Saturday, April 18, 2009

24 hours in ...

So far, so good with the Big Switch.

The Girl really didn't seem phased by dropping a feeding and moving bedtime around, at least not that she let us know (yet).

Our Girl has been on a 3 hour eating schedule pretty much since birth. I fed her every 3 hours when we came home from the hospital. "They" say you should have 8-12 feedings in 24 hours, but I think there have only been one or two days in her life when she had more than 8. She just didn't demand food and she was growing fine, so 8 worked well. Since she started sleeping well pretty early, she was at 7 feedings in 24 hours pretty early on.

About the time she really slept through the night and we started the "cry it out" (around 6 weeks), she was down to 6 feedings a day (6a, 9a, 12p, 3p, 6p, 9p).

Some babies stretch out the 3 hour feeding schedule pretty early, but since she slept so long at night, I really felt she needed the nutrition during the day.

At about 11 weeks, we started to move up the 9pm feeding by 15 minute increments. When I started back to work at 12 weeks, her last feedings of the day were at 530p and 830p. At 15 weeks the last feeding was at 815p and at 16 weeks the last feeding was at 8p.

I began to notice that she only "snacked" at the 530p feeding - nursed a few minutes each side and really preferred to chat instead. She would then take a full feeding before bed. I wanted it to be the reverse, and took this as a sign that she was ready to drop a feeding. In retrospect, I also think this had something to do with the fact that she was getting 3-4 bottles on daycare days instead of her typical 1 on home days.

(Side note: When we started the bottle at 3 weeks we arbitrarily picked 4 oz. and she did fine. We moved up to 4.5 oz. pretty shortly thereafter, and really never increased it again. The Girl rarely acts hungry, so it is hard to tell if she needs more).

I tried to ease the adjustment from 6 to 5 feedings. I changed the evening feedings to 545 and 745p for several days, then we had an illness interruption, and then the feedings were moved to 600p and 730p for a few days. Starting yesterday, I just combined those feedings into one at 700p. Also, over the last 2 weeks her bottles were moved up to 5 oz. and she did fine (no extra spitting up and still taking the full feeding when due) and now she is getting 5.5 oz.

I decided to make the change over the weekend when we had several days at home to adjust before starting school again next week. Also, being the OCD person I am, I will give her bottles for 3 of her 5 feedings for these few days to help with the adjustment. I want to make sure she is eating enough so if she gets up during the night I can be pretty sure it isn't hunger. It is a lot harder for me to judge when she is just breastfeeding.

Our schedule is now eating at 6a, 930a, 1230p, 330p and 700p (a combo 3/3.5 hour schedule). I would have liked to do a 3.5 hour schedule, but it just doesn't work with our work and daycare schedules, so this will do for now. She still takes 3 or 3.5 naps during the day for a total of 4-5.5 hours of sleep, and then goes to bed at 730p and gets up at 600a.

(Side note 2: Our Girl has always napped more than the "typical" child, and I am totally OK with that. As long as she slept well at night, I didn't care if she had more naps than she "should". I think a lot of kids have 2 good naps and 1 variable nap until about 6 months, then drop to 2 naps. She really is at 3 good naps with a variable 4th nap.)

This is probably way too detailed of an account of the Switch, and in many ways I made it a bigger deal than it needed to be. My challenge was that I read as much as I could about how to do this ... and there isn't much information. I have books that describe sleeping and naps well, and books that describe feeding well, but have yet to come across a book that explains how the two ideally work together (while also taking breastfeeding and milk supply issues into account). The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems comes closest, but she advocates a 4 hour schedule starting at 3-4 months (which generally means 4 daytime feedings), with an extra feeding during the night. No thanks - we are past that.

Maybe the moral of the story is that a book just can't explain exactly how it will work for your child. Most advice says that your child will just let you know when they are ready .... I'm not sure what that means.

Books help, but a lot of it is really paying attention to your baby's cues.

I'm still trying to learn her language, but we'll get there.

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