Monday, February 10, 2014

Evolution of Babywise at our House



Many parents find the way the implement Babywise evolves from child to child. Like most families, we have also evolved. I think, however, that we have evolved differently than people expect parents to evolve--and maybe even differently than people typically evolve. We have moved from a family who "does" Babywise to a family who "is" Babywise.

Baby #1
We started the pattern of Babywise when our oldest (Brayden) was 4 weeks old and the full thing at 9 weeks old. We started out pretty relaxed about the whole thing. Implementing Babywise took us from complete chaos to predictability. Things weren't picture perfect, but they were so immensely improved that we were thrilled. We didn't worry about having disruptions (I think we should have worried more about it) and we were still trying to live our old life more than figuring out what new normal needed to be with a baby in our lives.

The whole thing was completely new to us (and by "whole thing" I mean parenting). There was much we missed in implementing Babywise as we were basically doing the basics here. As time went on, I read and re-read the books and picked up on things I had missed (I think my brain was filtering out what I couldn't handle). Because of this, things like signing and independent play didn't start until he was over a year old. His third nap wasn't dropped until about 9-10 months old when I realized he should be taking two instead of three.

Parenting was so new to us that the implementation of Babywise was pretty loose. As Brayden got older, we implemented more and more and by the time Brayden was a little over a year, we were doing all things except blanket time (which I still hadn't noticed was even talked about). We became very consistent. A big reason for this is we grew to realize that Brayden didn't handle inconsistency well. He was pretty particular. He needed his nap to start in a narrow window of time (my only child to be so particular). He also needed certain things in his routine to be the same each day or he had a hard time. It is ironic he was my most inflexible child because we were the most flexible with him as a baby.

Baby #2
When Brayden was 22 months old, we welcomed our second baby into the world. She was in reality our first newborn experience in implementing Babywise. By this point in our parenting, we were belivers in consistency. We were also big believers in starting as you meant to go on. We had done a lot of "re-training" with Brayden that frankly we didn't think were fair to knowingly make Kaitlyn learn one way of doings only to change it up on her later. We worked hard to start as we wanted things to be long-term.

But we were still quite flexible. She was a very flexible baby and we could disrupt her without her having major setbacks. We were careful about it, though. I was careful to make sure we didn't have disrupted days back to back if we could help it.

We implemented Independent Play from birth and dropped naps based on when she was ready for them.

Kaitlyn was an easy baby, but had her challenges because she had reflux. Because of this, she often finished naps in the swing (or took the whole nap in the swing). We learned a baby can do such things at times and still sleep well in the crib later in life.

Baby #3
When Kaitlyn was 23 months old, McKenna was born. I thought Kaitlyn was flexible, but McKenna was even more-so flexible. However, I rarely asked it of her to use that flexibility. I started from the beginning to have her sleeping well and falling asleep on her own and she did that without crying. I had learned the hard way the importance of having correct waketime length and not having too much stimulation. I wanted to do what I knew was best for her. Along with that desire, it was much easier for me to take care of my almost two year old and almost four year old with McKenna sleeping well.

I continued to implement things from a birth--good sleep habits, good eating habits, and independent play were of utmost importance. We worked around her schedule as much as we could.

One thing I slacked off on with McKenna was requiring the same level of obedience. There was a certain amount of "Oh she is just a baby" and tolerating things I never did with Brayden and Kaitlyn. For a long time, it wasn't a problem. McKenna was a sweet little baby. She also had her daddy wrapped right around her entire body (not just finger). She was a major daddy's girl and he let her do just about anything and have a million chances.

But once she hit about 18 months (I find this is when personality really starts to impact behavior), she showed her strong-willed side. My slackness in obedience requirements quickly caught up to me. We were able to hep that through effort and consistency. She is still super sweet--her sweet disposition as a baby was real. She just also very much has a mind of her own.

Baby #4
When McKenna was just over 3 years old, Brinley was born. With Brinley, it almost felt like having a first child all over again except this time with wisdom on my side. Having a baby with the youngest being older than three was a much easier experience than it had been to have two young children. I was better able to give more focus to Brinley than I had been able to do when McKenna was a baby.

We were the least flexible with Brinley's schedule than any of our other children. This is pretty backward from how families often find themselves. They usually find their baby spends most of her life in the carseat as she is being hauled from event to event. I didn't want that for Brinley. I value sleep. I had time to see the benefits of following Babywise on my children as they were older. The benefits are so worth it to me that I was more than willing to do what it took to protect Brinley's sleep and consistency in life. Much like my experience with McKenna, I found it was easiest for me to attend to my other children if I could keep my baby on a consistent schedule.

But respecting Brinley's sleep didn't mean we took the year off of doing anything or that I missed every soccer game. We carpooled to everything we could (which is just an amazing thing to do whether you have a young baby or not--I love the carpool). We got babysitters to "watch" Brinley if something conflicted with her nap. She was such a good and predictable sleeper that I could confidently go to something during a nap and know she would be okay. I signed the kids up for lessons and activities at times that I knew would be most optimal for a baby--through my three babies I had seen we had a very similar schedule with all three and I knew I could do a lot to impact her schedule to work with ours. For more on this topic, see Managing Baby Plus Older Kids' Activities.

With Brinley, I also stuck to the sign language and the independent playtime. Some things, like independent playtime, have been harder to be fully consistent with. With various activities, it is hard to find a time of day that can be done each day. We just do the best we can and she is a flexible person and rolls with it.

I have also been very careful to not let the "cute baby" thing distract me from discipline. I enjoy the cuteness in my head but correct it. And I have been so very glad I have with having injured my foot. I have needed her to be responsive to my voice since I am about the quarter of her speed--I can't chase her down so she needs to do what I tell her to just because I told her to. And she has been great!

Conclusion
I think most people would assume a person goes from being consistent and sticks to the schedule and "rules" tightly and then relaxes as years go on. I think that is the stereotype and the way some people go. You can see we haven't really been that way. I stress less. I worry less about bad naps or grumpy moods. I am better able to look at big pictures instead of honing in on one event. I know months of work can't be ruined by one off day. But I believe fully in the benefits of Babywise. I hope that is obvious. Because of that, I have stuck to the tenets of Babywise and have enjoyed the results time after time. I know the efforts are well worth it and I have faith in putting that effort in that I need to.

How have you changed as you have had more children?

2 comments:

Jeni said...

This is wonderful! Thank you, Val, for sharing how Babywise has played out so far for you and your family. It's helpful for me to hear a "long-term" perspective as I only have one child so far and she is but 20 months old. Sometimes I wonder what parts of her personality are Babywise-related (based on our hard work with her from day one) and what is just her nature. Maybe we'll never know -- but we do know that life as parents is even more joyful and dare I say easier (or more predictable) than we ever expected! Maybe we got a good kid, maybe it's Babywise...probably both. Anyway, all that to say -- thank you for this post and for your blog!

Manda said...

I love this! I have 3 boys (4, 29 months, and 10 months) as I have had more kids I have implemented more of the Babywise concepts, like blanket time, because I see the value. I love having structure and I have realized how much my kids appreciate knowing what to expect.

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