The Walking Dead

In those glorious university days when I had time in between lectures I would often head back to my condo, curl up in my bed and take a nap….or what I considered a nap.  They would regularly last 3 hours.  My roommates quickly pointed out to me that for some this wouldn’t constitute a nap, but a full night’s sleep (I expect these are “people” who must be robots rather than human beings).  My friends would eventually dub them “(my name) Naps.” You can call them “Foreigner Naps.”

So as I’m sure you can predict, one of my biggest fears while I was pregnant was that I would become a Mombie or a Mommy Zombie, strolling around like the Walking Dead and resenting The Duchess for stealing my precious sleep for weeks, months, possibly years.  As a thirsty man walking through a blazing desert hallucinates about water, I feared I would hallucinate about my Foreigner Naps and eventually lose my mind.

For this reason I decided to read up a bit on sleep routines and how to get a baby to sleep through the night as soon as humanly possibly.  I will admit that I don’t think ONE method or ONE “professional’s” opinion is the be-all, end-all so I tried to listen to what different people were saying and make a decision that would best suit us.

I ended up picking up The New Contented Little Baby Book by Gina Ford.

She claims that your baby is more contented when they know what to expect and when they are getting good sleep.  She outlines how to go about implementing a structured routine and make changes to that routine as the baby gets older.  Once The Duchess was feeding well I started to put some of her principles in place (I say “some” because she was too hardcore for me, but I felt I could use what she was saying with flexibility).  Gina Ford is pretty controversial because where in the UK midwife’s instruct expectant mothers to let babies feed on demand, Gina Ford instructs you to set a schedule for feeding and specifically get them into a routine where they are having sufficient feeds during the day so that you know they don’t need those feeds at night.  And the result?  The Duchess began to sleep through the night between 6-8 weeks old and thank goodness because I’m sure that I would have dropped dead from exhaustion (well, at least felt like I was nearly dead).  My hunch is most American moms veer towards this kind of method because while UK maternity leave is 9 months, America’s is generally 8 weeks.

She will have an off night from time to time and I’m sure once teeth start to make their appearance, we will be in for a very unwelcome block of sleep deprivation, but I’m so glad that we put our own spin on Ford’s principles and got her to sleep early or else that Mombie would have been curled up in a corner in the fetal position muttering something about the glory days of 3 hour naps….

Question: My very ill-informed take on things is that my American friends seem more likely to put practices like Ford into place (perhaps because maternity leave is only 8 weeks).  Are you British or American?  How did you approach the sleep/feeding issue?  With what results?


6 thoughts on “The Walking Dead

  1. Teri

    All three of you were fed “on demand” for the first 6 weeks and eventually worked out your own schedule.

    Fortunately, I was blessed that even at the youngest of age all of you picked up how important sleep was to me and slept through the night at approximately 4 to 5 weeks old. No complaints here!!!

    While reading material and listening to other people is extremely helpful to new mothers, I think as a parent you go with what feels right for you.

  2. Deborah

    American- I breast fed both of my babies (still am nursing the second). I tried with my first to keep him on a 2-3 hour feeding schedule, but I’m drawing a blank as to how long I kept that up, eventually I learned he would stop crying almost always if I fed him, so that’s what we ended up doing. He started sleeping through the night between 6-8 weeks. My second I have always just fed her on demand and she also started sleeping through the night between 6-8 weeks. I guess I didn’t really think it worked well to try to get a breast fed baby on a schedule, (my doctor also says feed on demand). I would say most breast fed babies I know who have moms that do try to keep them on a schedule tend to be a little more fussy… but that’s just my experience.

  3. Living Life as an Expat Parent Post author

    Thanks for those comments, ladies. I demand fed The Duchess for the first 3-4 weeks as I wanted to make sure everything was going well before I tried a schedule with her. What I mean by schedule (in case you weren’t sure) is that instead of waiting for her to give me signs that she was ready for a feed or for her to wake up for one, I would wake her up and feed her within a certain time window. She’s not a fussy girl and she may have been one of those babies that would have started sleeping through the night as a demand fed baby, but I suppose I wanted to try and help the process along, if that was at all possible…for selfish reasons more than anything! I would love to do a poll to see who has done demand feeding and who has done a routine from the beginning and ask how successful it was. Find it really interesting!

    While she’s good at night, the thing I am struggling with now is her naps/tiredness during the day. #1) I’m always taking the pram out or driving somewhere and she’s choosing to go to sleep to movement. No Bueno. #2) She only fusses when she’s tired, but she only takes cat naps! I need to find out if it’s possible to get that child to sleep for one long nap during the day. The Duchess thinks she needs to see everyone and everything!

    1. Deborah

      Emmy did that catnap thing for awhile too, It is super annoying. For a long time she would only sleep for any good length of time if she was in the swing, and then she will sleep as long as the swing is going and her brother isn’t running around being loud. However we seem to be slowly breaking that habit. Although I confess when I really need a nap or to get something done and she’s not cooperating or choosing to cat nap, in the swing she goes! Good luck! It sounds like you are doing a great job with her, she is blessed to have a mommy like you!

  4. Pingback: And The Truth Is « Living Life as an Expat Parent

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