We made it! I’m not going to lie; I feel like these past six months have been the longest of my life and we are finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. This past month, we have seen some major improvements and hit some big milestones. First off (…drum roll please….), Stella started sleeping through the night! She generally makes it 10-13.5 hours without waking and when she does wake, she is able to self-soothe and go back to sleep quickly. Some nights are better than others, but this is a huge leap from waking every 4 hours. She also started rolling all over the place. She has rolled from her tummy to her back since she was itty bitty, but just started consistently rolling from her back to belly. She even stays on her belly for a bit, especially if the iPad is on and she can watch some animated tunes. We introduced solids this month as well and it’s been fun to see Stella’s food preferences. I think all of this has led to a happier baby. She actually laughs most of the day instead of crying, which is making this mama jump for joy!
We started off the month by traveling to Japan (yes, I still need to finish the majority of those blogs!), which was Stella’s 2nd international country. We had a really good time and Stella is quite the little traveler. We started toting her around in the Ergo carrier so she could take some pressure off of her head (did I mention she has a huge flat spot?) and she seemed to like it. She even fell asleep in some precarious positions.
Don’t worry….we did free her from the carrier every once in awhile.
This trip is also where we realized that we needed to try something to get her to sleep better. She slept in the bed with us in Kyoto because the hotel room was the size of a shoe box. This led to lots of wake-ups for everyone involved (probably even the neighbors). She woke up because she was uncomfortable or hot and we woke up because we were afraid of squashing her or we were getting kicked in the ribs. Needless to say, it wasn’t the most restful experience.
When we returned to Korea, I decided to put Stella on a strict eating and napping schedule, which would eventually lead to better nighttime sleeping. The first step of my plan involved getting her to eat more during the day so she wouldn’t require so much food at night. I had a theory that she was programmed to wake up every 4 hours because she knew she would get food. I was giving her 4-6oz of milk each time she woke up, so she was getting sometimes 1/2 of her daily food at night. Over the course of 4 nights, I gave her less and less milk and made her go a little longer between feedings. This involved a little crying, but she adapted quite well and started eating much more during the day. When I knew she was getting enough food when the sun was up, I implemented the nap and food schedule. I also decided at this time that I was using the swing as a crutch to soothe her, so I started putting her down for her naps in the crib. Luckily, that was easy and she went down easy from day 1. On the first night after implementing the schedule, Stella woke after 8 hrs and then 10 and 12 (which isn’t bad, considering we were at every 4 hours). By night 2, she slept through the night….all 13.5 hours! For anyone interested, here’s the schedule I now follow. It’s directed at 6 month old babies, but the site has schedules for other ages as well.
7:15-7:30 – Wake and then Milk (6 oz.) and Breakfast (pureed food)
9:30 – Morning Nap (at least 1 hour)
10:30 – Milk (6 oz)
12:30 – Nap (30-45 minutes)
1:30 – Milk (6 oz.)
3:00 – Nap (30-45 minutes)
4:00 – Milk (6 oz.)
5:00 – Catnap (if she needs it..most of the time we skip this one)
5:30 – Partial Milk (often 1-3oz.) and Dinner (pureed food)
6:00 – Bath
6:15 – Partial Milk (3 oz.)
6:30-6:45 – Goal to be asleep
After putting this timetable in place, Stella has been sleeping 12-13.5 hours a night, with the occasional wake up between 4 and 6am. I used this website as a guide to create the schedule and adapted it to Stella’s needs. For example, Stella can’t make it to 7 or 7:30pm. She gets too grumpy, so we moved bedtime up to 6:30pm. I know not everyone can do a rigorous schedule like this, but since I’m at home with her and I really needed more sleep, I thought I’d give it a shot. I will say that she is a new baby as well. She is so much happier and well rested, so it’s working on all fronts. Hopefully this will continue!
Note about the food on the schedule: The main goal is to get at least 24 oz. of milk in a day, which is sufficient for sleeping through the night. It’s also good to remember that milk provides the principle source of nourishment until babies are 12 months, so the purees are more for fun, a way of introducing new textures and tastes.
So far, Stella has had sweet potatoes, squash (which is her favorite!), bananas, apples, pears, carrots, peaches and prunes. She didn’t care for the carrots or peaches (although the peaches were a store bought puree and I didn’t think they tasted very good either; I’m going to reintroduce fresh peaches when they are in season). Apples and prunes were “just okay,” but so far, she’ll down sweet potatoes, squash, bananas and pears. We’re going to introduce green beans, peas and avocado in the coming month, so stay tuned.
At about 5.5 months, I noticed Stella grabbing on to her feet and rolling over on her side. She would do this over and over again, back and forth to each side. Then, one night I noticed her sleeping on her side, which I am happy about because it should help relieve pressure from her flat spot. A few days after this, she was playing on her play mat and after rolling to her sides several times, she flipped all the way over from her back to her belly. She got a little frustrated at first when she couldn’t get past her shoulder, but she finally was able to do it without any coaxing from us. Now that she is a pro, she sometimes sleeps on her belly.
Although she hasn’t mastered it yet, we also spent a lot of time this month working on sitting up. She is still pretty wobbly, but I put her on the couch a lot and and place her in the Fisher Price “Sit Me Up” chair, which also doubles as her high chair right now. I’m hoping that by making her use her torso more, her muscles will eventually catch up.
Stella has become accustomed to taking walks with her friends Mrs. Beth and Ollie. We even took a field trip to E Mart with them and even though Ollie stole all her covers from her car seat on the way there, he was very nice and held her hand while she cried.
Mom and Stella also took lots of walks this month, but Stella had to bundle up in her bear suit or sweater onesie to keep warm. It’s been in the low 30s and has even snowed!
As we were gearing up for the holidays, Bobby got to come home early several days, which meant more dad-daughter time. Needless to say, they both really enjoyed their time together.
Stella also got to meet Santa for the first time! We were really worried it was going to be a disaster because she isn’t really one for being held, but we were pleasantly surprised. She smiled for (almost) the entire event.
We haven’t been to her 6 month appointment yet, but by my crude measurements, Stella now weighs about 16.5 lbs. and I’m fairly certain that she holds half of her body weight in her head.
This past month brought lots of changes, all for the better, and I’m excited to see what the next month will hold. Stella’s giggles make it all worthwhile and when I see that dimple, even on a rough day, I know we are on the right track. Happy 1/2 birthday baby girl!