Let me start by saying it is so important to have your baby/toddler on a schedule. If they are not on a schedule then it will seem like chaos in your home. I learned this the hard way. I am a first time mom and brand new at taking care of babies. I never even changed a diaper before my son was born. I didn’t have any younger siblings or any cousins that I would take care. I was the baby of my family so people took care of me. Needless to say, I had a lot to learn and I had to learn it quickly.
When we first brought my son home from the hospital I was a nervous wreck. I didn’t have a clue about anything. As the days went on, I started learning a little bit here and a little bit there trough trial and error. I made a lot of mistakes but I learned from them. I learned what shortcuts I could take and which ones I couldn’t. For example, I learned I didn’t have to wash out his bottles piece by piece by hand. I started putting them in the top rack of the dishwasher and running it on sanitizing clean. They came out great, even better than hand washing. I also learned that bottle warmers were awful and didn’t work. After my third bottle warmer exploded on me, I returned all of them to the store and started heating up his bottles in a cup full of hot water. Much better. The biggest thing I learned was to put my son on a feeding and sleeping schedule.
My son was a pretty good size baby. He was born 7 pounds 11 ounces. He started putting on weight very quickly though. He wanted to eat every hour, it was ridiculous. I would do my best on holding him off for three hours but it wouldn’t work. He would just cry until I fed him. So I figured a compromise, I would feed him every two hours and fifteen minutes. This seemed to work much better. Every morning when I would wake up (if I wasn’t already up all night) I would start keeping track and writing down when he had his bottle and how much he drank. I needed to make sure he wasn’t getting over fed with milk. That isn’t healthy either. Once I came up with my feeding schedule for the day, I would work on his nap schedule. He would usually sleep through the day and be up all night which was killing both me and my husband. I think he had his days and nights confused. I would try to put him down for a nap after he ate but not let him sleep all day. I started to keep the house a little noisier and when company would come over, I wouldn’t let anyone rock him. The first few months were very difficult. He didn’t want any part of a schedule for naps but I persisted.
When we moved into our new house we had just built, I knew I wanted to put him in his own room in a crib. In our old house we didn’t have the room to set up the crib so he was sleeping in a pack and play. I think this was part of his napping problem. The pack and play we had was way to small for him. He only lasted two weeks in the beautiful bassinet my in laws bought for us. I was so upset he didn’t stay in it longer. Whenever we would visit grandma and grandpa he would sleep like an angel in the crib they had set up for him. He would sleep for three hours when we napped him there. Not at our house. He would only nap 45 minutes at the most. I realized he liked having the extra room to roll around.
Since I am a teacher I am home for the summers which is great if you are a parent. I knew that summer I wanted to work on getting him on a nap schedule. Starting with the first day I would put him in his crib, sing a little, maybe read a book and kiss him goodnight. I would shut the door and he would start crying. He kept crying until I would go back him to soothe him. But this wasn’t the way to do it. I couldn’t keep going back in every time he cried. At this point he was five months old and I knew he could fall asleep on his own. Instead of me training him, I think I needed to train myself not to go in and soothe him every time he cried. After a few weeks of putting him for a nap and lying on the floor next to him waiting for him to fall asleep and then crawling out (my husband would do this at night for him), I knew I did not want that to be an everyday routine. This child needed to learn how to self soothe and fall asleep on his own.
The next few days was spent putting him in his crib for a nap and me taking the baby video monitor (the one with the picture so I can see him) and go outside. Since this had the picture I didn’t have to put the volume on which was great. I could see that he was ok but didn’t have to listen to him cry. You see when I would hear him cry I had to go in and help him. But if I could see if he was ok through the video then I didn’t have to go in. I would walk around my muddy backyard (no grass yet) and just wait for him to fall asleep. This was torture. I think for me more than him. Well, guess what. After about a week of this it worked. He was able to self soothe and fall asleep on his own. I still would watch the video monitor to make sure he was ok though. Not everyone will agree with this method but it worked for me. Now when I try to put him info a nap, no problem. He goes right in. He know that mommy is only a few feet away and if anything was to happen I would come running. But if he is just crying to cry, I don’t go in.
He just turned to two and it still has his routine. My friends and family always comment on how wonderful he goes down for his nap. When my mom visited from Florida, she couldn’t believe it. I would put him in his crib and say love you. Then I would shut the door. She said to me. “that’s it?”, “just like that?”. Yep. Just like that. But it wasn’t easy to get to this point. If you are able to have the willpower not to go in every time your baby cried, both you and your baby will be better off in the long run. Just make sure you have a video monitor or any type of monitor to make sure your he/she is ok. Sometimes if they are sick, you will want to go in if they are crying because they might have thrown up or had diarrhea. You don’t want them to fall asleep if you need to clean them or their crib.
My son and husband now have a great bedtime routine. I change my son’s diaper and put him in his pajamas. My husband sits in the rocking chair and I put my son in his lap. My son is big now (33 pounds). I kiss him and tell him I love him and then leave the room. My husband sings two songs and puts him in his crib. They do high fives and foot fives and my husband sits back down in the rocker. Within two minutes my son stands up and asks for a hug. My husband gives him a hug and a kiss and leaves the room for the night. It is wonderful. The house in not chaotic anymore. My son sleeps through the night now. My husband and I finally can get a good night’s sleep. (Until the next little bundle of joy!)