Lola was born in October 2009, healthy, full term baby, after only 5 hours of labor to first time parents Alice and George. George had been wanting to have a baby for years, but Alice was not so sure about it. In fact, she was the first one to be surprised when she got pregnant at their first try.
From the moment she was born, Lola was described by her mother as a very difficult baby. Alice pointed these as the main problems of her daugher:
- She had trouble latching on and wouldn’t want to breastfeed
- She wouldn’t like to stay on her crib by herself
- She fussed a lot, and she cried for hours on end
- She didn’t sleep more than 30 minutes straight
- She was impossible to read
Alice was a little desperate and didn’t know what to do with Lola. However, every time I would meet them, go visit them or babysit for them, I didn’t see many of the issues she complained about. Many times Alice would tell me how they have implemented this and that methodology, routine… to solve Lola’s issues, but the situation wouldn’t improve. I was so surprised to hear that, so I offered to analyze their case and give them my suggestions. They accepted!
I sat down with them, trying to understand what a normal day looked like for Lola. Lola was 3 weeks old at that time.
- Lola woke up, crying, at a different time every day
- Alice tried to breastfeed her. If it didn’t work, she would hand her over to her mom (Alice’s mom, Lola’s grandma, who was staying with them) for her to bottle feed her.
- Alice would let her mom take care of Lola, or would strap her on carrier/sling and take her around. Store, park, grocery, meeting friends….
- Lola mostly slept in the sling for long periods of time
- Lola woke up either super hungry or just uncomfortable and cry loudly and unconsolably
- Alice fed her (bottle or breast) if possible, if not she would wait until she got home (30 to 90 minutes later)
- Alice put her in the sling again and went on with her daily life
- The same crying episode ocurred several times a day, and Alice would do the same.
- Once they got home, Alice would try to put her down (swing, cot, crib…), but Lola wouldn’t take it. She just wanted to be held.
- Lola spent all night walking up every 1-2 hours.
- They would feed her by breast and bottle depending on their situation.
- They would try to put her to sleep when she looked tired.
- They went on with their life as was, going out, having people over…
My first impressions were:
- Lola was getting too used to the sling
- Lola would sleep when she didn’t need to (most of the day), not burn any energy, and would stay up throughout the night
- Lola needed some structure and certain routine
- Lola was overtired once she was put down for naps or night
- Lola didn’t know what to expect throughout the day
- Lola was getting unconsistent messages (different responses to the same situations)
So, I suggested them the following:
- Schedule: define a schedule that worked for them and Lola, and stick to it! No wiggle room! Adjust their life to Lola a little bit.
- Routine: define bedtime and nap time routines, play times…
- Sleep & Awake times differentition: make sure that Lola knows what night is, when she has to sleep during the day. Make sure the sleep arrangements are the most appropriate to help Lola sleep (dark room, quiet, no distractions…). Put her down before she gets overtired.
- Tracking: I shared with them the daily tracking that I designed when my daughters were born. The purpose of tracking is trifold: (1) Understand your baby, clues, behaviors…; (2) Keep track of important details about your baby; and (3) Work towards a schedule that works for both your baby and the rest of the family.
- Basic Needs: Make sure Lola was getting the right amount of sleep and food.
- Consistency: decide how they were going to react to certain situations, how to treat Lola, and stick it. Every time the situation arises, the response is the same.
I stayed with them for the first two days, starting on a Saturday morning. The first night, Lola slept 4.5 hours straight for the first time. She was calmer throughout the day, she didn’t cry as much when out of the sling, and she breastfed better. The second day, she did even better, she fell back to sleep for her day naps without fussing, and she slept another 4.5 hours at night.
Things were running smoothly, and I felt they really had it under control. Both Alice and George were starting to enjoy parenthood, and loving spending time with her daughter; and what’s more important, Lola was calmer, better rested and fed, and happier overall.
Disclaimer: Names have been changed to preserve my clients and friends’ privacy.