Now I know some people might cringe at this question, some might say ABSOLUTELY while others may have no idea what this means. I’m not sure if I have mentioned this before, but I did not read 1 single book on newborn parenting before my little guy arrived. I mean, you feed them, you change them, and you put them to sleep. What else is there to know? The way I saw it, once I held my son in my arms we would figure things out together.
Weeks before he arrived, I was having dinner with friends and we were if course talking baby. One mom asked of I had read Baby Wise to which I replied, “No, what’s that”? Another dad piped up..”did you say Baby Wise? That saved our lives. We loved it. It really helped us get our daughter on a schedule Schedule… Now that was a word I liked. I had in my head that at some point I would want to put Lucas on a schedule. I’m not sure what that meant or how I would do it, but I did know that this baby wise thing was sounding better and better. I immediately went home and called sister, who I have seen as my mothering mentor as she had 2 kids at the time who were excellent sleepers. Sleep & sleep training was something my sister took very seriously, but that is a topic for another post. Anyway, at the very mention of Baby Wise, she cringed, scoffed, etc… You see, as I continued to learn more about this baby stuff, I learned that my sister fed on demand, ie… No schedule. This worked for her especially since she is a SAHM. Since I was going back to work, I knew I would have to do things a little differently.
I bought Baby Wise, but did not start reading it until my son arrived.Let me preface this with the fact that Baby Wise is about more than scheduling, but also about establishing sleep patterns. I used this more for establishing a schedule which did in fact help him to sleep, but I decided to address the sleep training with a different method that I will discuss in another post. I learned that there are a few different parenting/nurturing/feeding styles out there: demand feeder and the hyper-scheduler, to name a few. The goal of Baby Wise is to find a sense of balance among these styles. Where on demand means that anytime your baby exhibits a hunger queue, you feed. Baby Wise argues that just Because a baby cries or sucks on their fist doesn’t mean they are hungry so are you really meeting a need of theirs? The Premise of Baby Wise is Feed. Wake. Sleep. By bringing structure to your day your baby learns certain queues and develops a trust that he/she will be fed, etc…
To break this down a bit further, the goal of feeding is to feed every 3 hours. This doesn’t mean that if your baby is screaming/crying because he is hungry that you hold out until it has been 3 hours. If your baby is hungry before then, by all means feed your baby. It is most important that you meet the needs of your child than going strictly by the clock.
Second is that after feeding time, you do an activity to keep that baby awake for a bit (ie, don’t let them fall asleep eating). Go take them for a walk, give them a bath, talk to them, run an errand,etc…
After a little bit, then put them down/allow them to sleep. Remember I said that you feed every 3 hours? Well, if after you put them to sleep, they are still sleeping at the three hour mark, then you are supposed to wake them up to feed them and start the cycle again (Note – you should only wake them during their daytime naps to assist in establishing sleep cycles. Waking my little guy from a nap was tough and I struggled with the mantra “never wake a sleeping baby”, but I was determined to follow the rules on this one.
Mind you, I followed Baby Wise for about the first 6 weeks or so while he was teenie tiny (and he was teenie tiny as he was born at 5lbs 12oz) I believed it was important that he not go too long between feedings. As I continued to follow the pattern of feed wake sleep, I was amazed at how well lucas adapted to the rhythm and how he seemed to not only trust that he was being fed regularly, but He seemed to know what to expect, however I wouldn’t realize the power of consistency until later on. My sister had told me that her pediatrician had mentioned that if you can get your children to eat every 3hours then this increases the likelihood of them sleeping through the night. I loved the sound of that!
Another bonus to getting this guy on a schedule is that I could structure my day around his feedings. So I was rarely if ever caught while running errands having to stop and feed him. I Planned trips to the grocery store, etc… in phases. So, I was almost always home to feed him. Right after feeding we would run out the door to run errands (this was his wake time when he sometimes slept as well). As I mentioned, I used this for about 6-8 weeks. It was a great tool to help us establish a schedule. I stopped the feed wake sleep rhythm and moved to a different rhythm of feed sleep wake in an effort to start establishing bedtime routines/queues which I will talk about this in another post.
Overall I am very happy with what Baby Wise taught me. I hope that those who are against Baby Wise realize that the premise is to establish trust and consistency. I learned fairly quickly that baby’s respond very well to queues so as we establish recurring queues this helps them to establish a level of trust
How to Keep Track of the schedule?
When Lucas was first born, my amazing mom created a binder for me log sheets where she had pre-printed the times of day. I was to use this to simply write down what time I fed him, changed him, and put him to sleep (and how long he slept). I tried this for a bit, but I found that the best time to sit and update the log was when I was nursing Lucas and it became a bit difficult to lug the binder around everywhere I went. I found an App that would allow me to track feedings (breast/bottle, time of feeding and for how long), diaper changings (wet vs dry….which you will find is very important when you are first breastfeeding as wet diapers are a sign that they are getting enough milk, and vaccinations (which I have never used). The App I use is the “What to Expect Baby” App. It is very easy to use. When I was trying to really get his sleep schedule down I had wished I could import the data I had entered into a graph so I could see current sleep patterns (Yes, I am crazy like that…..The Hub calls me the sleep Nazi). I believe I have seen that there are various apps out there that will do this. Another thing I wanted for a while was a way to create miscellaneous entries (crying spells, periods of gassiness, etc…)
I write this only as a means of portraying my needs/my own experiences. I realize that all moms have different needs/beliefs. I hope that my experience will help a fellow mom unsure of how to put her baby on a schedule.
PS. I mentioned earlier that my sister scoffed at Baby Wise, but she recently had her third baby and saw how well the scheduling worked for me that she wanted to give it a go….especially considering the fact that she now has 3 children all under 3 1/2 yrs of age 🙂 It goes to show that what may not work for you today, may work for you tomorrow. Always keep those options open:)