AKA: When to ignore traditional parenting advice and go against the grain.
I’ve learned to take any advice about how to parent my baby with a grain of salt. My child is a happy kid, but he’s not exactly been an ‘easy’ kid until recently.
It’ll all get better once he’s on solids (NOPE)
People say solids help with sleep, because they stay fuller. Not in our case.
Spud has always had a super sensitive stomach, and the more we ramped up solids the more haywire his sleep got. Solids meant more gas, more trouble pooping (getting backed up), and poops at random times (like the middle of the night).
People say solids help with reflux. Nah.
His reflux disappeared once we got on Neocate. That prescription formula changed our lives. He immediately started sleeping through consistently, his gastro problems stopped being an issue, and his temperament improved.
But since starting solids, I think it may have resurfaced a little (certain coughs and grimaces suggest to me that there’s some nasty regurgitation bothering him) when foods irritate his system. If so, it’s mild, and nothing compared to his ongoing eczema issues – which are definitely linked to his diet.
Feed them right before bed (NOPE)
As mentioned above, his reflux made this a big fat LIE. We needed to ensure a fair chunk of time before that last feed and going to sleep. It was okay when he was brand new and tiny. But as he got a bit older, feeding him too late meant he’d just wake up shortly after falling asleep needing to spit up or burp. It wasn’t hunger disrupting his sleep; it was digestive problems.
“I don’t need as much sleep; I’ll do the night wakings” (NOPE)
Theory: Husband who needs less sleep will handle more night wake-ups
Reality: Yeah, nah. It started off okay, but went downhill.
Spud’s gut troubles (which were always at their worst in the wee hours) meant a lot of tough wake-ups at 2/3/4am. There would be no consoling him, really, during those hours.
T had little patience or sympathy. He really only started taking the food intolerances seriously once Spud’s eczema got really bad (as in covering most of his back, among other body parts). His experience growing up with younger siblings/nieces meant he was convinced he knew all about baby sleep and that it was just Spud fighting sleep for the sake of it.
I knew in my heart that Spud was in discomfort. It was in the way he arched and thrashed stiffly, cried shrilly while still half asleep sometimes, would calm after taking his gas drops or emitting a burp or fart, the bubbly sounds that sometimes came from his tummy. And therefore I would not leave him to cry it out generally (except on desperate occasions when I just couldn’t stay up with him anymore and would cry myself to sleep in the next room). This led to a lot of arguing at ridiculous times when nobody should be awake, let alone fighting with their partner. Frankly, it was fucking miserable.
Everything is a phase – they’re always changing
Babies are designed to keep us guessing. Just as I think we’ve settled into a routine, something changes, particularly around evening routines. It’s so hard to get the balance right.
They say you can’t overfeed a baby, but I am certain he was overdoing it between solids and milk at dinner in the early days. When given finger food, he stuffs everything he can at once into his mouth and practically chokes himself trying to eat it all right then. He goes SO overboard. (There are also a few times, way back pre-solids, where I am convinced we overfed him and it led to absolutely miserable nights.)
So he was definitely overeating for awhile; this kid is a champ eater and I wasn’t great at reading cues initially, I don’t think. Once I stopped giving him an evening bottle, that helped and he had much more settled nights.
Then he went through a growth spurt and that topup bottle before bed became a necessity again.
Now, he takes forever to drink that last bottle, rolls around and plays with it, and usually doesn’t finish it … so it might be time to phase it out again. Maybe this time for good – though I wouldn’t bet on it.
I don’t want to jinx it, but things on the food front have been good lately, and aside from recent teething, so have the nights. But who knows – it could all change tomorrow…
Not sure if most people are not willing to share the nitty gritty of parenthood. I know very few people who will go into details like you do. I don’t have kids but I always wonder if people just bottle it up. It can’t be easy raising a human being. Especially on a marriage.
Hopefully, it’s getting more manageable, if not easier. It does look like you are recognizing patterns.
Food and gut challenges are the pits – you’ve been a champ at finding your way through such a tough thing. I’m sorry that there’s been discord in what to do with the sleep challenges, that had to be so frustrating. PiC don’t always agree about what to do but we do have the ability to try and talk out our differing viewpoints to try to come to a consensus. I know that’ll get harder as JB gets older.
So agree with so many of these things! We found a woman in Christchurch – Baby Cues Nurture With Nature – really good on many of these points (reflux, overfeeding, leaving space between feeding and sleep, how to introduce solids). Not the mainstream but worked for our kid! Glad to read you’re coming out the other side.
Parenting is hard enough in the best of times, can’t imagine going through what you did.
I read a lot of advice as a new mom, and so much of it is hard to implement or contradictory. It helped me few like I was doing something, but I think I would have been less anxious if I’d had more confidence in my instincts.