My ds is 11 weeks old and takes roughly 1litre of formula every day. Nights are fairly consistent with a feed at 9pm and then another at around 3am. However the days are anything but consistent! He has no pattern of feeding or sleeping, sometimes napping for half an hour, sometimes three hours (when I wake him up to check he's OK!). In between we have constant snacking, often 100ml with some spat out, shut eyes for a few minutes then hungry again. Its very rare for him to have a 'big' feed. All of this means I have no idea what's going to happen in a day, coupled with the fact that he will only sleep on me or in he car seat in the day (cot at night). I panic when trying to plan to take him out eg. I'd like to take him swimming but can't guarantee that he won't feed an hour before the session.
Do I just have to accept that this is just how he is? I don't want to get into a strict routine as such, just have some predictability!
It's not unrealistic - but if you want some predictibilty, you will have to have some sort of loose routine.
Does he wake at a regular time in the morning? About 7am? I used Gina Ford's routines to help us find some stability. Feed at 7am, 10.30am, 2-3pm and 5-7pm, then 10-11pm and 2-3am at night. I'd let him sleep when he wanted, but woke him for feeds at these times. By 15 weeks I stopped waking him at 2-3am, and he slept through till 6.30am.
I agree - a loose routine is helpful for you and your DS. It makes it so much easier to work out if they are hungry/sleepy/windy/uncomfortable/just needing a cuddle if you have a bit of structure to your day.
DD is 10 weeks old and her day looks like this: 6.30am feed 8.30am nap (each of her daytime naps are for about 45 mins) 10 am feed 11am nap 2pm feed 3pm nap 5pm feed 7pm-9pm snacking on and off boob all evening 11.30pm DH gives her a bottle of formula and she sleeps through until 6.30am
However, the reason she has quite a strict routine during the day is because she is DC3 and I have to fit her feeds in with preschool pickups etc and her naps mainly coincide with being in the car. She still follows this pattern at the weekends though.
The other thing is that she seems to want a structure - DD1 was the same but DD2 fought any attempt at routine and so I tried to just follow her lead more. It was much harder work knowing what she wanted, especially as she was so difficult to get to sleep, she just didn't want to nap! I believe a lot of it is down to your baby's personality
And of course as soon as you get a routine sorted and you think you know where you're at, along comes a tooth/growth spurt/bug to shake things up again!
DS2 is 10 weeks and FF. I offer 6oz at 7am, 11, 3, 7pm and 11. Then 3oz when he wakes in the night. Apart from the night feed I determine the timing, though I do feed earlier or later if required. He pretty much sleeps all the time in between! He wakes for about 30-60 minutes around feed times, though I do generally wake him for feeds.
I'm a big fan of gina ford, though not to the letter with this baby (did for DS1). You can encourage a routine at this stage. If you've not done so yet, I'd aim for 2 hourly feeding, maybe offering 3oz a time then gradually increase to 3 then 4 hourly and increase the size of the feeds accordingly. Do 2-3 days at each stage unless baby is going longer of his own accord.
We also encouraged a routine, offering milk before DD started crying for it, and following the EASY routine of offering feeds at roughly every 3 hours. Within a few days we stopped having any meltdowns due to hunger but she still merrily drank a full bottle when offered. It really helped with the sleep as well, because she started to want to go down at 7/8ish with her last bottle, and then took a dreamfeed at about 10.30, and that moved to early morning wake-up until about 4am, which is obviously a big difference for you sleep-wise (especially if one parent does the dreamfeed, and the other does the 4am feed).
If you want a routine, have a read around and find one you like - though when I did this I realised they are all roughly the same, even GF (though she is much stricter on times that the others), of this 3-hour cycle. Then just gently try and introduce it. It might not work, but it's not unreasonable to introduce some structure to a 3mo's day, and they certainly might take to it. DD was very unsettled and unhappy until we introduced a routine; it might just be what your DS is looking for.
I found Jo Frost and the Baby Whisperer the best for 'gentle' routines.
Oh, regarding sleeping in the cot. I recently had a break through. It's ok if they cry for a few minutes. DS2 now has naps in his cot. He goes in awake, protests and shouts for 5-10 minutes then sleeps. He would only sleep on me, or the car seat or moving pram till about 8 weeks till I discovered this, purely by accident as DS1 needed me more urgently. I wish I'd realised this earlier with DS1!
It's not too early to try a routine. My DD has been in a loose one since 7 or 8 weeks, she's now 13.5 weeks. I follow a rough 3 hour EASY routine, although she doesn't always sleep till the next feed so there might be a be a bit more 'A' before another feed.
I don't, however, ever deny her food if it hasn't been quite 3 hours, but if you can keep your baby going as close to it as possible you might find he takes a fuller feed. The loose routine also means that if DD cries, then I can figure out if it's about food, tiredness or boredom depending on the time - it eliminates too much guess work. Of course, things sometimes get in the way of our routine as you have to leave the house, and this can't be helped but it may give you some sanity to try!
As for naps, I agree with bonzo - a little bit of crying and complaining in the cot is okay - my DD does this every time she goes to sleep, but is always asleep in 5-10 minutes. Real crying you should attend to, but some babies just need a little whinge before falling asleep!
Just to agree with some of the others - DD also liked a little moan before sleep most naps, and even at 12mo will still protest occasionally. And YYY to having more of an idea why they are crying. Of course it's not a science but I found that generally if she became unsettled about 10.30 it was because she was starting to get hungry, and very rarely would a bottle (as near to 11 as I could distract her to) not calm her. Personally I also found it helped me to understand her different cries.
Some people will say that age is far too young for a routine/some structure but we actually started at 3w It was a disaster for everyone before we got some structure to our day. All you can do is try it for a week or so and see if it helps at all.