Baby led, parent directed.
How to confidently approach your baby's routine.
Dearest ff family,
When I had my first baby, I felt like I had no idea what I was doing. There is so much information out there telling you what to do, and it can feel quite overwhelming at first. I want to share with you how I have come to learn that the best approach to my daughter's routine. It is something our founder Ann refers to as baby-led, parent directed.
What does baby-led, parent directed mean? It means we always take our babies needs into consideration, but we direct our little's routines based on our instincts and what we learn & align with from the resources we trust. With the help of my husband and The Full Feedings Method®, I was able to learn how to be proactive with my daughter's routine, instead of reactive.
Before I started The Full Feedings Method®, my husband would take our daughter downstairs in the morning, after I gave her the first feeding of the day. I would go back to sleep for a couple of hours, because I was exhausted after being up with her at night. Every time I went downstairs she was sleeping. Every. Single. Time. He was just on the couch working and she was sleeping soundly. She would sleep for a minimum of two hours when he put her down. I was appalled.She never did that for me. I was getting 30 minute naps (hopefully) and feeding her every two hours, all the while she was screaming at me. It was exhausting and not sustainable. I questioned him endlessly about what he was doing differently than me. He never gave any type of answer that made sense. He would just say oh you know we were just relaxing, or she fell asleep so I put her down. Um what?!?! She is five days old, she doesn’t relax and you have never does this before, how could you relax?
Not only was he caring for her, but he was also working like it was no issue. He was completely setting the vibe with her, letting her know…”this is what we are doing” all without every compromising her needs.. He was doing a baby-led, parent directed routine and was approaching everything so calmly, something I wasn't able to do at first. I think was caused by my inability to think properly while trying to overthink the entire situation. Not a good recipe for success! Ha!
Then, when I started using The Full Feedings Method®, I realized I had to be proactive instead of reactive to my daughter. I needed to show her the right direction to go in, this is when we eat fully and this is when we sleep. I thought if I followed her cues obsessively, I couldn't go wrong, but thankfully TFFM showed me to create the cues to guide my daughter in the right direction. If you approach it in this way, the direction you're heading and the direction your baby wants to go will be the same. Think of your days as baby led, but parent directed. Take control and set the vibe!
This might sound lovely but you are probably thinking, “there are very few things we can control with our babies!” Let me share what I know we can control:
– Starting your day after any wake up after 6am, but always before 7:30am. We know this is early and we want everyone to start their day as late as possible, but for now let's go with it!
– Keeping bedtime around the same time each night. You can always wake your little from their last nap to maintain your last wake window and keep your bedtime around the same time each night. This supports establishing a great, consistent routine, which is what will help support your baby's circadian rhythm.
– Helping your baby fall asleep for their naps! Helping your baby fall asleep “on time” will make your life easier, trust me! Often when we want babies to “self-soothe” and fall asleep on their own, we inadvertently keep them awake “too long” and this can compromise nighttime sleep.
– Offering full feeds, not forcing them just offering them. Working to burp well and extend the feeds or the amount taken when you can!
– Limiting daytime sleep! We know how hard it is to wake a sleeping baby, but limiting naps helps us get to sleep by OWT consistently and sleep through the night.
In addition to controlling what I could, I found that self-regulating my emotions is key, which is definitely easier said than done. My husband was just down for the ride and would have dealt with whatever she threw at him. She could sense his calm and copied him. If you aren't feeling calm, fake it! My daughter could feel my anxiety because that was all I was putting out. If something doesn’t go your way, close your eyes, take a deep breath and stay the course! Make the decision that your baby is going to be calm and keep working towards that. You will get there…I promise! And if you have a freak out, chalk it up to hormones and know that in any moment, you can begin again!!!
There are very few things you can control, but if you stay focused you will be able to control more than you think. What you are doing is working to meet your babies needs fully throughout the day. If you do this consistently and age-appropriately, the odds are they won't need you at night. We always recommend that you feed on-demand, and while you can’t control when they will demand, what you can control is you offering a full feed every time you feed them. If you offer a full feed the likelihood is high they will sleep well and not need another full feed until 2-3 hours, which is what helps to establish a great daytime routine, which is what leads to the consistent nighttime sleep.
As someone who now works for full feedings® and helps other parents sleep, I often hear from parents that solely following their babies cues just isn't working the way they had hoped. Solely following your babies lead sounds good in theory, but think about it, these little people are brand new and have no idea what to do. Yes, they have natural instincts and we always want to support them, while we gently direct them towards an age-appropriate routine where their needs are fully met and they can get the sleep they NEED at night.
If you want help learning how to follow your baby's lead and direct them to a full night of sleep (without sleep training or having to cry it out) please check out The Full Feedings Method® as it truIy changed my approach to my daughter's routine and I believe is what keeps her sleeping well every night. We can help you master a baby-led, parent directed routine and set the vibe of being confident and comfortable. Your baby will feel that and follow your lead.
To sleeping well,