29 November, 2012

Why BabyWise?

It seems like everywhere I look these days someone, somewhere is harping about the "dangers" of the BabyWise book/method. How awful it is. How terrible BabyWise parents are... And I am honestly still baffled by this.

Until I got pregnant, I had no idea how many people were so against BabyWise. It seems to me now, though, that the people who are most against it know very little about it. Isn't that the way it always goes? It's easy to judge a book you've never read, simply by reading what others have said/written about it. It's easy to judge someone when you don't understand the things they do. Call them stupid, ignorant, careless, reckless, whatever. It's easier when you don't understand something. Because when you understand...you have fewer reasons to condemn, tear down, and ridicule. In case you think I'm kidding here, there's even a BabyWise-bashing FB group. I'm pretty sure I've seen a blog/website entirely devoted to this, too. 

By writing this, I'm not hoping that everyone will convert to the ways of BabyWise. My hopes in this are to bring a different kind of awareness to people... To educate so that maybe there will be less judgement on moms and parents like me who choose to live this way. 

Source: amazon.com via Sarah on Pinterest

BabyWise is pretty much everything counter-culture these days. BabyWise says that your child isn't the center of the universe, so don't teach them that they are early on. {I'm very seriously paraphrasing here.} BabyWise focuses on the whole family, not just the new little person in the family, although they too are important and have a lot more needs.

BabyWise tells parents {moms, specifically} to avoid feeding on-demand. Uh oh. Someone call the AAP!! This is not in an effort to "starve" the baby or make them hungry for later. It's to make sure they get a full feeding every time they eat. No "snacking." 

BabyWise tells parents not to co-sleep. Cue ridiculous statements from some AP parents. 

BabyWise tells parents to focus on a routine. And everyone will interpret routine to mean schedule. SMH.

BabyWise helps parents to help their infants to sleep through the night at an early age. Again, someone call the AAP and cue more ridiculous statements from some AP parents about the "dangers" of sleeping through the night "too early."

So, the real question here is why anyone would choose to use the BabyWise principles. For me? It came down to 2 reasons:

1. Routine, routine, routine.
2. Sleep

Not gonna lie, the idea of not living in a state of sleep depravation for a whole year was (and is) appealing. But that's not the main reason anyone should choose to implement BabyWise. 

Mostly, I wanted to have a routine once Charlotte arrived. The idea of not knowing when she would need to eat or sleep seriously worried me. How would I know? What would I do? Every mom knows those first few weeks are full of all of those questions. I'm pretty sure I said, "I just don't know what to do" every 10 minutes for the first 2 months of Charlotte's life. Heck, I'm still saying it and probably will be until she's my age!

When it comes right down to it, the following is BabyWise in one little nutshell:

Eat. Wake. Sleep.

Baby wakes up from nap or nighttime sleep. You feed the baby. If it's daytime, you have a little bit of playtime (the amount depends on the age of the baby). Then when Baby gets tired - wait for it - you put baby down for a nap!!! *gasp* It's really not rocket science here, folks.

When it comes to feeding the baby, BabyWise strongly suggests you avoid on-demand feeding. The authors (and I) determine on-demand feeding to mean that you feed the baby whenever they cry. Now, I don't know about you, but I don't need to eat every time I'm upset. Nor do I need to eat every hour or hour and a half. Even a baby with a teeny tiny little tummy doesn't need to eat that often. Contrary to on-demand feeding, BabyWise supports Parent-Directed Feeding. Translation: you evaluate the time from baby's last feeding, look for hunger cues, and use your God-given intuition. If it's been 2+ hours since Baby's last feeding, Baby is rooting, etc., and you feel like feeding is the answer, by all means, feed that baby! If it's been an hour, Baby woke up fussy in the middle of nap time, and isn't showing signs of hunger...it could be something else. 

I believe that it's very possible that moms who feed on-demand are missing other cues from their baby. {This is totally, 100% my opinion and didn't come from BabyWise.} Charlotte fusses when she needs a diaper change. She fusses when she's tired. She fusses when she's bored. If I were to take all that fussing to mean she's hungry, I'd probably be feeding her every 30 minutes!!! Now, obviously, since we didn't start that way she won't do that now. But if I had started that way, she probably would. Fussing would equal food. And food would equal comfort. I won't deny that there are times when nursing used for comfort is totally needed. It hasn't worked for us in the past, but I don't want her to rely on nursing as a form of comfort, either. Every now and then is fine. It's just not a habit I wanted to create.

And this brings us to the next controversial issue... Self-soothing and sleep training. BabyWise does, in fact, promote CIO (cry it out). However, it does NOT promote leaving your baby in a crib to cry non-stop for hours at a time. {I still roll my eyes and shake my head every time I hear/see someone insinuate that.} They do suggest that you leave the baby for 10-15 minutes and then go in and comfort them. I've done this with Charlotte a gazillion times! Never once have I left her to cry for an hour or more. I couldn't stand it! And I don't know any mom {BabyWise lover or not} who could. If she needs me, she needs me. The whole idea is to help them learn that it's okay for them to sleep in their own bed. It's okay for them to be away from Mommy and Daddy. They will learn that they can go to sleep without relying on someone to help them. They will learn that Mommy or Daddy are always nearby if something happens. 

Eventually this leads to sleeping through the night. I can't tell you why or how it happens. It just does. Through doing the Eat/Wake/Sleep routine, making sure they get a full feeding, helping them to self-soothe...it just happens! 

I'll never forget the first time Charlotte went from 10pm to 5am without waking once. I almost had a heart attack! And then, once I realized she was just fine, I breathed a sigh of relief. Relief that she was okay. Relief that I had actually gotten rest! I can't remember exactly, but I think she was about 8 weeks old when that happened. Gradually she started sleeping longer, and she even dropped that 10pm feeding. 

Now? It's awesome. She goes to bed at 7:30 and we get up about 7:30. She takes naps at pretty much the same time every day, too. And I don't force her into it, either. I never have. It's just the natural flow of our routine. Up at 7:30, nap at 9/:30, up at 11, nap at 1, up at 3, nap at 5, up at 7, bedtime 7:30. Now tell me, what could be easier than that - knowing what your day will be like when you get up?

Charlotte is perfectly healthy. Yes, she is a small baby, but that has more to do with genetics than parenting styles. She plays, yells, giggles, tries to crawl and pull up, jumps like a crazy girl in her jumper and exersaucer, and watches the dog's every step. She rarely fights naps. She smiles when we put her in her crib. She loves bath time. She loves bedtime. She nurses and takes solids like a champ. 

You show me a BabyWise mama and I'll show you a happy, healthy, well-rested baby.

It's not dangerous. It's not cruel. BabyWise babies get fed, they get played with, and they get sleep. Just like all other babies. We BabyWise mamas just do things a little differently. 

The. End.


Jamie said...

I read the whole book and still chose not do do it that way... Not everyone disagrees with their methods be aide of lack of education about it. :)

Angie said...

I have never heard of the book until you mentioned it. There are a few principles I do agree with and hope to implement this time around. Maybe I should read it real quick so I can see if it is for me.

Angi said...

I don't have kids yet...but this method sounds exactly like what I picture parenting to be like. I haven't read the book, either...but I've always known that my kids would not be co-sleeping (I still am confused as to how parents have...a relationship...with kids in the bed all the time!), that they wouldn't probably ACTUALLY need to eat every.single.time they cry, etc. For all the reasons you stated...I love routine too. I used to work with behaviorally challenged kids, and one of the biggest things lacking in their lives - routine.

Chantal said...

I don't follow all of the BabyWise principals, but I did take to heart the Eat Wake Sleep cycle. Now, it's a little more lax, but it helped put us in a routine. I think BabyWise works for some and not for others!

Katy said...

I've never read the book, but the Wake, Eat, Sleep principle has been the natural flow in our house with all 3 kids. My middle child didn't take to it as easily but she had some pretty severe reflux issues that made finding a comfortable sleeping position more difficult for her. And I also found that Cry it Out doesn't always work that smoothly. My oldest went through a phase where she wanted to be rocked or held to sleep, after my husband deployed despite previously been excellent at putting herself to sleep. I had to try a "gentiler" method that was more of a compromise between crying it out and rocking her to sleep.