Monday, September 26, 2011

Treasured By Pearl: Baby Wise

One of the reasons I started this blog was because I wanted to review my favorite products in Babydom.  I will label these “Treasured By Pearl”.  Those of you that know me know how I LOOOOOVE to get on my soapbox about books and products, talking your ear off about their superiority, value, ease of use, or whatever makes me excited about that particular thing.  I was actually going to hold off a while on these, but I’m so pleased and excited that I can’t hold this all in and now seems like a perfect time to write about it!
Frowned upon by some schools of thought, I decided to implement Baby Wise.  On Becoming Baby Wise: Giving Your Infant the Gift of Nighttime Sleep is a book and “regimen” of sorts written by Gary Ezzo, M. A. and Robert Bucknam, M. D.  (There is actually a whole series of the –Wise books, but On Becoming Baby Wise is the first.)  The authors are doctors and fathers who live in the Denver/Boulder area of Colorado, and have done much research to back up their theories.
To boil it down, the basic theory behind Baby Wise is that babies thrive on structure.  They call it an “infant management plan that successfully and naturally helps infants synchronize their feeding, waketime, and nighttime sleep cycles”, and it is just that.  I am sure that some of you reading this blog don’t or won’t agree with the principles of Baby Wise, but I am just here to tell you what my experience has been and my opinion on it.

My friend Brittany and I had babies 8 days apart.  We had eerily similar birth experiences, and though we were friends while we were pregnant, since our daughters have exited the womb, we have become each other’s confidants, allies, product recommenders, and the very closest of friends.  We sit around at my house on Saturdays while James is at band practice and talk, nurse, bounce ideas off each other, and compare our gorgeous babes.
Lydia and Amelia in their Bumbo Chairs.

When Lydia was six weeks old, Brittany loaned me the Baby Wise book, having put Amelia, her little girl, on it a few days before.  She had had great success so far and was excited to share this gem.  Rightly so!  I started reading it, and still being crazily hormonal, started crying and getting really upset that I hadn’t thought of putting Lydia on a routine before, and that nobody had told me about the importance of it.  (We had had issues up to that point because of her reflux – baby heartburn – and had troubles with getting that regulated, but I realize now that a major portion of her crankiness came from not sleeping properly and not being on a routine.  She would nap on my chest, nurse erratically, not let me put her down, and was what we would have characterized as a fussy baby.)
The principles in the book fit right in with the style of parenting that James and I had originally envisioned for ourselves, so we got right to it.  With Baby Wise, your child is on a constant rotation of feeding, waketime, sleep, feeding waketime, sleep, etc.  On paper, it seems monotonous and controlling, but there is much room for flexibility and freedom.  Babies seem to do best (especially a sensitive one like Lydia) when they know what to expect next.  Having them on a simple routine makes this possible for them. 
It was hard at first, b/c they recommend that you put them in their own room and their own bed, and then you put them to bed while they are awake.  Being separated from mommy is not something a new born likes very much, especially when they experience the intimacy and closeness of nursing.  But we did it anyway.  It is not something you can commit to lightly.  You must have just as much determination to do sleep training as it takes to begin breastfeeding.
The first week was the hardest.  I admit it: the worst part is listening to her cry.  It’s awful.  (But we also started when she was six weeks and she had become used to life another way.  With the next baby we will start from the get-go.)  We put her in her bassinet in her bedroom on one end of our 1,100 sq. ft. condo, closed the door, and went to our bedroom on the other end of the house, closed the door, turned up a movie as loud as it would go, and tried to ignore the lights flashing red on our little LED monitor (that indicate that she’s crying, or at least making noise). 
The thing that is soooo important to remember though, is that babies cry.  It is okay from them to cry.  It is what babies do.  The normal, healthy baby cries between one and four hours daily.  There is a chapter in Baby Wise on crying that tells all about this, and provides you with the reassurance that, yes, you are listening to her cry now, but it will not always be like this and the long term benefits are so much greater than the frustration that your little family is dealing with now.  You are teaching your newborn to soothe herself to sleep, and not to rely on you as a prop to do it for them. 
Baby Wise worked great for us the first month, and it was such a relief to not have to worry about whether or not we were doing the right thing for her, because we knew we were.  Lydia was sleeping from 9pm til 2am most nights, and some til 4am!  But what works one week does not always work so well the next. 
With my pain during breastfeeding, James hated watching me struggle and so I ended up doing a lot of pumping and bottle feeding, and that messed with her routine.  Then of course, I was given The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by my friend, Jenn, and found out what I did about the importance of actually giving her the breast, and so we swapped off the bottles again.  That messed with her routine yet again, and by then she was hardly sleeping 2-3 hours before she’d wake and want to nurse!  I got so exhausted that I’d end up just bringing her to bed with us, usually around 4am, but occasionally as early as 2am.
She grew out of the bassinet, and we didn’t yet have a crib, so she slept in her pack-n-play for about 3 weeks.  Not surprisingly, she did even worse in there.  (Note to upcoming mamas: pack-n-plays are NOT intended for more than naps, lol!)  She woke even more frequently, and because she was nursing so much in the night, sometimes as much as every hour or two, she was only getting my foremilk and that made her gassy and she’d often be up from 4am-6am or so.  Ugh. 
Anyhow, through another family wanting to bless us, we were given a very nice crib and mattress set!   We got it set up on Saturday, and though she didn’t do so well that night, I hadn’t lost faith.  Then, last night, (Sunday), she went down without a fuss, slept peacefully from 6:45pm-10:30pm, then again til 2:30am, then til 5:40am, and then til 7:30am!!  This may not seem like much to be excited about, but it is for me!  The biggest thing was that I didn’t have to pull her into our bed in the wee hours.  She didn’t even seem to care or miss it at all!  It’s been 2 or more months since she’s slept by herself til it’s time to get up in the morning!
This is the nursery now!  I'm so excited!!
By the way, the crying eventually stops.  It doesn’t take long.  Now, most nights, when I put her down, she just sucks her thumb or fingers til she falls asleep, and doesn’t even cry at all.  Her naps are usually the same way.  When she does cry, it’s more like what I call fuss-crying, and not the crying that is at a fever pitch and evokes tears (both mine and hers).  She can also fall asleep most anywhere. For instance, she slept great when we went to FL in July, and she sleeps on her blanket on the floor at my dad's house when I clean on Tuesdays.  (This doesn't mean, however, that she likes her car seat any more than she used to.  She hates being strapped in to that thing!!) 

Lydia sleeping on the floor at Dad's.
I would recommend Baby Wise to any mama, especially those who are expecting or have just had their first.  (I had also read The Baby Whisperer: How to Calm, Connect, and Communicate With Your Baby by Tracy Hogg, and though she is against methods where you let your baby cry, she had a lot of useful information.  She was all for getting your baby on a routine.  The two methods conflicted, but the end result is the same: get your baby on a routine.  If you’re going to do Baby Wise, read this one anyway, b/c it has great information on decoding your newborn’s cries and determining what type of personality your newborn has, as well as soothing methods and tips for each type.)
Here's a link to their actual site.   babywise250.jpg

Also, there is a mama in Utah, Valerie Plowman, who blogs, and one of her blogs is called Chronicles of a Baby Wise Mom.  Her site is full of SUPER helpful tips and tricks.  She's got quite the archives, as she's been writing it since (I think) 2007.  It's the perfect place to go when you have questions (like I did about Baby Wise and reflux, for instance.)
Here's her link:

1 comment:

Sarah said...

Before Malachi was born, I bought the book Baby Wise and fully intended on following it to a T. Unfortunately, my bouncing boy was anything BUT a text-book-baby. I grew so frustrated that he was not following the plans I had fully intended for him to stick to. At one point, because of my hysterics over being a total failure, Mal's dad actually threw the book in the trash and it never resurfaced. Why didn't it work? I have my theories: 1. Our marriage was smack dab on the rocks and I think Mal could sense that. 2. Mal was a high need baby and so his tolerance for any sort of stimulation was nil. 3. I was being too rigid and had not allowed for my son to have his own personality (that followed mine. I do NOT to well with routine ruts). Anyway, I've often though about whether or not I'll attempt Baby Wise with baby #2. I don't know that I will. But, we'll see.