Tag Archives: nursing sleep

Schedules for Breastfeeding and Formula-Fed Babies

breastfeeding baby sleepIsn’t it confusing sometimes whether you should feed your baby on demand or put her on a schedule? As many things with parenting, everyone has their two cents and opinion and your mind spins with the possibilities. This article will talk about schedules for breastfeeding and formula-feeding babies.

Rigid schedules for breastfeeding babies? What about formula-feeding babies?

The main thing about schedules for breastfeeding or formula-feeding babies is that I want to tell you today that a schedule is only as rigid as you make it. Just because you set your alarm for 6:30 a.m. does not mean you don’t hit snooze 2 3 a few times does it? Just because you tell your friend you want to meet for lunch at 12 doesn’t mean you can’t call her and tell her you’re starving and ask if you can meet at 11:45, instead, right? So, the first thing about schedules for any baby, not just breastfeeding babies, is that you do not have to be married to the clock to the point you are running a boot camp.

How rigid you make your schedule generally depends on your particular personality. I am, personally, a Type-A personality (INTJ for you Myers Briggs people, except I am sometimes an “E” oddly enough). A Type-A personality is generally much more conscious of the time on the clock and, being an INTJ, I generally need to know what time it is at all times (generally you would wear a watch, but my cell phone now does the job just fine, now). Basically, I am a planner. I like to know roughly what I am doing every day and this includes on vacation (I’m sure, on vacation, my mother-in-law thought it was crazy to think about dinner when we just had lunch LOL). I honestly can’t help it.

So, when I birthed a highly unpredictable, inconsistent baby, this essentially drove me a little crazy. BUT, he was also unable to get on a schedule until he was older (past 7 months, in fact!). I just had to deal and like many things you imagine go differently in your head before you actually have a baby, I had to adjust my thinking.

Nope, he didn’t get hungry at the same times every day.
Nope, he didn’t wake up at the same times every day. EVER.
Nope, he couldn’t go 3 hours between breastfeeding sessions at a young age, like the books told me he could, and he NEVER got to 4 hours. EVER. (He can barely do it now and I suspect it’s a blood sugar thing.)

Yet, I still had a “schedule” which I now call a “routine” of feeding him every X hours based on his age and abilities as well as sleep after Y hours, based on his behavior / sleepy cues, age, and sensitivity to over-tiredness (which got better as he got older). That doesn’t mean that if he was hungry sooner I would make him wait, or force-feed him if he wasn’t hungry until later (he rarely refused breastfeeding anyway!).

As your baby grows older, he will generally become more predictable (if he didn’t start out that way) as his brain and nervous system mature and sleep organizes, even if it’s never identical to the day before. We, eventually, did get to a true by-the-clock schedule. Keep in mind that I did have to modify my own natural tendency and do what worked best for my baby. And, some babies actually function a lot better on a more predictable routine and schedule, even if your natural tendency is to “go with the flow.” Some babies are SO easy-going that they won’t cry when they get hungry! And, if you don’t have a rough schedule, you could actually be skipping feedings, when you shouldn’t. Rare, but true. Slow to adapt babies generally enjoy more predictability and many will thrive on the sometimes elusive eat-play-sleep routine from a very young age.

Feed on demand or on a schedule?

There is not just one answer here to the question of whether you breastfeed / formula-feed on demand or feed on schedule. I fed on demand for quite awhile, because it was what worked best for my son and made the most sense to me, at the time. It’s not like he could go into the pantry and get a snack anytime he wanted. To this day, he eats more frequent, smaller meals. He has a very fast metabolism and he is very high energy.

HOWEVER, breastfeeding a baby every two hours during the day past the newborn phase is not always a good idea. I have had clients with babies who have not gained enough weight, because if you feed more frequently, your baby may not be getting the richer, higher calorie, and fattier hindmilk. For those parents, the answer was to start spacing out feedings so their baby would take a fuller feeding and get that hindmilk. This brings me to my next point:

Just because your baby hasn’t gotten on a schedule on his own, does not mean he can’t.

When it comes to sleep, just like waiting too long to put your baby down can lead to short naps when she’s younger, putting her down too soon when she’s younger can result in short naps, too! Confusing, I know.

The bottom line is that all babies and families have different needs and it’s okay if you don’t know THE answer for you, yet. Take some time to experiment with your baby’s routine and schedule. There is a lot related to parenting that is “learn as you go” and I don’t think schedules for your breastfeeding or formula-feeding baby are any different. Oh, and just when you figure it out, they change anyway! :D

Because I was a breastfeeding mom, all of our sample sleep and feeding schedules are appropriate for both breastfeeding and formula-feeding parents (and combination). These are just guidelines and designed to give you ideas to make your own schedule, so please review them and post your own for the thousands of visitors that frequent this site.

If you’re looking for ways to get your baby or toddler into a healthy sleeping routine during the day, I encourage you to download our FREE guide, 7 Common Napping Mistakes, or explore Mastering Naps and Schedules, a comprehensive guide to napping routines, nap transitions, and all the other important “how-tos” of good baby sleep. With over 40 sample sleep schedules and planning worksheets, Mastering Naps and Schedules is a hands-on tool ideal for any parenting style. For those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3-Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep. Using the same unique approach and practical tools for success, this e-book helps you and your baby sleep through the night. For those looking for a more customized solution for your unique situation with support along the way, please consider one-on-one baby and toddler sleep consultations, where you will receive a Personalized Sleep Plan™ you can feel good about!

Did you have a schedule for your breast-fed baby?

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10 Tips to Help Your Newborn Baby Sleep

When you bring your baby home no one tells you that “sleep like a baby” only lasts a short time. This article will give you 10 tips to help your newborn sleep better.

Disclaimer: Before I get to the 10 tips to help your newborn sleep, I thought I should note that it can be dangerous for a new newborn baby (just a few weeks old) to sleep all night. They really do need to eat at least every 3 hours in those early days so they can grow well and thrive.

It is also safest to place baby on his back to sleep, to guard against SIDS. You may be interested in other ways to lower SIDS risks.

There, now that I got that out of the way.

Newborn Baby Sleep

1. Short Wake-time

The first week or so, your newborn baby will most likely hardly be awake, but after the first week or two, the #1 key with your newborn is to keep wake times very short, at first. You should soothe your baby for sleep after just 1-2 hours of wake time TOPS. You should look for signs that she is getting sleepy and start soothing her. If you wait until she is fussy, cranky or crying, you are actually too late!

An overtired baby will have more trouble settling down and going to sleep and staying asleep. My boys always fell asleep easiest when I caught them before they started to fuss and cry. Some babies are much more sensitive to being overtired than others, so while others will barely notice their child get sleepy before she drifts off to sleep, others will begin to realize just how in tune with their baby they need to be!

By wake time, I mean to include feedings and diaper changes and disregard how long her last nap was. For example, little Suzie starts to nap at 8am and sleeps for 3 hours. She eats at 11am and you change her diaper. Now, it’s 11:30 and you decide to give her a bath. At 11:45, she is fussy. She is already overtired and she needs a nap! In the beginning, they can’t go long before getting tired and overstimulated.

2. Swaddle

To help mimic the feeling of the womb, it helps to swaddle your newborn baby. This basically means to wrap him up in a blanket like a little burrito. You may have seen them do it at the hospital. This helps him feel safe and secure and also helps him stay asleep during any moro reflex or startle reflex moments. It is said that those reflexes are similar to how we have the feeling we are falling while falling asleep. It can take up to 4 or 5 months for your baby to stop the startling.

I recommend The Miracle Blanket for swaddling. It is a little pricey, but so easy to use and so hard for your baby to break out of! So worth it, to me! If you can’t or don’t want to spend that much, try this SwaddleMe Wrap.

We encourage you to read these tips for safe swaddling.

3. Days bright / Nights dark

Although you might be tempted to keep things quiet and darker for your newborn to nap well, it might prolong the day/night confusion that almost all newborns will have. Day/Night confusion can last up to 6 weeks. When she was in mom’s belly, mom’s movements lulled her to sleep and when mom was resting, she’d have a party. When she comes out, she doesn’t know she should act in the complete opposite fashion.

So, keep days bright and upbeat and nights, dark and boring, and it will help your newborn sort out her days and nights faster. This might be more than you want to know, but light is what cues our eyes to tell us to stay awake or whether it’s time to sleep.

4. Limit naps

If he is taking longer to sort out days and nights (or you are having a very rough time keeping up with him being up all night), you can further speed up the process by limiting naps to no longer than 3-4 hours during the day. Read more here about newborn sleep patterns and schedules.

5. Post-feeding routine

To help your newborn baby sort out day and night sleeping even more, you may want to develop a play routine after she eats during the day. Keep her awake 30 minutes after feeding by playing, singing, bathing, etc. Again, the light stimulating her eyes will help her sort out that daylight is for being awake at least a little bit. Many people recommend the eat-play-sleep routine for newborns. This is the primary message of the popular book, On Becoming Baby Wise. You might want to read why Babywise may not be right for your baby, though.

6. Co-sleeping

Sometimes it helps to have your newborn in the room with you for quick access for middle-of-the-night feedings and diaper changes. This also can help give him more comfort being close by as he will be able to hear and smell you. For safety reasons, you should use a Co-Sleeper , sleep positioner, or bassinette, rather than have baby in bed with you. I used the second one with my second son and then I moved it into his crib for a seamless transition to his crib. We were able to remove it a few weeks later.

This article includes some tips for safe bed-sharing. You can also read more about the differences between co-sleeping and bed sharing.

7. Angle the mattress

For babies who spit up a lot or have reflux, it helps to angle the mattress when he sleeps, so baby is not flat on his back. You’ll want to angle the mattress so his feet are lower than his head, so his stomach contents can stay put. To angle the mattress, you can simply change the support platform level on one side on most cribs. If that is not feasible, you can put blankets and pillow under the mattress. Please note that the mattress should still remain flat at all times, just at an incline. You must make sure that you do not tilt the mattress so much that your baby slides down the bed, either. I strongly recommend that you first check with a knowledgeable health care provider to make sure that what you do is best and safest for your child. I only wanted to highlight the idea.

8. White Noise

White noise is made up of the sounds like a fan whirring, vacuum cleaner, hair-dryer, etc. It helps a newborn sleep because inside mom’s womb was all white noise. The sound of her blood flow, heart beating, etc. That’s why he finds comfort when you may run the vacuum cleaner. My son used to love when I turned on the blow-dryer. Of course, you can’t run the vacuum all day, so I recommend getting a White Noise machine, sound machine or a White Noise CD. I have two of the second one in each boy’s room so they don’t wake each other and they work like a dream! Read more about How White Noise Can Help Your Baby Sleep here.

Read here about some smartphone White Noise apps that can help your baby sleep.

9. Wear baby

For particularly fussy babies or just for parent’s convenience and snuggling, it helps to “wear” baby using a sling. They get very folded up in a sling, but again, it mimics the womb and babies love it! I didn’t use a sling with my first, but used a BabyBjorn Baby Carrier and loved it! It really helped me walk off the baby weight, which was a bonus. But, with my second, I did use this sling (there are many others!) and my son would fall asleep in less than 5 minutes until he grew out of it. This helped tremendously when I needed to cook dinner and do stuff with my toddler, at the time. I have also heard good things about the Moby Wrap and the Maya Wrap.

Here are ten reasons to wear your baby.

10. Swing

As I said earlier, mom’s movements lulled baby to sleep while in the womb, so I also recommend trying a swing, but don’t be surprised if your newborn only likes it at high speeds. Our family teased us we were making our first son “drunk”, but he just loved it going FAST and it was the only way he’d fall asleep in it! We used something like this swingto help him sleep (I don’t see the exact one I used anymore — guess I’m officially old now). My friend has the Fisher-Price Ocean Wonders Aquarium Cradle Swing and loves it. They didn’t have that when I was shopping for one!

Important Note: Some say it might not be safe for a newborn to sleep in a car seat, so be cautious about that. Some say it’s just fine.

Unfortunately, some of these tips do create sleep associations, but during the first weeks, you really do what you can to survive. Obviously, it never hurts to try to put your baby down to sleep without any of these “tricks”, but as I’ve probably said a billion times already on this site, it just doesn’t work for all of us.

For more product and site recommendations, please view my baby sleep resources page.

For additional information on helping your child sleep, you may be interested in our free guide, 5 Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night or our e-Book, The 3 Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep.

Do you have any newborn baby sleep tips?

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