Thursday, July 18, 2013

Babywise and Baby Whisperer Combo

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A year or so before I was even pregnant, I read a blog post by someone who had read and loved Tracy Hogg’s Baby Whisperer Books.  I was intrigued, read a bit more about that, and bookmarked some sites for when we were having a baby.  When I was pregnant, I read Secrets of the Baby Whisperer and loved it; my husband read it as well.  We loved the structured routines and planned to use it.

Late in my pregnancy, I grabbed Babywise from the bookshelf at my midwife’s office.  She said, “Let me know what you think of that book.  I haven’t read it but understand that some people feel it is controversial.”  I read it between weekly appointments and honestly couldn’t understand the controversy.  I thought that it complemented Tracy Hogg’s ideas and strategies really well!  I said to my midwife the next week, “It wasn’t anything I didn't already know, but I enjoyed the ideas and didn’t find it controversial at all.”

Since the beginning, we have blended Baby Whisperer and Babywise ideas.  Our daughter, Charlotte, was born in August.  We started her on a 3 hour schedule and then adjusted to a combo 2-3 hour schedule.   We also borrowed the Baby Whisperer evening “tank up” and dreamfeed strategies.  Charlotte has generally been a good sleeper.  I always tell people that we needed to put her on a schedule because she never cried for a bottle.  In reality, I think that was because we operated on an eat-wake-sleep schedule and she always knew her next meal was coming.  She wasn’t a big fan of food and it was a challenge to get her to eat a full “meal.”  We would often do half a bottle, take a 15 minute break for spit up or play, and then finish the bottle.  With her habits, she could have easily become a snacker, but we understood the importance of full meals that sustain a baby for a period of time.

With regard to night eating, she woke to eat at night two times for the first four weeks.  By about one month old, she only ate once at night (usually between 3:00 and 5:00 AM).  Keep in mind that this was in addition to a 10:00dreamfeed.  She dropped her middle-of-the-night feed at four months old.  (We used some Baby Whisperer ideas to support this when we knew it was time to stop.)  We cut the dreamfeed at seven months.  Again, ideas from Babywise and Baby Whisperer informed this decision.

I still don’t understand the controversy over these books.  I don’t understand where the “failure to thrive” myth comes from.  Both books, as well as many forums and blogs associated with fans of the books, advise people to adjust the routines to meet your baby’s needs.  Charlotte is a prime example: as a baby, her first cycle of the day was a two-hour cycle with a short nap.  Her little tummy needed two bottles closer together!  As she got older, that changed because she could eat more at once… but she still eats a LOT first thing in the morning!  Then she went longer between bottles in the afternoon and took a longer nap.  So, we did kind of a combo schedule in her baby days:  bottles at 7:009:3012:304:00, and 7:00

Thank of the recent Babywise Friendly Blog Network Week theme, our families did struggle with the scheduling at first.  Then, they learned the schedule and LOVED it!  My dad, at first, was like, “Can’t we just get her up?  Why does she need to eat right now?  Does it even matter what time or where she naps?”  After a month or so, and to this day, he’ll tell people, “I always know what time I can drop by to see Charlotte because I know her schedule.” Also, my parents are always willing to babysit because they know her schedule – it’s very easy to keep her happy because they know exactly when to feed her, when to play, and when to do naps!  It takes the guess work out of grandparenting and allows them to just have FUN with her.

Now that Charlotte is 10.5 months old, she eats her solids meals after waking from naps.  She has three bottles, one before each nap and one between dinner and bedtime.  And she eats small solids snacks in between!  She take two good naps and sleeps 8:00-7:00 at night; uses no sleep props but a small blanket that, frankly, she’d be happy to go without; and goes to sleep on her own.  (This usually takes 2-5 minutes.  After serious overstimulation – like a trip to the pool – it can take up to 15 minutes of her talking to herself and having a “crib party.”)  We generally have to wake her from her naps.

I recommend Babywise (and the Baby Whisperer) series to all my friends.  When I am asked for baby feeding or sleeping advice, what I tell people inevitably is something I read in BW or Bw.  It is hard to feel happy, confident, and open about our parenting strategies when there is so much judgment toward the ideas found in the Babywise books.   Those of us who know, love, and successfully practice these strategies need to be more vocal about advocating acceptance our parenting style.  Let’s get active and continue sharing why Babywise has worked for us!

- Allison
Mom of Charlotte, age 10.5 months

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