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Getting Started - Babywise Basics

It's Babywise Friendly Blog Network Day! Today, Shea from The Moses Home is giving helpful tips for how to get started with Babywise! Read it and pass it along to the new mom's you know!

Today, you can find me at The Journey of Parenthood talking about Dealing With Developmental Delays.

When you bring a new baby home, even if it a 2nd or 3rd baby, it is overwhelming and many new moms feel like they do not even know where to start with this new baby they just welcomed. I thought I would offer my tips on getting started, what to prioritize, and having a general guideline as you begin adjusting to life with a (or another)  new baby.

Day 1 - Day 14
For the first two weeks of life I literally throw most “rules” out the door. I enjoy holding my new baby as much as possible, letting them “sleep in” in the mornings if they will, and using any and all “sleep props” if needed. The only thing I stay right on top of is feedings. I make sure feedings are happening every 2.5 - 3 hours. This helps with milk supply and also getting their metabolism working they way it needs too. So basically, during this time feeding the baby is the only thing I really make a priority.

I will note though, that I do keep waketime lengths into strong consideration during this time, too. I do my best to try to get them back to napping after 45 minutes of being awake. Remember that waketime INCLUDES the time it takes to feed. At the newborn stage, the day really looks like a constant cycle of eating, changing a diaper, swaddle, and back to napping.

2 - 6 Weeks
After two weeks, I begin to crave structure. My body tells me it is time to make sense of each day and to try find a way to know what to expect throughout my day. I can usually tell that the baby is beginning to follow my leads with feedings, and I am usually comfortable with how they eating at this point.

They are still really little at this age, so I like to introduce routine slowly and see how they respond. The first thing I begin to set in place is a morning wake up time. A desired time to begin the day. For us, this time is between 6:30-7 am. There are still night feeds happening at this age, and those can sometimes be at various times throughout the night. Sometimes they will happen every 3 hours. Some nights they can go for 4. Some nights we are extra hungry and need to eat every 2.5 hours. However, NO MATTER WHAT THE NIGHT FEEDINGS LOOK LIKE, WE WAKE BY 7 am to have breakfast. Doing this is harder than it is to read it. If baby is sleeping peacefully at 7 am, it is beyond difficult to peel myself out of bed to begin the day - but - it makes a huge difference in helping baby understand the difference between  extended night sleep and day time napping. I really believe this helps kick their circadian rhythm into place, and that is ultimately our goal in helping gain structure to our day.

In addition to establishing that morning wake up time consistently, you need to feed baby every 2.5 - 3 hours during the day. Waking the baby during the day hours from naps at feeding time.  It is OK to wake a baby during the day to eat. This will help their bodies metabolize the calories they take in like clockwork, and after feeding them on a regular cycle, they will likely begin to wake themselves at the appropriate time.

Also, once our day begins to make sense - and we have a grasp on our morning wake time - I begin working on establishing  bedtime. I have found with my girls that 12 hours from our morning wake up time seems to work best. So, if we wake at 7 am for breakfast, we are laying down for bedtime at 7 pm. Baby’s systems seem to thrive on this cycle - and keep in mind our end goal is 12 hours of solid sleep as they begin to drop their nighttime feeds and this is a solid step in this direction.  After “bedtime” (if your child is healthy, thriving, and gaining weight in a manner that pleases the doctor) baby wakes naturally for night feeds when baby needs them. Some families implement a dreamfeed, where you go in usually during the 10pm -11pm hour and feed the baby with the goal of the baby staying soundly asleep through the feed. A dreamfeed is helpful for some, while some babies do not respond well to it - it is up to the baby. If the dreamfeed works well, then after the dreamfeed - there is no parent waking baby until it is time to begin the day.

If you can 1. set a morning wake time 2. feed your baby every 2.5-3 hours during the day and 3. establish a consistent bedtime, then you are beginning as you mean to go with setting a healthy routine for your family.

Quick additional tips:

  1. Set a sleep time routine (a diaper change, a swaddle, a snuggle) that you do before each time you want them to nap/sleep.
  2. Swaddle, swaddle, and swaddle. So many times people think their baby doesn’t “like” a swaddle. All babies want to be snug, and usually pretty tightly - but usually babies will fuss while actually being swaddled. Swaddle through it - you will be glad you did.
  3. If things get “off schedule” it is ok. Start back over with feeding time and try again to begin the cycle. Make adjustments as needed!
  4. Fussing and yawning are really late signs of tiredness, instead look for a baby who won’t look/focus on toys or make eye contact and keep the clock in mind as well. All of my babies would also begin to rub their eyes to show that they were ready for a nap.
  5. Total success will NOT happen overnight. Setting up structure takes effort, and usually sacrifice (of getting out sometimes) for a little while. Babywise talks about taking each step, one at a time, with the end goal in mind - so keep on keeping on and you will reap the beautiful benefits!

These same principles can be applied to beginning babywise late, as well. The only difference would be that older babies can handle longer amounts of waketimes - but keeping feedings and nap time regular applies to all babies!

(Click the image above for links to all of the BFBN blogs for some helpful reads today!)
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