Polly turned 6 months old yesterday and I found myself wishing I could enjoy her getting one month older while not trying to swallow the lump in my throat. Every day, I tell Chris, I wish I could pause time. Everything feels so perfect right now.
I’ve learned, I’m a baby person. Parents will often tell you I love ___ (insert a certain age). And I love infants. I’m good with little babies. I strangely love those first hard months of figuring out sleeping schedules and nursing around the clock and where I just feel like I’m bonding with a little tiny person all day long. I feel important and loved–isn’t it amazing how much love a baby gives?
Polly just started reaching for me, and, ugh–it’s the sweetest thing in the world every time. 6 months is the best age, isn’t it?
I’ve been getting a lot of questions about her sleeping and schedule and eating–because 6 months also brings about a lot of changes: the introduction to solids, the transition to 2 naps, the sudden disinterest in nursing?! Well, that one was new to me and, to be honest, I’m struggling a little bit on that front.
My older two girls nursed for an entire year, never wanting a bottle–which felt hard in its own right. But for the past 2 weeks, Polly has become disinterested in nursing, only snacking here and there–pulling off frequently. The strike has made her cranky between feedings, up at night multiple times and I found myself googling, “how do you know if you’re producing enough milk?”…while trying to swallow that lump in my throat again–because I kind of knew. All signs pointed to me not producing enough milk for Polly anymore. I don’t know why this time is different. Or why it has declined. But one day I gave her a bottle of formula just to see and she guzzled it and took a solid nap and so now we’re in the the process of weaning. It’s not what I expected, but I would never risk her losing those rolls over me trying to hold onto nursing longer. Not worth it.
At 6 months, we also have transitioned from the 3 naps she was taking to 2 longer naps. Her daily schedule looks like this now:
8am: Nurse/(This will eventually be replaced by a bottle but I still wake up engorged.)
9:15am: Breakfast! Polly has one jar of baby food. Usually prunes, bananas or sweet potatoes.
10am-12pm: Morning Nap
1 pm: Lunch! She usually has a few bites of baby food here. Some days she’s not hungry but still likes playing with a spoon.
2-4pm: Afternoon Nap
4pm: Nurse/ (eventually will be replaced by a small Bottle)
6pm: Bath/Bottle/In her bed (crib) by 6:30pm.
And then, yes. She normally sleeps until 7:30-8am. Remember, sleep is kind of my thing. I need it and I make it a priority for our girls, too. They are happier–everyone is happier–when they are well rested. I honestly have been hesitant to share our in-depth routine because the last time I shared something about it, I feel like I may have made some moms feel lesser because their babies aren’t sleeping. I never want to do that. This is what we do. This is what we have done with all three of our girls and they are all really good sleepers. If it isn’t your thing or wouldn’t work for your family, then do what will work for you and your family. You know what’s best.
We start putting all of our babies on a schedule as soon as their umbilical cords fall off and they can take a real bath. Every night. It’s the mark of another 24 hours passing. It’s the signal, now it’s time for you to sleep your longest stretch! It doesn’t happen overnight, but a warm bath, followed up by a lotion massage (lavender lotion is really nice, but Polly has extremely sensitive skin so she gets Renew lotion and it works, too) eventually leads to a full night sleep. I’m a believer in cluster feeding before bed, too. When they are younger, that might look like nursing (or bottle feeding) an hour before bedtime and then after bath, too. Now that Polly is 6 months old, you see that I still feed her back-to-back before bed. It helps her tummy to stay nice and full.
After her bath, no matter the age, we don’t talk to the baby. The lights are dim, I actually normally nurse her in the dark for that last feeding, using only my phone’s flashlight face down so I can see a little bit of what’s going on. I turn on her sound machine (another sleep signal we use from day 1) and lay her in her crib still awake, but definitely drowsy. She goes on her side immediately these days, grabs her pacifier and zonks for the night.
Did you do any sleep training?
Yes. At around 4 months old, there’s a natural sleep regression in almost all babies. Polly went through it. Faye went through it. Greta went through it. With our first, Greta, we suffered for almost two months, waking up with her all through the night and rocking her and nursing her back to sleep before our pediatrician said there was no reason our 6 month old needed to eat–she needed to sleep! She was a healthy baby with lots of delicious rolls and he recommended we look into sleep training.
My friend, Molly, recently wrote a whole post about how they sleep trained their 6 month old, Arlo (he’s ADORABLE!) and I recommend reading that and the follow up Q&A post. They hired a professional sleep trainer to assist them on what to do.
But here’s what we did at 4.5 months–we let Polly cry. She cried for 15 minutes the first night. Then she slept until 4:30 am, I nursed her and she slept until 8. For naps, it was the same. And by night 3, there was no more crying and all the sleeping and she eventually dropped that 4:30am feeding. I remember Faye cried for longer. But we’d go in every 15 minutes, never talk to her or look her in the eye, but rub her back and tickle her head and it took about a week for her to learn to self soothe. Faye never took a pacifier or sucked her thumb and I think that that was a factor in it being harder for her to learn to self soothe.
Besides the nitty gritty details of schedule and sleeping and eating, which, c’mon, has felt like my full time job for the past 6 months, Polly is the sweetest caboose we could ever ask for. I think she might end up being our tallest one day. She’s long and chubby like Greta was, but quiet and observant like Faye. Her favorite place is just sitting on my lap with one hand on my hand. Occasionally she’ll look back at my face and I’ll kiss her forehead. Her eyes will follow me as I leave a room and she doesn’t like that very much. She’s very into rolling across a whole room, is learning to sit up and has brought her knees under her a lot, but no crawling yet (thank goodness!). 6 months with Polly has been a dream.