The Stochastic Baby

It seems like just the day after I sang the praises of Ruby’s predictable schedule, Ruby changed her mind.  It looks like she’s evolved (or is evolving) towards a new schedule, and in the meantime my planning has been shot all to hell.  Last week I wasn’t able to predict her sleeping (and, to a lesser extent, her eating) with any real degree of accuracy, which led to some really frustrating days.  Now, though, it seems like things have settled down again.  For the time being.

Ruby’s new schedule:

  • 4am or 5am: Awake for a feeding, then back to sleep.  Kate takes care of this and isn’t too happy about it.
  • 7am: up to start the day with another meal from Kate.
  • 10am: a short nap, maybe 30 minutes
  • 10:30am: first meal
  • 1pm: a longer nap, between one and two hours
  • 3:30pm: second meal
  • 5pm: Another short nap
  • 5:30pm: Kate is home from work
  • 8:00pm: bathtime
  • 8:30pm: bedtime

The biggest change here is that she generally only needs to be fed twice a day (not counting mornings and evenings, when her Mom provides food on demand).  Her daytime meals are also bigger as a result.  This is good for me, since I don’t need to feed her as often, although I had set up some interesting programs to watch on TV while she was eating (such as a biography of Benjamin Franklin and a Nova special on string theory — hurray for PBS!), and now I’m getting behind.

It looks like she’s also slowly moving towards one long nap with a few catnaps throughout the day.  This is nice as it gives me a big chunk of time to work on Feedwhip or whatever projects I’ve got lined up for the day.

I fully expect this will change again in the future, but for now, it’s nice to be back on a predictable schedule.

When does discipline start?

Kate and I have taken Ruby out to restaurants since she was a week or two old, and she’s generally been pretty happy just to hang out in her sling and watch the forks go by.  But this isn’t really true any more — if we have wanted to take her to a restaurant lately, we’ve had to be very aware of the timing and get her when she’s asleep, or at the very least happy.  If not, we’ll have a rushed, anxious meal.  In fact, we’ll probably have a rushed, anxious meal anyway.

Ruby and I had lunch with my buddy Chong a few days ago.  She was getting towards the end of her awake cycle and so started to get crabby, occasionally letting out yelps of discontent.  Chong and I passed her back and forth so that we could take turns eating our turkey sandwiches.  At one point while Chong was holding her, she let out a yelp.  And he chastised her!  He said, in a firm (and loud, but Chong doesn’t do quiet) voice: “Ruby, no!  That’s enough!”

That hurt.  It’s hard to say what bothered me about it — did I want to protect her?  Was it knowing the futility of the reprimand?  Whatever it was, it made me sad.  I don’t think Chong did anything wrong — he’s used to being firm with puppies and nephews, and truth be told, he probably did the right thing.

It’s probably time to start setting some boundaries.

This will be a gradual transition, I expect, but it’s still a major one.  Until now we’ve been floating along with Ruby, getting to know her, and responding to her every need.  But soon, I think, we’ll need to start teaching her about the needs of the people around her.  Kate and I will have to shoulder the sad burden of denying our child something she wants.  In addition to being Ruby’s primary caregivers, we’ll also be the primary withholders.  The former will vastly outweigh the latter, of course, but even those rare denials are going to hurt every time.

How do you teach consequences, empathy, or a sense of the future to a four-month-old?  She’s still trying to figure out how to get her entire fist into her mouth.  It’s probably too early to try these things.  So I ask my readers with parenting experience: when did you start setting boundaries, and what were they?  Honestly, I can’t even picture how that would work.

But one day… “It’s for her own good.”  Repeat ad nauseum.