Hi, I'm Kristen, a Christian, wife, ex-teacher, stay at home, new to cloth diapering, and the natural way of doing things mommy. I have been married to my husband for 4 years, and been a mommy for the past 18 months. While I didn't want to stay home at the beginning, God opened my eyes to the wonderful gift He had for me by staying home with my little one. This in turn has led to many things I would never had seen my self doing (or have had the time to do) such as learning to cook, clean, and most recently cloth diaper. I began my blog Faithful Steps (www.faithfulsteps.net) to chronicle my journey as I learn more about all these things as well as be an encouragement to other women. Come join me, take a look around, laugh some, and just have a good time.
Becoming a parent for the first time is exhilarating, tiring, and sometimes a little scary. Suddenly you have gone from 2 people to 3, you're handed this little bundle of joy and expected to know what to do with it. Talk about crazy! This was exactly the way my husband and I felt when my now 18 month old son was born. However, there was one decision we feel made all the difference, especially as we look back. We decided to use a schedule with our son from day one and oh am I glad we did.
I know there is some controversy about whether or you should use a schedule to feed your baby or to feed on demand, however when we looked at each method, using a schedule just made sense. I knew for my sanity, I couldn't get up at every drop of a hat and hope this was the time he would want a full feeding, or that there would be enough time in between cries so I could shower. I needed to know (roundabout) what to expect and that I could have time to do those things that I needed to do (like shower haha). Since I breastfed, my husband couldn't really do a whole lot of feedings for me, especially in the beginning, so having a schedule saved my sanity. Here are the basics I learned, granted I have just one child, but I would do it the same with any children the Lord allows us to have later on. Most everything I am going to tell you I learned from a book called On Becoming Baby Wise, a read I highly recommend.
1. Use the clock as a GUIDELINE. If you are going to put your baby on a schedule you will need to use the clock, and try to stick to it. For example, it is common knowledge that newborns eat every 2 and a half to 3 hours, so if you feed your child at 12, and all the sudden they begin to cry at 1:20, it might be an indicator something else besides hunger that has them riled up. Perhaps they need a diaper change, are tired, are bored, or just need to be snuggled. Because you know what time you fed them last and a goal time of when you should feed them again, it is easier to deduce the problem instead of just offering a quick fix with the breast. However, babies are human, I know that, as do you, and sometimes the schedule is off (like if they are going through a growth spurt and need to eat more often). That is why I say use the clock as a guideline, not a rigid tool that is unyielding.
2. Get a full feeding: One of the best things I learned was I should attempt to get my little guy to eat a full feeding at EVERY feeding, which would help him to stay full longer and to not get used to "snacking". This can be hard at the beginning, when babies really like to sleep, but it can be done. By talking to them, gently blowing on their face, rubbing their palms, a mom can help to keep her baby awake for a full feeding. One thing I learned to do was to offer one side, then change a diaper, and offer the other side, that way my baby was awake and ready for the next breast. Making sure he ate enough helped to put my mind to rest when he would cry before the next scheduled feeding time. I knew he had gotten enough to eat so there must be something else wrong, and there usually was. Rarely did he use my breasts as a pacifier.
3. Have a routine: Another important aspect I learned about early on to have a routine and when he was a newborn, to have a "wake time". This meant after every feeding during the day I tried hard to keep him up, even if it was just for 10 minutes in the early days. This helped him to distinguish his nights from his days earlier. He gradually came to understand that "during the day I eat then play and then nap". This is how every feeding during the day went until he stayed awake and played after a feeding on his own. When the last feeding before bedtime came I would feed him, then swaddle him, and put him in his bed, so he understood that it was night time and we sleep now. This really seemed to help him sleep through the night sooner, which I was thankful for.
4. Give yourself a break: Know now that there are going to be hard days, days where your baby will just be cranky, want to be held, or cry for no reason at all sometimes. Understand that's ok, it happens to everyone! However, that doesn't mean you shouldn't have a goal, and strive to attain it. Know you are a good mom and are doing the very best for your child!
Having a schedule and a routine really helped to make our son a much more flexible baby. He knew when meal times were, and that he would get fed no matter what, so there was a trust there. There was comfort for him and for me in the fact we knew what was coming up on any given day for the most part. He transitioned so easily from breast to bottle, to eating every four hours, to no bottles and eating three meals a day now as a toddler (with snacks in between of course).
I urge you to think about having a schedule for you and your baby. It is hard work in the very beginning, but there is a bigger pay off in being a mama who is in control and knows what is coming. Regardless of what method you decide to use, you are the Mama and know what is best for you and your baby. If you have any questions or I can help you in any other way, send me a message, I would love to hear from you.