2 Months

I had a friend ask me about Smooch's schedule when she was 2 months old, and what to do with her own Sweetpea during the day, to keep her from getting bored.  Here is my response... ... in case you are curious.

At 2 months, Smooch was still sleeping more than she was awake.  Her awake times were becoming extended, but she was still napping at some point between every feed, and then sleeping 8-10 hours at night.   I highly recommend picking up a copy of the book "On Becoming Babywise," either from the library, or from the bookstore.  I've used it all the way through so far, (I'm currently reading  Babywise II: 5-15 months, and then there's Toddlerwise, etc.) and find I often refer back to it.

The main concept of Babywise is scheduling.  Baby's day is broken up into 3 major sections -- Eating, Awake Time, and Sleeping (in this order). The Babywise method focuses on helping your baby learn how to put herself to sleep, even in the daytime, by keeping the sections in this specific order.  If you are having awake time, then eating, and baby is falling asleep while or just after feeding, then what happens is that she becomes dependent on you for sleep.

Here's what a 'general' day looked like in our house when Smooch was 2 months:

* Early morning wake/ feed, (between 4am and 6am usually), back to sleep for both of us.  :-)  [for her, usually for another 3+ hours]

* 8:00am  - Wake up, feed, maybe have some skin-to-skin cuddle time after, get dressed.  Out to the living room.  Read books, play with toys (rattles especially at this point), mostly interaction time on the couch with her in my lap, often laying on my knees looking back at me.  Her morning awake time was never terribly long (not usually more than 1 1/2 hours, including feeding time), she seemed ready to nap all morning long.  I used a Moses basket for the first 2 months, until she outgrew it, so her daytime naps were in the living room, where I was doing things -- cleaning the kitchen, doing laundry, etc.  I tried my best to just 'go on with my day' so that she would get used to sleeping with noise around.

* 9- 9:30 - Nap time.  I would lay her down--on her tummy, awake, but drowsy, and let her fuss if she needed to, until she fell asleep. This is when I would use the "20 Minutes of Grace" rule.  Giving her time to work out whatever she needed to work out to help her fall asleep.  All the while, praying for her.

* 11-11:30 - Wake up, feed, change diaper, etc.  At 2 months, I was still waking her up during the day, if she slept to the 4 hour mark-- from the time of the Beginning of the last feed.  So for example, if she fed at 8, then went down at 9 or 9:30, I would let her sleep until 11:30, and feed her no later than 12.  But I think at this point, I was still closer to 3 hours, instead of 4.  Sometimes at this point she would wake up on her own within that time frame, but she always slept for at least 2 hours during that morning nap.

* 12pm --2:00 or 3:00 - this was Smooch's longest awake stretch.  This is when we would go for a walk to the grocery store, or just a stroll around the neighborhood. I make sure that her stroller is more upright, so she can see what's going on, and where she's going.  Being outside is important for helping develop her long distance vision, and the fresh air is invigorating for both of us.   I tried, when the weather cooperated, to get outside at least once every day for a minimum of 30 minutes.  We have some nice parks nearby, so I would bring my camera, and take pictures of what was around, especially in nature, or plop her down in front of something pretty, and snap pics of her.  I found myself always talking to her as we went, narrating our walks, and telling her what we saw.  I also arranged some 'play dates' with a friend who had a daughter 3 months older than Smooch, as it was good social interaction for the girls as well as for us Mommies!  Part of this awake time, I instituted 'independent play' time, where she had to figure out how to entertain herself.  We had a play-mat with arms that go across, and things can hang down.  I attached her rattles to the chains, and stationed them near her feet and hands, and she began to figure out how to kick the toys to make noise and started grabbing for objects.  I personally found that what Smooch needed more than 'tummy time' was 'back time' since she spent a good majority of her life on her tummy (sleeping)!  It felt a little ironic, actually.  ;-)  I borrowed a bouncy seat from a friend, with an attachment that had hanging things for her to kick as well, so sometimes I would put her in that while I was in the kitchen.  Independent play time meant (still does, actually) she was on the floor in the living room, and I was either in the kitchen or on the couch reading, or somewhere close by, so she knew I was in proximity, but was not immediately interacting with her.  These times would last 10-20 minutes usually, but as she got older, that time began to increase to 30 minutes.  Remember how we talked about Responsibility Training -- giving them responsibility for something as soon as they were old enough to take it?   This is one of those times.  Helping her to take responsibility for her own entertainment.  A baby's attention span at 2 months is probably no more than 5- 10 minutes at a time, so changing the activity is important, even if you go back to an activity you've already done.  And repetition is really important.  Doing the same types of activities gives her stability and reassurance that all is well, in addition to building her learning.  As to tummy time, start with maybe 5 minutes at a time.  Get down on the floor with her, make eye contact, talk and coo in your most soothing, happy voice, to help her to understand that this is not work, its play.  Put rattles by her hands, move colorful objects slowly across her view, getting her to interact with you, her eyes/ head following the movement of the object.  After 5 minutes or so, roll her onto her back, and play 'body games' with her.  The cross-the-midline stretches are great for stimulating her brain synapses.  So sing songs, and stretch her right hand to her left foot and vice versa, in rhythm with a song on the radio, or just to the rhythm of your voice.  Play 'head, shoulders, knees & toes' with her, using her own hands to point to each body part.  Fast silly songs are fun for just 'clapping' the beat!  This is incredibly good 'exercise' for her, and begins to teach her body awareness and spacial awareness.  Big stretches are just great for little ones, with games like "How big is Sweetpea?  SOO BIG!!" (while you stretch her arms up over her head).  And I would sing the song "Skinna-ma-rinky-dink" while putting her foot to her opposite shoulder to the beat, then putting both feet together to her nose to the beat, etc. She loved those times.  You can play 'body games' for a while, because there's so much variety.  Then after a little while of that, maybe read a book or two, then some independent play time, on her back.  You may have to 'help' her at first, by showing her how to kick a rattle, or grab a toy, or if you've got something that you could attach to her ankle or wrist that makes noise, those are great too!  Start with 5 minutes or so, and see if you can start working it up to 10.  She may fuss a little, but that's okay.  She's going to have to figure it all out, and it will take some adjustments.  If she's hysterical, then obviously don't leave her like that, but try to maybe soothe her a little, and leave her be again.  Remember to always be nearby, and if she's really struggling, you can talk to her from where you are, but don't immediately attend to her.  These were often times, especially at first, where I would just read out loud from whatever book I was reading for my own enjoyment.  The sound of my voice would soothe her enough without the interaction.  (She's already heard at least half of Pride and Prejudice!)  :-)  After a few minutes of that, then back to tummy time for another 5 minutes or so.  Remember to get down on your tummy, at eye level with her.  When she gets frustrated with tummy time, don't stop immediately.  Try to distract her with a toy, or talk to her and let her get some of her frustrations out.  Obviously here too, you be the judge of when she's 'had enough' -- just don't be too quick to "rescue" her.  A little frustration is good.  It will help her figure out sooner how to do things like roll over, if she doesn't want to be on her tummy, or if she starts deciding she wants to be somewhere else.  Its also building essential muscles, so you want to give them time to get a good work-out.  You can repeat this cycle a couple times if necessary.  Changing the activities frequently will help her from getting bored, although you might get a little tired of The Itsy Bitsy Spider.  ;-)   I often have classical music playing in the background, especially during independent play time.  It has a calming effect on Smooch.  Also you can vary your play time with Sweetpea by the location.  Change things up by playing on the floor in her room, or your room, or out on the grass if its a nice day.  This will stave off the boredom issue too.  :-)

* 3:00 - Feed, then something low key, like body massage (putting lotion on her body), or another story, or some quiet music and snuggling, then Nap time again.  Again, trying to put her down awake, but drowsy.  Usually after such a long awake time, she would doze off during the feed, and I would go as far as to burp her really well, and put her down, rather than trying to wake her up, just to put her down to sleep.  I found sometimes, it was just easier, and you have to take everything into consideration, and go with what is working for you.  So I did not always stick to Eat, Awake, Sleep.  But I strove for that to be the standard, rather than the exception.

* 5:30-6:00 - Wake up, feed, awake time with Daddy.  This is when I would 'need to get something from the grocery store for dinner' or something along those lines, and I would go for a short walk or drive by myself.  I tried to limit this to 30 minutes or less, as Daddy was not yet as comfortable with her for long periods of time.  He didn't always know what to do.  But it was good for him to have the time without me over his shoulder, and it was necessary for me to have some alone time.

* I occasionally did what is called a 'cluster-feed' in the evenings -- 2 hours, 2 hours, 2 hours, then down for the night.  It helped if she was having trouble making it all the way through the night (like in a growth spurt), or if our schedule required it.  So for example, 6:00, 8:00, 10:00, then down for the night... Evenings tended to be her other 'awake time' which worked out nicely, because Daddy really enjoyed spending time with her, and I appreciated the break.  She would maybe nap again briefly in the evening time (for an hour or less) then be awake again for a while, then maybe she and Daddy would nap on the couch, and I'd check my email or something like that.

* 9:00-10:00 - One more feed, then Bedtime.  Our bedtime routine has always been pretty low key.  Sometimes we'll take a bath, but not every night.  Sometimes we read goodnight books, like "Guess How Much I Love You" and "Goodnight Moon" or a story from her Bible, but not every night.  The things that always happen, no matter where we are when its bedtime are: we turn off the light, say prayers with her, and I sing "Jesus Loves Me."  I kiss her goodnight and lay her down.  And then I leave the room, and close the door.  Most nights she would fuss for a little bit, as she settled down. I've found that a more simple bedtime routine meant that we could put her down other places besides her bed, in her room.  So when we had evenings that we wanted to be out, for Care Group, or visiting family, etc, we weren't limited in our time because of needing to get Smooch to bed. 

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