I Got My Newborn on a Predictable Schedule
“Props to any parent who can get their newborn on a schedule,” I scoffed, when my best friend asked when a good time would be to come visit because she didn’t want to interrupt “our schedule.” Lo and behold, I had my newborn on a “Eat-Wake-Sleep” schedule the following week, thanks to Babywise.
Parents, of newborns or not, please do yourself a favor: get this book, read it cover to cover as fast as you can, and actually implement what it says.
Prior to implementing the practices in Babywise, I was feeding on demand, whether it was 2.5 hours since the last feed or 45 minutes. I will say, I don’t regret feeding on demand for the first week. I think that was essential in establishing my milk production and a trust between me and my baby. However, waking up nearly every single hour in the middle of the night to feed is extremely exhausting, and what I noticed was Summit was eating for smaller and smaller increments of time — “snacking.” I can 100% see how a lot of moms give up on breastfeeding if they continue to do this on-demand feeding throughout the lifespan of their breastfeeding journey. I would quit, too.
One day, when Summit was taking a nap, I pulled Babywise off the shelf and started poring into it. As I learned a new nugget of information, I would implement it immediately to test it out, and y’all… I was amazed. I’m not going to lie. It wasn’t easy to get my newborn on a schedule, but after a few days, he fell right into rhythm without me even having to force it anymore.
This is what our day looks like:
7:00 AM: Wake up and feed
7:30 AM: Back to sleep
Once he is sleeping through the night, we won’t go back to sleep after the first feed. This is more because we both lost sleep at night and I make it up here because it’s still dark outside.
10:00 AM: Wake up and feed
Sometimes he doesn’t make it all the way to 10. As long as he’s still in that 2.5-3 hour window (9:30-10), I’ll feed.
10:30 AM: Wake-time activity
11:00-11:15 AM: Put down for a nap
1:00 PM: Wake up and feed
1:30 PM: Wake-time activity
2:00-2:15 PM: Put down for a nap
4:00 PM: Wake up and feed
4:30 PM: Wake-time activity
5:00-5:15 PM: Put down for a nap
7:00 PM: Wake up and feed
7:30 PM: Wake-time activity
8:00-8:15 PM: Put down for a nap
10:00 PM: Wake up and feed
10:30 PM: Sleep for the night
The goal while he is still less than 8 weeks is to get him sleeping at 5-hour stretches at night. Sometimes he will do this and sometimes he won’t. Regardless, I know I need to wake up at least once in the middle of the night to feed him. But once is much better than six or seven times…
2:30-3:00AM: Summit usually wakes up around this time naturally, and I feed him.
If he wakes up sooner, I just give him his pacifier or rock him for a minute and he goes right back to sleep. I do NOT immediately offer a feed because that will teach him to expect a feed earlier than needed. Now if he doesn’t go back to sleep quickly, I know he is actually hungry and I will feed him, but that’s unusual and typically tells me he’s going through a growth spurt period.
7:00 AM: Start all over again
Okay, so a few things about this…
It is a cycle. While your baby is 2-8 weeks old, you are shooting for a 2.5-3 hour cycle of Eat-Wake-Sleep. Sometimes the periods of time within the cycle will vary slightly, but not by much. For Summit, he usually takes about 25 minutes to eat, then I try to keep him awake for 30-45 minutes, then I lay him down. Summit usually hits the 3-hour cycle, but sometimes he wakes up early from his nap and it’s only 2.5 hours. Just try to stay within that time range.
No, he does not always go down for naps easily, but I always put him down. Yes, he cries. Yes, I let him. Your baby is not going to develop detachment issues because you let him cry for 10 minutes. And that’s my general rule: 10-15 minutes. If he is crying for longer than that, something is usually wrong… he needs to be burped or has a dirty diaper… something. I will make sure he is all good and rock him for a minute and lay him right back down to take a nap. He will also fall victim to what Babywise calls the “45-minute intruder” and wake up early from his nap. I don’t immediately go to his rescue because sometimes he will fall right back to sleep. But if he’s crying for longer than a few minutes, I will go in, offer his pacifier or rock him, and put him right back to sleep.
For wake-time activities, we will do a myriad of different things. He will sit in his swing and look at the mobile. We will look at high contrast books together. Sometimes it’s a bath. Sometimes it’s taking a walk or just going outside with the pups. Sometimes I just sit him up on my knees and talk and sing to him. Just anything that will stimulate your baby and keep him awake for a little.
Summit will be 5 months in a couple days, and we have stayed true to the Babywise way. He is currently on the “Merge 4” schedule, which lasts from Week 16 to Week 24. He nurses 5-6 times per day, has two 1.5-2 hour naps after his morning and mid-morning nursing sessions, and one 1-1.5 hour nap after his afternoon session, then he stays up until it’s bedtime. I cannot recommend this book enough. It has him on a schedule that he falls right into beat with and it’s totally predictable. He wakes up from naps happy, just talking to himself in his bassinet. People always comment on how happy he is, and I truly credit his Babywise schedule for his demeanor.
I am currently reading the second book which goes over 5 months - 1 year and introducing solids. I do not agree with the methods on introducing solids (we will be doing Babyled Weaning), but it also goes over the wake-time activities and sleep, which we will continue to follow. Follow us on Instagram if you are interesting in following our Babyled Weaning journey, which we will start in about a month!