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Tiptoeing gently towards a 'routine'

(26 Posts)

I'm a first time mum and have been breastfeeding on demand since LO was born four weeks ago. I need to introduce some kind of routine as feeding is taking over my life. LO grazes all day and if he's upset feeding is the only thing that calms him. This means I am feeding him more and more regularly but for shorter periods of time. It also makes planning anything really difficult and car journeys, visits out etc really stressful (if he cries we have just a few minutes to get somewhere to feed him or it quickly escalates into full on screaming).

Before LO arrived I read (whisper it) Gina Ford and the Baby Whisperer and thought it all made sense, but now that LO is here I can't imagine following anything so stringent as I'm a total wuss and I can't bear to hear baby cry. I'm therefore looking for a gentle way to introduce slightly more routine without upsetting me or my LO.

My 'plan' is to make LO wait at least an hour between feeds tomorrow. If he only does a two minute feed and then wants more ten minutes later then I will try to distract him with cuddles, rocking etc but avoid feeding him. The next day I'd build it up to an hour and ten minutes, then an hour and twenty, etc etc until he's up to feeding every two and a half to three hours.

Any thoughts? Will this work? Are there any tried and tested methods to gently introduce some kind of routine?

Thank you!

mamsnet Sun 11-Sep-11 19:12:28

Two and a half to three is a lot to expect from such a small baby.. it might not happen for a couple of months yet..

How about putting him straight in the buggy and going for a walk after a feed? I know it wouldn't always work but maybe two or three times a day?

And offer him the boob sometimes when it suits you.. don't wait for him to scream for it..

As regards routine, it's best to think of a pattern, more than a routine at this stage.. And make sure he gets loads of natural light and fresh air to help him distinguish night from day well.

Remember that he will be starting to see more soon.. people's faces, bright colours etc. and this should be willing to be entertained by other things. Have you tried putting him down on a playmat yet?

Thanks Mamsnet (great name btw) I much prefer 'pattern' to 'routine' and I'll try the walking idea tomorrow. If possible I'm offer the boob at good times for me (though he's on it so often that I may struggle to find a time!)

We've tried him on a playmat, but he doesn't seem to see much just yet. He won't reach out for things and doesn't show an interest in anything other than me or DP (who he adores and follows intently as soon as he comes in the room grin ) so the playmat is more of a 'change of scene' than a serious distraction at the moment.

It's reassuring that you think 2-3 hours is too long for a baby to wait between feeds. Lots of my friends have done Gina Ford or similar and they raise an eyebrow when they hear how often I am feeding.

Oh, by the way, I don't always wait for him to scream. If he's rooting or doing that 'tongue thing' then I offer him the boob too. It's just that when he is screaming (e.g. when he wakes up, or in the car) then feeding is the only thing that will calm him.

Also, I should have said that I actually love doing the feeding. I find it really rewarding. I just want to find a way to make it less distressing for both of us when he can't feed straight away and get him used to waiting a while or being able to calm down without me.

RitaMorgan Sun 11-Sep-11 20:08:45

My ds didn't manage 3 hours between feeds in the day til he was 6 months!

I would start with the first feed of the day - make sure it is a really good feed, offer both sides. Then he might go a while til the next feed. Remember that breastmilk is digested really quickly though, so even if he has a full tummy it might be empty again within a couple of hours.

I started using a dummy from about this age, as I felt breastfeeding was well established for us. Don't overuse it, but it's really good for the times when the baby needs to comfort suck but you can't easily get a boob out - in the car, when you're getting them out of the bath, getting them to sleep in the buggy/sling.

I found the combination of a good sling (I had a Close carrier - any stretchy cloth type is good for a newborn, just avoid Baby Bjorns) and a dummy absolute magic for keeping a baby happy!

RitaMorgan Sun 11-Sep-11 20:09:36

Oh, and if he was hungry he would spit the dummy out - I was definitely feeding at least every 2 hours in the day at that point.

Iggly Sun 11-Sep-11 20:34:03

It won't always be hunger - he could be tired or need comfort. So try and keep him with you all the time - in a sling if you can as he'll get comfort from that too.

peedieworky Sun 11-Sep-11 21:18:18

Hi - I know the past 4 weeks have probably really taken it out of you but it sounds like you're doing great, so don't put any additional pressure on yourself. I'm a self-confessed control freak but allowed myself the first 6 weeks just to feed and feed and feed until I knew my supply was established. It was hard and I remember my self-confidence was in my boots at times, as I felt like a milk machine. After one snidey comment from a MW that I was "just a human dummy" I spent a horrible day trying to distract a screaming and inconsolable DS before realising that he was a baby and I was expecting too much from him. So I accepted that the housework would have to wait, visitors would need to come to me & that I'd never get to the end of a mug of tea while it was still hot. TBH, this may have been an easier fate for me to accept as I was restricted by recovering from an ECS. He hit his 6 week growth spurt about a week early (and it lasted a week!) but from there, he seemed ready to fall into a pattern and was able to find other ways of distracting himself eg the play gym. I know it seems forever but these initial days do end, promise! And good luck!

trixie123 Sun 11-Sep-11 21:21:35

as others have said, four weeks is very early. Don't worry about playmats and things yet, just being out in the world is enough stimulation for them. Its a VERY VERY common thing to sort of rush your first DC. We did it too, moving from moses basket to cot, carrycot to seat-unit etc all a bit sooner than we needed just cos you have all this stuff and want to use it but really just let things unfold in their own time. With DC2 we have almost erred the other way as she'll probably be our last! The idea of a pattern is helpful - stops every day being a bit of a blur and helps you distinguish between awake time and the need for a feed. The former will gradually increase, awake time when he doesn't need feeding and as others suggest a dummy is helpful because it allows them to comfort suck which is often all they need. There's a reason why they are called pacifiers! Best of luck and just try to enjoy this time it will all sort itself out.

Thank you Peedie, you're right to think that I am exhausted & losing confidence (also recovering from EMCS like you were) I will try to be easier on myself and relax a little, however I really need to find ways to calm LO that don't involve my boobs otherwise I am going to end up housebound. I know I should just accept that, but I need to get out and about! Being stuck inside is not helping my recovery.

Rita & Iggly, I have a Close sling so I will try to use it more. I've been worried that using it and keeping him permanently close would just replace one way for me to physically calm him with another. Would it? Do I need to find things that DP can do, or allow LO to calm himself? (or is the 'calming himself' thing just a polite way of saying 'cry it out', which I just couldn't do?)

I have a dummy ready to use (was waiting till he was four weeks old and BF was established) so will try it on our next car journey or ask DP to use it rather than drag me out of the shower to feed!

Thanks again for your ideas. Keep them coming! I will soak up any suggestions grin

X-Posts. Thank you also trixie I am going to start repeating "He's only four weeks old, he's only four weeks old" to myself and enjoy the cuddles!!

RitaMorgan Sun 11-Sep-11 21:42:29

Little babies need you to calm them - that's just how it works I'm afraid! he doesn't know he's separate from you yet, and won't for weeks yet. Your DP could use the sling too, but human babies have evolved to be kept permanently close to their parents.

RhinestoneCowgirl Sun 11-Sep-11 21:46:31

4 weeks is still really early - I can remember sobbing on the phone to my mum at about that stage that I seemed to have spent all day sitting and feeding DS. She was able to reassure me that it would pass, and it did. By 6 weeks or so things were definitely in more of a pattern.

Sling is great, didn't really have one first time round (well we had a baby bjorn but it was not comfy) but used a wrap sling daily for first 3-4 months of second child's life. Please don't worry about 'making' your baby dependent - they are dependent on you, they're a baby grin.

I used to do the tank up and get out of the house straight away (sling or buggy). The movement nearly always did the trick and got the baby off to sleep, and they would then wake up hungry again but would have more of a decent feed.

Hope this helps, and hope things settle down for you soon - you sound like you're doing a great job smile

RhinestoneCowgirl Sun 11-Sep-11 21:49:13

Oh and with both babies DH would sit and rock them for a few hours in the evening so that I could get some sleep, up until 6 wks or so. He wore the sling too and really liked the closeness.

Gosh, you're all so lovely... I've clearly spent far too much time on AIBU because I wasn't expecting such loveliness! I was almost scared to ask the question in case I started a 'routine vs on demand' bunfight!

I recognise the 'sobbing on the phone to mum' Rhinestone ; my poor mum has had a lot of that! Thank you for your kind words. I'm doing the best job I can, but I'll take all the advice I'm given to try to be better.

"He's only four weeks old... just enjoy the cuddles... he's only four weeks old... just enjoy the cuddles... he's only four weeks old... just enjoy the cuddles... he's only four weeks old... just enjoy the cuddles..."

peedieworky Sun 11-Sep-11 22:50:46

Do try - but also don't be too hard on yourself if you're not able to! As trixie123 says, it's all so new with your 1st that you rush through (check me, Mrs Wise Old Owl - DS only 16 weeks!!). Everyone told me to use slings, enjoy cuddles etc etc and still I was a deranged paranoid eejit unconvinced and worried I was teaching bad habits and would end up with a clingy baby. I agonised over every choice (should I give him a dummy? What if he starts to rely on it??). So, I survived the 6 weeks and emerged, blinking into the world. From there, it got easier and I was able to relax more (finally!). Little things helped for me too, like jotting down his feeds/naps for a couple of days, so I was able to see there was a pattern emerging. Or allowing myself one or two elements to obsess over try to introduce some structure to. Like, when DS came out the other side of the hell that was the 6 week growth spurt he was much more alert and playful, so I did what some of the other posters suggested and tanked him up with a nice big feed then took him for a walk or sang him songs or did anything to distract him past the 30 minutes he had typically started screaming after before. He would often go 2 hours but sometimes it was just the 30 minutes - main thing was things did start to settle down. Best piece of advice ever was one I read on MN (actually may have been RitaMorgan?) - you can't change the baby, so the easiest thing is to change your expectation of the baby.

Chin up - your doing fab and things will turn a corner soon!

RitaMorgan Sun 11-Sep-11 22:55:38

Wasn't me, but it is good advice grin

So it's 5am & i've fed him roughly every 90mins since 9pm. Now he won't sleep unless he's on my chest. Who cares? He's only 4 weeks old & I'm loving the cuddle grin

Still going to try to extend times between feeds during the day tomorrow.

peedieworky Mon 12-Sep-11 07:33:57

Every 90 mins? Jeeze..poor you! Do you time from the start or end of feeds? I used to time from start but someone told me to time from end, which made it seem like longer gaps (if denial works, take it!). Good luck with the distraction. Though DS doesn't have a dummy, often I put my little finger in his mouth (nail facing tongue) and he sucked on that briefly while I sang and tried to make eye contact. Generally if could get his attention, the finger would be released and he's happily listen to the song. Downside obviously is you go from feeding every 90 mins to singing the same chorus of Ally-Bally-Ally-Bally-Bee over and over and over and..

<heads off to Google children's song lyrics>

RitaMorgan Mon 12-Sep-11 07:56:34

Can you feed him lying down? Seriously changed my life when I worked out how to do that grin

90 mins is progress; it used to be every hour! I time from the beginning. 90 mins from when one starts to when the next one starts. And yes, lying down feeding is probably what saves my sanity.

Iggly Mon 12-Sep-11 09:03:20

It's such earlier days - I found things settled down a bit more at 6 weeks as baby needs to build your supply. Do try getting out for a walk with little one in the sling as it helps - stops you thinking too much about feeding times too. I did this and DS settled into a routine by himself.

bonkers20 Mon 12-Sep-11 09:10:56

I'd just continue to completly demand feed right now. If you commit to doing that for the first 6 weeks or so then it's more likely your supply will regulate to his needs. Then you'll find a pattern emerging and be able to plan your day a little more. If you try and make him wait now he won't know whether he's coming or going, your milk won't know either and you might end up in more of a pickle.

There's nothing wrong with trying other things e.g popping him in a sling and going for a walk but I really think that at this age it really is all about feeding, feeding, feeding.

Get some good films in, don't feel guilty about watching them during the day and enjoy the time, you'll never, ever get it again!

Of course there are times when you just have to do what you've got to do and that won't harm him, but if you can make your life as easy as possible then I'd encourage you to do so.

Chandon Mon 12-Sep-11 09:18:44

Oh.....I tried "on demand" feeding, such a sympathetic theory.

It drove me up the wall. When I achieved 2 hour gaps at around 4 months I felt elated! pfffff.

Worth persevering. You don't have to follow any "method", you can just try getting the gaps a bit longer. So if she cries, hold her, rock her first and only feed if you feel there is no other option.

Elsjas Mon 12-Sep-11 09:19:40

Have you tried swaddling him? If you think that he is feeding for comfort rather than because he is hungry, it might help. My Mum started swaddling my dd1 when she saw me losing the plot with feeding her all the time and it definitely worked for us.

winkyslink Mon 12-Sep-11 09:31:06

Hi OP, it sounds like you are doing a great job already, and that your baby is getting all the comfort and food from you that he requires...remember that for tiny babies, suckling ISNT just for food...its how your baby develops a bond, is comforted and reassured by you, if you are breastfeeding.

TBH i would ditch any parenting books, and only use them to answer specific concerns, because the writer doesnt know you or your baby! In fact, if i have a question then I use MN. The variety of responses allows me to decide what will suit me and my baby, and most importantly, demonstrates that there is no one 'right' way to do things.

4 weeks is very young...i never enforced a routine, but just learnt to read my baby's cues, and she settled into her own routine. If i had been trying to impose someones elses routine on her, i wouldnt have been able to do this, and we could have spent stressful distressing months pulling in opposite directions.

I do realise travel can be awkward at this point, and maybe youll get some tips here...good luck!

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