As we begin the second of my nine weeks on paternity leave, I’m starting to get a clearer picture of what it’s been like for Kim these past few months. While I’m sure looking after a 5 month old brings different daily challenges as looking after a 1 month old, I’m realizing just how much work it actually is.
We’ve been lucky enough to have a kid that loves his schedule. The day following his second full night of sleep, we started a schedule for feeding, that has given way to a basic schedule for other functions, like regular diaper changes, naps, play times, baths, etc. By far the biggest obstacle to having any sort of normal life – for instance going to dinner, meeting up with friends and family, or anything else that requires coordination with people other than the 3 of us – was his feeding schedule. By far the most common conversation Kim and I had during the first few weeks was “when did he eat last and when do we think he’ll eat again”.
Once we started a schedule, we had to stay on schedule. That required us to wake him to stay on track, but trust me, it was totally worth it for us. Other parents have given us the whole “never wake your child” advice, but knowing that he’ll be hungry within 10 minutes of 7pm is worth far more than an extra 15 minutes of a sleeping baby. And this extended far beyond just when a bottle would be needed. Bath time starts with enough time to bath, brush gums, clean ears and belly button, change clothes, and grab a bottle before the hunger really sets in at 7. Since the schedule went into effect, we went from baths being an event filled with hungry crying to a fun time for the three of us to play in the water (and get clean of course).
But now that’s all about to change. Up until this point, this schedule has worked really well because he’s been on milk exclusively. Smaller bottles that are given more frequently throughout the day worked well because they were predictable and easy to plan for, but our little man is growing and his needs are changing. We started noticing that occasionally he’d finish a small bottle, and be perfectly fine and continue on with his day, while other times the end of the bottle brought some whines before he was given a pacifier. We knew he was getting enough to eat overall, but the schedule wasn’t allowing for natural variations in what his body was telling him he should have. Now that he’s older and we’ve got a bit more understanding of what his whines mean, it should be easier for us to figure out what he needs.
From here on out, he’ll be assisting with when it’s time for a feeding, which we hope will help make our nighttime routine a little less of a late night slog.
Entertaining a 5 month old
By far the single most daunting task I thought I would have while watching him full time was the entertainment aspect of his daily routine. Changing diapers, cleaning bottles, feeding, cleaning drool off of things, all of that I thought would be the simple part of watching him full time. It’s the stuff in-between that I was most worried about. What if the tummy time/floor time/toy time was a disaster and it wasn’t nap time, what would I do then? How long can he actually stay in any one mode before becoming completely bored, and would I readily have something else for him to do when he did get bored?
So far, it’s not been quite as challenging as I thought. Between play mats, toys, floor time, swing time, jumper time, walker time, nap time, and bottle time, he pretty much just makes rounds through all of his stuff. Sometimes longer in one than the other, sometimes things just get skipped altogether, but for the most part, he’s just a fantastic little fun kid. I can’t believe how far a little floor time with a toy will go, especially with all of his laughter keeping me entertained as well.
To the future
Our little family is going through a little bit of change right now, but so far the kid has been taking it like a champ. It seems even when he’s not in a good mood, he’ll still let a smile pass through the whining, even if just for a moment. I sure do love that little man.