I always recommend to keep a log while you are problem solving, and even while you are simply starting something new. It is much easier to analyze the situation when you have the data to look at and compare.
When I say keep a log, I mean a detailed log. Details. I like to make a spreadsheet and print it out, but the same can be done just by writing it out on a piece of paper. Do what works for you.
So what kind of details are we talking about? Let’s say you are working on sleep training.
- I would start by writing down the time baby woke up and ate.
- I would keep track of playtime activities and total waketime length (including time it took to eat).
- I would track the sleep cues you went by. Was it yawning? Was it eye rubbing? Fussiness? This can help you see which cue to go by.
- I would then write down the time baby was put down for a nap. Perhaps include what the naptime routine was if it varies.
- Next, I would describe the crying before the nap. How long was it? How intense was it? Describe it honestly.
- You will then start over when baby next wakes up, and this time, write down how long the previous nap was.
This idea can be applied to any change or difficulty going on in baby’s life. Does your breastfed baby get really gassy sometimes? Keeping track of what you eat and when he has gas problems can help you pin down the problem foods for baby. Tracking the introduction of solids on paper can help you more easily watch for food allergies. It is good to keep a log for those early months when you are establishing routine and milk supply. How many wet and dirty diapers are normal (this is a question my pediatrician always asks me)? How many feedings a day? Some people can remember these things in their heads, others benefit from keeping track of things somewhere, somehow.
Don’t underestimate the benefit of the log while you are problem solving. I look at the situation in the light of a study. I need to collect my data and analyze it. I need to be able to see all of the details so I don’t miss something important. I need to think it through. As your baby gets older and you become more accustomed to problem solving (something you will do throughout your life as a parent-every age group has their things they do that require some thought and action by parents), you might not need to keep such details. There are sites online that help you track for a fee if you want/need the help.
One note, while I recommend this, I also caution to not let yourself get obsessed over it. Some people can drive themselves crazy with the log. Be as detailed as you can, but know yourself and your own limitations. We all want to be happy and calm! Happy problem solving!