When I learned that I was pregnant it was not long before I got my hands on some books I had heard all about to prepare me for life with a baby. One of those books was Babywise by Gary Ezzo.
The biggest POSITIVE take away from Babywise…the “eat, wake, sleep” schedule. As a new mom who is completely clueless as to what you are supposed to do with a baby, or how to care for them, this could be a pretty helpful tip. Your baby should take a nap, eat when they wake up, have a play time, then go back down for a nap. Ok. That makes sense to me (We’ve broken this “rule” which I explain later on). Another positive take away is an idea of how long your baby could go without eating at a given age. I believe that its good to know so you can monitor your babies growth and progress, or if you’re nursing and have to leave the baby with someone.
Other than that, I found it completely useless. It just did not work for us AT ALL. (If it worked for you, power to you…this is just MY post on why it did not work for me.)
When I read this book I was DEAD SET on following its principals and having a baby that could fall asleep anywhere, take awesome naps & sleep through the night ASAP. Boy oh FREAKIN boy, was I wrong.
Why did Babywise not work for us? Let me tell you:
Ok so lets see…for one, (once he was no longer nocturnal and actually was awake during the day) Jackson would only ever take 20 min naps. TWENTY MINUTE NAPS. I would have finally gotten in the shower after eating a meal and be lathered with soap, and hear him fussing or babbling in the crib. When he was 3 months old we went in for his check up and my pediatrician suggested extending his awake time to 2.5 hours instead of 1.5-2 hours to see if that helped. That was what finally got us to 40-45 min naps. BUT Babywise said that he should be up for 1.5-2 hours and then he’d sleep for 1-1.5 hours until his next scheduled feeding… … … um, wrong. I would call my sister and say, “Why is he not napping as long as he is supposed to?! I fed him like I was supposed to, he was satisfied, he was tired, he wasn’t overtired. I. don’t. get. it.” Her response? “Melissa, he isn’t SUPPOSED to do anything; He’s a baby. Get that out of your head.” Ooohhhh. Right. Duh. For FAR too long I was wondering why oh why is my baby only taking 45 minute naps; “What’s wrong with him??” NOTHING. Nothing is wrong with him!!!!!! He is a short(er) napper. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. In fact, it is not even close to abnormal. Some babies take 45 minute naps. As long as a baby is not overtired it should not effect night time sleep. He was on three 45 minute naps until about 8-8.5 months and then he transitioned to two naps. One is 1.5-2 hours and the other is about an hour; it switches from day to day which one is longer or shorter. He averages 3 hours of nap time a day (usually), which could not be more normal. (So, rest assured if you are a mom out there going through the same ?!?!?! I was.)
Oh yea, and you have to love the “Wake them up at the same time everyday” thing. “Ok, so I say your wake up time is 6:30am, Jackson. Wait, why are you awake at 5am? Your wake up time is 6:30am; should I force your eye lids back shut? Because you know, your schedule is going to be totally off now. I mean your nap was supposed to be 9am, but now its going to have to be 7:30-8am because there’s nooooo way you’re going to make it til 9…unless I want to torture you by making you completely miserable until 8:30-9am…you wouldn’t mind that would you? But then it wouldn’t matter because you’d be so overtired that your nap would probably only be 30 minutes anyway, and that really isn’t helping anyone is it?” GIVE ME A BREEEAAAK. If my baby wakes up early I can see waiting 15 or 20 minutes to see if he will go back to sleep, but I am not pretending he doesn’t exist until his scheduled “wake up time.” When I told my pediatrician that, she thought it was ridiculous. AND the days when he wakes up early or late, he usually somehow gets himself back on track before the day is over. AND my kid is the happiest kid ever so you know what, I’ll take it.
Then there were the days when naps would be boycotted. I put him down at 1pm and it is now 1:45pm and he is still not asleep. 1:50pm, 1:55pm…ah 2pm, finally asleep, that only took an hour. Babywise says to wake your baby up from a nap so they stay on schedule. That’s fine if that works for you, but my baby JUST fell asleep 30 minutes ago…no friggin way am I waking him up from that peaceful snoring slumber. If he is an hour off it has no effect. He didn’t/doesn’t sleep through the night on schedule or off, so I’M LETTING MY CHILD SLEEP. Not to mention, like I said before, he usually somehow gets himself back on track…so AGAIN, I would rather not have a miserable baby for the sake of a schedule.
Feedings. Sigh. Babywise’s theory: Make sure your baby gets a full feeding at the scheduled feeding time (Remember the “Eat, Wake, Sleep” concept I mentioned before?). Has Gary Ezzo ever nursed a 6 month old or a teething baby? No. So he wouldn’t know how nearly impossible it is to make them NOT get distracted. Or how you’re a nipple would feel after being chomped on 5 times in a row. My son is an INCREDIBLY alert, active, curious baby. Who needs food when there’s a very intriguing TV remote across the room on the coffee table begging to be chomped on? Seriously, I could hide that thing under the couch and he would sense its presence. Yup, tried the nursing cover. Tried the dark room. I’m sorry (actually I am not sorry), but I found it impossible to force my baby’s mouth onto my boob. SO. I let him play until he was interested in eating again. If he wanted to nurse a little more before a nap, then I nursed him. Why? Because I would rather him eat more, sleep better, and nurse more during the day than during the night. As far as the biting while teething – sometimes you have to put them down and let them see that biting means no nursing. My son got the hint, but it took nursing him NOT at his scheduled time. Another reason why you may not want to stick to a certain feeding schedule is because when breast feeding your supply is effected by demand. The more your baby eats, the more you will produce. When my supply dropped, nursing my son more (not following the clock) got my supply back up WAY more effectively than the pump.
This is all not to mention the books suggestion on crying it out. Gary Ezzo says repeatedly that it is not harmful to let your baby cry until he or she is sleeping, even as long as 45 minutes. I have done a variation of crying it out with my son, but I opted for Dr. Ferber’s method where you check on your baby in increasing increments until he or she falls asleep without you in the room. My issue with Gary Ezzo’s method, at least from what I gathered from Babywise, is that he does not specify when an acceptable age is to let your baby scream or cry him or herself to sleep. He does not suggest going in to check on your baby. He doesn’t address what is emotionally going on with your baby AT ALL (other than the fact that your baby will still love you when he or she wakes up and you will not scar your baby for life. So relieving… … …). It took me months before I was able to let my son cry for longer than 5 minutes, and we didn’t do the Ferber method of crying it out until he was 6 months old. I have seen mothers on a Babywise Facebook page ask if it was ok to let their 6 week old cry it out (:-| 6 weeks is still soooo little. Like, they were in the womb 6 weeks ago.). I have seen mothers who are desperate, who have just heard about Babywise, and that it promises to get your baby sleeping through the night in the early weeks, asking about how to let their baby cry it out without even reading the book or TRYING to understand the methods beyond just letting their baby cry. That is dangerous in my opinion. (In case you were wondering, after doing the Ferber Method of cry it out Jackson slept from 7p-4a for about 3 weeks, but then he got croop, followed by teething. So, that was the end of sleeping through the night. We all share a room because of our living situation while we wait until we close on our new house so we are holding off on any form of sleep training until we have separate rooms. But this just shows you how much change goes on with your baby and just because they start sleeping through the night, doesn’t mean they will STAY sleeping through the night. So, don’t freak out and think there is something wrong with your baby. He/She is just being a baby.)
Does any of this sound familiar to you??
The more I got into the whole parenting thing, the more I realized how UNNATURAL some of the ways of Babywise are. I am an A + B = C person. I like structure & predictability to a certain extent, which is why I think Babywise initially appealed to me. My greatest lesson: Babies aren’t predictable. Babies are not machines or robots. I have come to accept that, and that Babywise, for the most part (in my experience), goes against the nature of babies. They are individual little growing beings that are going through SO much change and growth it is literally impossible to comprehend. I started to get to know my baby; to pay attention to his needs and what he was going through and I let that guide me. Not what a book said to do. Gary Ezzo’s method is founded on being “parent directed” rather than being “baby lead”. I guess I say why pick one or the other? To survive this parenting thing you need to be out of the box. You need to be creative. You need to be flexible. You need to be strong. You need patience. You need divine wisdom. You need to be able to put yourself last. You need to trust your instincts, as well as your baby.
Some of this may sound kind of strong as far as my opinions and feeling go. It is that way because as a new mom I was so impressionable and desperate to do what was best for my baby, like I know EVERY new mom is. I was putting all my confidence in the words of a MAN who never in his life nursed a baby or was a stay at home mom with a baby literally almost 24/7. Thank God it clicked one day that I was my child’s one and only mother and I could do whatever I thought was best. I was made to be a mother. If you are a mom, you were made to be one too. I FINALLY decided to be confident in myself and make my own decisions, and you know what: I was never happier or more stress free. You know what else? My kid is perfect…in his own unique and special way. 🙂 We have areas we can grow in, but who doesn’t? Books about parenting have their pros, but just remember who the parent is. You. Be confident in who you are as a parent, and do what is best for your family.
I want to thank all my mommy (and even some daddy) friends out there for the wisdom, support, advice and guidance. You are all the best teachers I could have asked for on this mommy journey!
Jackson thanks you too! 🙂