Earlier this month, Beatrice and I finally realized/accepted what our parenting advisors (that is, the grandparents) had been saying: Nyan wasn’t eating or sleeping quite enough. There were no health problems or anything like that, but he wasn’t having quite as much formula as he should – most of what we’ve read says he should be having between 20 and 30 ounces per day; he was around 20 – and he wasn’t getting the 16 hours of sleep recommended; he was getting more like 12 to 14 or so. That could impact his growth, and more immediately, it made for some very frazzled and exhausted parents. No good at all.
So we buckled down and got back to a schedule, a routine for his day. It goes something like this: up at 7, feed, play, nap at 9, up at 10, feed, play, nap around noon for an hour or 90 minutes, feed, play, go for a walk, nap, bath around 6, feed around 7, then down to sleep. Then give him another big feed around 11, not letting him fully wake up.
The routine isn’t perfect – his naps tend to be half an hour or so, but that’s better than the single 20-minute nap he was having on some days – but the more we try to keep to that schedule, the better it seems to work. And it’s working for sure: he’s now averaging 25 to 30 ounces of formula a day – right on target – and as for sleep, well, I’d estimate he’s now around 15 hours on most days. Not quite where he should be, but pretty close.
And best of all is the evenings: instead of him fussing and crying from 6 until finally passing out around 9 or 9:30, he’s now pretty much asleep by 7, and mostly sleeping through the evening. He’ll have a big feed at 11, and that’s it: knock on wood, but he’s slept through the night for at least the past week. That lets *us* sleep through the night, with remarkable results.
Getting up at 7 hasn’t quite worked out: he’s been mostly waking up around 5:30 or 6. We’ve been having him sleep in the bed with us – yes, I know, there’s a school of thought that says this is bad, but having him in his bassinette or even the crib in the other room just doesn’t work for this routine; we’ll get there – so from 5:30 until my alarm goes off around 6:30, he’ll lay there and make little noises. He’s bored, basically. He’s patient, mostly, but I do find myself bargaining with him in my still-want-to-sleep daze: “Just half an hour more, please, then we’ll get up and play.” He goes along with that, mostly. Then we’ll get up, hang out on the couch for half an hour or so as I sip some coffee until I have to start my work from home routine. Some mornings Beatrice gets up around this time, other days she sleeps in. If she’s sleeping in, I’ll drag his little portable rocking bed thingie into the bathroom so I can keep an eye on him, and have conversations with him, while I shower; by 8:30 or so, as I’m getting ready to leave, he’s getting ready for a little nap, and he’ll sleep from 9 until 9:30 or so. Then it’s off for a day of fun and games with Mommy!
It’s not fool-proof, but it’s a great improvement over what we had slipped into, which pretty much had him deciding when (or whether) to nap. And since he’s so alert and always wants to know what’s going on, he would never want to sleep, and so would be nap-free to the point of exhaustion. Then it was crying and fussing so much that he had trouble falling into a nap, even though he was tired.
The other downside is that he’s asleep by the time I get home from work at 7. This is a major downside, but it has to be this way for now.
In any case, if we’ve learned anything in three-and-a-half months of being parents, it’s that things change rapidly. So by tomorrow, who knows? Maybe this routine will no longer work at all. I sure hope not, and I kinda doubt it. But we’ll see.
Other new developments: he’s needier than ever when it comes to wanting cuddles pretty much all the time. We’re told this is normal for a baby his age, and we’re fine with that, except when, say, Mommy wants to do some cooking or cleaning while Daddy is at work. She straps him in to the Baby Bjorn, which helps, but it’d be nice to be able to put him on his play mat for an hour or so. He does spend time on there, but he also wants physical contact more than he did before. Although, let’s be honest: we are more than happy to oblige and give him lots of cuddles.
And the noises he makes continue to evolve. A new one is major crying bouts: crying not because he’s hungry or needs a clean diaper, but just because. He’s in a bad mood or something, but whatever the cause, he’s just wailing. Beatrice’s mom taught us a good technique that involves holding him upright against the chest – the so-called ‘recovery position’ while keeping his head upright, rubbing his back, and rocking or swaying constantly. Works like a charm – although, happily, this has only happened a couple times. Let’s hope that keeps up.
We don’t have a support network here in New York, which sucks, but thank god for parents and other experts who are just a phone call or Skype session away – that’s been an immense help.