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Establishing a routine - Gina Ford, baby whisperer or both?? Confused!

(42 Posts)
Rones Wed 25-Sep-13 11:47:13

Sorry this is a bit long!

I'm trying to work out a good routine to suit my DD2 who is almost 10 weeks old but still trying to work things out. Initially I just tried the Gina Ford routines from birth until about 7 weeks as this is what I used for DD1 and it seemed to work well (I think she might have been a textbook baby!). However, that was over 5 years ago so I might have forgotten a lot of stuff and I was also dealing with severe post natal depression and got married when DD1 was 10 weeks old (crazy I know!!) so my memory is a bit hazy.

Anyway, having tried pretty hard with Gina's routines for 7 weeks, I just couldn't get DD2 to fit them so I turned to the Baby Whisperer and found loads of useful information and other suggestions. So I'm now kind of doing the E.A.S.Y routine but mixing in a bit of the Gina routine too. I'm basically writing everything down each day so I can try to figure out some patterns, which do seem to be emerging.

I guess I'm a bit of a control freak (in fact I know I am!) and I'm very eager to get her sleeping through or at least as well as possible at night because I have bipolar disorder and sleep is massive trigger for me (or rather lack of).

I'd appreciate your thoughts on a few issues:

- swaddling. I stopped swaddling at about 7 weeks (Gina says to half swaddle and stop swaddling at about 8ish weeks onwards) but then Tracey recommends swaddling till at least 4 months (in her solving all your problems book). I'm a bit worried about overheating etc. but I've now gone back to swaddling which DD2 seems to be fine with. How long did you swaddle for?

- late evening feed: Gina recommends waking baby up to take a 10/10.30pm feed to ensure he gets a full feed but Tracey says to do a dream feed at 11pm and not wake baby up at all! I've started to try the dream feed and must say it seems to work and she takes the same if not more milk! This is the only feed where I use a bottle of expressed or formula milk and the rest of the time I breastfeed. Obviously these are opposite approaches for doing the late feed. DD2 still wakes between 2.30 and 4.30 in the night and I'm struggling to get her to take more than about 4oz at the late feed. Any thoughts on this feed?

- bedtime routine: I was previously doing '1 breast feed, bath and then other breast feed' as per Gina's routine but found that she was starting to associate the breast with sleep and because she can be difficult to settle in the evening, I kept going in to let her have a bit more (bad idea!). So I've now started to do feed, bath and then bed so that there's a split between the feed and bed and to stop that association. What do you do? I've been using the 'shhh pat' technique and dummy to settle her which seems to work with a bit of persistence.

- daytime sleep: Gina reckons DD2 should be having about 3.5 hrs sleep in the day at this age but she needs at least 4.5 hrs if not more, which seems to fit more with the E.A.S.Y approach...

And generally did you find that your child just came up with their own routine that suited them in the end? There are lots of similar bits of advice but some of it is quite contradictory.

Thanks for your thoughts!!

hettienne Wed 25-Sep-13 11:51:53

I just let DS feed when he was hungry and sleep when he was tired at that age! He had his own routine by 5-6 months.

Rones Wed 25-Sep-13 12:02:07

so you did everything on demand until 5-6 months? Did you find that he was going about 3 hours between feed naturally and didn't sleep too much in the day? Was he a good night time sleeper?

Damnautocorrect Wed 25-Sep-13 12:07:26

Follow your babies lead and listen to yourself you'll both fall into a happy pattern.

hettienne Wed 25-Sep-13 12:12:51

No he rarely went 3 hours, more like 2.5. But I didn't let him go three hours in the daytime eg. if he was asleep I'd wake him after 3 hours to feed. He also had a bedtime routine by 3 months and went to bed at the same time every night, and I'd wake him from his last nap at least 2 hours before bedtime.

He slept about 8pm-3am then fed and slept til 5.30ish then came into our bed to feed/sleep til 7ish.

CappuccinoCarrie Wed 25-Sep-13 12:15:28

I'm like you and love the organisation of a routine! I used baby whisperer initially to ease my babies into the GF routine as they needed more sleep in the day. They were all on GF by 3 months. All three have dropped swaddling/dream feeds etc at different ages and stages, we followed their lead, but for me the single most important thing was teaching them to fall asleep on their own without needing to be rocked/fed etc, and doing this with shush-pat etc at a very young age was much, much easier than with an older child.

stowsettler Wed 25-Sep-13 12:17:54

I'll try to answer this as a fellow control-freak!I suspect some on here just have a different parenting style. I didn't follow GF but I did loosely use the Baby Whisperer for the first few weeks. After that DD found her own rhythm and it was suddenly 'our routine'.
Swaddling: I never did this with DD. She hated being all bundled up and in any case, she never needed it. She's been in gro-bags since about 6 weeks and they seem great.

Late evening feed: we've been dream feeding since about 8 weeks, DD is now 7months. It's worked like a charm for us. We're now just phasing it out. Sometimes she wakes for the dream feed, sometimes she doesn't - either way it hardly ever keeps her awake longer than the actual feed.

Bedtime routine: I have to say I always feed just before putting her to bed. It hasn't caused us any issues and I see no reason to stop until she's much older.

Daytime sleep: hahahaha I wish! DD has about an hour in the morning and then maybe 2 20-minute naps. She's always been like this. It doesn't really matter because her short naps do seem to revive her. And she sleeps brilliantly at night.

As I say, we did establish a routine but some of that was engineered by me: bedtime routine has always been the same, from the first day out of hospital. During the day we usually work around feed times but naps just happen as and when. This works for us - but your DD seems to be a much better napper than mine, so you may need to build them in.

I totally get why you're worrying. I was the same, devoured all the baby books I could find. I did pick up a few tips but by and large DD and I found our own way. Try to learn how to read her cues: tired, hungry etc. These will be your markers on which to base a routine.

rallytog1 Wed 25-Sep-13 12:21:27

I've just done everything on demand with dd who is 5mo. That way she's settled into the routine that most suits her, rather than us trying to impose something on her that she doesn't like.

I think we are partly just lucky to have a very good baby but I do feel that letting her take the lead has worked. She sleeps 11-12 hours at night most nights (no late night feed) and feeds 3-hourly during the day. Her daytime naps are irregular but this actually helps with being able to get out and about as I don't ever feel I have to wait for her to have her nap first.

Bizarrely, I feel much more relaxed and in control by letting her lead, than by trying to make her fit into a routine that I control. I realise this won't work for everyone but I think it's definitely worth trying to see what your baby's natural preferences are and trying to fit your routine to that, rather than coming up with a routine you make them fit in with.

Rones Wed 25-Sep-13 13:55:01

I'm glad to know I'm not the only control freak out there! Although as you've said rallytog1, trying to let go of some of the control is a way of being more relaxed and sort of more in control in a way, or at least more sane! I must say that trying to stick to Gina's routines was making me feel even more neurotic! I must admit that at the moment I'm just observing and getting to know her cues and I've not even thought about going to baby groups because I never know what time things will happen (sleep, feeds etc.!). I look forward to things feeling more settled so I can start seeing friends more and going to groups etc.

The general consensus seems to be that the baby and mum will settle into their own routine and by using a few basic guidelines, this does seem to be working. Some days I feel like I'm getting there and other days feel totally erratic! The Baby Whisperer techniques of looking out for cues etc. and following a loose framework is new for me and hence a bit scary! I think I was doing controlled crying with DD1 even from an early age because as I was so obsessed with trying to do it the Gina way as my sister had 2 kids who slept amazingly and she had used the Gina routines. However, she recently admitted to me that she was stressed and clock watching most of the time!

CappuccinoCarrie - I think you're right, getting them to learn to fall asleep by themselves is really important. I really don't want to go down the offering the breast to settle root. I've been in tears a few times doing that from sheer exhaustion and frustration.

I find the breasfeeding makes things a bit trickier in terms of timings as I'm never sure how much milk she's getting and I'm a bit worried she's turning into a bit of a snacker as it's tough trying to get her to last 2.5/3hrs between feeds. Obviously if she's hungry I have to feed her....

Stowsettler - yes I do think that DD2 is quite a good napper although it does vary a lot! You are right about the cues thing but it's hard to trust one's instincts sometimes.....I guess I'll get better with it with time and I'm finding it harder too this time because there are DD1's routine and needs to take into account. It's easier with the first baby as you have your whole time to dedicate to them and their routine.

Thanks for all the advice, I look forward to more views!

hettienne Wed 25-Sep-13 14:22:10

There's no such thing as snacking with breastfeeding, babies are supposed to feed often as breastmilk is digested really quickly.

Rones Wed 25-Sep-13 14:29:44

hettienne - I never thought about the snacking thing until reading the baby whisperer other concern has been trying to allow enough time between feeds in case it's affecting her digestion as she seems to be very sensitive in that sense....she had colic and wind for the first 2 months but seems to be getting better now. I've heard that feeding too much can cause these problems but then also the opposite as you've said! Conflicting advice again! She didn't poo either for 2 stretches of 7 days but seems to now be having more regular poos - maybe it was a matter of her digestive system maturing a bit more which seems to be happening.

hettienne Wed 25-Sep-13 14:32:43

I would ignore all the breastfeeding stuff in BW (and GF) - she talks absolute rubbish about it and obviously doesn't understand how it works! Most of these routine books are written based on bottle feeding formula. I do think the BW is ok for sleep tips though.

With breastfeeding you really don't have to worry about how much or when - the baby knows what they need, so just offer at the first feeding cues, offer both breasts, and try not to worry. Not pooing for 7 days is also pretty normal for exclusively breastfed babies and is not a problem at all!

valiumredhead Wed 25-Sep-13 14:36:30

I would not try and apply a book written by someone who had never even had children. I say that as someone who was a nanny and has always worked with children and am very experienced. Then I had ds....

Follow what the baby does,I bet you already have a routine and don't realise it.

Rones Wed 25-Sep-13 18:58:23

thanks valiumredhead that's reassuring! Although I have found lots of the advice in both books really useful, I think ultimately it is important to get to know your baby and its own needs. I guess it's a confidence thing too as I'm feeling a bit out of practice with babies!

QTPie Wed 25-Sep-13 19:18:46

Read it all, pick which bits suit DD and you by observing what she does and building in and encouraging patterns. One size does not fit all.


MiaowTheCat Wed 25-Sep-13 19:32:35

I followed roughly the whole EAS(never quite got the You bit down) pattern of it in terms of "what happens next" - not in any kind of grand routine type way but just the (completely logical really and someone's making money out of stating the obvious on this part) idea that after they've slept they'll be hungry, and need a nappy change and a kick about on the changing mat type deal before they'll be getting tired again adn want another sleep way. Feed intervals both of mine have gradually set themselves over a few week and they stabilised into a pattern naturally, the only fiddling I've done is trying to shift feeds slightly when weaning hit to make sure that there was sufficient gap between milk and solid feeds.

amothersplaceisinthewrong Wed 25-Sep-13 19:35:57

Chuck out the baby books and go with your own instincts.

Wonderstuff Wed 25-Sep-13 20:20:50

I had both those books with dd, GF stressed me out and I binned in (probably the only book I've ever thrown out, didn't want to give it away). The BW was a better, but as others have said it doesn't really get bfeeding. I found I was much happier, more relaxed when I trusted myself, fed on demand, co-slept when they wouldn't sleep, went for lots of walks, got lots of cuddles.

I did have broken nights for a long time, but I really don't think I could have changed that, I think that if you have a baby that sleeps at night you're lucky, don't think that you can do much about it.

NinaGE Wed 25-Sep-13 21:18:27

hi...sorry I have no advice to offer as this is all new to me I'm only six weeks in with my little one and he's my first. so I have been reading this thread for a few pointers regarding routines as I'm still at the stage of not managing to get dressed before 1pm! everything I've done so far has been on demand which is fine in the day (sort of) its the evenings that are difficult. at the minute my lo feeds early evening ish between about 6.30 to 8.30 it really does depend and then again between 11 and 1am. he will then wake again between 3 and 4.30 and inevitably will probably not go back to sleep until the next feed at about 7 or 8am. I've been doing through the night and early morning so I've been exhausted and my husband will do the late evening feed and I try to go to bed early at about 9. he has to be up early for work and I'm not catching up on my sleep so we're both exhausted and not sure how long we can go on for. I've had everything crossed that he may begin sleeping through but wondered if there was something we could do to make things a bit less chaotic. in the past I've suffered from panic attacks and anxiety and feel I'm heading down that way again especially as the chaos and unpredictable feeding I'm reluctant to leave the house which will inevitability aggravate the anxiety. any pointers would be greatly appreciated. the baby whisperer a website or a book wondering if I should give it a read. Apologies for hijacking this thread it just seemed similar to what I'm going through too. thanks

Twattergy Wed 25-Sep-13 21:40:10

Nina I don't think the books well help you...a others have said they work for some babies and not for your tired state you'd probably find them more stress inducing than anything else. Rather than pinning your hopes on baby sleeping through better to be realistic and put less pressure on baby and you...some babies sleep through from 8 weeks but most do not and it's totally normal for babies to keep feeding at night for many months. For my baby that was until 5.5 months, for my sister 8 months. One thing is for sure at this early stage your babys routine will change on a weekly basis so don't worry about changing it. By about 12 weeks a more stable pattern will emerge. It sounds like you and your partner have a good way of managing, so keep up the good work.see you r gp about your anxiety worries, and try to get rest when you can.

pointythings Wed 25-Sep-13 22:52:56

I demand fed and let my DDs lead everything - and when they appeared to develop a pattern (at about 4 months) I just 'nudged' bedtime back a bit at a time until it just worked.

I let growth spurts do their thing and just fed like mad when they happened - this was really tough as I had to go back to f/t work at 6 months both times - but again, it worked.

DD1 slept 10 till 7 from 10 weeks.
DD2 needed two feeds a night (11 and 2.30) until she was almost a year old - you could set the clock by her.
Both were fully bf.

But within those patterns they both slept, which makes me a lucky woman. I think going with those bits of the books that chime with your own intuition and then taking it from there is probably the best way to go - just don't ignore your own instincts.

Rones Thu 26-Sep-13 09:12:02

Hi Nina - I know exactly what it's like to feel like everything is choatic and falling around you. I suffered severe post natal depression after my DD1 (not this time thankfully) and I did actually find the information in Gina Ford's book useful especially if you feel that you don't have a clue about anything (as I did). I think the important point is to read things but not get obsessed about sticking to things rigidly as this is where I've gone wrong. I feel much better now I've relaxed my approach but it does help me mentally to feel I have some kind of structure which having written everything down for a week or so, I feel I do. Patterns are emerging. I don't personally believe in doing everything baby led (although everyone is different). I am someone who needs a degree of organisation to stay sane and well and although I'm well aware that babies can't be programmed to exact routines, I think we can encourage healthy sleep and feeding habits that don't cause problems later on down the line. If you want to read something, I would start with The Baby Whisperer by Tracey Hogg as it has lots of useful info and it's a gentler approach than Gina Ford. Maybe later you could look at Gina Ford's book when you feel a bit calmer about things. Don't worry, it will get better, I have to keep telling myself that. I just look at DD1 and realise that we did OK with her so we'll do it again with DD2. The early weeks and months can be very tough - hang on in there. Although, please go and ask for help if you feel things are really getting on top of you because there is help out there. Take care

waterrat Thu 26-Sep-13 19:24:42

Nina that sounds really tough - but I think you might drive yourself mad if you keep hoping for baby to sleep through at 8 weeks

I don't know anyone who has a baby sleeping well at 8 weeks - babie are designed to feed frequently in the first few months to a year - they need to feed at night during those first precious months because they have tiny tummies but incredibly fast developing brains and bodies

It's not a fault - it's how they are built an have evolved to work

From my own friends experiences I saw big leaps in sleep around 6-8 months onwards - when the babies start taking proper solids ie actual meals not just spoonfuls ....

It's really horrible but the answer is to rest and try to enjoy pottering about / reading / seeing friends watching tv and getting naps when you can

waterrat Thu 26-Sep-13 19:30:40

Also although the baby whisperer is helpful I really strongly have to warn that she talks utter nonsense about breast feeding

At one point she says a bf baby feeding more than 3 hourly has a problem and you might not be producing enough milk. ! Garbage !

There is No natural history to 3 hourly feed they were invented by the formula milk industry

Rones Thu 26-Sep-13 19:32:16

Hi waterrat - I find that I feed anything from 2-3 hourly and I've been panicking about not always managing to get her to go for so long....although she seems to be getting what she needs, is happy and putting on a good amount of weight so I think I'm going to relax about it...

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