So here you go—the first 6 months baby routines!
Finally getting to this long promised blog post for you all!! Remington is just now 9 months, so better late than never right?! I also feel like writing this blog post with a bit of perspective helped.
I want to preface by saying, this is what worked for our family and that doesn’t make this the golden standard, right or wrong. It also does NOT mean that it would work again for a different child with different needs!
Becoming a mom has been a far better experience than I ever imagined! Its been a beautiful process in both the good and bad moments. I feel like society puts so much fear or negativity on the baby phase, but please do not approach this phase with fear! You’ve got this!!
You all know I love routines and honestly I find so much freedom in them! Funny part is that I have frequently found my husband saying, “Wow Remington does SO well on her routine.”
I absolutely LOVED the newborn phase—some people may call me crazy and I fully believe that each of us are allowed to love different phases, but the newborn phase was amazing for me. My pregnancy was SO horrible that as soon as Remington came, I felt so great—I just wanted to enjoy life again!
We were in the hospital for 6 days, so we didn’t bring Remington home for quite a few days. She was in the NICU for 24 hours and the good thing is that got her on a routine. They fed her every 2 1/2-3 hours, so it transitioning her to a routine was slightly more natural at home.
Honestly, I was so miserable when I was pregnant, thinking about mothering once the baby was here was never really on my mind. There were so many unknowns in our story that, just like I didn’t want to have a birth plan (read our birth story here), I also wanted to keep an open mind during those first few weeks. My husband returned to deployment when Remington was 13 days old, and thankfully my mom was there, but other than that I was on my own!
I have always loved routines and find freedom in them—I don’t believe in rigid schedules, but do believe that graceful routines give us freedom, and I personally found that to be so true in the first few weeks with Remington!
There is a science behind baby schedules, meeting baby developmentally where they are in the moment! I know many people don’t agree with baby schedules, but I found this to be the best way to allow Remington to develop and flourish!
Two pieces of encouragement for you:
- I am very thankful Remington has been a relatively easy baby, but there was a lot of behind the scenes work on my part, so the superficial isn’t always the whole story. I was extremely disciplined with my diet, sleep, naps and graciously providing her with a routine and I believe that played a big part of the story!
- Don’t approach this with frustration (I learned the hard way a few times)—babies feed off your personality both the positives and negatives and sense our stress! Trust your mama gut and meet baby where they are developmentally. Just because something doesn’t work the first time, doesn’t mean that it is bad, you just may need to try again. Keep laying that foundation!
First 6 weeks
The first few days at home were a blur and also a little hectic. Since we live in Spain, we had stacks (over 150 sheets of paper), to get Remington’s American citizen ship and 2 passports. So the first week at home was filled with lots of appointments and little downtime.
She ate consistently ever 2 1/2-3 hours. For the first few weeks that was my only priority. If she was sleeping and it was time to eat, I would wake her up. Funny thing is that after a few days, we started calling her alarm clock baby because within 5 minutes or so of her designated eating time, she would want to eat!
Starting about 2 weeks, my goal was to make the 10pm and 7am feeds a priority. Sometimes that meant giving her a little less or a shorter feed so we could stretch the time and get a good solid feed at 10pm and 7am. This was to set the tone for the day and try to get her circadian rhythms normalized!
About 3.5 weeks, her eating schedule was 7/7:30am, 10 am, 1pm, 4pm, 7pm, 10pm. During the night she would eat eat usually at 3am, or sometimes at both 1am and 4am. Again, my goal during those first weeks was to only focus on the 10pm and 7am feed time!
If she started to fuss and it was 30-40 minutes before her eating time, I would try to distract her and stretch the time a bit—we would go outside, sing, bounce, look at the mirror, etc. Sometimes it was only 5 minutes and other times we could make it 20 minutes so that she was truly hungry and ready to eat. Clearly, I only did this if she was fussy, not crying. This allowed her to get in a complete meal, rather than “grazing” which isn’t good and would cause gas or intense spit ups, which I liked to avoid! I am no professional, and some babies absolutely need to be eating more frequently, but for us, if she didn’t eat a complete meal she would be fussy and/or spit up and that wasn’t fun. If the baby doesn’t get a complete meal, then they will want to graze all the time which isn’t good for a baby’s (or adult’s for that matter) digestion. Again, some babies absolutely need to be eating more often and that is ok, meet your own baby’s needs, but also keep in mind that they may just need to be stretched a few minutes to get in more of a complete feed!
Breastfeeding is no walk in the park, and although it was been one of the most beautiful experiences of my life, that doesn’t mean it was easy!
I talk more in detail about breastfeeding and breastfeeding nutrition in THIS post.
I had a huge oversupply issue for the first 4 months, and I want to be sensitive when talking about that because I know so many women that struggle. But the flip side is also a huge struggle! I was constantly in pain, leaking though clothes all day long and couldn’t even let anyone hug me because it was so painful. I could barley sleep for 4 months because I was in so much pain and had to wake up in the middle of the night to pump, even though Remington was sound asleep!
I mention this because it contributed to a huge depletion issue that lead to other postpartum issues of mine but also contributed to baby’s gas issues. What I didn’t realize was that there are two types of breastmilk—fore milk which is more watery and can contribute to gas and hind milk which is heavier in fat content and is what keeps the baby full! Once I started pumping before feeding her, the gas greatly diminished!!
Also, I want to add that it is NOT true that “breastmilk is breastmilk”—the quality of the mother’s diet determines the quality of the breastmilk. Consuming plenty of high quality animal fats and proteins is key!! As well as eating in the middle of the night if you need to—I ate snacks in the middle of the night each time I fed her for the first 2 months!
Tips & Tricks
- Weleda Tummy Oil: This stuff was magic and would calm Remington down almost instantly.
- Ecopiggy Pacifiers: We loved these natural rubber pacifiers
- Cherish the First 6 Weeks: This is the book I read and it was totally a game changer, it is a loving and graceful approach to meeting your baby where they are and getting them on a thriving schedule.
- Solly Baby Wrap: This was a lifesaver especially for airports! She was so safe and secure and right next to me which I loved.
- Holle formula: I had no clue how my body would react after a difficult pregnancy, so we had formula on hand. We didn’t need to use it, but it gave me a peace of mind knowing that I had high quality formula available if need be.
- Probiotics: I introduced a probiotic only when she seemed to have more gas and gave her one about 2-3 times per week the first few weeks. We used Mommy’s Bliss and Jarrow, and I recommend this one if you have access to it as it ships cold.
My personal thoughts: I am asked a lot about if we had a bouncer or Dockatot or SNOO and the answer is no. Honestly I get overwhelmed by a lot of things but I also didn’t want my baby to only get used to one way of sleeping and for us this worked really well! Babies don’t get deep restorative sleep when they are moving, aka in a bouncer so I wanted to avoid those. We also travel frequently, so I wanted her to get used to sleeping in a crib!
All in all, I LOVED the newborn phase and hope these tips and encouragement can help you cherish this special time!
Months 2 & 3
During the day we continued the schedule of feeding:
*We kept a 10pm bed time because here in Spain in the summer it doesn’t get dark until 10:45/11 so our schedule is a bit different. During this phase of life, many babies transition to an earlier bed time with a dream feed about 10pm, but that didn’t work for Remington quite yet.
I will be fully honest that I did not know much about wake windows until 4 months, so I am going to do you a favor and point you to Taking Cara Babies (she’s incredible and so encouraging!!).
I didn’t worry about having a daytime schedule other than the eating routines—I did however always put Remington in her crib during the afternoon nap and most days made sure that I was home for that nap and I would nap too. I would say no to any other activities during the afternoon so we both could get a good rest. This was my saving grace!
I was very consistent about getting Remington fresh air throughout the day. Sunshine and fresh air help promote good restful sleep, so we got outside a lot!
Starting at 6 weeks, during the night she pretty consistently sleeping from 10pm to 3:30/4am, sometimes even going to 4:30am. Starting about 7 weeks, I would do the pacifier trick—if she woke up, I would give her the pacifier and make sure her swaddle was tight, soothe her a bit and usually she would go back to sleep until 5:30/6. I would just keep trying to stretch that nighttime window, only if she was just fussy, if she was clearly hungry I would feed her. By 9 weeks, she was sleeping through the night (aka 10pm-6:30). That was a win!
It gets so much easier and it was something I really loved! Despite having a serious and painful over production problem, I am so thankful that I was able to breastfeed.
Two pieces of advice here:
1 Do NOT think that your lactation consultant is only for those first few weeks. I went to mine quite a few times up until 4 months. Also, don’t be afraid to try out a few lactation consultants to find one that is best for you. I was so thankful to have had the most incredible woman to support me in this journey!
2 About 2-3 months in is when you might start to feel drained (literally the baby is sucking your nutrients out of you) so take caution to protect yourself. Get sleep when you can, don’t worry about strenuous exercise or cardio (walking and yoga/pilates is better), eat when you are hungry and be sure to support yourself with a good quality prenatal. I recommend Thorne.
Tips & Tricks
- Lovevery Baby Play Mat: My husband thought I was crazy when said I wanted one and then a few months later he remarked, wow she loves that! It truly is worth every penny and is a great activity gym without being overly stimulating. I only wish I had purchased it sooner.
- We had our first trip at 6 weeks, a quick hour and a half flight to meet up with my husband who was on deployment. Remington did great and I nursed her on the way up and down (the first flight). Then she spit up a lot the rest of the day because she had drank too much milk, so on the return flight I used the pacifier on the way up and nursed on the way down (the sucking motion helps clear their little ears). That worked way better and no spit up issues!
- Sleep when baby sleeps—but really do! Take advantage of this time when they sleep more, because things are about to change in the upcoming months!
- Sleeping through the night—I was so thankful that Remington slept through the night (for 8 hours) starting at 9 weeks, however I couldn’t do to needing to pump in the middle of the night. This really drained me and was a hard phase!
Months 3 & 4
This is the phase I started to have more daytime routines and more “set” nap times. Months 3 & 4 are also the biggest developmental leap for a baby and can create an irritable baby or cause sleep regression. Honestly these months were a huge struggle for me!
*Remington moved to a 4 hour window in the morning, more on that below.
Ok, this schedule was on a very optimal day, which honestly there weren’t many of those for use during months 3 & 4 due to sleep regression and international travel that threw everything off. If you are going through this phase and super frustrated, know that it WILL pass. I am thankful my husband was home from deployment during this time because I cried every single day and felt like such a failure.
About 3.5 months, during the 10am feed Remington would not want to eat and would scream at me. It was emotionally and physically draining especially since I would leak milk everywhere. I went to my lactation consultant and she encouraged me to push to a 4 hour window and adjust to 11:30. That quickly solved the problem for both of us! She just wasn’t hungry, so always pay attention to your baby’s needs!
Navigating sleep regression
This was a short but intense period for us for about 3 weeks. Thankfully Remington never had sleep regression at night, possibly because I was making sure she had plenty of calories during the day. But during the day she just refused to sleep. She would nap for 10-20 minutes and then be wide awake and smiling. Then shortly after she would get irritable because she was so exhausted. It was a difficult phase for sure! The Wonder Week’s app is amazing and was super helpful, it encouraged me that this was just a phase.
I would always offer a nap during the appropriate times but often it would take 20 minutes for her to sleep and then she would sleep for 20 minutes. UGH, it was hard, but it DID pass!!! I personally didn’t feel comfortable “sleep training” at this young of an age, so we sort of just managed it, with a lot of car naps. I would cry every day because I was frustrated, but thankfully my sweet husband was there to help!
Best advice: just get through it!
Months 5 & 6
This was another super fun time that we loved!!! This is when daytime routines were pretty standard and consistent! She was so happy during the day and finally napping well!
*We dropped the dream feed (at 9:45pm) about 5.5 months.
Naps: Developmentally naps don’t solidify until about 5 months and this was super true for us. In fact, I would say naps didn’t really solidify until she started eating food at 6 months. Even after sleep training, naps were still as struggle. I talk a bit more at the end about how in hindsight I would probably have given a bottle of formula before the afternoon nap as I believe now she was hungry!
Sleep training: This can be controversial, but I wanted to share our experience. I personally was not comfortable sleep training until 5 months. At this time I was so exhausted and in the middle of dealing with some serious health issues of my own. She would want her pacifier multiple times in the night and took a long time to get to bed at night. Despite laying a good foundation of a bedtime routine, bed time became tense and negative in my mind because she didn’t want to sleep! My health was suffering, both physically and mentally, so I knew we needed a change.
At about 5 months 1 week, we decided to let her cry it out. And it wasn’t the best experience. After about 15 minutes we would go soothe her but this actually made things worse. (Look up the Ferber method as that talks about how long to let baby cry before intervening and how to do it in —it is a really great method but didn’t work for us.) The pacifier was also a huge crutch. We did it for 2 nights and then decided no more.
About 2 weeks later, I felt a tug at my heart (I firmly believe God gives us wisdom to know what to do and I truly felt a sense of peace about this), to try sleep training again. I felt that Remington was ready and this second time around it worked amazing! Took 1 night of 15 minutes of crying and that was it. Yes, it is hard listening to your baby cry, but I believe the end result was worth it. That night was a hard night for me wresting with all the emotions. The next few nights she would cry when we left the room and then whine, but never scream, for about 20 minutes then put herself to sleep. She now has the certain noise that she only makes when she puts herself to sleep, and it is really sweet! She also has a little lovey that she holds as she goes to sleep, then I slip in before I got to bed and take it away.
I believe it didn’t work the first time for us, because I approached the situation with frustration and negativity and she sensed that. The second time we were all ready for this and it was a very positive experience!
Within 3 nights of consistent sleep, I felt like a whole new woman and a much better mom! I was happier and more energetic and had less negativity at bed time. Sleep training was truly the best experience for our whole family and a saving grace for my health!
My best advice on sleep training: approach it with positivity and grace. Know that if it doesn’t work instantly that is ok, you may just need to let your baby have more time! Don’t sleep train if you are having a bad day or frustrated, that energy will only rub off on your baby. Also, always place them in the bed and say something similar each time. That way they develop a positive association with going to sleep. I put her in her sleep sack, rub her head and tummy and say our prayers. I then kiss her multiple times and tell her how much I love her. Its always such a sweet moment for both of us.
One other thing that worked well: in the morning when I go get her, I don’t touch her right away. I talk to her in her crib so that she knows she is in a safe place!
Oh and for naps, she still gets her pacifier but not at night!
Funny part is, I thought Remington was getting teeth early, but she didn’t until about 7 months. But was in pain for a long time before that, in fact the time leading up to the teeth popping through was far worse than when they popped through! We used these homeopathic teething drops that made a dramatic difference within about 60 seconds!
Preparing for Food
I personally wanted to breastfeed until 6 months, if my body could and Remington could too! I never approached it as a black and white issue, rather wanted to pay attention to Remington’s needs and be responsive to her. And pretty close to the 6 month mark, she started getting really hungry. A baby’s iron needs also surpass what breastmilk can provide at about 6 months, so it is important to start supplementing.
I am not a person to say “oh I should have done that…” but in hindsight, if I were to do it again, I would have introduced a bottle formula before her afternoon nap at about 5 months. I can see now that she probably needed a bit more food in her belly because once we started doing this before the afternoon nap at 7 months, this really helped solidify nap time.
We got her involved in the eating process, putting her close to the table our holding her while we ate. She was super interested in water cups, it was so cute!!