Little Planet will be 5 months old next week. And I've just realised that it's been a while since I did a "typical day" post (previous posts here: 1, 2 and 3). M is in the States again, so here's a typical day out of our weekend just gone with just Little Planet and her mum...
5am - Little Planet starts babbling and drifts in and out of sleep until...
6.30am - when she starts to cry a little and I bring her into our bed where she chills out looking at the patterns on the curtain, the digital clock and my face.
By 7.30am, she is getting grizzly so I feed her. During week days, M will feed her around 6.45am before he goes to work, while I have my shower. But this weekend, as it is just me on my own with her, I fancied more of a lie in! Interestingly, Little Planet rarely cries for food and doesn't have much of an appetite overall, but especially not first thing in the morning.
Feeding time is now a potential battle because she has recently developed mild reflux, so I begin by feeding her in my arms until she arches her back and cries and then I burp her, give her a break and then feed her flat on her back on the bed. Feeding used to take 15 minutes, now it takes 30.
8am - I pop her in the cot with her Happy Safari cot mobile on and have a shower and clean my teeth. Sometimes she cries with frustration and sometimes she babbles with contentment, but either way I need my 10 minutes in the bathroom or she will have a smelly mum.
By 8.15am, I am back and I pop her onto the bed, put the TV on to watch the BBC news and get dressed. She watches the news and she watches me... She particularly loves it when I blowdry my hair and put cream on my skin. And we chat a bit in our own languages.
8.30am and we are in the kitchen. I pop her in her reclining high chair and she watches me as I wash her bottles and prepare my breakfast. She particularly loves watching the water run and hearing the coffee grinder make its loud noise. We chat - I talk, she babbles back. Sometimes I will position her by the window so she can watch the trees in the garden. I will sing to her and dance (very badly) in front of her with the radio on, to which she will graciously humour me with a gummy smile.
9am and she may start crying a bit. Her eyes look heavy and she will rub them. It's time for her nap. She usually fights daytime naps but always sleeps after a few minutes. I take her upstairs to the nursery and return to the kitchen to check my emails, eat my breakfast, wash up, prepare her solids and put a load of laundry on. If she is crying, I try to ignore her if it only lasts a few minutes. This is hard, as even a minute of a baby crying feels like an hour.
9.40am - I can set my watch by her consistent 40 minute first-nap-of-the-day! She's up and so I feed her a few spoonfuls of baby rice as we have started weaning. We decided not to wait until she is the recommended 6 months old as, with our doctor's permission, we think and hope weaning will help her reflux.
She is now beginning to open her mouth when she sees the spoon heading her way and she is making chewing and swallowing motions. I try and make the experience as fun and as calm as possible - if she doesn't want it, I don't force, and I always try to have a smile on my face so she doesn't associate food with stress (smiling is hard when she is spraying me with food and it goes all over me!).
This morning, for the first time, she took a full tablespoon of the baby rice and pushed hardly any of the food out of her mouth, which is great. This week, when M returns, we will try her on something more flavourful - carrots, I think. We want to start her on vegetables before fruit so she doesn't develop a sweet tooth and reject the vegetables.
Then it's playtime again! She has a kick around on her activity mat, I sing with her and read her stories from large picture books whose pages she tries to turn. She has some tummy time - often in front of the Tweenies which I record each day - and I also prop her up into the seating position to get her used to it. She plays with her toys and cloth books - she is beginning to reach, grab and play with them now. I will show her colourful flashcards with pictures and the names of such things as cat, dog, mouse, rabbit, boat and star. She is content to play alone for some time, especially if I am within her sight so I will sit on the rug next to her and read the papers. It's only recently that she's begun to grizzle if I leave the room for more than a few minutes.
11am and it's time for her next formula feed. I dread each and every feed now that she has reflux but the Infant Gaviscon seems to have eased her pain somewhat though has had the uncomfortable effect of making her strain to do a poo. But it seems she also now has a psychological fear of the bottle - she seems to anticipate that feeding time will make her feel bad. I pray she has a sleepy feed (which she does usually at least three out of five daily feeds) as then she doesn't resist the bottle and tends to take most of her milk in one go.
By 11.45am, we are ready to go out in her buggy. Come rain or shine, I like to get her out in the fresh air every day. We stick to the local parks and streets, but when M is home we go further afield and into central London. Little Planet and I may meet up with other mothers and babies I know from my NCT antenatal classes, but most likely it will be just the two of us.
We have converted her buggy from pram mode to pushchair mode, and now that she is more upright and can see out properly, she cries far less. In pram mode, she used to cry alot when she was awake in it but couldn't see anything. She still cries a bit in the pushchair. I think she doesn't like being strapped in. Who would?! Pushchair rides are the few times we give her a dummy if she starts to scream - it quickly soothes her.
Though we are out for 1.5-2 hours at a time (I have become very fit), she will sleep from 30 minutes to 1 hour or more as I pound the streets and shop. I prefer if she sleeps no more than an hour so that she sleeps better later on in the day and I may gently wake her.
By 1.30pm, we are home and I let her stretch and kick out on a rug in the kitchen, surrounded by toys, as I prepare and eat my lunch and play with her and surf the net. Like most babies, Little Planet likes nothing more than people-watching and watches me closely as I go about my business in the kitchen. Us adults are far more entertaining to babies, as we go about our daily activities, than their toys.
2.30pm and it's time for her feed and her big nap of the day. By this time, she is usually quite tired and is in bed by 3pm and can sleep for us much as 2 hours in the afternoon. Surprisingly, this length of time doesn't affect her bedtime at 7pm. But we will wake her up by 5pm if she isn't already awake - just so she is sleepy again for bedtime.
She may cry intermittently - usually as she transitions from one sleep cycle to another - but early on we learned to leave her as then she quickly self-settled. This way she can sleep for long periods undisturbed by us. We have found that the more she sleeps during the day, the better she sleeps during the night - sleeps begets sleep.
Her long afternoon nap is usually the time I make a start on dinner (if I am cooking), do a few chores and then settle down with a novel or the papers. I am avidly following all the global financial and US election news.
She used to sleep for a long stretch in the mornings too, but dropped that in favour of two smaller naps. I am sure that at some point she will reduce her afternoon napping too. But for now, she needs her daytime sleep and gets very grumpy if deprived of it. Certainly she sleeps more during the day than the other antenatal class mothers' babies and she is the only one who is sleeping through the night. I do wonder sometimes whether she sleeps more because we don't rush to her every time she cries or stirs...
5pm and she's awake and we enter into a calm phase as we wind down for the night. I'll wash her then we'll listen to lullabies as she lays in her cot and swings in her rocker and stretches out on the rug. Calmness is key in the hour or so before bedtime. During the day too, I find that if I calm her down before her naps and feed her in a quiet place then she will nap better.
6.30pm - I will feed her and she is usually quite sleepy by now. I'll read her a story and then it's off to bed by 7pm. She used to cry for several minutes when we put her down for her night time sleep but now she rarely cries and drops off after 5 to 15 minutes of babbling, sighing and shuffling.
The rest of the night is now my own totally - to watch TV or a DVD, to eat dinner, to read, to surf the net. If M is in the country then he'll usually return home by 9pm and we catch up with each other.
As this is the weekend for fireworks in the run-up to Bonfire Night, I am on tenterhooks waiting for her to be woken up by the loud bangs. Our back neighbour starts letting off fireworks, some of which fall into our garden, and I think, Uh oh, surely she'll wake up now. On the digital monitor, I hear her shuffle around, but thankfully she remains asleep. There are fireworks tonight too, so I am still on tenterhooks!
I wake her up at our bedtime - 11pm - to give her her final feed of the day. Like the 7am feed, this is usually the feed M does as it's his opportunity to see her after a long day at work (he is never able to make it home for her 7pm bedtime). We will stop this feed when she is properly weaned onto solids, but for now we will wake her at this time to ensure she is getting enough food. She drops back to sleep after 15 minutes or so of babbling and another typical day ends.