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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Moving to the 4 Hour Schedule

Since before Brittlynn was born I was looking forward to the 4 hour schedule. It's a big milestone in the life of a scheduled mama. It means the baby will eat 4 times a day, 4 hours apart and once you reach the 4 hour schedule it stays that way, like forever. It's the last change in eating times until the baby is old enough to eat when the family eats! Exciting stuff...and I was pumped about it...at least until it actually happened.

Babywise says that baby's between 3-6 months old will be ready for the 4 hour schedule. With Kye, we just pushed him into it when he was between 3 and 4 months old. Here's the blog post about that. My plan with Brittlynn was to wait and see when she was ready. She has struggled with staying awake for her full awake time since birth and when you shift the schedule it means she drops a nap (down to three naps instead of four) and extends her awake time lengths. I just didn't think she was ready for that. Plus she dropped her dream feed ages ago and going to the four hour schedule would mean the last time she would eat for the day would be at 7! My milk supply STILL hadn't adjusted to dropping the dream feed, I didn't want to deal with the overflow of milk I'd have by moving that last feeding time even earlier. 

I also wanted to stay with her 3-3 1/2 hour schedule for the wedding. Casey and Jordan got married on March 31st and I liked that Britt would be eating at 5 (the time of the wedding) instead of sleeping at 5 (which is what would be the case with the four hour schedule). I, however, was not in control of any of this. On March 13th I started keeping her up past 1 hour 30 min for awake times and she could usually stay up for about 1 hour 45 min. She was sleeping soooo solid at each nap that I literally had to wake her up to eat or she would have just kept on sleeping. That's a BIG sign that a baby is ready to shift the schedule, but I resisted.

I really, really enjoyed the 3- 3 1/2 combo schedule. Here's what our day looked like:

7:00: start the day, change diaper, eat
8:00-8:30: change diaper, get dressed, awake time
8:30-10:30: nap
10:30-11:30: eat
11:30-12:00: change diaper, awake time
12:00-2:00: nap
2:00-3:00: eat
3:00-3:30: change diaper, awake time, alone time with Mommy
3:30-5:00: nap
5:00-6:00: eat
6:00-6:30: change diaper, awake time, family dinner
6:30-8:20: nap
8:20: awake, bath, put pjs on
8:30-9:30: eat, last feeding of day
9:30: put directly to bed after eating

In the beginning I didn't like her 2:00 feeding time because it was when Kye was sleeping for his nap and I was looking forward to having both of them napping together. Once I got adjusted to the life of two though, I LOVED her 2:00 feeding. That special one on one time together with JUST her. I also liked that we all got to eat dinner together at 6 and that she got more alone time with Zach and I for her bath after Kye was in bed. Shifting to the new schedule would mean all of that would change, and I just wasn't emotionally ready for it. 

Britt started to eat quicker at each feeding and would get very fussy on the breast. She'd come on and off a lot and acted like she just didn't want to eat. She would barely eat at ALL for the 5:00 feeding. She'd fuss and cry and it was just obvious that she was ready to go longer between feedings. So I moved it. We decided to move it on 3/17 because it was a Saturday and we had a wedding to go to that afternoon. A busy day makes things easier when moving a schedule. You'd think it'd be easier to be at home all day but really, to me, it's tougher without things to do. I actually cried a little on the 16th. Knowing it was our last time just the three of us for that bath and last feeding of the day. I was sad that those family dinners would be over for awhile. I was sad that I would probably not get to tuck Kye into bed for awhile again either. I was just an emotional mama not ready for the inevitable changes life brings!

On Saturday, she did awesome. She struggled to stay awake until 9:00 that morning so I did put her down 15 min early but then the rest of the day she rocked it. No issues AT ALL. She has never once been hungry prior to her next feeding time. She slept better for naps. More solid. She ate better at feeding times (and went back to taking around 45-60 min...) and was happier overall. It was for sure the best move for her and that's what matters most. 

Here is what our new daily schedule looks like (it's very detailed!):

7:00 (usually it's more like 7:15...if they let us have those extra 15 min we take 'em!): awake for the day, change diaper, eat. Kye gets up the same time she does (usually one of us gets him and the other gets her) and Zach will fix his breakfast while I'm nursing
After breakfast: I always either do her tummy time (at least 10 min per awake time so three times a day) first thing during her awake times or her independent playtime (more on that in another post but she does 15 min of it per awake time so 3 times a day!). If Kye doesn't have school he'll often play with her a lot during this awake time, especially in the pack and play right after her independent playtime. I get her dressed during this time and change her diaper. If Kye has school and I have to take him then there's a lot of rushing around for that. If he doesn't have school and we don't go anywhere that day then we go on a walk (more on that in a second). If we have somewhere to be that day then usually I'm spending this time trying to get us all ready to get out the door!
9:00: down for nap (Kye and I will sing to her, swaddle her, turn on her fan and put her down. She will typically "talk" for up to 15 min before falling asleep). Often it's closer to 8:45 as she gets sleepy early this awake time. While she's napping, if Kye is home, we will eat my breakfast together and he'll usually do some type of coloring activity. Then he'll go upstairs for his roomtime (45 minutes) and get to watch a movie while I nurse her at her next feeding. 
11:00: Get Britt up (Kye LOVES to help both with putting her to sleep and waking her up). Change her diaper, nurse her. If Kye's home he typically watches a movie during this time. IF we are going somewhere...we go during this awake time. I will pump at 10:00, get her up early (like 10:40) then hop in the car and go. I'll feed her a bottle wherever we are and we are able to do plenty of stuff until we have to be home for both of their naps! 
After feeding: If we're home we do the same routine of independent playtime and tummy time. What's great is while she's in independent playtime I can get mine and Kye's lunch ready then she can get out and "eat" with us in her bouncer. Again I change her diaper sometime during the awake time. 
12:00: Kye and I eat lunch. This is the hardest hour of the day for me. Especially on days Kye has school because he won't get home until close to 12:30 and naps at 1:00. It's even tougher when Britt and I have to pick him up because we're rushing in the door trying to get everything going for lunch! I try to pack a lunch for Kye if I can on the days I pick him up so he can start eating in the car, it tends to speed everything up! I pretty much am a crazy person from 12-1 so if you call or text during this time, I WILL ignore you ;) Once Kye gets fed I rush him to get a book  and put on his pjs (he will not sleep in clothes!) and we'll all three read it together, assuming he finished lunch in time. If he takes too long to eat I'll have to put Brittlynn down while he's eating.  If she's still up for the story then we'll all three say prayers together (or if we read the story and it's time for her to go down we'll put her down first. Every day is kinda different on this routine). Then Kye will help me put Britt to sleep, he'll go potty, and he'll go to bed
1:00: Both kids down for nap! This is my big chunk of alone time! I typically will lay out for 30-45 min at least twice a week if possible so I can keep a little color. Then I blog pretty much the rest of the time. 
3:00: Britt's up to nurse. Usually Kye sleeps until 3:30 but if he's awake at 3 I just let him get up. I'd rather him be up while I'm nursing then start crying and stuff while I'm feeding her and have to stop the feeding to go get him.
After feeding: We go in and wake Kye up at 4:00 if he's not already up (he was struggling with naps for awhile...like wouldn't sleep AT ALL and Babywise says to wake him up from his nap so I do that now). We usually cuddle and play in his bed just the three of us, which I love. He changes back into clothes and Britt has her tummy time and independent playtime.
5:00: Zach typically gets home. Britt goes down for nap. I cook dinner (something that I was NOT able to do with the old schedule because she was eating at 5! Thank the LORD for ALL the frozen dinners I pre-made while pregnant, Zach just heated stuff up so we could all eat at 6!). Usually Zach and Kye play outside during this time. 
6:00: The three of us eat. Usually Britt wakes up crying around 6. It's the only nap of the day that she wakes up. Sometimes she'll wake up at 45 min during the other naps but always falls back to sleep pretty quickly (yes, we do Cry It Out but she rarely cries). This nap though she'll often wake up at 6 and never go back to sleep. It makes dinner time frustrating because she's fussying while we're trying to enjoy dinner. This is typical of babies though as the 6:00 hour is often called the "witching hour." They are just fussy with no real reason why. If she doesn't fall back to sleep we will get her up at 6:20. 
6:40: Zach and Kye get Britt up for her bath. I typically finish cleaning up dinner (Zach is great about helping but I WANT him to get that quality bath time with her so I'd rather do the cleaning up!). After her bath I go in and massage her (Zach hates using the oil on his hands!) 
7:00: I nurse Brittlynn, Zach gives Kye his bath. Kye used to go to bed at 7:15. When he started having the nap issues, Kelly suggested moving his bedtime later. He now goes to bed at 7:45 and it's really helped things. It took Zach and I awhile to adjust to the new bedtime because we weren't sure what to do with him haha. He takes longer baths now, which he enjoys. After his bath Zach will read his story on the couch while I'm feeding Brittlynn. We all say prayers there together as well then Zach takes him to bed at 7:45 since Brittlynn is still eating then. I very much miss getting to tuck him in at night and hope Britt will start eating faster so I can be part of that special time with Kye again. She usually finishes somewhere around 8:00, sometimes later. When we think she's close to done, we'll swaddle her then I put her straight to bed. She used to ALWAYS be asleep when she finished nursing, but now she's often still awake so I'll sing to her before laying her down and say a prayer with her too.
Rest of night: It's ours! Usually I will shower, I hope to get better about exercising prior to that shower! We'll typically watch a show together while we have a snack. I have to pump around 10:30 if I don't want to be uncomfortable in the night. But even with the pumping I STILL wake up super full. I don't think my milk supply will ever balance out! I try to be in the bed no later than 11:00 for the night!


That's what my average day looks like!!! While I was sad to switch schedules, there are LOTS of advantages to the 4 hour schedule and I'm now used to it. Kye LOVES getting to spend more time with Brittlynn. I was a little nervous that her being around him more would bother him but he has yet to show a single sign of any jealousy. Even not having me tuck him in is fine! 

Things get trickier when Zach isn't home...what I will do is give Kye his bath at 5:00 when she first goes down for her nap. Then we'll read a story and he'll play while I'm nursing her at 7 and he'll go to bed after she goes to bed. It means he stays up a little later on those nights, but what else can I do? If she's not hardcore eating then I will stop her to go tuck him in. Again, he does great with whatever happens!

Once we all adjusted to the new schedule we started going on morning walks. I used to LOVE going on walks with Kye when he was a baby and it's so great to get out of the house! I will nurse Britt then pack Kye's breakfast to take with us. As soon as she's done eating I'll change, change her, and stick some clothes on him and we're off! These are some pictures from our very first walk around the neighborhood (March 20th):


I may not be into big bows but I LOVE some big sunglasses!
We went on a 40 min walk...she stayed awake the entire time and never fussed about the shades ;)

TWINS!
Kye's first time helping with Brittlynn's bath (3/17)
I feel kinda like a pro-mom with this great routine I have down! I feel like I can handle anything...even more babies ;) I seriously am SO thankful I have Babywise as it's blessed my life so much. As a type-A personality I need structure and it provides that for me. My children have also done so amazing with this type of schedule and I truly believe that so many of Kye's wonderful qualities have blossomed from being raised on a routine. It was a tough emotional move for me, but now we're here and I'm loving it!

6 comments:

  1. I couldn't read this post it stresses me to the max.  ;)

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  2. Hahah Rachael!
    I wish I could be more structured, actually.

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  3. i was reading this thinking i cant believe how organized you are and how unorganized i am! ive never really had a set schedule w my son, but i think once the baby comes im gonna need more of one, so im glad you posted this because ive never really been one for schedules. even when i wad young and homeschooled we just did the work whenever each day. ill be able to refer to this post to have an idea of how to make my own :)

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  4. How did you know that it was time for Brittlyn to move to a 4 hour schedule? My DS is almost 4 months old, and up until this week would have an hour wake time first thing in the morning, followed by a 2 hour nap. Then his wake time for the rest of the day would be 1hr15min followed by a second 2 hour nap, and then the following naps were 1.5 hrs. (I usually have to wake him from his naps)
    The past two days he acts fussy/tired at the end of his wake time, but when I put him down he cries/talks/plays for 15min-30min…throwing off our schedule, and then his naps aren't as long as usual.
    I still dream feed, but he still wakes up at 4:45A…hoping he drops that soon!
    Thank you so much for the detailed schedule and all of your help!

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  5. thanks for all of your awesome, detailed posts - very helpful! I have a 5 month old bold and just started the four hour schedule today! going well so far, but he is not taking long naps so I've been keeping his wake time longer because he just isn't tired. any suggestions? again, thank you for taking the time to share your schedule!

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  6. Loved reading your post and would love your advice. My baby is now 4 and a half months old and has never been on any sort of schedule. I am now back to work and finding it really hard to keep up because he wakes up every two hours at night and only breastfeeding will get him back to sleep. Do you think getting him on a schedule will help? How should I get started?

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for sharing your thoughts! Reading your comments makes my day!



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