To this day, I am still known as a Babywise Mom through this blog. Every day, moms are pinning my previous Babywise posts from two babies ago. Google searches of Babywise bring moms to this site. And I still get scheduling questions from moms on a regular basis.
I sort of cringe, sort of don’t when I see these things. As I’ve said before, I don’t hate Babywise. Not by a long shot. But I’ve come to dislike hard and fast rules in general when it comes to the aspects of parenting that lack morals. Sleep training, introducing solids, and babywearing, for example, are amoral subjects. While scripture speaks on a lot of things regarding parenting, it does not speak on these issues specifically, and as Christians, we can make decisions using the wisdom that God has given us. And part of that wisdom is knowing that some aspects of a book or method of parenting will work for you while others will not.
And more than that, I find that if a mom adheres to strictly to one set of rules, she can become dogmatic at the expense of her children, heap guilt upon herself when she just doesn’t measure up, and be completely grace-less towards other moms who choose different methods. Mommy wars are ugly, my friends.
So if you are a Babywise type of mom, take heart. I get you.
Here is my list of what I still use and apply regularly from my reading of Babywise, but you’ll see that I modify much of it. When I do get emails and facebook messages from readers about infant sleep, this is the advice that I give them:
- Put your baby down into their crib awake, when possible, Key words are when possible. In those early days, your baby will sleep all the time. As a first time mom, this concerned me. It shouldn’t! Now I try to enjoy those moments and snuggle with them in my arms when I can. They’re only little once.
- After they wake up, feed them and let them have play time (Eat, Awake, Sleep). I find this isn’t completely realistic for me with 3 kids. Sometimes I have to nurse the baby and put him to sleep simply because that’s what works for our routine on that particular day.
- Keep an eye out for the overstimulated baby: Babywise warns of this and it’s completely true. Look for the eye rubbing and the early signs that they might be tired. If a young infant has been awake for more than a couple of hours, you can bet that he’s probably tired. During their infancies, both of my boys would get extremely fussy if I missed their sleep cues. Sometimes I thought it was gassiness, but it was actually overstimulation. They look very similar!
- A loose schedule can give you sanity, add structure to your day, and give you freedom to leave the house. My babies nurse roughly every three hours. It takes them a few months to get to that point, but eventually, it happens. Consequently, I don’t feel like an infant ties me down too much. As long as I nurse them before we leave the house, I find it easy to go shopping and run errands with a little one, and then I’m complimented on how happy my baby is. Even if you don’t follow the EASY schedule (I don’t anymore), keeping naptime around the same time every day does help your baby nap and sleep better. A lot of moms do naps at 9 and 1 or 10 & 2. This advice was given to me early on and it was super helpful as my kids got older.
- Give your baby plenty of free playtime on the floor. This sets the tone for playtime in the future as a toddler and as your children get older. They won’t require mommy to entertain them all the time, though they definitely love it when I get down on the floor and play with them. I enter into their world all the time, playing dolls and dancing silly dances. I also look for opportunities to bring them into my world, and we cook together, clean together, and grocery shop together. So we still have plenty of bonding time, but all of my children are excellent at entertaining themselves without a TV or a parent to facilitate playtime.
- Make your marriage a priority. Our days seem to revolve around our children, but the truth of the matter is that our marriage should and does come first. Babywise makes it sound as if Attachment Parenting will make your marriage completely unravel and I disagree with this assumption, but you do have to be careful. Having a schedule or a loose routine can make life at home easier. I’ve personally known of moms and dads resenting each other and the lack of sleep that can occur with a family bed. This is one of about 10 reasons why we choose not to co-sleep. We want to keep our marriage intimacy.
- Cry It Out (CIO) might have to happen. For me, it’s my last resort. Babywise can easily make you feel like your baby should be sleeping through the night by 12 weeks, so after that point, you might be tempted to let the baby CIO. I’m just not comfortable doing CIO at that age. The earliest I’ve tried it is 6 months. I know, I’m a wuss. But I will only let my baby CIO if I know that he’s not hungry, he’s not teething, and he doesn’t have an ear infection. Otherwise, I’ll err on the side of caution and nurse the baby, even if it means I’m only “comfort nursing.” That’s probably one big area where I tend to side with the attachment parenting folks. I think that babies really can’t be nursed to frequently.
- Don’t start habits you’re not willing to break. Within reason! One night, our 3 week old fell asleep in my husbands arms. He was enjoying these early moments of fatherhood and continued letting her sleep. I, very pointedly, said to him “Is this a habit you’re willing to break in 6 months?” His response: “Absolutely.” His point was that moments like these are rare. Enjoy them, and don’t let the rule books steal your joy.
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