Monday, March 9, 2009

On Becoming Baby Wise

There are very few books I want to burn. As a general rule I love books. But "Babywise" is one that I would very much like to set aflame. I saw an ad on a blog, that pretty much captures it for me.

Babywise is basically a book on how to get your baby to sleep through the night and get on a schedule - "BIBLICALLY". It sounds inocuous enough. But I take issue...

1) My babies never read the book. They didn't know they were only supposed to be hungry every 4 hours and sleep through the night at 12 weeks. They got hungry when they were hungry, which was almost always around 2.5-3 hours.

Any book that makes a mom feel guilty about feeding her hungry baby is DUMB! Mom's are supposed to feed there babies when they're hungry, they're supposed to watch for cues, and get in tune with the needs of their child. It's in the definintion of motherhood somewhere, I'm sure of it.

2) Making a little baby cry herself to sleep goes against a mom's instincts and is totally impractical. Baby's are supposed to learn how to self soothe. Some are ready to learn at an earlier age than others. Crying hysterically until one is too exhausted to keep his eyes open is NOT self-soothing. In fact, (according to my crunchy sister) studies are showing that babies fall asleep to prevent BRAIN DAMAGE. Being left alone to cry is traumatic to a baby. Plus, if you've got more than one kid then the baby keeps the whole house awake. This makes for very grumpy mammas and toddlers.

3) Ezzo (the author) suggests in American Culture we need to teach our babies to be independent. Hello? They are babies. They are dependent, by nature, and by design. First, we need to know our world is safe, and secure. We need to be taught that when we cry some one will help us. Secure attachment (basically believing the world is safe, and people can be trusted) makes kids feel better about taking risks. There is a time for risk taking (and it is not infancy). But I doubt seriously, if there is every a time for independence. We are a people designed for relationship, for intamacy. That should first be modeled in the family. Independence is an American ideal, not a Biblical one.

4)Babywise also suggests babies should be kept awake to play after a feeding. Chemically speaking, that's just DUMB too! Breastmilk has tryptophan (sp) the stuff in turkey that makes us sleepy after Thanksgiving. Tryptophan is the precursor to Seretonin, the neurotransmitter that gives us a feeling of well being. I don't know about you, but if I was warm and snuggly, and my tummy was full, if my system was flooded with a chemical that made me feel good and sleepy, I'd be ready for a nap.

When my breastfed babies were very small Eddie always feet sort of helpless when I left them with him. Oh, he's a rockstar calibar dad, but he doesn't have boobs (thank the good Lord). And to a small baby, nursing brings comfort. Eddie knew this intuitively, and I think that is how God made it.

Of all the books on the planet that have been damaging to me as a mother this one tops the list. I was a youngish mom, totally insecure in my ability to parent, this book gave me a "method" to follow, and when it didn't work I felt like a failure. Only, I wasn't. I was doing it right. I was watching my baby's cues, nurturing and loving, and feeling guilty about it the whole time.

Truth is, parenting a newborn is pretty much a roll-with-the-punches ordeal. It is far more art than science. It's intuitive and relational and exhausting and not. not. not. a formula.

Our adoption training reinforced for me how DUMB this notion of infant independence is. Babies need to be held and nurtured and fed and responded to immediately. It's how they develop a sense of self and safety. Kids who don't have that end with serious issues. Serious.

Speaking of....I have a little person who needs my attention.


Kari said...

I have no babies and I am not wise, but I would definitely say that the Baby Wise concept doesn't make sense to this "single, baby-free, career woman".

Mommy instincts definitely make more sense...

McHam Family said...

I tried Babywise with Tristan and ended up draining my already low milk supply. I am still angry about it.

Amanda said...

I totally agree with you! I'm not sure how any mother could listen to her infant cry thrmselves to sleep! And asking a baby to wait UNTIL it was "time" to eat is like asking a teenage boy to wait to eat! I'll burn the book with ya!

:) Amanda
Mother to 2 1/2 b/g twins and a 7 month old.

Christine said...

I concur.

Gretchen Crocker said...

I love you,sister. You may watch my babies any time.

Brianna Heldt said...

AMEN!!!! What on earth is the deal with that?! Just what our society needs, more enforcing that children are an inconvenience and ought to be growing up faster than they are.

This has always struck a nerve with me. It was great to read your thoughts!

Susanne said...

I hope you don't mind that I leave a comment on your post. But I am a mother who has used babywise. I think that a lot of people has a miss understanding of the parenting style is really used. I thought I would share my personal experiences so that it might help you to not hate babywise so much. You don't have to ever want to do it with you own children because I believe that each parent needs to do what is right for their family and no one parenting style is better than another.

First, keeping my baby awake after eating is really not that hard. Of course when they are a newborn, that is not going to happen. You feed them, give them a diaper change, and then off to sleep they go again. I don't think babywise expects you to keep your baby awake long after you have feed them. Over time, how long they can stay awake after a feeding slowly increases. I just followed my son's tired cue, which was his eye lids would get pink. If I waited too long, he would start to cry. So I never let him get to that point. Then I would put him down for his nap.

Now about sleep training. When he was a newborn. We would rock him before naps and nighttime sleep- but only until he was drowsy. Then we would lay him in the crib. In the beginning there was some crying before he would fall asleep. That only lasted a week or two. Then would would just drift off to sleep on his own. If he awoke in the middle of the night I would feed him, until I knew he biologically ready to go for longer stretches in the night. (See my post about how long babies can sleep at night Only at this point would I let him cry. At most it would be 3-4 nights of crying and then he would no longer wake for the feeding. My son is now 7 months old. He sleeps 12 hours at night and 3.5 hours during the day. There are still nights when he wakes up, but since we are done with sleep training I know there must be a need! I usually need to change his diaper, he has a cold, or is just hungry. So I feed him.

Another thing is about the feeding schedule. For example, let's say the baby eats every 4 hours during the day. My milk supply (I breast feed) is completely fine! I have had no problems. Also, if my son is hungry before 4 hours, I don't hold him out. There must be a reason he is hungry (growth spurt, etc.).

I think the problem with babywise is not babywise, it is the people who are hyper-scheduling and placing unrealistic expectations on their child to sleep through the night before they are biologically ready for it.

Check out the book- Good Night, Sleep Tight--this is a great book that works well if you use babywise because it gives you some more information about infant sleep.

Caroline@BabyWise said...

As a Mother, I implement Baby-wise and there is nothing like it- it is the best thing for my family! Those who say it doesn't work didn't try hard enough and those who never tried it wish they would have. It's all a matter of opinion I guess. But I have been truly blessed and satisfied with the book!

Dax said...

Beyond all the hype of sleep training, most of these methods do not address infants with physical problems. My daughter developed SILENT acid reflux at 2 weeks of age. All of my baby wise girlfriends said i needed to let her "cry" it out. She was waking every 45 minutes to hour and half. They said I was spoiling her because she would only stop crying if being held. Well it turned out that she had ulcers develop in her throat from the stomach acid and yes holding her vertical kept the acid down. So if I had given in to peer pressure and not followed my instincts she would have been left in her crib to scream and cry as acid erroded her throat wondering why is mom not helping me and why am I alone and in pain! Sorry but you can not spoil an infant and letting any MAN who has no child education tell women how to raise "god fearing" children is insane!!!