Sunday, March 13, 2011

5 Months Old

Aaron is 5 months old, and it’s time for another update! As you can see from his picture this month, he has found his feet! He loves to lie on his back, grab onto his toes and roll around. It is very cute to watch! This month it appears that his growth is more in his weight, rather than his height and head. He was so big for the charts at the doctor’s (that shows children’s growth in relation to one another) that that’s really ok. Here’s where he is this month:

  • Weight - 16 pounds, 11.5 ounces (60th percentile)

  • Height - 27.25 inches (95th percentile)

  • Head - 17 inches (50th percentile)

I feel like there’s been so much that he’s doing that’s new this month. I think I’ll start with food. Last month, I was hoping and praying that his doctor would tell us that it’s ok to start giving him rice cereal. I had hoped that doing so would help him to sleep better. I thought that maybe as fast as he is growing, that he wasn’t getting enough. The doctor said to go ahead and give it a try. It was so much fun to watch him try to eat with a spoon and learn a new skill. He spit out so much of what we put in his mouth! He’s been a good sport to keep trying it with us. I have to say though, that it brought about no change in his sleep habits. He still got up 3 or so times in the night, and it took some work to get him back down again. We have since laid off the rice cereal in favor of doing a new sleep regimen that I’ll tell you about in a minute. He is, as of this writing, still exclusively on breast milk, and it’s going well. I am breathing a sigh of relief that we’re five months in, and still going strong! It is lots of work, but Aaron and I keep at it as best we can.

Aaron Eating Rice Cereal:

As for sleep, he is FINALLY sleeping through the night! Wahoooo!!! It has been a difficult transition, but we are so very relieved to find a routine that is working. One of our favorite baby books says that babies are neurologically mature enough to soothe themselves to sleep at four months, and are therefore at a great age to start putting a more organized sleep routine in place. I think I had resigned myself that I wasn’t going to sleep again until Aaron went to college (and even then it would still be sketchy). Chris on the other hand was on the verge of desperation and willing to try anything. He was adamant that we would figure this out, and wanted to start trying some new things. If we were really going to do this, I felt that we should have an organized plan in place. A co-worker told me about a book she and her husband swear by called “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child.” She was falling all over herself telling me how fabulous it was. I told Chris, who rushed out to get the book, and proceeded to devour it. He is now our household sleep expert! Basically, here’s what we do:

  • Contrary to what you’d think, the earlier you put a baby to bed, the longer and deeper they sleep. At this age, they need to go to bed about 6:00-6:30pm or so. If they go to bed this early, they should sleep for about 12 hours with minimal wake up calls in the night.
  • Babies this age should only be awake for 2 hour stints during the day. You will start to notice them giving you sleepy signals at the hour-and-a-half mark such as yawning, rubbing their eyes, fussiness, etc. It’s time to put them down for a nap.
  • If you ignore the signals, their bodies will produce a hormone that fights fatigue. Over the course of the day, this will build up in their system, making it very hard for them to sleep well at naptime and at night.
  • A typical schedule would look like this:

    • Up at 6:30am

    • Nap in the morning at about 8:30 for 1-2 hours

    • Nap middle of the day for 1-2 hours

    • Nap in the late afternoon – this may or may not happen depending on how well they’ve napped earlier in the day.

    • In bed at 6:30PM, and sleep through the night, maybe getting up once or twice for food in the night.

  • If you don’t make it a priority to teach him good sleep habits now, they could end up having sleep problems forever (insomnia, etc). The guy who wrote the book is a pediatric sleep expert at the Children’s Hospital in Chicago, so he sees the worst of it all the time.

I have to say that this program works!!! Aaron is following this regimen perfectly. When he is up at night for food, he eats and usually falls asleep on me. I lay him back in bed, and the whole thing takes about 20-30 minutes tops, where we used to be up an hour or more trying to get him back to sleep.
The problem is that when he sleeps from 6:30pm to 6:30am, we hardly see him. That was a pretty painful transition. I now get up at 5am every morning to rush through my morning routine so that when he gets up, I have an hour with him before work to play and hang out. Then, I get a small bit of time when I get home in the evenings before I put him to bed. It is really tough. But, when he is awake, he is the very best version of himself. He is all smiles, coos, wiggles, and squeals. He feels so incredibly good now that he gets enough sleep. It really is the best thing for him.

I have also learned through this process that I don’t think I can be a cry-it-out parent. Meaning, some of these methods are all for putting a baby in bed awake, and letting them cry until they wear themselves out and go to sleep on their own. We did this the first couple of nights, and you had to peel me off the walls afterwards. I don’t believe that at this age he is being manipulative by any means, doing stuff to make me want to keep him up longer. So, when I put him to bed at night, I snuggle him until he is completely out, and then put him down. It takes about half an hour, and is so worth it for the emotional peace on all of us.

Another fun development this month is that Aaron is rolling around so much now! His strength has always amazed me. He could go from front to back for a while now. This month, he is flipping from back to front like a champ. A neighbor made us this huge fleece baby blanket when Aaron was born. I always wondered what we’d do with a blanket that big. Now, seeing how much Aaron rolls, doing 360’s all over the place, it makes sense! I am grateful to have that blanket now! The crazy part is that he has also figured out that if he could just get his legs up under him when he’s on his stomach that something cool would happen. I think crawling is on the way! He grunts and pushes and fights so hard to do it. He can kind of get a baby downward facing dog going before his front end collapses! He can’t quite get his front end and back end working in tandem the right way. Oh my, it seems too early for this, but Aaron may have other ideas!

Favorite pictures/video from this month:

Aaron LOVES to be read to! Here we're doing "Pat the Bunny"

We found Aaron this way after a nap! He was in there goofing around when he should have been sleeping...oops!

Chris and Aaron got a hiking backpack for Christmas. Looks like it fits!

We live down the street from an old ranch (made up to look like Colorado when the settlers first came in the 1800's). We went down to look at the animals yesterday. The horses were enjoying being petted by the neighbors!

Aaron, rolling over:
This video takes a while. Every time he starts doing something new and I want to get it on camera, he stops doing it as soon as I start trying! He eventually decides to comply, but it takes about 3 minutes!