And now a bit about routines…

Ok, so the only post I actually had intended to make today was this one, in response to conversations I’ve had and observations I’ve made about infants and “routines”. Of course I use the word routine loosely, since babies don’t exactly do what you tell them 🙂 Until the girls are 3 or 4 months old, we realize that some things will be a complete toss-up, day to day. And yes, we realize that until the day we die, a few things will ALWAYS remain a mystery! 🙂

Instead, we implement such “routines” to help shape and encourage good habits, so that when they settle into their own in the next short while, they will be appropriate ones. For example — From the time the girls first came home, we have treated daytime and nighttime feeds very differently. At night, the lights stay out or dim, we don’t really talk to the girls at all, etc. While this obviously didn’t make much of a difference at, say, 2 weeks when we woke and fed them every 3 hours, I’m positive it’s one of the things that have helped them sleep “through the night” (you know, 4 or 5 hours — “through the night” in infant-speak) since they were 5 weeks old. We have tried to establish the differences in Day and Night from very early on.

Other than some precarious positioning if both girls need something IMMEDIATELY 😉 or slightly more cumbersome outings trying to accommodate two carriers and lots of “stuff”, I think our lives are not all that different than if we were caring for a single infant!

At about 5 or 6am, the girls wake up (on their own) and eat 4 ounces. After this they like to think they’re up for the day, but they are starting to give up on that notion because they really haven’t slept long enough! I’ve been putting them together in Elise’s pack n’ play where they fall quickly back to sleep until about 9 or 10am. During this time, I usually shower, get in a quick quasi-workout, play on the computer, etc. Not usually anything too terribly productive, because I’d rather be sleeping …. if only my body would agree! 😉

If the girls wake up before their 9/10am feeding (which will fall 4 hours after the first, so not an exact science!) then we do some tummy time while we have empty bellies! This includes lots of time with mommy on the floor in their faces, holding them up on their forearms to encourage mini-pushups, etc 🙂 They really enjoy it (and so do I!), so we try to take advantage of that and get a few tummy “sessions” in each day. After their 9/10 feeding, they generally stay awake for about 2 hours and we “play” (a BIT more advanced as they get older, but still fairly one-sided). They smile at me a lot – so we continue hanging out, because I think maybe it’s just the attention they like! I like the smiles, so we just call it even. 🙂

When they start getting drowsy (2-3 hours later), I put them in their “big-girl cribs” to fall asleep on their own. This “nap” generally lasts about an hour or two depending on when they fall asleep, because by 1 or 2 they think they are starving! I love this time I have, because my house actually stays cleaner than before they arrived! I am so looking forward to them playing with me more during the day of course, but until that time I’ll take advantage of the chances I get. In the long run, it will be quite worth a dirtier house in exchange for spending extra (precious) time with such beautiful girls! 🙂

The afternoons are a bit grey…. they aren’t really settling into any predictable sleep patterns yet, so we don’t have much to work with! 😉 They like to take newborn-like “catnaps”, which I’m sure could be attributed to either rapid growth (which they’ve mastered all too well!) or that whole preemie thing 🙂 This is when the little stuff gets checked off my to-do list, because in between dozes we have a lot more playing and exploring (and eating) to do! We like to cuddle a lot in the afternoons, too, especially if it’s been a particularly fussy day.

It appears they are starting to consolidate their sleep into a more legitimate “nap” in the late afternoon/early evening. I try and time their feedings so that they get the last daytime one at about 6pm, still just 4 ounces for the time being. (We had been doing 5 ounces for the last couple feedings each day, but if they aren’t tolerating the formula it seemed counter-productive to expose them to even more of it, especially at the time when we’re trying to help them get restful sleep.) We then play with them, especially Kyle if he is home, until about 7pm.

Then things get fuzzy again 🙂 We’ve had a very real bedtime routine since the girls were about a month old, it’s just changed appearances. I think it’s important to help them relax and wind down, take in less stimulation, etc. Infants can absolutely learn that bedtime is coming, especially if they are given cues.

Our latest bedtime routine though, looks something like this:

7:00ish — both girls to one crib in the nursery with their CD player going / bathe one girl, while the other chills in the crib (hopefully) / after the bath, it’s time for lotion + baby massage and PJs (FYI moms, Aveeno makes a FABULOUS 24-hour daily baby lotion that is wonderful for eczema and is combined with a calming lavender scent – perfect for bedtime!) / repeat previous steps with other girl, while first bather chills in the crib (hopefully :)) / put both girls in one crib for a bedtime story / offer each a bottle with 2 ounces of pedialyte + mylicon + gripe water / off to bed, with a white noise machine – aka humidifier in our case – creating its racket (in the opinion of this light sleeper!).

“Bedtime” is after this, around 8pm, but they certainly don’t fall asleep at this time. In previous weeks, they fall into a fitful sleep by about 11pm – 1 am. Last night, it was 9:15pm! I like that one better 🙂 They sleep anywhere from 4-6.5 hours at a time once they are finally out, sometimes fussing once or twice in between but usually sleeping pretty soundly. Again, if only I would figure out how to sleep at the same time! 😉 The middle of the night feed always falls at very different times depending on the previously mentioned factors, but somehow they always end up waking around the same time…. and it all starts over! 🙂

This is working for us, if by ‘working’ I mean that it calms them down somewhat in between pangs of belly issues. I know baths freak some babies out. If that were the case, it obviously wouldn’t be advisable to do each night in an effort to “calm” anyone in the house down!

I know there are varying schools of thought and opinions on how to structure a newborn’s or an infant’s day, if at all. Kyle and I are of the mindset that, first and foremost, you provide for basic needs – comfort, nutrition, security, etc. The next thing that is of utmost importance to us is fostering their development and independence, from a very early age. For us, this includes LOTS of very specific interaction – toys, exercises, etc that are age-appropriate… as well as just letting them just “be” sometimes, exploring their world – and each other – on their own, instead of being all over them 24/7. Quite likely, some people have different opinions than us on the matter, and we’re comfortable with that. Our girls are very much on track for their individual growth and development, they seem to be happy babies when their poor tummies aren’t giving them fits, and we thoroughly enjoy spending time together as a family… that’s a good enough set of outcomes for me for the time being!

I’m really not sure if that shed any light on our days or not. Certainly some don’t look exactly like that (when we’re out all day, etc), but they really do for the most part, and the girls do quite well. It is, after all, a routine based on their own patterns!

If nothing else, it’s further proof that they are growing up too quickly, despite my best efforts!

Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    Great blog. Really interesting to lame-o moms like me…

    For the past few months Samantha was sleeping on a 3, 2 hr naps a day sked. But now that I am back to work it is all messed up. But it is not a nightmare. But she is still down for a 10-12 hour stretch at night, (with a few feedings in between.) But I am crazy b/c I swaddle.

    You are a great mommy 🙂

    – Jackie

  2. Hi Jackie! You are so not a lame-o Mom!! You have 3 beautiful little girls and are working, too…. give me a break! 😉 And I’m so jealous about her long stretch! We swaddled nightly until very recently, when the girls gave it up. I still think they’d sleep better if they’d stay, but they bust out of even the tightest “straight jacket” (Swaddle-Me). Boo! I hope you’re doing well!