There are so many reasons why I love Babywise and the whole -wise approach! First of all because it is an approach and not a rule book. For it to be successful it's more than just steps to getting your newborn to sleep, it's a way of thinking and approaching parenthood. Even if you only read the first book, I believe it helps you get to thinking on the right path. Here are a few things I love with some of my successes:
- As it's been pointed out before, the Babywise book starts off with how important the relationship is between mom and dad - this relationship is the most important for a successful family and baby. Also the family unit and all members are important and the whole world does not revolve around baby or just one member. I've always believed that but it was nice to read since I think so many people make it 'all about the children' when really it's unhealthy and inappropriate to essentially put a baby in charge of a household. Similarly, I know people who have their dogs running the show, which is so crazy! (and annoying :)
- Prior to reading Babywise I read a couple books about Attachment Parenting (I didn't even know that was parenting term until then) which never seemed right to me. Without much deep thought on my part, I already knew I didn't want to co-sleep, demand feed, avoid crying, "wear" my baby, allow baby to decide when to eat or sleep, etc. I see many of those methods as appeasing the baby in the short term without thinking of your long term goals. Babywise is the opposite and is really more about making a plan and adjusting along the way and is not as rigid as many people think - just more structured and predictable.
- I never would have known about the eat/wake/sleep cycle, which I now believe is the essence of good sleep patterns. I had always thought that babies go to sleep during/after nursing and of course you never wake a sleeping baby. My husband and I talked about this e/w/s approach at length and thought, well it sounds reasonable let's give it a try. To others it was counterintuitive "What? You're putting your baby to bed and she's not asleep yet?" or "You're waking your baby to eat?" To us, it made total sense right away. First, it gave me a system for my day with my daughter. Guesswork is limited when you know what should come next and troubleshooting problems is also much easier when you have a regular routine. This pattern also trains baby to sooth herself to sleep. My daughter is now 13 months old and there are times when she doesn't want her nap puts up a little struggle, but for the most part we are putting down a smiley baby (ok, pre-toddler now!), who's laying there playing peekaboo with her blanket as we walk out the door and pinching ourselves because bedtime is so darn cute and pleasant.
- Because of the e/w/s cycle, there is not a lot of time spent rocking, swinging, begging, pleading with your baby to go to sleep. At first, of course there is a lot of crying and trying different things to help ease the transition but once you get it down, there's no driving your baby around the block. I never once did that. I can count on one hand (maybe 4 fingers!) on how many times I had to rock my girl to sleep due to teething or other issues. I admit I LOVE the feeling of holding a sleeping baby - but I'd much rather see her happily awake in her crib getting to sleep on her own. I suppose some people might see not rocking your child to sleep as cold or an unnecessary sacrifice of a motherhood right, but I see it as giving the gift of sleep.
- More on the gift of sleep. I had no idea how important sleep is for baby's healthy brain development and also happy wake time! Of course we all know sleep is important, but Babywise really makes you focus on getting good sleep from your baby - and what a difference it makes in having a smart, alert, focussed and happy baby when she's awake! I can't tell you how many times people have commented that my daughter is "so alert!" "so happy!" "she's so engaged!". Just the other day someone said "Oh my gosh, she's crying!" because she's usually so content. I'm sure it's partially due to her good disposition and personality but I honestly credit Babywise for a lot of it too. Of course she cries, she's fussy, starting to throw mini-fits, but those moments are so minor and are quick to fade.
- By using Babywise, I developed certain expectations for my baby with regard to eating, sleeping, etc., and I expected my daughter to comply or I would work with her to get there. I've realized that I now have expectations for her behavior, boundaries, manners, etc., which I also expect her to comply. I'm not a drill sargent or super demanding (in fact, I would characterize myself as laid back in general), and I don't set unrealistic goals, but I just have expectations that I believe my daughter can meet and I don't waver. There is flexibility in how you get there, but we still get there. I credit Babywise for setting me on this -wise path, which really makes it more than just getting a baby to nap well book. I might have developed this approach on my own, but I think Babywise got me there more quickly.
- Because I have expectations for my daughter's behavior, even at her young age she knows it. She listens when I tell her not to touch! She tests, of course, but she get's it. She doesn't throw fits when I take something away she shouldn't have like the remote. Maybe once in a while, but usually it's no big deal, she does something else. Again, I credit Babywise for this too. I know so many parents who say "don't take that away or he'll throw a fit", when who cares? Have the fit and move on. With life comes disappointments, and I don't think you should shield them all from your kids until some point (when?) they can better handle it. I don't revel in disappointing my daughter - quite the opposite - I love her squeals of joy, but I also love watching her handle herself through minor disappointments now and being prepared for bigger ones in the future. This is also a credit to Babywise. Again, I was on this thought-path already, but Babywise has emphasized it for me.
- Same thing with consistency. I always knew consistency is one of the key things for raising kids - my mother taught me that. But Babywise really puts consistency into practice with not only your routine but expectations and behavior, etc.
- One thing that I find interesting is that Babywise is associated with Christian Parenting. I don't even know what that means, really, but I find it intriguing. I am agnostic at best and think it's great that it really doesn't matter your faith, or lack of faith, practicing the -wise methods just make common sense.
- Wow this is getting long! I really do enjoy Babywise and especially reading Val's blog - it's been so helpful to me. I feel so proud of myself, my husband and my daughter! It's like I want to tell every mom I meet - but I don't. It's like I have this huge secret in my back pocket that I could share, but really all I can do is make suggestions, if appropriate. I want to brag "my daughter slept through the night at 7 weeks!" but I know every baby is different and I don't want to make anyone feel bad - plus that's nice but not the end goal for me. There are people at my work that claim I have an anomaly baby and that I'm "lucky"! Ha! I think lots of BW moms have heard this. I do feel lucky, but add in 10 parts hard work (is that all?), 2 parts dedicated parents, million parts love and you've got my Babywise baby experience.