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Posts Tagged ‘Babywise (-wise parenting series)’

What is Free Play?

Free Play “refers to planned and impromptu times when baby, pretoddler, and toddler plays with his or toys at a place center.” A play center is a “small, safe area containing a basket or bin of age-appropriate toys that he can go to and choose what he wants to play with (pre-toddlerwise p.155) You can have play centers in different areas of your house- the kitchen, living room, play room, and even your bathroom. That way if you ever need to be in a room, your child can easily have free play in that room with you. Free Play is called free play because the child choose the toys that he/she wants to play with rather than the parent choosing (like during structured play time).  You need to supervise their play time, you just don’t want to interfere with their play choices. This is also a time to allow them to play on their own. During this time they learn to play and use problem-solving techniques, but only if you don’t interfere in their play. If you notice your child having trouble with a particular toy, let them try to figure it out on their own for a while before you jump in to help.

How Many toys should I allow my child to have during Free Play?

According to the -wise series, you should have designated play centers that contain toys for your child to choose from. I would only allow 4-5 toys in this learning center at a time. For instance, for a 15 month old boy, I might include- a few books, a few cars, an interactive lights/ sounds toy, and some toy blocks. A 10 month old might have, a teething toy, some books, light/ sounds toy, and some stuffed animals. An older toddler girl might have, a purse with some items inside, books, one light/sounds toy, and some play food. I have found that if you have too many toys, it overwhelms the child and they have more difficult sustaining their attention during play time. I don’t have a play center in my play room. When my son has free play in his play room, I just take down a few toys for him to play with at a time. I certainly do not take out all of his toys. I use to have all his toys on the ground at his disposable, but this was a terrible decision. His attention span for each toy was very short and he would easily grow bored and need assistance during play. Once I limited the amount of toys he could play with during free play, he played with each toy longer and he would play happily by himself for longer stretches without needing my assistance.

How long should free play last?

Good question. I think this depends on the child. You want to keep free play from being too long. If it is too long, you will notice your child starting to become more clingy to you, start developing some behavioral issues, or plays with his toys improperly. The key is keeping the length just long enough before they get to that point. I have found that between 15-30 minutes is a good amount of time for free play for older babies (5-12 months), 30 minutes of free play to be a good time amount for pre-toddlers (12-18 months), and for older toddlers (<18 months), 30 minutes- 1 hours is a good time amount. Just watch your child for signs that free play should end.

When should I do free play? How often should I do free play?

Again this all depends on your child. I think a general rule of thumb is to allow them to have free play when they are well rested and well feed, which will prevent behavioral problems during free play. For my son I find the best time to do free play is right after he wakes up in the morning, after his afternoon nap, and after he has been outside for a walk or outside to play. You can do free play as often as your schedule needs. I have two free play times schedule into my son’s current schedule. I like to have a morning free play and an afternoon free play. Here is his schedule at 15 months old:

7:00-8:00 Wake Up & Play in Crib
8:00- 8:30 Free Play

8:30-9:00 DVD/ TV
9:00-9:30 Breakfast
9:30-9:45 Potty
9:45- 10:45 Independent Play (Roomtime)
10:45-11:30 Bath & Get Dressed for Day
11:30-12:15 Unstructured Time (run errands/ play outside/ or additional free play if bad weather)
12:15-12:45 Lunch
12:45-1:00 Potty & Quite Time before Nap
1:00-3:45 Nap
3:45-4:15 Structured Play & Snack
4:15- 4:45 Blanket Time
4:45-5:15 Walk Outside
5:15-5:45 Free Play
5:45-6/6:30 Independent Play (Roomtime)
6/6:30 Dinner
6:30/7 Family Play Time
7:45 Bedtime Routine
8:00 Bedtime

What if my child is clingy and will not play on his own during Free Play?

Just redirect your child when he/she comes up to you and demands your attention. I would take him back to his play center or area he is suppose to be playing and say, ” (name), no, it is play time, stay here.” or “(name), no, mommy is busy, play with your (name a specific toy).” You might even show him how to start playing with a specific toy and then leave the room. I would just keep redirecting him and redirecting him back to his play area and toys. When free play is over, even if you have redirected him like 20 times, make sure to praise him for playing on his own in his playroom. Remember that children go through stages of separation anxiety, and if they are having trouble playing on their own, it may only be a short lived phase. Try not be a helicopter parents, allow your child to figure things out for their own- this will assist his independence and ability to play on his own.

Benefits of Free Play for the Parent

Free play is a great time where I can get things done around the house. My son’s play room is right next to the kitchen so I am usually preparing a meal or cleaning up the kitchen. I also use my kitchen to do my sewing and check email and blog on my computer. I can keep an eye on my son and he is also not too far away that he feels isolated. My son often walks between the kitchen and the playroom. That is okay with. If he tends to linger to long, I will redirect him back to his play room and toys like I mentioned above. If I have to be in another room of the house, I usually take a small tub of toys with me that contain a few toys. I use this portable tub when I am putting clothes away in my room, cleaning another room, or just getting ready in that bathroom. Cooper will happily play with his tub of toys and I can get things done without a toddler clinging to my leg. Just make sure the tub of toys are interesting to your child and rotate them often to keep them from getting boring.

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What is the 45 minute intruder?

The 45 minute intruder is a term that was coined in the book Baby Wise, but this is not a Baby Wise phenomenon. The 45 minute intruder refers to when your baby wakes up from a nap or nighttime sleep after only being asleep for 45-50 minutes. Why are some babies waking up at this point? Well, if they are in a growth spurt, it might be because they are hungry. However, if they are not in a growth spurt and are well feed it could be related to their sleep cycles. Babies cycle from light, deep, and back to light sleep in about 45-50 minutes. When your baby returns to light sleep, they may partialy arouse. If they hear a noise, smell something funny, realize they are too hot or cold, or are conditioned to need a sleep prop such as rocking or nursing to sleep, they will have difficulty returning to sleep to complete another sleep cycle. For more information on sleep cycles, read my post entitled “infant sleep cycles”https://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/04/13/infant-sleep-cycles/

Other possible causes for waking 45-50 minutes into a nap could be due to being overtired, overstimulate, or not enough wake/ play time. If you keep your baby up too longer, they may be too tired and wake up early from a nap. Or perhaps you had company over and everyone was playing with your baby, that may have overstimulated your child. Both overstimulation and overtiredness can cause a baby to wake early out of a nap. Make sure you are following your son/ daughter’s naps cues and you get them down for a nap before this occurs. For more on this read my post entitled “Sleep Windows: Get them to bed before it’s too late”  https://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/04/23/sleep-windows-get-them-to-bed-before-its-too-late/ It may be possible that you did not keep your child up long enough. That happen to my son a couple of times. I put him down for his nap and he fall asleep relatively easy, but would wake up 45 minutes into his nap. It occurred to me that he was getting older and may need to stay awake longer. I adjusted his awake time and that solved the waking up at 45 minutes. I believe he just was not tired enough to take a long nap. For more about appropriate awake time lengths see my post entitled, “Baby & Infant Daily Schedules” https://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/04/16/infant-schedules/

My son had chronic 45 minute napping problems

My son has chronic problems with the 45 minute intruder from the time he was 2 months up until he was 4.5 months old (maybe even almost 5 months old). You could set a stop watch and he would wake exactly 45-50 minutes into each of his naps. It use to make me nuts. At first, I thought he was a short napper, but he would wake up fussy. According to Baby Wise and The Baby Whisperer, your baby should not fussy if they just woke up from a nap and you’ve feed them upon waking. The Baby Wise book says that it can last a few day or even two weeks–ha! This lasted for 2.5-3 months. I never thought I would see the day when he would sleep straight through a nap.  By the time he hit 4.5 months old, he was sleeping through most of his naps without waking. We still had the occasional 45 minute intruder, but that was about 20% of the time. Now he is 7 months old and my son rarely ever wakes up early from a nap unless he is in a growth spurt, has a dirty diaper, or a sound from our condo building has stirred him.

What I did to get through the 45 minute intruder

Lay a firm hand on his chest: a little before the 45 minute mark, I would creep into his room and place my hand on his chest. I would press firmly on his chest and apply a little pressure. This kept him from startling himself awake when he was transitioning from one sleep cycle to the next. I did this when my son was very young around 4-8 weeks old.

Swaddle/ Sound Machine: I started to swaddle my son really tight so he would not startle himself awake. This helped a lot. I bought a swaddle me (http://www.kiddopotamus.com/p_swad.php), but then I added an extra step to the swaddle me. I took a piece of cloth from a receiving blanket and would lay it behind his back and weave the fabric over his arms and tuck it behind his back again. This kept his arms good and snug so there was no way he could break free while napping. This kept his body from jerking himself awake. I got this idea from the miracle blanket. Watch their instructional video clip to see how I modified the swaddle me to keep his arms snug. http://www.miracleblanket.com/video.htm I also used a fan and later a sound machine to block out the noise he may have heard from living in a condo building. Both of these things helped greatly, but we still had our issues. The most important thing is to make sure you create a good sleep environment that eliminates as much stimulus as possible. For more on creating a good sleep environment read my post called “Creating a Good Sleep Environment” https://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/04/27/create-a-good-sleep-environment/

Cry-It-Out (CIO): Around 10 weeks old, I believe that I start to just let Cooper cry-it-out at the 45 minute mark. The first week I started this, he would cry for almost 45 minutes until it was time to get up for his next feeding. But it only took a week, and after that if he woke up at the 45 minute mark, he would only cry for 5-15 minutes and then fall back to sleep for another sleep cycle of 45-50 minutes. This pattern of waking up at the 45 minute mark and crying lasted for about a month (the entire time he was 3 months old). The nice thing was, when I finally got him up to feed him he was always happy and well rested! Then around 4 months old, he would still wake up at the 45 minute mark, but just fuss or cry a tiny bit and drift back to sleep right away!

Other Nap Intervention Suggestions

I have not tired these various methods, but I have a friend who used the PU/PD method with great success. I have used the wake-to-sleep at night, but never during the day. It worked great for me at night. Both of these strategies come from the book The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems. (p.251)

Wake-to-Sleep: “Instead of waiting for her to wake, go into her room at 30 minutes, because that’s when she starts to come out of a deep sleep…pat her gently until you see her body relax again. It could take 15-20 minutes of gentle patting. If she starts to cry, though, you’ll have to send her back to sleep with PU/PD.”

PU/PD (Pick Up/ Put Down): This method is intended for a baby 4 month or older. You pick your child up while he is crying and the minute he stops crying you put him back in his crib. If he starts crying, pick him up again. Then if he stops crying, place him in the crib again. You will repeat the pick up/ put down until he stops crying and will fall asleep in his crib on his own. “Granted the first time you try this remedy either situation, you might spend the entire nap period doing PU/PD. and then it’s time for the next feeding. Now both of you are tired! Because sticking to the routine is as important as lengthening her nap, you need to feed her and then try to keep her up at least half and hour before putting her down for her next nap- at which point you’ll probably have to do PU/PD again because she is overtired.” Just keep repeating the PU/ PD until he quietly lays in his crib without crying. (The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems p.221-224) I have a friend who used this method with her son with great success. For more on this method read: https://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/05/11/pupd-pick-up-put-down-baby-whisperers-sleep-training-method/

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FACT #1: Establish a good schedule (eat, wake, sleep)

If this is the only thing you take from baby wise, then great! Babies thrive from consistence. If you are constantly changing up the schedule and routine daily, your child will have a more difficult time achieving good nighttime sleep. Every day should have consistency with a wake up time that is the same every day (our’s is 7am) and a bedtime that is the same every day (our’s is 7pm now). In between the start and close of each day, your child will cycle through several eat, wake, sleep cycles. This trains you child to not become dependent on nursing or bottle feeding to fall asleep. And beleive it or not, this helps with nighttime sleep too. If you babies wakes in the middle of the night, she may be able to put herself back to sleep if she is not dependent on nursing or bottle feeding to fall asleep. For more on eat, wake, sleep cycles see my post entitled “Infant & Baby Schedules”  https://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/04/16/infant-schedules/

FACT #2: Keep Sleep Props to a minimum

Baby Wise urges parents to stay away from sleep props such as nursing or rocking baby to sleep or sleeping with your baby in a shared bed. There is nothing wrong with any of these sleep props. There are many parents who do this with their children and it works for their family. But if you are attempting to use parent-directed feeding and Baby Wise, these sleep props will hinder your progress. The goal of Baby Wise is to help teach children how to fall asleep on their own without someone’s help. Having said that, I will say that I believe it is okay to rock your baby to the point of drowsiness before laying her in her crib. Just don’t allow them to fall sleep in your arms.  For more on putting your baby to bed drowsy but awake see my post “Put Your Baby To Bed Drowsy But Awake” https://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/04/09/put-baby-to-bed-drowsy-but-awake/

FACT #3: Some crying will happen (Cry-It-Out)

If you are using Baby Wise, then they recommend putting your baby in his own crib awake. Some babies will fuss or cry in their crib before falling asleep. Baby Wise suggests allowing your baby to cry for up to 15 minutes. If your child is still crying after 15 minutes, go in a check on him. You might want to pat him on the back or hold him in your arms for a little.  Then leave the room and try again. Every baby is different, if I showed my face even after 15 minutes my son would cry longer and harder.  I had to learn that when we where in the heat of sleep training (Cry-It-Out), I had to just leave him be. We had a video monitor so we could make sure he was okay. Thankfully, the hard nights really only lasted for 3-5 days, maybe 7 days at the most.  We started putting my son to bed awake by drowsy when he was 4/5 weeks old at night. At first he would cried for 20 minutes before falling asleep, but it did not take long (maybe 4-5 days) and his crying diminished. I believe by the time he was  3 months old, he rarely cried going to sleep at night. If he did cry, it was because he was overstimulated and needs to blow off steam.

FACT #4: Some babies make noise, fuss, or cry during sleep transitions (so don’t rush in)

Babies sleep cycle are about every 45-50 minutes. During this transition from one sleep sleep cycle to the next, your baby may partially arouse and make noise, fuss, move around, or even cry. As hard as it is, don’t rush into their room to check on them. Give them a few minutes to settle. “Sometimes you may think your baby is waking up when she’s actually going though a phase of light slumber. She could be squirming, startling, fussing, or even crying- and still be asleep. Or she may be awake by on the verge of drifting off again if left alone. Don’t make the mistake of trying to comfort her during these moments; you’ll only awaken her further and delay her going back to sleep. Instead, if you let her fuss and even cry for a few minutes, she’ll learn to get herself to sleep without relying on you (BW p. 146)” My son use to wake from his naps in between sleep cycles (45 minute intruder) and would cry for 5-15 minutes when he was 2-4 months old. I learned to leave him alone or he would never complete a full nap and be cranky. For more on baby’s sleep cycle read my post entitled “Infant Sleep Cycles” https://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/04/13/infant-sleep-cycles/

Important Reminders

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I have used many of the baby wise principals with my son. I have followed a lot of the advice they have given about feeding schedules. They have worked really well so far. I exclusively breastfeed Cooper until he was almost 5 months old. My son is now 7 months old and I am still breastfeeding and have not lost my milk supply. I should also add that Cooper has always been in the 50 %ile for weight and 90-95 %ile for height.

Common Issues with Baby Wise and Breastfeeding

I have hear the common issues that people have when it comes to babywise- “you can decrease you milk supply or lose it all together if you follow babywise and your child may have failure to thrive. After following a feeding schedule that is similar to the one they suggest in baby wise, I can understand why that might happen. People misinterpret how to implement baby wise while they are breast feeding which results in low milk supply (or loose ability to nurse) and children who fail to thrive. I wanted to give some helpful suggestions to make sure this does not happen to you!

Don’t feed by the clock- this type of feeding schedule is not baby wise. Baby wise is a parent-directed feeding schedule. This type of feeding schedule has designated feeding times, but also allows for some variation due to child’s hunger. For instants, let’s say you’re feeding schedule looked something like this- 7am, 10am, 1pm, 4pm, 7pm, 10pm. If you child is suppose to eat at 10am but is crying and fussy at 9:50 should you make them wait an additional 10 minutes to eat- no, that is hyper scheduling! The schedule serves as a guide line for when to feed and how to schedule naps. It helps you as a parent know when to expect your child to be hungry. This was great when my son was a newborn. I knew if he was crying around a scheduled feeding time he was most likely hungry.  But if he was crying and he had just eaten a hour prior, he most likely was not hungry and perhaps he was tired or had gas. Babywise gave this diagram to help drive home the point to not feed only by the clock:

Hunger Cue + Clock + Parent Assessment = Feeding Time

Feed More Frequently During Growth Spurts- During a growth spurt, you will need to feed your baby more frequently if you are nursing. This will help stimulate your breasts to start producing more milk. If you fail to follow your child’s hunger cues, you could damage your milk supply. The result is less milk and a fussy, underfeed baby. If you were feeding on a 3- hour schedule, consider moving back to a 2.5 hour schedule to fit in an extra feeding. Remember to follow your child’s hunger cue’s and feed your baby when she is hungry. Growth spurts really don’t last longer than a few days, a week at most. Yes your schedule will be a little messed up for a few days. Don’t fear, after the growth spurt is over, you little one will return to the previous schedule fairly easy.

Add a feeding- Once your child is on a 4-hour schedule, that means you will only need to feed your little one 4 times a day. Your schedule might look like this- 7am, 11am, 3pm, 7pm. For some breastfeeding mom’s 4 feedings is not enough. Baby wise recognizes this and writes, “Your baby will maintain four to six liquid feeding in a 24- hour period, three of which will be supplemented by babyfood.” Some moms can nurse 4 times and maintain milk supply but others cannot. If you are on a 4 hour schedule, how do you fit in the 6 feedings to maintain milk supply? You can add the late night feeding (dreamfeed), this is the feeding you usually give to your child after they have been asleep around 10/11pm before you go to sleep. You could also try cluster feeding in the evening since your milk supply is lower at night any way. Your schedule might look like this- 7am, 11am, 3pm, 5pm, 7pm, with an optional late night feeding at 10/11pm. Once your baby is older and will stay awake longer, they may not be on a perfect 4 hour eat, wake, sleep cycle. NOTE: if you see your milk supply dipping, just add an additional feeding.  Shorten the length between feeding to accomplish this.

Pump: Once your little one is sleeping through the night and no longer taking the late night feeding (dreamfeed) you may only be breastfeeding 4 times a day. I tried doing that, but my milk supply started to dip. I added a 5 feeding, but I pump this feeding right before I go to sleep between 10/11pm. I save the milk that I pump and use it in his cereal for the next day. Once I added the 5 feeding back with pumping, I was able to maintain a healthy milk supply.

Here is what my feeding schedule looks like with my 7 month old currently:

  • 7am Breastfeed/ breakfast
  • 10am nap (1.5 hours)
  • 11:30 breastfeed/ lunch
  • 2:30 nap (1.5 hours)
  • 4:00 breastfeed
  • 6:00 Dinner
  • 7:00 Breastfeed
  • 10/11:00 Pump (save breast milk for cereal next day)

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There are two books that I highly recommend you read if you have a small infant: Babywise and The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems. These two books have been a huge resource to me, especially when Cooper was under 4 months old. I have turned through the pages of these two books plenty of times. Both books talk about a daily schedule that follows a very simple pattern it looks something like this:

  1. Eat
  2. Awake/ Play
  3. Sleep
  4. Repeat (eat, play, sleep)

This pattern is important to follow because your baby does not learn to depend on eating (nursing/bottle) to fall asleep.

Be careful not to hyper schedule- be flexible

Depending on how old your baby is will determine how long each cycle (eat, play, sleep) will be. Your baby is not a robot and each cycle may vary by a few minutes each day. It is important not to hyper schedule and only feed the baby by the clock. Also keep in mind that at different parts of the day, your baby will be able to go longer between feeds than other times of the day. My son was only able to go 2.5 hours in the morning between feeds when he was under 3 months old. The rest of the schedule he was able to go 3 hours between each feed. Be flexible. Find out what works for your child and build your schedule around that.

Schedules Change

Schedules are constantly changing based on the developing needs of your child. Keep that in mind too! What worked last week might not work this week. Consider changing the amount of time your child stays awake if you child is having trouble napping by either decreasing or increasing his awake time.

What happens to the schedule when your baby has a growth spurt?

When a baby is in the middle of a growth spurt, if you are nursing, you must increase the number of times you feed your baby. This will only last a few days and you can go back to your normal schedule. If you are bottle feeding during a growth spurt, you can just increase the amount of formula in each bottle.

What determines the length of each cycle?

  1. Eating: this depends on how long your baby takes to eat (nurse/bottle). Newborns can take 20-45 minutes to nurse. As babies get older they get more efficient at eating. My son is now 6.5 months old and he nurses for 5 minutes on each side for a total of 10 minutes. When he was a newborn he was a fast eater, only nursing for a total of 15-20 minutes. Each baby is different and some take longer than others.
  2. Awake/ Play: this will depend on two factors- how old your baby is and how long it takes them to nurse. If your baby takes a long time to nurse then he will not have a lot of time left over to play. Below are some recommended awake times for each baby. Not all babies are the same. Some babies need shorter awake time while other may need longer. Remember to include how long your baby east when calculating awake time. As your baby gets older, wake times could vary. They tend to stay awake for a shorter time in the morning, longer in the afternoon, and even longer in the evening. See my post entitled 2-3-4 Nap Schedule for more on this: https://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/05/13/2-3-4-nap-schedule-for-older-babies/
    Newborn 50-60 mins
    1 month 60 mins-hour and 15
    2 months 1 hour and 15 – 20 mins
    3 months 1 hour and 20 – 30 mins
    4 months 1 hour and 45 – 2 hours
    5 months 2 hours – 2.25 hours
    Late 5 months/early 6 months 2.25-2.5 hours
    6.5 – 7 months 2.75-3 hours. Some are getting more.
    8 – 10 months 3 – 4 hours. Some are getting more.
    11 – 12 months 3.5 -4.5 hours. Some are getting more if moved early to 1 nap
  3. Sleep (naps): this depends on how long your baby can stay awake and how long they can go in between feedings. Below is a the number of naps that each baby should take each day (this could vary). See my post Infant Sleep Requirements which gives more information about how long each nap should be.
    Newborn- 1 month 3-4 naps
    2- 3 months 3-4 naps
    3 months 3 naps
    4-5 months 2-3 naps
    6- 8 months 2-3  naps
    9- 18 months 2 naps
    18+ months 1 naps

I typed the schedules that I kept with my son every month. They have changed quite a bit as he has grown. https://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/05/13/infant-schedules-by-month/

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