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Saturday, November 12, 2011

On Recovering from Babywise

My daughter is only 19 months old. Already I'm so proud of her. She's smart, funny, kind, inquisitive, etc etc etc. We get compliments from friends, family & total strangers about her great disposition.

When I was preparing to be a parent, this was my goal. I remember asking for advice on what book to read to prepare me to be the best possible parent. A few friends mentioned On Becoming Babywise. I read, and it clicked.

Now I just want to laugh & laugh in the face of pregnant Angie - read a book to make you the best possible parent? (And yes - I did expect to be perfect.)

Don't get me wrong: I do think there is great value in preparing to be a parent. I think the book gave me some an excellent base. I still believe that having a fairly strict routine early allowed my daughter to know what was coming next, develop confidence in her ability to go through the world, and ... to develop that lovely disposition.

What I wish - is that I'd had a little more confidence in my own instincts early on. I guess that's impossible, right? The confidence I have now is a result of having a been a parent for over a year and a half. I still question myself, of course. One of my biggest questions is whether some of what I do now is a just plain silly thumbing-my-nose at the Babywise guys. Like they give a crap if I rock my baby to sleep.

Here's the thing. I "did Babywise" 100% for the first 8 months. It worked like a dream. I felt vindicated; all those people who'd chuckled that parenthood was harder than a book could ever let on  - ha! Then guess what: we went on vacation. (This was Christmas last year.) Who wants to do cry-it-out on vacation? When we got back, we had to start from square one on the sleep training thing. It sucked. It was emotionally draining. It was like every time there was a little bump, we were going to have to do it all again?

I bought Toddlerwise, figuring I needed  a refresher. That is where I lost all love for the Wise guys. There is some line in there about "If you occasionally have to leave your child with another person, a little change in their schedule shouldn't throw them off completely." I literally threw the book across the lactation room. (Yes, I was pumping at the time.) If your book was patently NOT intended for working moms, that's something that would have been nice to know A YEAR AGO!

When the next bump came along, I think it was a tooth or a fever or who knows, I decided "Eff it." I started rocking her to sleep. I like it. Just like my mommy liked rocking me to sleep. Most of the time she either sleeps through the night or wakes up once & briefly. Occasionally we have a rough night. If it's really rough or there a couple in quick succession, I question ditching Babywise.

But then in the morning, I still have my smart, funny, kind, inquisitive kid with her great disposition. And, me? I'm pretty resilient. And I have a cup of coffee.

What I really wish I knew was how to put this into any sort of wisdom for a new parent! Anyone more eloquent or wise than I?


  1. I remember reading the first half of the book on your futon in your condo! And then after Penelope arrived (and started crying constantly at around 3 weeks), I read the Happiest Baby on the Block and couldn't believe what a lifesaver it was. But ultimately, I think I have used a lot of the ideas from Babywise even though the book annoys me and I hate to give it much credit!

  2. I thought BW was fabulous. . . recommended it to so many moms. . . thought we were doing great.

    Then the typical loss of milk supply, slow weight gain (leading to failure to thrive) and other issues. In retrospect I saw SO many problems that resulted from BW.

    I --was-- using "flexibility and common sense." I had a lot of BW moms giving me encouragement and advice, assuring me things were "normal" that with later babies I realized were NOT normal.

    It is a HUGE problem to use a book as a reference for decision making as a mother, when that book is full of medical misinformation as is Babywise. So much goes against what we know from research about infant growth, development, sleep and breastfeeding.

    (Btw, congrats on working, breastfeeding and pumping. . . that takes a LOT of dedication!)

  3. Ahh, parenting - I honestly think that is something everyone needs to learn for themselves. Did i prepare by reading books? Yes. Did it help? Some. What I DO wish I read up on more was the sleep training. We just didn't do a good job with that. But looking back, so what if our child slept in our bed until she was 5 months old? I have fond memories of whispering with my husband over her sweet, sleeping face. I do think you need to play it by ear and trust your instincts. My sister in law followed a rigorous schedule by the book and kept her 3 month old on a 4 hour interval feeding schedule. It hurt me to hear that baby cry and the parents withhold food "because it wasn't time yet." Babies are different. Parents are different. Find a balance and just go with the flow :)

  4. Thanks for the feedback, ladies!
    It's funny that I have always sought a happy medium in everything, but when it came to parenting, I was SO afraid of straying from this system that seemed so logical. Ha, ha - logical! :)