Finding your baby’s schedule vs. forcing it

During my pregnancy, I was heavily involved on the Multiples & Twins board on the What to Expect app. I read damn near every thread and comment, sometimes chiming in on some of the subjects myself. It was a great outlet because I didn’t know anybody who shared my experience that I felt comfortable talking to. I could bitch all day about how nauseous I was to a friend or family member who had already been pregnant, but unless you have had hyperemesis gravidarum, you have absolutely no clue what I felt like. There were ladies on the board due around the same time as me, some pregnant with triplets, a couple of women pregnant with quadruplets, but mostly twin moms, and I seemed to fall right in the middle of everyone’s due dates based on what I had been reading. One thing I saw regularly, was women who had already had their babies mentioning this “Moms on Call” system. They swore by it.

I shelled out the $16 for the ibook and app combination for my phone and started reading into it on my own. Basically, Moms on Call is a schedule you follow that gets your babies in a set routine, changing every couple of months to adapt to the developmental leaps they are bound to experience. The ultimate “goal” with this system is getting your babies to sleep through the night by around the three-month mark. It’s co-written by two pediatric nurses, so you would think that everything in there is advice you should listen to, right? If you’re going to exclusively pump and you know your supply can withstand the ever-increasing demand of your babies, or if you know out the gate you’re formula feeding, maybe. You could definitely benefit from it. However, if you are determined to be successful with breastfeeding, I will confidently advise you to steer clear of the entire thing, because this is rigorously structured, and breastfeeding is not. 

(I included the photos for reference)

The only reason I say to steer clear is because your baby might want to nurse longer than 30 minutes, especially if they’re going through a growth spurt, and if you’re strictly breastfeeding, this could affect your supply in the long run. Boobs are completely supply and demand. If you’re cutting your baby off before they’re done nursing, you’re telling your body, “I don’t need anymore milk at this time.” They’ll adjust to the schedule, but not your baby’s needs, which are continuously changing. Shortly after you’re finished feeding, which in the book they’re pretty adamant about, you either lie your baby down for a nap or play with them. They follow certain ferberizing techniques which isn’t where my biggest problem was with this system, because I genuinely do think they helped the girls become good sleepers, but more so how they urged you to stop feeding and then do rounds of CIO (cry it out) to get your baby to sleep.

Erik and I followed the Moms on Call system until sometime in late October. I was in a Moms on Call group on facebook that was formed by a couple of the moms in the Multiples & Twins board on the What to Expect app. There was a new mom following the schedule I posted above, so her baby was somewhere between a month and two months old. She had said that the night before, her baby had woken up crying and she couldn’t console him. It was before 2:00 a.m., so she did the rounds of CIO, but it only got worse. She didn’t consider feeding him because she was so focused on what the schedule was telling her. She said she gave her baby a bottle around 4:00 a.m. after a few moms said that her baby had obviously been hungry. All I pictured was a helpless little baby crying because he was hungry, and a mother so hypnotized by this system that she forgot that babies are vulnurable beings, completely dependent on us to meet their needs and aren’t meant to follow stict schedules at such a young age. I immediately unfollowed the facebook group, stopped focusing on the system, and started following Violet’s and Olivia’s cues. They have them, trust me. You just have to pay attention. 

There were a few things I took with me from the system, though, and implemented into our more organic routine. I truly do think these have helped the girls get into their own schedule, because they certainly have one:

  • sound machine (every time they go to sleep)
  • swaddles (every time they go to sleep, until they’re breaking out of them regularly)
  • cribs (every time they go to sleep)
  • bedtime routine consisting of baths, bottles, bed, in that order around the same time every night

The Moms on Call book suggested a white noise machine, but I use this little $25 MyBaby sound machine by Homedics on the “ocean” setting because white noise gives me the creeps. We turn it on no matter if the girls are going down for a nap or for the night. It’s loud enough to block out noises in their room, but not so loud that we can’t hear them if they wake up. It’s also about $15 less expensive.

Swaddles are important because your new baby will have a startle reflex that they can’t control until they get more control over their muscles. If the girls were not swaddled, they would wake up every time their little bodies jerked in their sleep. I love the SwaddleMe brand from Target because they’re inexpensive compared to their competition, and super stretchy. The tighter the swaddle, the better. 

CRIBS! CRIBS! CRIBS! Not pack and plays, not rock and plays, CRIBS. I’ll admit, when we first brought them home, they slept in the double bassinet on top of their playpen for the first few weeks. Olivia’s monitor in the NICU said “apnea” too many times for my liking during her stay there and I wanted her to be close to me in case something happened. Once they started rolling around in them though, we went straight to their cribs. We dealt with reflux and we dealt with gas. I only mention that because I think a lot of people use rock and plays to help with reflux. You know what though? You’re going to have a hard time transitioning your baby into their crib if they get used to sleeping elevated like that. (They can also get plagiocephaly, but babies can get that from favoring one side of their head over the other even if they are in cribs. Violet and Olivia both favored their right side. We had physical therapists come do an at-home evaluation on them to determine if they needed helmets per their pediatrician’s request.) We put a pack (not a box) of diapers under one side of their mattress and put them on their backs during that stage. It worked. All I have ever had in their cribs is a fitted sheet and their little giraffe nightlight stuffed animals my friend, Ashley, bought them. I don’t use bumpers, pillows, blankets, or anything like that because the AAP advises against those things, and I wanted to take any measures I could to prevent SIDS, especially since they were premature.

bathtime

Bedtime Routine: Every night between 7:00-8:00 p.m. depending on their nap schedule that day and their level of fussiness, I start their bath. They know as soon as the water turns on, it’s time to get in there. They stop whatever they’re doing and crawl right to the tub.  They LOVE it. I wash them every other night, but on the nights I don’t wash them, we do a bubble bath. They have some toys in there, so I let them play for about ten minutes, and then I get them out. I diaper them, get them dressed, and make their bottles, which have two to three ounces more than their daytime bottles do. (We are down to 3 bottles a day with lots of snacking on baby food, yogurt, beans, cut up fruits + veggies) While they’re drinking their bottles, I turn off the light in the living room (where they eat), make sure the light in their room is off, and turn the sound machine on so the mood is set when I go to put them down. Usually, they go right down with minimal fussing.

 

With everything being said, Olivia didn’t start sleeping through the night until sometime in her eleventh month. Every. single. night. she would wake up sometime between 2:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. to nurse, and we have had plenty of days that started at 5:00 a.m. because there was no way she was going back down without putting up a fight, and that would wake Violet up because they share a room. (never have they shared a crib) Just about a month ago, Olivia was waking up between 11:00 p.m. and 1:00 a.m. and staying up until damn near 3:00 a.m. every time she did. You just have to roll with it, because babies go through countless growth spurts and developmental leaps during their first year of life, and our job as parents is to adhere to their needs to the best of our abilities.

I’m not trying to knock the Moms on Call system at all, but I do think that in a sense, it’s pretty selfish to expect a baby to sleep through the night at such a young age. We are lucky that Violet has been doing so for as long as she has, but like I said, Olivia had plans of her own the entire year. If you’re low on sleep, I do suggest implementing the same steps at nap time and bedtime so it signals to your baby, “ok, it’s time to try to sleep.” I think that whole aspect of the system is psychological, and it seemed to work. If your baby has days and nights confused, or has a hard time going to sleep for the night, try throwing in a warm bath and dimming the lights and ‘setting the mood’ for a good night’s rest, and see if that helps. If it doesn’t, don’t get frustrated, just listen to your baby.

 

 

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