dreamfeed (60ml just before we sleep around 1130pm), Nat still sleeps through the night so it isn’t so bad. We are very very grateful as it is already that more often than not, we get to sleep for 7 hours straight. It’s only those nights where he isn’t able to finish a full 180ml bottle at his last feed around 10/1030pm that he wakes up hungry ard 4am.
  • This then links to the milk mystery above. When he’s hungry and his last feed was at 6pm in the evening (4hrs+ before), we don’t get why he does only a partial feed? So based on his cues, we don’t feed anymore once he doesn’t want to drink but will sometimes do a dreamfeed before we sleep.

So many questions… to be hopefully resolved (at least partially?) when we speak to Nat’s PD this Friday.

I think one lesson for me to note is that Nat’s schedule is bound to switch from time to time (I just didn’t expect it to adjust every month!) and when things like this happen, maybe it’s time to observe his cues and update his schedule accordingly and not the other way round.

When Nat is ready for semi-solids, there will be a whole new ballgame of structuring his feeds such that it does not negatively affect his night time sleep. It’s really amazing how everything that happens in the day time (feeding and naps) all somehow determines how well the baby sleeps at night. Really also makes me wonder how did we get to our staple breakfast, lunch and dinner meal times. My parents and grandparents certainly did not have so much time to read various books and then apply the literature on us. It was just wisdom from their parents and probably trial and error most of the time and we turned out fine!

– CK

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One Hit Wonder?

On a surprising note, today has been a very good morning. Nat slept 8.5hours straight, from 940pm to 610am, woke up happy and we managed to fit in all his morning activities (tummy time, reading, bathing) before going down for his 2nd morning nap at 1115am. I’m really hoping this will become a trend and not a one hit wonder!

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We are currently in the midst of some experimentation after Nat decided to waste some of his milk over the past 2-3 days by not finishing a full feed. So we conducted some experiments to find out why this was the case. I know it sounds totally crazy that we have to do such things like a mini-science project but it’s absolutely necessary for me to try and comprehend things!

Our hypothesis was that there were two potential culprits for his milk wastage:

  1. Nat could be experiencing a lengthening of his intervals between feeds such that if we fed him at the 3.5hr mark, he was not really hungry enough to finish a full feed (160ml). My mom is of the opinion that 3.5 hours is too soon since he isn’t even fussing but I read somewhere that if baby isn’t sleeping through the night yet, should feed every 3.5hrs to ensure that they have enough daytime calories. Guess everything you read may not apply to your kiddo. 
  2. I also started using a new teat for 3months+ by AVENT – it is one that has a variable flow that can regulate the flow speed by turning it but it seemed as if he was not liking the teat very much and prefers his current one, with two holes, meant for 1m+ babies.

So yesterday evening’s experiment was about keeping the teat constant i.e. using the current one he is comfortable with but changing his feeding intervals to ascertain whether his inability to finish a full feed is because he isn’t really hungry?

Observations: He could finish a full feed at 520pm and 4 hours later at 920pm, was able to finish 180ml ?!

Conclusions: So based on his two feedings at 520pm and 920pm yesterday, we concluded that he has now progressed to a 4 hour feed interval from 3.5 hours. Somehow, drinking 180ml at 920pm allowed him to sleep non-stop from 940pm until 6am the next day. Before we went to bed, HJ told me he had a good feeling Nat would sleep through the night. I brushed it aside but it was true!

Then for this morning’s experiment, I kept his feeding interval constant by feeding at every 4 hourly but at his 1020am feed but he was fed with the new teat.

Observations: Instead of sucking on it, he was simply playing with it in his mouth and not drinking any milk.

Conclusions: Our suspicions were right that Nat did not really like the new teat very much. So I swapped the teat back to his old preferred one and he drank 145ml of milk. $8.50 wasted on the new teats – perhaps we can try them again when he is a bit older next month.

Moving forward, I know things will only become a trend after it has happened for a few days so I am really hoping that this new schedule works out.

So to prep ourselves for his changes, I’ve updated his schedule as such:

630/7am: 1st feed of the day then go back to sleep [NAP 1 – usually 2hrs]

930/10am: study/exercise routines

1030/11am: late morning feed, bathe (possible to bathe also before a feed) then sleep [NAP 2 – usually 1.5hrs]

2pm: afternoon feed (Not necessary to give a full feed if 4 hours have not passed but just enough to get him through his long afternoon nap. Likewise, feed baby if hungry at the 3 hours mark), play then sleep [NAP 3 – usually 2hrs]

530/6pm: evening feed 

7pm: wash up then relax, put to bed by 815pm*

* If we’re out then this usually happens later but Nat would take a cat nap either in the carrier or his pram 

930pm: night feed

Somehow as he gets older, the earlier “eat/wake/sleep” routines have now naturally evolved to a “eat/wake/sleep/wake…eat” habit. I find it very interesting reading about these from books and then witness it happening in real life while HJ, who was quite confused by all these details yesterday just wants me to tell him what he’s supposed to do next with Nat haha

– CK

Sleeping Through The Night?

So this AM, Nat did a 7hour stretch between 1050am and 6am! Could it have been the 90ml dreamfeed at 1045pm? Is this a one-off incident that we got lucky? Whatever it is, at least we know it is possible and hopefully it will happen again. 

Then I also noted that he has ‘dropped’ his 2nd morning nap (usually from 9 to 11am before his bath), and now takes a giant nap in the afternoon averaging 3hours. Thereafter he takes shorter naps until his wash-up/bedtime. 

As for his milk drinking patterns, they too have evolved a bit. 

Current intake: 150-160ml per feed for both breastmilk and formula 

Intervals between feeds: 3.5hrs avg and sometimes even 4hrs (usually in the PM one after his giant nap) 

Poop habits: a big poop once or twice a day as opposed to multiple poops when he was a NB 

Random thoughts after last night’s 7hr episode:

  • Perhaps the smaller naps after his giant afternoon one contributes towards better sleep in the night? As beyond late PM/evening time, we don’t let him nap so long so that it doesn’t interfere with his night rest.
  • Sometimes, after his 8pm feed, we give him a last “supper” feed aka dreamfeed by 11pm so that he won’t wake up at 3am hungry. It worked last night so maybe we could be more consistent with this? Although as he grows older, we also have to somehow drop this dreamfeed. 

Usually he wakes up at 3am+ for 1 MOTN feed so we’re quite lucky he doesn’t wake more than 1x in the night. Moving forward, our concern is if Nat keeps waking up at the same time out of habit as opposed to genuine hunger but thus far, whenever he wakes, he is genuinely hungry so we proceed to feed 60 or 90ml to last him until his wake-up feed at 7am.  

Summary of Nat’s current schedule @ almost 3months: 

7am: wake-up feed, back to sleep 

10am: breakfast feed & waketime before bathing 

11am: bath time, followed by a short nap

1pm: lunch feed & waketime followed by a long nap usually from 2-5pm 

5pm: early evening feed & waketime 

630/7pm: wash up/chill (no more long naps)

8/830pm: night feed then sleep 

1045/11pm: dreamfeed (usually less than a full feed since his last feed was 8pm+) 

*330am: MOTN feed (60/90ml) to last him until his wake-up feed 

So on average he now takes 6, max 7 feeds a day but not all are full 150-160ml ones. 

We shall continue to observe what else is up his sleeve in the weeks to come! Every few weeks he has some new surprises and we got to update his daily schedule accordingly. Like what many people have told us, the only thing constant about a baby is change. Too true. 


-CK 

Routines – When Things Don’t Go As Planned… 

So in view of CNY, we kind of expected that Nat’s daily routine would be disrupted so we tried to work around those instances where he would be overstimulated, thereby potentially becoming cranky. Thankfully, things were not too bad! Thus bringing me to reflect on how even when having a daily structure, there still needs to be room for flexibility because things rarely always go according to plan.

Context: Nat is on a ‘eat, wake, sleep’ routine in the daytime until evening and now at week 12, his daily schedule is as such.

  • Daily feeding times happen every 3-3.5hours at 7am, 10am, 1pm, 4pm, 7pm,10pm and 3am (+/- 30min), taking in approx. 145ml. We’re hoping to consistently give him 150ml next week so that maybe his between-feed intervals will stretch out from every 3hours to 3.5hours or more? His last 10pm feed was 150ml but sometimes depending on the amount I pump out or time of the day, his intake varies from 125ml to 140ml. 
  • He has also been attuned to having some waketime after his feed for approx. 45min-1hour followed by a nap, usually lasting for 1.5hours before he wakes for his next feed. Sometimes he will wake up after an hour but because he’s not hungry yet, we’ll just leave him alone or engage him a little bit until it is time to eat.

So for CNY, we anticipated that perhaps during visitations, he’ll probably be overstimulated because of the crowd and true enough that happened so certain adjustments had to be made.

Once visitations were over, instead of doing his usual “study routine” during his waketime after his lunch and/or afternoon feed, we let him nap straight away. Technically sleeping right after a feed is supposed to happen only in the evenings but we applied it to the daytime anyway. This way, Nat was able to at least get 2hours of rest before his evening feed. So on both days of CNY, he knocked out in the afternoon (pic below) before the next dinner event.

Another superb way to stick to our routines without making that much adjustment afterwards in the afternoon was having the carrier around! After the initial period of overstimulation and having people carry him, once it was time to nap (usually 45mins after his feed), HJ would strap him in the carrier and that made it quite obvious that it was time for Nat to nap. So yes…even outside in the garden, Nat was able to snooze in the carrier oblivious to everything.

I guess some important lessons for us during these few days can be summed up below:

  1. It is OKAY if routines/schedules don’t go according to plan – what is more crucial is to have some flexibility and ways to work around the disruptions. For example, if there is a lunch event to attend, we’ll let Nat sleep more in the morning as opposed to how we gently wake him around 10am for his bath. Likewise, if the morning had been too overstimulating, we do not stimulate him anymore in the afternoon when we go home but let him nap more because what we dread most is having an overtired baby that can’t sleep even if he wanted to 😦
  2. Have a clear plan i.e. modus operandi and stick to it so for CNY, the plan was to put Nat in the carrier when it was time to nap so that it would send out a clear message that the baby needs to rest. For some of our own family members/closer relatives, we just told them upfront that it was time for baby to nap and they would stop engaging/stimulating him so much. Communication is key. 
  3. It is okay to say ‘NO’ or when in doubt, check with your other half – this applied most to when people wanted to carry Nat. At each house visit, 1-2 people asked if it was okay for them to carry Nat, and we happily let them carry all 6.7kg of him! Thankfully it was no more than just a few people who approached us, if not we would have had to decline or agree but give some perimeters i.e. carrying only for a short while if it is time for him to nap.
  4. Understand that not everyone operates the way we do – esp. when it comes to Nat’s routine. After all, we are the ones that know it best. I felt this was the most important for me to drill in my head because when things don’t go according to plan, I usually tend to get a bit irritated but telling myself this helped in dealing with the frustrations when Nat could not nap because the circumstances did not allow for it. Now even if things don’t go as planned, I’m like “it’s okay… we’ll damage control later” hahaha

– CK

Routines for baby and me

People who know me well won’t find it surprising that I thrive on having routines, which is partly why I got Nat started on the eat/wake/sleep routine. Sometimes also known as the eat/play/sleep routine. The other perk of having some sort of rhythm gives me some time to do my own things, during his naptimes. So yeah, while to some it may seem quite ‘stressful’ having an infant on a routine so fast, I don’t think I can function without it haha

I also found some useful tips from this article about setting routines so at week 9-10, here’s a sample routine though it is more stable on weekdays because we have to make some adjustments on weekends when we go out.

  • 630/645am: the ‘wake-up’ feed that sets the day
  • 7am: change diaper and put back to bed (morning nap 1)
  • 9am: breakfast feed then put back to bed (morning nap 2)  
  • 1045/11am: gentle wake-up call via changing diaper in preparation to take a bath
  • 11-1115am: bath, followed by some wake-time before his next feed ard noon-ish
  • 12/1230pm: lunch-time feed, followed by 30-45min of waketime (stimulation)
  • 1pm: nap-time (afternoon nap 1)
  • 3/330pm: tea-time feed, followed by 30-45min of waketime (stimulation)
  • 430pm: nap-time (afternoon nap 2)
  • 6pm: evening feed, followed by minimal waketime or sometimes a short-nap 
  • 7pm: wash-up & bedtime routine *we’re trying to start his bedtime routine earlier after his evening feed, currently we start at 8pm only and he sleeps after his night feed (below)
  • 9/930pm: night feed, put back to bed
  • 230/3am: MOTN feed, put back to bed (we notice that Nat can sleep for a 5-hour stretch if his last feed is closer to 10pm)
  • 5am: 2nd MOTN feed -> if this is less than 2 hours after the previous feed and very close to his wake-up feed, we will try to see if Nat can go back to sleep or if he’s hungry, then we’ll feed 60ml of milk (formula) since his wake-up feed is coming up soon. This was because when we gave a full feed once, he was not able to finish it. Sometimes this 2nd MOTN feed does not happen and he wakes up closer to 6am.

So on average, Nat is taking approx. 7 feeds a day (every 2.5/3hours, the longest interval has been 3.5hours and a full feed currently approx. 140ml. His naps range from 30min to 1.5hours in the day, and it gets shorter towards the evening.

Of course if we’re home the whole day and everything goes according to plan, then the above schedule is pretty much adhered to but what happens when we do go out? That’s another post for another day…

-CK

‘Eat, Wake, Sleep’ – Being a Babywise Mom and Baby (Week 9)

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!

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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 ChapterYour 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 ChapterFeeding 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)

-CK