Life and Schedule update, v10 (26 months)

I realized that a few things have changed a lot since I last did one of these–over a year ago!–and I wanted to make note before I forget and before even more changes happen.

First and most obvious, they walk and run and talk now, ALL THE TIME. 🙂 Their little voices are really cute, especially when they’re singing the ABCs or Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. 🙂

Last summer, when they were 20 months old, we finally made the switch to sippy cups. It took a few tries to find the best one–that didn’t leak, and that didn’t frustrate them. (We settled on these: Munchkin Sippy Cups, 9 ounce) Soon afterward we cut out the post-nap milk (but kept the snack), as well as made the morning milk much less (maybe an ounce or two?). The evening milk is still a few ounces (approximately half of the sippy cup) and about half the time they ask for more.

By the time of the time change in the fall, before they turned two, their bedtime had been pushed back a little bit, from strictly 730 to 745/8pm. (We successfully moved them back a little bit for three nights so that on the last night, they went to bed at 9pm. Then the next night after the time change it was 8pm. Phew!)

Later in the fall/winter, it’s been pushed back more. Now we start getting them ready around 8 and go upstairs between 820 and 830 (which means that some nights, we don’t get out of their room until 9!). Sometimes bedtime is quick and easy, but more often it feels pretty drawn out. They have to each close all the doors in the hallway, we have to say goodnight to the animals on the projector, we sing our two regular songs and then a bonus song or two, and then there are hugs. Lately they’ve been demanding a lot more Daddy hugs and rejecting Mama. :/

The timeshift is a reaction to them suddenly waking up much earlier. We are not morning people, so when they started being up for the day around or before 7am, we were like, NO THANK YOU. Moving bedtime back meant that wakeup also moved back a little, back to the 730 range. AND even better, sometimes it’s 8am!

The naps have shifted a bit too. They used to go down around 12 or 1230, but for the last few months, it’s been 1pm. And as of January or so (so after they turned two), they have gotten shorter, generally 2-2.5 hours. This sucks a bit (I really liked taking my own naps during their naptime, or doing some work), but it also means we have more time to play before and after nap. Especially as the days are finally starting to get longer, that means that they can go outside after nap! We are eagerly awaiting those long summer days when we can go on walks after dinner again…

In general, there’s been a wonderful change in that they are never desperate for food or milk anymore. They used to get all desperate and hysterical and whiny about wanting to eat RIGHT NOW, but as they’ve gotten older, they don’t do that as much anymore. What they do do is beg for snacks. (We give them a mid-morning snack and a post-nap snack, but Emmett especially will ask for and eat crackers all day long. Of course we don’t let him, but it does get annoying to deal with saying no and dealing with his unhappy reaction.) Dinner is often around 6pm nowadays, which again gives us more flexibility with the afternoon and evening hours.

So here’s an actual timeline of a typical day:

745-8am: wake up and milk
830ish: breakfast (oatmeal with fruit puree)
10ish: snack
1130/12pm: lunch
1-3pm: nap
330/4pm: snack (usually a homemade fruit pouch)
545/6pm: dinner
730pm: milk
830ish: bedtime

Life and schedule update v9 (25 months)

The Sunday before their first birthday (late November), the babies dropped their morning nap. They stayed up until 12 or 1230 and then crashed. I was like, okay, they’re down to one nap a day now! It took a few weeks of being very cranky in the late afternoon, but only occasionally taking what we call a bonus nap, to get into the groove of being one-nap babies. (They’ll still take an extra nap sometimes, if they don’t sleep enough for the first one. But sometimes they’ll be super crabby and refuse to nap again.)

Their wakeup time has fluctuated just a bit, but is generally in the 7-30 range. This is pretty great, we think. I mean, we would rather not get up that early, but obviously it’s better than anything in the 6:00 hour!

Since that nap transition, we’ve also completely weaned then off formula and to (organic whole) cows’ milk! They go through a gallon every 3/4 days, which costs $6 at Trader Joe’s. In comparison, a can of formula used to last the same amount of time and cost $17. Slashed that budget by two-thirds!! They’ve also dropped a feeding/bottle, so now their schedule is the easiest yet: Bottle at wakeup, breakfast an hour later, lunch around 1130, two-hour-ish nap, bottle in mid-afternoon (between 2 and 3), dinner at 530, last bottle at 7, bedtime at 730. Additionally, we’ve been reducing the amounts in the bottles, so far to about six ounces each.

Yes, we still give them bottles, even though they’re over a year old. I know that they aren’t “supposed” to have bottles anymore, and “should” be using sippy cups or actual cups by now. I don’t even care. I don’t want to fight that battle, and I know plenty of people/babies who do bottles past one year old. We’ll get them to cups/sippies someday.

The babies have been going to daycare for a few months now. Except only sort of, because they keep getting sick and missing days. At daycare they’ve still been in the infant room, though the teachers started offering them the toddler lunch. It seems to be a crap shoot if they eat it, and sometimes only one wants any. The bigger issue at daycare is that they don’t really nap. For the first month or more, they only slept for like 20-40 minutes, instead of two hours. Ugh.

At home we’ve been a bit lazy about doing more “solid” solid food, so we still give them a lot of soft/runny foods (like applesauce and yogurt) and purees. We have started to work on giving them whole foods: small chunks of bread or bagel, actual peas, bites of pulled pork, chunk of cooked chicken, bits of fruit. So far we don’t have any big winners or foods that both babies will actually eat. Often they’ll eat a couple bites and then make a face and let the food dribble out of their mouth. Sigh. I’m trying not to fret too much that they aren’t eating all real-people food all the time yet. Last night we all went to an American restaurant and they ate most of a grilled cheese sandwich! I was pretty psyched about that. I do “know” that babies need several (or more than several) introductions/opportunities to try foods….I am just impatient and I want them to eat whatever we give them. 🙂 So like I said, we’re trying. We’ll get there eventually!

Sleep is definitely getting better in general. There aren’t many night wakeups. Lately since they’ve been sick, they get these big coughing fits randomly and sometimes they’ll wake themselves up. This tends to happen before we go to bed, though, and often they’ll be totally quiet the rest of the night. HOWEVER, there is supposed to be a 13-month sleep regression. The last two sleep regressions hit them about a month and a half late, which would put this one in February. That’s gonna be really hard after us all getting some good rest!

They’re really working on so many things–Malcolm is almost a walker, and they seem to be picking up a few signs, and they are into exploring everything. We’ve gotten to the point where we can’t eat or drink anything if we’re near them. Well, actually, I guess that’s been difficult for months now, but now they make all this noise (this kind of EEHHHHHH whine, like give it to me I want to tryyyy itttt) and dang, they can reach so far now! They like to play with utensils and food containers, they still like banging things together, and they still like opening and closing babygates and kitchen cupboards. They continue to aggressively love lift-the-flap books–they keep ripping off the flaps. Just this past week they suddenly figured out how to climb on and climb off their riding toys! So much going on in those little baby brains and bodies.

Life Right Now (Schedule update v8) (11 months)

In a word: Tired. (That’s us, though.)

Around the end of October or so, I guess around when they turned 11 months old, the babies ended up changing their routine in an important way–they basically dropped two feedings. We’ve also changed their sleep routine a little. And naps are in the process of changing too, I think.

They now wake up–rather, we get them up–a little later, around 7 or sometimes 730. This is a nice holdover from the sleep regression (they regularly slept until 730 because they were awake for so long overnight).

They still do their big (7oz) breakfast bottle right away, and then a breakfast of oatmeal and mashed banana around 830. They still go down for a nap around 10, but without another bottle. This week, the morning nap has been 45 minutes or less.

This change came about because twice I just totally forgot about that feeding–I put one or both babies down without remembering to give them a bottle. Mother of the year, right here! But the babies didn’t seem to notice or care. So, it became the routine. I figure if they were hungry, they would let me know and wouldn’t just fall asleep. Plus, I knew that as they are getting older, their liquid intake is supposed to taper off, so I wasn’t worried about them. (Plus, I really try not to stress about how much they eat or drink. It’s crazy-making if you do that, and there’s really no way to force a baby to eat if he doesn’t want to. [Medical issues notwithstanding, obviously.])

Around 12/1230, they have lunch of fruit puree and yogurt (plain whole-fat yogurt mixed with blueberry-banana puree that I make) and maybe some additional fresh fruit in mesh feeders (we were good about doing this over the summer but haven’t done it as much lately). Plus cheerios and puffs as a before/after play snack–a good way to keep them busy as everything else gets set up and then put away.

They’ll want 6ish ounces anywhere between 130 and 230, and then they go down for a nap. The last few months, the nap would start around 2, but lately it’s been starting after 3–some days as late as 4. And since the morning nap has been short this week, the afternoon nap is on the earlier side, and long. But sometimes it’s been flipped, or sometimes the babies switch–one takes a long morning nap, one takes a long afternoon nap. A couple terrible afternoons this past month, one baby has refused the afternoon nap altogether! Those were not fun times and thankfully it’s been a rare occurrence.

This later nap does mean an extended outing timeframe! We haven’t done much interesting stuff yet, but it’s a relief to have a little more wiggle room. However, it does mean that we really need to bring bottles when we go out, because when they get hungry they get HUNGRY and do NOT want to wait to get home!

After the nap, they want a little snack–a couple ounces maybe. (I’ve been trying to work in some (organic, whole) milk for that snack instead of formula, since they’re supposed to be off formula by 12 months or so. We will not hit that deadline, but whatever.) Then they have dinner around 545. They eat veggie puree, meat puree, and again some cheerios and puffs.

Their 8.5oz dinner bottle is now at 7pm. We used to do it by 630 because they would get so crazy cranky. But as they’ve gotten older, we noticed that they will happily play a little longer before getting fussy. We really pushed it the week leading up to the time change, and we’ve been able to stick with it being a little later. I am now being more careful to do it right at 7, though, instead of in a range around 7. I suppose I do that to build routine for all of us, and so they don’t end up staying up too late. After they take as much of the bottle as they can (Malcolm will usually finish his and Emmett will leave a few ounces), they will play a bit, we read them a couple stories, and then at 730 (again, actually *at* the time), we bring them upstairs, for the last of the bottles if needed, a song, and goodnight kisses. They usually settle and quiet almost immediately.

There are still occasional wakings during the night, but most of them are pretty quick to deal with. Generally it just means that we, the adults, aren’t getting super great sleep.

It’s so interesting how our babies have changed and adapted what they want to eat/drink over time. They’re getting hungrier and more demanding at the solid mealtimes. Which is good! (Now we have to start thinking about non-pureed food. Ugh.) But a lot of the bottle routine I think was the babies being used to the routine, rather than hunger. But eventually I can start noticing their actual cues and adjust what we give them. I couldn’t believe that they dropped so much liquid so quickly! That cut down their intake by like a third! And with hardly any transition time.

I know that there are a ton of transitions on the horizon–they’ll drop one of the naps (and the process of that transition must be a nightmare of constant fussiness), they’ll start eating regular food, they’ll start working on feeding themselves, which means the meal messes will increase exponentially. They’ll transition off formula and in theory off bottles entirely. Maybe they’ll start sleeping better again, which would be nice. I think they’ll be walking in the next month or two, which means a whole new level of vigilant supervision and babyproofing. Blergh.

But maybe they’ll start talking too, or at least making clear attempts to communicate, and they’ll be able to do and understand a lot more. I do think that part will be fun and fascinating!

Mostly I just can’t believe that they’ll be a year old next week!! How is that possible?!

Life with Babies Now: Schedule v6 and v7 (8 months)

I think it was around May or so, when the babies were around six months, that their nice schedule of 3-4 45 minute naps a day dissolved. What was good was they started occasionally taking longer naps, sometimes an hour, sometimes an hour and a half, and very occasionally two hours. What was bad was that there was no rhyme or reason to the naps. Even worse was that the naps almost never occurred fully at the same time.

They started waking up earlier too, around 6-630 (instead of 7-730). They would take a 45 minute nap around 830 or 9, eat at 10, sleep for an hour or more sometime after that, eat at 1pm, take a nap sometime in the afternoon for an hour to hour and a half, eat around 4 (sometimes they would sleep through and eat later), sometimes a short nap around 5, and last bottle at 630.

So they were still eating every three hours or so, but I started to notice that those naps overlapped feeding times often enough. So for the last month or so (?) I’ve been doing more of a ‘demand’ feeding time frame–basically waiting for them to start getting cranky and clearly hungry. Interestingly there was flexibility in the two afternoon feedings but not the others. No matter when they had the second to last bottle, at 630 or so they always get super upset and hungry and needing dinner.

Also, the fourth mini-nap became even more important. If they didn’t get enough rest, the last two hours of the day were always rough because they were so tired/cranky. I would try to put them down around 5pm for a little catnap, but most of the time they refused to sleep.

It was nice to occasionally have a long quiet time by myself (on the days I was home with them), but we were also trapped at home. During the week I didn’t bother trying to even plan outings because of the erratic nap schedule. On weekends, we’ve still been doing at least one outing after their lunch bottle, even though it often interrupts or prevents naps.

Last week the babies suddenly decided that they wanted some regularity again and put themselves on a new schedule. It’s also nice because there are big windows to do regularly scheduled ‘meals’ of solids.

Wake up: 6/630

Breakfast solids: 8ish

Second bottle: 930ish

Morning Nap: 10ish-11ish (sometimes an hour and a half)

Lunch solids: 12ish

Lunch bottle: 130ish

Afternoon Nap: 2ish-4ish

“Snack” bottle: 430

Dinner solids: 530

Dinner bottle: 630

Two naps a day! And they’re back to being mostly simultaneous. Sometimes there’s an overlap; one will go down up to half an hour after the other one. And it seems like one or both of them have been waking up a little bit/for a little while during the afternoon nap.

Two to four pm had been our ‘outing time’ for the last number of months, and now that will need to change a bit, I think. Since that’s now such a major nap for the day we should keep it as sacred as possible. We’ll have to use the 11am-2pm window to get out and about, which also means they’ll have to eat while out and about, which is not easy or fun or quick.

Again, this all happened last week. So I’m hoping that A) it sticks and B) those little pips get ironed out. Already I like looking at the day knowing what’s going to happen. I hope to start getting out a little more, for walks and maybe some playdates again.

Nighttime Baby Playlist! (Schedule update v5) (4ish months)

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This latest schedule is not too different from before, but a little more refined, and a lot more regular. Feels a little more settled and permanent. And I hope so, actually, I think it works quite nicely.

730ish–Andy gets babies up, first feeding

900am–nap for 45 minutes

1000am–feeding

1100am–nap for 45 mins

100pm–feeding

200pm–nap for 45 mins

400pm–feeding

500pm–nap for 30 mins**

615pm–begin bedtime routine/last feeding

700-730pm–babies upstairs in bed

DSC_2265-1**I have just begun forcing this nap on them. For weeks the time between 5 and 630 was filled with extreme crankiness and screaming until they crashed at some point. And no wonder, if they’ve been awake for so long. So a week ago I put them down at 5pm for a nap, and they slept for half an hour. And ta-da, there was no screaming! What a much better time for all!

With that exception, the babies have actually set their own naptimes; a few weeks ago I finally started paying attention to the times they got sleepy and noted that it was pretty consistent. They start rubbing their eyes, yawning here and there, and doing that sleepy whimper thing before they actually fall asleep. I’ve gotten good at ‘nap training’ them–I put them down (I had been switching between the co-sleeper and the Rock N Play, but as of this week they’ve been gradually doing more of their naps in the crib) at the scheduled time. Even if they’re awake and cranky. I’ll very briefly shush them and pat them and smile, but then I walk away. I’m a bit ruthless and have to tell Andy or the nanny–seriously, they’re okay, they’re sleepy, just leave them alone. It used to take 20 minutes of fussing before they crashed, but lately the fussing lasts a much shorter time. Especially at the first nap of the day.

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We began the room transition two weeks ago and also introduced the crib during some naps. As of last week they’re taking all naps and sleeping at night in their crib. (Second crib needs to be built; they’re getting too big to share.)

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Feedings have gotten a little more labor intensive, as both babies have become very distracted while eating. They smile a lot and move their heads around, and use their hands to grab at/push away their bottle. Emmett has his own brand of feeding fussiness: he’ll be fine until we stop to burp, and then as soon as we lay him back down and pop the bottle in, he turns red and starts screaming. When we pick him up and stand up, he’s perfectly happy again. Lay him down, he screams. We’ve come up with all kinds of techniques to minimize this time of screaming and struggle. He has to be lain down and calmed, and then usually he’ll be okay to eat again. To calm him, we’ve currently hit on a combination of pacifier + taggie blanket + shushing app (sometimes). The blanket seems to distract him and comfort him. Who knows how long this strategy will work though!

In the last week, we tried giving him the faster-flow level 2 bottle nipple, and that seems to make him much happier. He sucks down his food super fast and has had hardly any freakouts. Hallelujah!

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Bedtime routine begins at 615pm, because even with a recent nap, they suddenly get fussy and cranky around then. I mentioned it before, but our routine entails putting babies into sleepsacks, turning off all the lights but one, and turning on a nighttime playlist, and eating on the couch with us.  If they’re awake after they finish eating, we’ll read them another book. We bring them upstairs usually by 730, sometimes earlier and sometimes later. Sometimes they’re awake when we take them up, sometimes they’re asleep.

For music, we have the Rockabye Baby Lullaby CD that we play sometimes. Mostly, we put on a long playlist I made (on shuffle so we don’t get tired of hearing the same songs all the time). It is the lamest, whitest playlist you’ll ever hear, but it’s relaxing and I like it. 🙂

Andrea Bocelli, Sogno album

Enya, Paint the Sky with Stars album

Yanni, In My Time album

Sinead Lohan, No Mermaid album

Angelica and Miserere, tracks from Paul Schwartz, State of Grace

Somewhere Over the Rainbow, The Wizard of Oz

Stay Awake, Mary Poppins

Lullaby, Pink Martini, Sympathique

Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World, Israel K.

Rainbow Connection, Kermit the Frog

 

Schedule update, v4 (3-4 months)

Well, just as I suspected, the babies did indeed change their own feeding schedule a few days ago. They happily took 6 ounces at each feeding and were able to wait for the whole three hours to eat again (we’d been giving them 5oz and they were getting hungry for snacks and wanting to eat again at 2.5 hours).

This meant they ate thirty ounces in only twelve hours, so they were ready to go to to bed at 7pm instead of 10pm!

Very happily, we discovered that this new schedule does prevent the screaming overtired witching hour! Though they still do get a little crazy if we don’t start on time, which apparently needs to be 6pm.

We weren’t sure what this would be mean for their sleeping schedule. So far it’s very similar in that they, or at least one of them, awakens and stirs/makes some noise. The timing has also moved up, though, so that has been starting in the 4am hour. Which suuucks.

We get them up for the day between 6-630am. (Before, it had been 8-830am.) This is really early and both of us hate getting up early even when we’ve had enough sleep. Which of course neither of us do, anymore.

Speaking of sleep…I’m working on getting a teeny bit more. This week I have successfully gotten down to only FOUR pumps per day! This is very exciting for me. During the day I now go 5-6 hours between each pumping session, and 7ish at night! It gives me so much more time and freedom during the day. Woohoo! If I time it correctly, I can get about six hours of sleep. That’s only happened a couple times, and it’s only an hour more than I’ve been getting for almost four months, but I’m telling myself it still makes a difference.

Our evenings are so much better now. The babies are upstairs asleep by 730 or so. We have the whole rest of the night! Time for dinner! For tv! For actually catching up with photos!  I don’t have to stay up until 1 or 2am either, so it’s all quality time instead of forcing my eyes to stay open for that last hour or two.

This is the best schedule yet. I am so impressed and happy with our babies for being so awesome and putting themselves on a great schedule!

Schedule update v3: Current schedule (3.5 months)

Babies already seem to be transitioning themselves yet again, so I wanted to document our recent schedule.

It’s been a little over two weeks since the babies spontaneously slept through the night. It wasn’t a fluke–they are still sleeping well! (There have been two times when one baby woke up in the middle of the night and wanted a little extra to eat. We also think that one of them has had a bad dream a couple times–sudden loud crying that sounds different than normal, but the baby quieted right down when picked up and was actually still asleep.)

They sleep really well at the beginning of the night, but they do start stirring anytime around 6 or 7am. We usually get them up between 730 and 830, depending on how they’re doing. Since wakeup times vary, their daily feedings schedule also varies. However, we have started doing the bedtime ‘routine’ always around 9pm. We put on music (I have a playlist in iTunes and also a Rockabye Baby lullaby CD), turn off all the lights but one lamp, dress them in their swaddle blankets, and then feed them. They’re usually upstairs by 10pm.

They’re still on an every-three-hours schedule, though we usually do 2 1/2 hours for the last two feedings so we can start the last one at 9pm. They’ve been eating 5oz at each feeding, taking a total of 30oz or so.

Just lately they’ve been getting hungry every 2 to 2 1/2 hours all day, and wanting extra after finishing their bottles. So yesterday I gave them 5 1/2oz at a couple feedings, and today gave them 6oz at a couple feedings. They were still getting hungry before three hours were up! But they ate enough that the 9pm bedtime feeding was only 2oz.

However! The flipside of sleep awesomeness has been evening fussiness. They’ve been going a little crazy between 7-8pm. Lots of crying and screaming and unhappiness. After a couple nights of this, we finally brought out the swing I got last fall that we never used, and found that it lulled the babies out of their crying jags and occasionally to sleep. Phew. So we’ve been able to minimize the crazy by rotating babies between the swing, sling/Bjorn, bouncer or rocker. The last couple nights have been extra fussy and screamy, and we’ve pulled out the Baby Shusher app again, to some success.

The evening fussiness, napping after 7pm, and quick falling asleep after 9pm make it pretty clear that they need to be asleep for the night closer to 7pm than 9pm. Which makes sense–babies this age are supposed to be getting 12-13 hours of nighttime sleep. We haven’t been sure how to feed them the last feeding if they were already ‘in bed.’

Well, it seems like the babies are once again solving their own problems: I think they’re working toward taking 6oz five times a day, instead of 5oz six times a day. From now on I’m going to offer 6oz at each feeding and see if we can get them down for the night around 7pm.

We also need to finally get them into their own room. (We’d still keep them in their Rock N Plays at first, then start transitioning to the crib.) We’ve been a bit lazy about it but I think we’re both reluctant for emotional reasons too. We’ve been saying we’re moving them for at least three weeks, I think. But we’ll do it soon for real, I mean it.