I’ve told my success stories before, but last year someone mentioned that they wished people weren’t saying it was all rainbows and unicorns (paraphrasing J) so I thought, instead, I’d write down my challenges and frustrations with it this year. While, I’m a huge Babywise enthusiast, and could go on and on about my successes, I’ll focus on the challenges, in my opinion, if that’s ok.
· On Becoming Babywise really opened my eyes up about the importance of sleep, marriage and family first, focusing on why vs how, and introduced me the eat/wake/sleep cycle. Many concepts that really just clicked with me, which I didn’t realize until I read them. Even so, I found the book to be disorganized, repetitive, and difficult to read. Not that I couldn’t understand it, I just wished it was organized better, didn’t bash other parenting styles so much, and actually dug into the details a bit more in places. If not for Val’s blog, I’m not sure I would have latched on to Babywise like I did. Sorry this is a critique of the book. I have recommended the book/series to others, but always with the caveat that it’s not well written (in my opinion) and tell them to also go to the blog. I’m not saying this to be disrespectful to the authors (and I really wish I didn’t have that caveat) but I would be worried someone would give up on the book/approach without my acknowledgement of this. I have some other caveats with my recommendation, but this is the main one.
· While the book says repeatedly, and I mean REPEATEDLY, that every baby is different, that the timelines suggested in the book are just typical ranges, that you feed your baby when he/she’s hungry, etc., I still couldn’t help but feel I was doing it wrong or not really doing Babywise most of my daughter’s infancy. I was being consistent yet flexible when needed, which is what I read in the book a million times, but I still got the sense that a stricter schedule was really the intention and I was falling short. I would see people post their schedules on the Yahoo (now Google) Babywise group and wonder how they could even write a schedule down, were their babies that predictable? If one feeding got off, then the whole day was off and how could you know from day to day? I got so wrapped up in trying to figure every little thing out, I drove myself a little nutty. But I just focused on the basics and establishing a routine and all was good … eventually. I’d say I had a nearly textbook BW baby now looking back. Not knowing how another parenting approach would have weighed on my psyche (maybe I’m just nutty? J), I sort of “blame” trying too hard be perfect on Babywise. That’s probably not right, on several levels (who can be perfect?) but it is how I felt.
· While I know many tout the importance of blanket time suggested in On Becoming Babywise, I did not do it. I think independent play is very important and I did do that, but I didn’t feel strongly about an obey-me-for-the-sake-of-
obeying-me exercise of keeping a baby on a blanket. Of course, I think a child should most definitely obey the parent but for a purpose and not just “because I said so” which is what blanket time felt like to me. I know this is a key area in which I am “not doing Babywise” and some people think “because I said so” is a great reason – but, oh well. My daughter obeys me (in her toddler way!) to my satisfaction and happily entertains herself, so I’m not kicking myself over this one.
· Overall, explaining to friends and family about keeping to your routine or following this weird thing called Babywise was not the greatest. People not understanding or feeling like I would never leave the house again while other moms cart their babies all over creation, made me feel quite doubtful if it was all worth it, and kind of resentful, actually. Honestly though, how else would I do it if I decided to stop Babywise? I couldn’t un-know the importance and benefits of consistent eating and sleeping. I couldn’t decide that a cranky, overly tired or demanding baby was better. But in the end it wasn’t so much that I had to follow through with Babywise, but that I knew the routine I established and my approach was healthy and a good one and if that meant being more homebound, then that was an acceptable sacrifice and I’ll just call it parenting rather than a book title.
My daughter is now 3 and I still read Val’s blog daily and feel like the –wise approach is part of my everyday routine with her. Just last night after putting our daughter to bed, my husband and I were chatting on the couch about our day and basically marveling at how great she is, like we often do (we just stopped short of high-fiving each other, LOL!) and he asked, “Do you think we’re just lucky and she was born that way or is it something we did?” I said both. He knew that was the answer, but you can’t help but think it’s gotta be something else besides what you might have done. You can say you’re lucky and point to her great disposition only so much. I’m not too proud to say that I’m a good mom and really credit Babywise for inspiring and confirming the inner-parent I already had in me.