Hello! I'm Suzannah, a serious DIYer and mom of two little ones. Follow along with my DIY fixer upper house renovations, sewing and crafty projects, real food recipes, and de-stressing goals.
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Why (and how) I put my newborn on a schedule

Newborns are not predictable and you always hear it's impossible or even bad to put them on a schedule. You just use wake windows and time between feedings. Otto didn't have a nap schedule till he was at least 4 months, and then it was mostly because we had multiple babysitters throughout the day and needed some predictability for us in his evening schedule. But now I have two little ones, and I quickly realized, it's different this time.

How the schedule started

I think even in the first week I identified that I needed her last period of awake time to be around 8-9pm, so she and I could both go to bed around 9 and I could share her longest stretch of nighttime sleep. So I worked backwards from there, assuming 45-60 minute wake windows and feeding after waking up from each nap. I also fit it in to our schedule with Otto--he naps 12 or 12:30 to 3 or so, and he goes to bed at 7:30, and I knew I couldn't be putting them both down at the same time since it takes a while to read Otto books and all that.

I started trying to feed her solid meals (nursing 15+ mins each side) around 8am, 11am, 2pm, 5pm, and 8pm, with snacks in between as needed and sometimes to get her sleepy (though I've learned not to feed her fully to sleep, as I talked about in this post!). Then she'd be awake for 45 minutes to an hour and a half, and I'd try to get her sleepy (or wear her in the soft wrap) and put her down for a nap again. This worked well because then there were only a few parts of the day when I was juggling Lucy and Otto awake at the same time: 8-9am (although Jason is also here then, and sometimes Otto doesn't get up till 8:30), 11-12 (Daniel Tiger time!), and 5-6pm (impossible to make dinner then, so I learned have to make it before). This makes parenting two kids SO. MUCH. EASIER. and less stressful--knowing when I'll have time to eat or send an email or cut up veggies for dinner or whatever.

Waking her up to help her sleep (night sleep tips)

I was feeling a little guilty about keeping her on a schedule, actually, and while she often slept well during naps until I had to wake her, her night sleep was terrible. Waking every hour and a half some nights... 3-4 times on a good night, more like 6 times on a bad one, and often not going back to sleep right away. During those many hours I had awake in the middle of the night, I did lots of googling about baby sleep. Most of it I'd read before, with the last baby. But I came across this article from Today's Parent: How to get your baby to sleep through the night: Four moms spill what really worked to get their babies to sleep through the night, from cry-it-out to co-sleeping. The third mom's story was most relevant to me as she started when her baby was a newborn. She followed the schedule and calming methods prescribed by this book by a British nanny/nanny to the stars. She woke up her newborn every three hours, including in the middle of the night, the first few weeks. Spoiler: her daughter slept through the night by 12 weeks old!

I was intrigued, but still worried about the strict schedule element. So I moved on.

Then a week or so later, I couldn't stop thinking about this new method. Wake the baby up in the middle of the night instead of letting her wake whenever... give her scheduled feeds and stretch them out gradually so she gets used to longer stretches. Hm. I found the article again and read every review I could find about the book. It's from 2013 so it was a little tricky but I read Amazon, Reddit, GoodReads, and other reviews. Most of them were very positive; some said had bad things to say like that it hurts breastfeeding. I figured if there were any downsides to the method I could tweak it intuitively to keep from hurting things like milk supply. With a thrill and the thought that I might soon get more than 1.5 hours of sleep at a time, I put a hold on the book from the library. 

The book is called Cherish the First Six Weeks. I read it very quickly thanks to all those middle-of-the-night feedings plus not moving her till I knew she was solidly asleep (note: don't do this. Do this instead!).

The Cherish the First Six Weeks method gives babies the exact same schedule I had developed on my own, just off an hour (first feeding at 7am instead of 8am), and adds a dream feed at 10pm. We couldn't shift our schedule an hour so we stuck with ours and did a later dream feed for a bit. I tried the method of waking her in the middle of the night for a while and liked it because there was no crying, just feeding her from very sleepy, and she usually fell right back to sleep.

Cherish the First Six Weeks also taught me to calm her and help her fall asleep on her own (like I talked about in this post), so after a week or two of waking with alarms, she was sleeping longer stretches and I let her test out sleeping uninterrupted, and dropped the dream feed... she made it past midnight and started getting longer and longer! She's 8.5 weeks as I write this and we had an amazing night last night: 9pm-4am, then right back down until 7:29am. That was setting some records. (The past few days before that have been rockier, but still usually at least 9 or 9:30 till 2.)

Anyway, back to the schedule.

Day schedule

It is hard to get a newborn to stick to a schedule. Also, as she gets older her wake windows will change and I'll need to switch things up. But we're still going with the 8am, 11am, 2pm, 5pm, and 8pm feeds, which gives me only a couple hours of both kids at once by myself.

Of course, I'm the kind of person who is late for everything (even my children's naptimes), and I'm flexible with the schedule and I do go based on her sleepy queues or lack thereof. But, what this means is I wake her up from naps, I encourage her to take naps based on the schedule instead of just sleepy queues and when it's convenient for me if I'm busy with other things or something, and if she wakes up early from a nap I encourage her to go back to sleep. That last one is the hardest... she often wakes up from her morning nap about 40 minutes in. Patting and ommmming (see this post) don't usually work, but she also isn't usually rooting/acting hungry. Unfortunately currently I usually have to wear her in the wrap (she falls back to sleep immediately), or putting her in the stroller also works if I can get my act together to take her and Otto for a walk.

It's a common phenomenon that toddlers often suddenly urgently need something once Mom starts breastfeeding the baby, isn't it? ;)

Otto is so sweet with her! (When he's paying attention)

It's really cute, but it's usually chaos when they're both awake at the same time... sometimes Otto will hold still on the couch with me reading books for 45 minutes or an hour while Lucy's awake and I'm feeding or holding her, but I also accepted, when she was born, that we would be increasing our average screen time! I used to never put on the TV unless I was desperate, but now I'm totally okay with it (he loves Daniel Tiger or, more recently, this Flies for Kids nature clip on YouTube on repeat 🤷). But, we have to be extra diligent about prompting him to go potty when the TV is on. Oh, parenting...

Thankfully it is getting a little easier every week!

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