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"Mom, not baby, decides..."

How to apply the Babywise principle of Mom, Not Baby, Decides.
Mom, not baby decides. How to apply this Babywise principle. 

I have had a question on the idea of "mom, not baby, decides...". In an email Anne-Marie Ezzo sent to me a few months ago, she mentioned that idea and pointed out that is true for all parenting philosophies. The mom (or parent or caregiver) is always deciding when the nap will end or start. The philosophies really differ in cues followed and whether or not a schedule is enforced. The mom who gets baby as soon as she makes a peep is deciding when to get the baby up, she has just decided to follow that cue. The mom who lets her newborn sleep 4 straight hours during the daytime, not wanting to wake a sleeping baby, has decided the nap won't end until baby wakes himself up. Mom always decides.

Sure. But what does that phrase mean in the context of Babywise? Well, it means much of the same. But be sure YOU decide and not let the CLOCK decide. I think parents who follow a schedule can easily fall into the trap of becoming slaves to the clock. Always keep in mind that Babywise is Parent Directed Feeding, not clock directed.

This parent directed idea can and should be applied to all ages of your child. YOU decide whether or not your toddler can have some candy, not the presence or absence of a TANTRUM. Getting this "you" deciding practice down early will make future struggles easier for you.

I can understand parents, especially first time parents, wanting some sort of outline and case-by-case scenario that tells them "if X, then Y." Yes, that would make parenting easier. It would be more like raising a tree than a human. Now, the steps to raising a tree do vary by the species of the tree as well as your climate, but at that point you can get pretty solid advice on what to do if X happens to your tree. You can tell a problem you see with your tree, ask your neighbor who has lived there for the last 50 years and he can tell you pretty definitely what to do to fix the problem. He doesn't need to know much more.

Children have environmental factors, just like trees. But they have so much more. They have personalities and tendencies. They have desires and yearnings. And most difficult for the parent, they have agency. They can choose how to act and react! This is a great gift, though many times we wish we could strip our children of their agency. When you add to the mix the parents, things get even more complicated. Parents have personalities and tendencies. They have desires and yearnings. They have agency. Then they have a schema of the world. A parent has been affected by his life experiences: childhood, friendships, schooling, successes, failures, etc.

You can easily see why there can be no "If X, then Y" equation for your children. A book couldn't possibly be long enough to cover it all. My posts on this blog alone cover over 300 single spaced, typed pages so far. Then you have the hundreds of pages of questions/answers. All of that is in addition to what is already written in the Babywise books.

This is why "Mom, not baby, decides..." is such a valuable concept for mom. Mom is smart. Yes, you make mistakes. Yes, you have to learn things, and sometimes the hard way, but you are still smart. You can take in all of the factors. You combine these variables and analyze them. You then work to problem solve.

Let's say baby usually goes down for a nap at 9:30 AM. But then baby starts showing her usual sleep cues at 9:15. What do you do? If you were the "if X then Y" mom, you would for sure keep her up until 9:30. If baby really needed to go down at 9:15, then baby would wake up early from the nap and you would be left looking for the next "Y" to solve the current "X." But this "X" could have been avoided. For the PDF mom, she thinks. Did baby wake up early this morning? Did baby have a rough night? Is baby teething or sick? Did baby go to bed early last night? Did baby miss a nap yesterday? Or simply, was that really the sleep cue? You decide to put her down right away. She sleeps her normal nap length, though she does wake up 15 minutes earlier than usual since she went down early. No big deal. That is better than an hour and 15 minutes earlier.

So mom decides. Mom looks at the variables and decides what to do. She isn't governed by outside forces, but rather cues, knowledge, and experience. Does that mean mom is perfect and gets it right every time? No. We all make mistakes. We misjudge. We then chalk that up to our experience list and move forward.

"Mom, not baby, decides" works well because mom is better able to analyze the situation than baby. Mom has more experience and more intelligence. Mom can see the big picture. Mom has better goals in mind. Toddler doesn't get candy because eating a full, nutritious dinner is important to the health and happiness of Toddler, and dinner is 30 minutes away. Candy can be considered after dinner, perhaps as dessert. Newborn Baby wants to go right to sleep after eating, but mom knows having some waketime will actually help him to nap better and longer. That will ensure he stays on his feeding schedule better. So mom works and works to keep newborn baby up for some playtime. It is exhausting for mom and baby, but mom looks past the moment and toward higher goals in the future. Mom doesn't give in to the tantrum because she knows that will make future tantrums better. She also knows child needs to learn to experience disappointments. Child needs to know that a fit isn't going to get him what he wants. She knows that giving in to the fit now will only make future behavior worse, not only tantrums.

So keep deciding. Of course as your child grows, he earns freedoms. But that is you decided if and when to allow freedoms. It is you watching the use of those freedoms and making sure he really can handle the privilege and opportunity.
How to apply the Babywise principle of Mom, Not Baby, Decides.

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Reader Thank-Yous/Comments:
  • Cameron Clark said...
    Yippie! This should be added to BW book. I think most people that read BW in the medical community take it at face value and love to bash it. If you can use common sense when applying BW techniques, you'll win. Problem is, we're sleep deprived parents with no experience trying to do the best for our baby -- bless our hearts. No one said it would be easy, eh? Mistakes will be made doing anything worth our efforts. We are not perfect and shouldn't read BW as the letter of the law. Right now I'm going to wake up Owen from his nap... Why? Because I know what is best.
    April 30, 2008 2:08 PM
  • Jennifer Brewer said...
    Thanks! Always refreshing to that making the decision as the right decision.
    May 1, 2008 7:11 AM
  • Plowmanators said...
    Thanks for all the thanks. I am happy to try to help clarify any confusion that goes along with that theory.
    May 1, 2008 8:53 PM
  • atara said...
    This is so empowering to me as a first time Mom. Thank you! I currently working on getting the first feed of the day at 6:00am, but it's not a deal breaker if it happens 30 minutes before or after.
    November 15, 2008 4:35 AM
    Plowmanators said...
    You are welcome!
    November 22, 2008 7:23 AM
Reader Questions:

When To Stop Swaddling Your Baby

When to stop the swaddle varies from family to family. Some swaddle up to a year. Others never swaddle at all. You might be sick of reading this, but exactly when to stop (if you ever started) is dependent on your child.

When To Stop Swaddling Your Baby

I think if your newborn will swaddle, it is a great thing to do. It helps them sleep more soundly without disrupting by the "startle reflex." Brayden absolutely would not be swaddled, even in the hospital he hated it. Kaitlyn liked it, though the exact method of swaddling her was quite dynamic and constantly changing.

Here is a list of things to watch for and consider when deciding to stop the swaddle. I do have another post on swaddling, so be sure to read that as well. How to Help Your Baby Sleep Better With Swaddling.
  • Improved hand control. This is discussed in the other swaddling post. This typically happens around 2-4 months of age. In the other post I said 2-3 months.
  • How your child is sleeping. If he still sleeps really well, maybe you don't need to stop it. If he sleeps fitfully, maybe he needs the swaddle gone. Kaitlyn slept much better once the swaddle was gone. She also slept with her arms straight out from her side. I figure it likely gets uncomfortable to not be able to stretch your muscles and shift positions while you are sleeping.
  • How the swaddle is affecting the family. One disadvantage of the swaddle for us was that Kaitlyn was very picky about it. She would only sleep if I did the swaddle. No one else could do it right. That was pretty limiting for me and my relationship with my husband and son. It also limited others with her. No one else could put her to bed. Once I knew she was physically ready, we got rid of it.
  • Your intuition. Go with your gut. This is discussed in the other swaddling post.
  • Don't be afraid to try it. I tried at 9 weeks and found she wasn't ready yet. No big deal. We went back to swaddling and then stopped at 3 months. If you try and baby isn't ready, you can always go back to swaddling.
My main purpose in this particular post is to share something I learned with Kaitlyn and swaddling. Kaitlyn would sometimes break out of the swaddle and then cry a lot for the nap, and I would erroneously assume that meant if she wasn't swaddled, she wouldn't sleep.
When To Stop Swaddling Your Baby

I later wised up and realized she just didn't want to sleep and was wiggling around and therefore was breaking out of the swaddle. She wasn't crying because she wasn't swaddled, she was crying because it was one of those times she didn't want to nap for whatever reason. She was actually ready to stop the swaddle younger than I realized.

Like I said, you don't need to swaddle. Also, some moms swaddle for quite some time. Decide what is best for your family and go from there. Also, babies vary on their reaction. Some moms know baby is ready to drop the swaddle and yet have a hard time dropping it. Others are quite seamless. When the time was right for Kaitlyn, her sleep improved. Some moms have to work on it for a month, while for others there is no work at all.

Motherhood: Some Uplifting Words

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (aka LDS or Mormon). Twice a year, we have a general conference where our general authorities speak to the church. One talk really stood out to me at our general conference earlier this month--and really stood out to all mothers. I thought it was so great, I wanted to share some highlights from it. It is entitled Daughters of God and was given by Elder M. Russell Ballard.

"While women live in homes under many different circumstances—married, single, widowed, or divorced, some with children and some without—all are beloved of God, and He has a plan for His righteous daughters to receive the highest blessings of eternity."

"... I surely know that there is no role in life more essential and more eternal than that of motherhood."

"There is no one perfect way to be a good mother. Each situation is unique. Each mother has different challenges, different skills and abilities, and certainly different children. The choice is different and unique for each mother and each family."

"I am impressed by countless mothers who have learned how important it is to focus on the things that can only be done in a particular season of life. If a child lives with parents for 18 or 19 years, that span is only one-fourth of a parent’s life. And the most formative time of all, the early years in a child’s life, represents less than one-tenth of a parent’s normal life. It is crucial to focus on our children for the short time we have them with us and to seek, with the help of the Lord, to teach them all we can before they leave our homes. This eternally important work falls to mothers and fathers as equal partners. I am grateful that today many fathers are more involved in the lives of their children. But I believe that the instincts and the intense nurturing involvement of mothers with their children will always be a major key to their well-being."

"We need to remember that the full commitment of motherhood and of putting children first can be difficult. Through my own four-generation experience in our family, and through discussions with mothers of young children throughout the Church, I know something of a mother’s emotions that accompany her commitment to be at home with young children. There are moments of great joy and incredible fulfillment, but there are also moments of a sense of inadequacy, monotony, and frustration. Mothers may feel they receive little or no appreciation for the choice they have made. Sometimes even husbands seem to have no idea of the demands upon their wives."

"We want you to be happy and successful in your families and to have the validation and support you need and deserve. So today, let me ask and briefly answer four questions. While my answers may seem extremely simple, if the simple things are being tended to, a mother’s life can be most rewarding."

QUESTION 1: What can you do, as a young mother, to reduce the pressure and enjoy your family more?
  • First, recognize that the joy of motherhood comes in moments. There will be hard times and frustrating times. But amid the challenges, there are shining moments of joy and satisfaction. Author Anna Quindlen reminds us not to rush past the fleeting moments. She said: “The biggest mistake I made [as a parent] is the one that most of us make. . . . I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of [my three children] sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages six, four, and one. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less”(Loud and Clear [2004], 10–11).
  • Second, don’t overschedule yourselves or your children. We live in a world that is filled with options. If we are not careful, we will find every minute jammed with social events, classes, exercise time, book clubs, scrapbooking, Church callings, music, sports, the Internet, and our favorite TV shows. One mother told me of a time that her children had 29 scheduled commitments every week: music lessons, Scouts, dance, Little League, day camps, soccer, art, and so forth. She felt like a taxi driver. Finally, she called a family meeting and announced, “Something has to go; we have no time to ourselves and no time for each other.” Families need unstructured time when relationships can deepen and real parenting can take place. Take time to listen, to laugh, and to play together.
  • Third, even as you try to cut out the extra commitments, sisters, find some time for yourself to cultivate your gifts and interests. Pick one or two things that you would like to learn or do that will enrich your life, and make time for them. Water cannot be drawn from an empty well, and if you are not setting aside a little time for what replenishes you, you will have less and less to give to others, even to your children. Avoid any kind of substance abuse, mistakenly thinking that it will help you accomplish more. And don’t allow yourself to be caught up in the time-wasting, mind-numbing things like television soap operas or surfing the Internet. Turn to the Lord in faith, and you will know what to do and how to do it.
  • Fourth, pray, study, and teach the gospel. Pray deeply about your children and about your role as a mother. Parents can offer a unique and wonderful kind of prayer because they are praying to the Eternal Parent of us all. There is great power in a prayer that essentially says, “We are steward-parents over Thy children, Father; please help us to raise them as Thou wouldst want them raised.”
QUESTION TWO: What more can a husband do to support his wife, the mother of their children?
  • First, show extra appreciation and give more validation for what your wife does every day. Notice things and say thank you—often. Schedule some evenings together, just the two of you.
  • Second, have a regular time to talk with your wife about each child’s needs and what you can do to help.
  • Third, give your wife a “day away” now and then. Just take over the household and give your wife a break from her daily responsibilities. Taking over for a while will greatly enhance your appreciation of what your wife does.
  • Fourth, come home from work and take an active role with your family. Don’t put work, friends, or sports ahead of listening to, playing with, and teaching your children.
This is a summary of the talk. All "bold" have been added by me, as well as the bullets. To read the talk in its entirety, follow this link:,5232,23-1-851-37,00.html
I hope these words can offer you comfort and ideas for improving your happiness in your mothering. I have long recognized that one of the biggest challenges of life is to be content with where you are. "The grass is always greener on the other side." When Brayden was a baby, I would always think things like, "once he is sleeping through the night, things will be good" "once he is crawling, we will all be much happier" and "once he is walking, it will be much easier." While all of those things were true, I was looking to the future too much and therefore missing the present. Each stage of your child's life has its perks and its difficulties. Some stages are easier than others, but none is without its challenges. One I learned to truly be happy with where Brayden was, I was much happier.
I am personally not a huge fan of the newborn stage. I know for some that is their favorite. Not me. I am more of a toddler person. I love the fun of toddler hood. I love it once the baby reaches one year old. With Kaitlyn, I really strived to enjoy her newborn months. Newborns are cuddly and so small. They don't talk back. They are comparatively easy to make happy. Those first smiles and giggles fill your heart to overflowing. I truly enjoyed those sweet newborn moments.
Remember that while cleanliness is a good thing, your children will remember and care more about the memories made than how clean your house was. Yes, you want it sanitary, but sometimes things can wait. This is a challenge for me. I find myself often putting Brayden off so I can finish cleaning something. When I seize that moment to play tag with him or something, we have such fun, and the dishes always do get done. Enjoy your children and enjoy your position as a mother of your sweet little ones.

Learning Activities (Preschoolwise)

The obvious main point of On Becoming Preschoolwise is to prepare your child for academic life. When you read that book, you come to realize the far reaching benefits of things you have taught your child since birth. Things like being able to self-entertain, sit still when told, and follow instructions are of such benefit to the school environment.

At some point, you want to have structured, more school-type learning sessions with your child each day. This is discusses in Preschoolwise, and is really geared more toward 3 and up. Preschool age :).

There are things you can do to prepare for that, and fun learning activities you can do with your younger than three year old. You can easily come up with fun activities that also double as great learning opportunities. Children come with a clean slate, so they are actively learning from each experience, for better or worse. Many activities are actually common things you do with your kids, but if you go into them with the idea of it being a learning opportunity, you will find those teaching moments. You know those classic mom moments when they teach you a profound lessen when you least expect it? Those moments usually have the greatest and most long-lasting impact.

Each day, we have a scheduled learning time. Right now, it is not a structured, school-type lesson, but more of a fun lesson. Brayden turns 3 next month. I anticipate starting structured lessons in the fall (September) as though it were a school year. We do one topic a day. You can also try to combine activities (an educational show for TV time--but don't make every lesson come through the TV :) ). Here is a list of topics and ideas for learning within those topics. You will see that once you get going, it is easy to come up with activities.

I am a huge reading advocate. I truly believe teaching your child to have a love for reading will provide him with endless power throughout his life. If you know how to find answers, you have no limit to the education you can give yourself. Mark Twain said "The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them."
  • We read books every night before bed (for both children). I just wanted to reiterate that. Our reading lessons are in addition to the reading that already happens at night.
  • For a younger child, you can do something as simple as sing the ABCs.
  • Magnetic alphabet letters on your refrigerator.
  • Foam alphabet letters for the tub.
  • Writing out your letters. Brayden has had a fascination with seeing how letters are written and loves to see his name written out. You can do this in chalk outside, in crayon inside, on a magnetic writing board, etc. Once your child has uppercase down, be sure to work on lower case. Brayden still insists certain lowercase letters are actually uppercase letters upside down.
  • Books. It is good to have books about the alphabet. There are countless options out there.
  • Library trips. There you can check out books as well as attend story time.
  • Quiz. You can get a poster, book, flashcards, or write out letters and ask your child what letter that is, what sound it makes, what it stands for, etc.
  • Movie. One of Brayden's favorite shows is by Leap Frog: Letter Factory (link to Amazon:
  • TV. Brayden also likes Super Why on PBS.
  • Type. For an older child, you can let him type on the computer (though I still would supervise). The other day Brayden was typing. He hit "B" several times and said "That's a B!" I said, "That's right." He said, "The B says Buh!" I asked, "What is B for?" He looked at me and said "It's for...Me!" (Brayden). I thought that was cute.
  • Puzzles.
  • Toys. Many toys have alphabet teaching with them. I don't have this, but the Fisher Price Little People Alphabet Zoo is one example.
Religious/MoralHopefully moral training is a constant part of your lives daily. Your religious training will depend on your religious beliefs. If you are a religious person, don't leave your child's training up to his church leaders. They have them for such a short time each week. You have them every day. If you are not religious, don't leave the moral lessons up to the world. You are responsible for teaching your child morals, not society.
  • Church. This is pretty obvious. I personally wouldn't count this as the religious training for the week, but it definitely adds. I am always pleasantly surprised at what Brayden takes from nursery each week.
  • Family Night. We also have one night a week where we have a lesson followed by a family activity.
  • Prayer. Teach your children to pray and to be reverent for prayer.
  • Scriptures. There are many ways to study scriptures with your children. Actually reading them, telling stories, reenactments, etc. Pick what works for your child. We have a goal (though unfortunately right now an unmet goal) for reading scriptures as a family daily.
  • Board books. There are countless board books available for children that tell the stories from the scriptures.
  • Stories. You tell the stories from the scriptures to your children.
  • Reenactment. You can all get dressed up and act out scripture stories.
  • Movies. There are movies available that tell the scripture stories.
  • If you are not religious, you will most likely still want to instill moral values in your children. You can pick books and shows that teach those values you hold, in addition to your daily moral training (there is a lot more on moral training in Childwise).
This is perhaps one of the easiest activities to do with young children. Kids love art. It is also a huge category. So many activities fall under "art."
  • Color (use different mediums--crayons, markers, etc.)
  • Paint
  • Coloring books
  • Magnedoodle
  • Play doh,
  • Side walk chalk
  • If old enough, those silly little crafts (they sell kits in craft stores if you aren't so inclined)
  • Make cards for people (paper crafting)
  • Scrapbook (but use materials that are inexpensive and don't matter to you)
  • Home Depot and Lowes both do a kid craft each month--free. Home Depot is the first Saturday, Lowe's is the second.
  • Attend museums if your child is mature enough.
  • Act out stories.
  • Imaginative play.
  • Attend plays if your child is mature enough.
  • Puppet shows. Attend them or make your own.
This could basically be a math section.
  • Counting. Count everything you do. This is especially great for younger kids. I would count how many clips it took to clip Brayden's finger nails.
  • Flash cards.
  • Chutes and Ladders and other such board games (Candyland, Hi-Ho Cherri-o, etc.)
  • Books about colors, shapes, and numbers.
  • Cook. Making cookies is one of Brayden's favorite activities. He helps me measure and count ingredients.
  • Sing songs that count (10 little monkeys, etc.)
  • Coloring
  • Stuff with shapes (geometry)
  • Have theme days. For example, an orange day. You wear orange, you drink orange milk, eat cheese and oranges, etc. Or a shape day where you cut foods into the shape of the day and you search your house for the shape.
Music is a huge part of my life. I love it, so it is a category all by itself :)
  • Listen to CDs and music--both toddler tunes, religious music, and mainstream music.
  • Play piano (we have one).
  • Music toys (baby grands, music tables, musical instruments for kids, etc.)
  • Make musical instruments.
  • Sing songs A'Capella.
  • Karaoke.
  • Go to concerts if your child is mature enough.
This can be a really fun one. Science is in everything, so merely explaining how things work and grow is a fascinating thing to your child. If you don't know, don't make it up. They are learning.
  • Walks.
  • Search for bugs (get a bug net at a craft store or dollar store--I got a HUGE one at the grocery store for 1.50).
  • Bubbles--we use the big net to catch bubbles.
  • Sandbox.
  • Pull weeds (Brayden really enjoys doing this)
  • Water plants
  • Garden if you have one--let them help in ways that are age appropriate.
  • Fly kites.
  • Go to the zoo.
  • Museums.
  • Go camping.
  • Go to the mountains or beach or whatever you have near you.
Many people dread the subject of history, but knowing the heritage of your family, culture, and country can give you a sense of purpose and pride. History also provides many valuable lessons.
  • Visit historic sites.
  • Vacations are a great way to find history. If you drive, you will likely pass many historic sites. You can also learn about the place you are visiting.
  • Tell stories about family members and historic figures. We have no shortage of amazing people who have lived.
  • I have seen children's stories that tell historic events.
SocialMany of these activities are part of our lives naturally. When you think of it in the frame of a learning opportunity, though, you will likely be better at displaying proper social graces. For example, perhaps if you are typically an impatient driver, you will be more patient and courteous on your way to grandma's house. You can also do your child a favor by explaining correct behavior before you leave the house, "Now Brayden, when we are at the park, we don't throw the bark." Yes, that is a real experience :)
  • Have play dates.
  • Visit friends and family.
  • Have friends and family over. Be sure to emphasize qualities of a good host.
  • Go to the park.
  • Sibling playtime.
  • Time with Daddy/Mommy. You can do it at home and/or have special "dates."
  • Go out to dinner, run errands, etc.
  • Play games. This can include board games as well as those classics like Duck Duck Goose and Hide and Go Seek. Keep in mind that you are teaching social skills here. You don't want to always let your child win. When I play a game with Brayden and he tells me I have to let him win, I tell him I am not going to play with him if he won't let me play. Yes, I take it easy on him, but I don't always let him win. You want him to learn to lose gracefully and that you don't always get to win.
Getting physical activity in is rarely a challenge for your toddler. The inverse is usually more true. Be sure to encourage physical activity. Being physically fit is of great benefit to your child, and starting good habits now will help him beat the odds in our increasingly out-of-shape society. You can also use this category to help your child improve his fine and gross motor skills.
  • Play tag.
  • Play sports like soccer, baseball, basketball, etc.
  • Go to the park.
  • String beads or cheerios. This will help with fine motor skills.
  • Play hopscotch.
  • Get a big bouncy ball and throw it around.
  • Play fetch with the dog.
  • Go swimming.
  • Take the dog for a walk--Brayden will walk our dogs around the backyard.
  • Watch sporting events. Go to a football game, basketball game, or rodeo.
You can see that learning activities come quite readily. If you have any activities to add, please do so in the form of a comment. I will add them to the body of the post. It is so fun to watch your child learning new things. They just love to learn.

Weaning from Breast: Some Troubleshooting

I just finished this post, then it wouldn't post it and it was all deleted. Very frustrating :). Here we go again.

I have a friend who is weaning from breast right now and is experiencing a couple of difficulties. I thought I would share my responses to those.

While I do have pain and/or discomfort when my milk comes in, I have few problems when weaning. Not all women are so lucky, though.
  • Your obvious methods for drying up milk. Cabbage, tight sports bra, etc. I wouldn't use cabbage in excess until you are ready for milk to be gone, though.
  • Compresses.
  • Pump enough to alleviate pain.
  • Take it more slowly. I mentioned this in my In Action: Weaning from Breast post, but here it is again. Something I did with Kaitlyn was I would feed her 4 ounces and then follow up with nursing for the session I was dropping. I did that the first day. You could do that for a few days and take it slower. You could then slowly add ounces and decrease nursing amount. That might help your body adjust more easily. So, say you were dropping the lunchtime nursing. I would prepare 4 ounces (or whatever amount you know will leave your child wanting more). Feed that to him, then follow up with nursing. Your child will nurse, but not long enough to create a full feeding. Do that for a couple of days, then increase the prepared ounces and decrease the length of the nursing. This way, your body can slowly adjust.
Child Resistance
Some children have an affinity for nursing, especially right before bed. Brayden sucked for comfort before I started Babywise at 9 weeks. Kaitlyn has never been a comfort nurser.
  • Prevention. Try to avoid nursing becoming a soothing ritual. Avoid nursing right before bed. While this is easy to do for your first three feedings, many "top off" right before bed. If this is you, change your routine. Nurse and then do PJs and story and whatever you do. With Kaitlyn, her final nursing of the day came 45 minutes before she actually went to bed.
  • Drop the favored nursing session last. By that point, he might be ready for it to go. This was the case with Brayden.
  • Hold him while he drinks his milk. I hold my kids for a few months past weaning to ensure we still get that quiet cuddle time together. This is already a time of day you are used to sitting down and holding your child. With Brayden, it was the only time he would hold still. Kaitlyn loves to be cuddled and held, so she enjoys me holding her and feeding her.
  • Something you might try is doing a bottle at the favored feeding for now. I did that with Brayden. After he had been weaned completely for a couple of weeks, I started the weaning from the bottle. It was all very smooth and seamless.
Good luck in your weaning process! Here are some other posts on the topic:

Waketime When Baby Wakes Early

Many moms wonder what to do about waketime when baby wakes early from sleeping. This is a situation where it pays to know your child well. Here are some factors to consider:
  • Age. The older your baby, the more likely baby can just stay awake until close to the normal nap time, if not right until the normal nap time. With young babies, however, babies seem to need X amount of minutes of waketime.
  • Time. This would include time of day and also how early baby woke up. Most babies can handle a longer waketime in the evening, so if he woke early from an afternoon or evening nap, you might be able to make it until bedtime or the next nap. If baby woke 15 minutes early from the nap, there is a better chance he will make it to the next nap time than if he woke up an hour early.
  • Length. I use this category to point out that if the nap that was woken early from was quite short, he will likely need to go down for the next nap early, and perhaps with a shorter waketime than usual. If he is not as well rested as he usually is, he might not be able to make it the usual length of time.
  • Activity. If your baby wakes early but will stay in his bed and play, he can likely handle a longer waketime out of the crib than if he were to get out of his crib right away. If they are in the crib, they are still getting some rest.
All of these factors work together to create the answer to the question "How long should waketime be when he wakes early?" It is up to you to observe these factors (and any others you know to exist for your child) and determine what is the right move. If your child shows you sleepy cues, follow those cues in putting him down, even if it is earlier than that nap would last.
Take note that many times the baby will take a longer than usual nap following a short nap to make up for the lost sleep at the short nap. So, if your child is one who will do catch up, putting him down early is a good idea to maintain your feeding schedule.
Remember that keeping your child up too long will backfire. He will most likely take another short nap if he went down too late.
Kaitlyn has pretty much woken up at consistent times her whole life. When she was a young baby, she went down after she had been up for X number of minutes. As she got older, I would put her down early for the next nap or for bed. She usually then slept extra and woke at the normal wake time. At 12 months, she now basically goes down at the same time her nap usually is if she wakes early. She might go down 10-15 minutes early if she is tired, but most of the time she is just up until nap time.
Reader Questions:
  • John and Amanda said...
    Welcome back! I was hoping for your insight on a sleep/nap problem I’ve been having with my son.His previous schedule was:
    Waketime 7am
    naptime 9am
    waketime 11am
    naptime 1pm
    waketime 3pm
    bedtime 7pm
    His naps were always a solid 2 hours with rare exceptions (and usually those exceptions meant a slightly longer nap, not shorter). He is currently 9.5 months old, can crawl, stand, and sit (I tell you this because I know BW mentions the phase where they learn new skills and want to try them out rather than sleep).Lately, he has been waking up at 6am instead of 7am. I know that 11 hours of sleep is still a great night, but I’m not sure if I should just accept this new waketime and roll with it or keep working to get him to go until 7am. I leave him in his crib until as close to 7am as possible before he melts down and cries…the crying will wear him out to where he won’t make it to his next scheduled naptime (9am). This started 3 weeks ago and I’ve tried moving his bedtime earlier and it has not made a bit of difference. And his room is as dark as I can get it with black out curtains.Also, his naps (both morning and afternoon) have been getting shorter. Around 1 to 1.5 hours usually and NO more…ever! As long as he is not becoming overtired (and he isn’t) I try to keep him up till his next schedule nap (or as close as possible). I’ve tried putting him down sooner, too and he still only naps for about 1.5 hours at the most. He seems well rested and ready to get up and makes it to his next nap just fine. There isn’t a lot of info in BW about the transition between one and two naps a day, although I know my son is much too young for only one nap. Do you think he is starting to make that gradual transition? Should I worry about his shorter naps and nighttime sleep and just assume he is getting to where he needs less sleep, or should I do some training of some kind to keep him on the schedule I currently have?Your insight is greatly appreciated!Amanda
    April 23, 2008 9:49 PM
    John and Amanda said...
    I'm guessing from your latest post on waking early, your advice to me would be that if he seems fine with it and is not over tired and makes it to his next nap... just roll with it! :) Like I said, my best guess as to why he suddenly seems to need less sleep (because he is functioning and happy with less sleep) is that he is slowly moving toward one nap a day... I guess I can't expect him to sleep 12 hours every night and take 2, 2 hour naps every day for the next 2 years!!! :) 11 hours at night and 2, one+ hour naps a day is still good! Thanks!
    April 24, 2008 6:27 PM
    Plowmanators said...
    I would stick with your schedule. My guess is it is a phase and not that he is ready to phase out that nap. 14 months is the earliest to drop that nap--so you are a ways off of that. I would continue to plan for a 1-5-2 hour nap and 10-12 hours at night and he should snap back at some point :)
    April 24, 2008 9:55 PM
    John and Amanda said...
    Thanks? He will stay in the crib and play most of the time, and I leave him in there as long as I can. I'll keep doing it. Today he slept till 6:30am, but I think it was because it was rainy this morning and therefore darker... :)April 24, 2008 10:44 PM
    Plowmanators said...
    That sun does make a difference. You might even consider seeing if you can darken his room a bit. My kids are both sun risers.
    April 25, 2008 9:42 AM

I am home!

For the last week, my husband and I have been in Washington DC. It was such a wonderful trip. I would highly recommend visiting DC to anyone who hasn't. I am now back and working on catching up on everything, but posts should resume as normal.

Childwise Principles

I am currently in the middle of reading Childwise. I thought I would list the principles listed in the book. I will later take each principle and go into more depth on each topic with my added thoughts.

  • Great marriages make great parents (Put Your Marriage First)
  • Use the strength of your leadership early on and the strength of your relationship later. (Leadership and Authority: Childwise)
  • Parent now, be friends later. (Parent vs. Friend: Childwise) (Four Phases of Parenting (Childwise))
  • Instill morality into a child and his behavior will fall into place. (Moral Training: Love)
  • What you do not yourself desire, do not put forth before others. Do to others what you would have them do to you.
  • Other people count.
  • It is not enough to teach your children how to act morally; they must learn to think morally.
  • To teach a virtue, one example (you) is better than a thousand lectures.
  • Discipline is heart food for your child.
  • If learning didn't take place, correction didn't happen.
  • Allowing a child to progress into his new and expanding world in an orderly fashion greatly enhances learning and decreases the need for correction.
  • Constantly reminding a child to do what is expected only means you have no expectation.
  • Verbal affirmation is never redundant.
  • Wise parenting is better than power parenting.
  • An ounce of self-control is better than a pound of trouble.
Related Posts:

Poll Results: If you did CIO for middle of the night, how many nights did it last?


1 night: 7 votes (13%)
2-3 nights: 16 votes (30%)
4-7 nights: 7 votes (13%)
1-2 weeks: 2 votes (3%)
2-3 weeks: 0 votes
3-4 weeks: 0 votes
4 weeks or longer: 3 votes (5%)
didn't CIO at night: 18 votes (33%)

Total of 53 votes

Related Posts:

Reminder: You can leave comments on poll results posts if you would like to add to the poll after it has closed. This would be helpful for those who have more than one child, those whose children have reached certain ages after a poll closed, and those who didn't visit the blog while that poll was open. To find closed polls, click on the poll results link above.

More Benefits of Babywise

As I said in my previous post, I am out of town (in Washington DC--expect posts to resume Wednesday). My husband and I have been on vacation without our children. Yes, I miss them dearly! While we have been away, our children have spent their time with my parents and my husband's parents. Here is where the benefits of Babywise come in.

Before I left, I wrote up a manual about the children's days and their routines. Our parents have been able to easily follow these routines. The kids have been happy and have remained well-rested. Our parents have also been able to maintain their stamina (though my mom was tired at the end of her stretch :) ) since the kids have regular naps and about 12 hours of nighttime sleep. I believe it has helped the kids to have something familiar while we have been away.

I of course allowed for flexibility. For example, I told them independent play wasn't necessary for them, but advised that if the kids got cranky, independent play was a good way to help them get happy again. Since grandparents love to spoil and be with their grandchildren, I didn't want to be picky about independent play. I am confident the kids will go right back to it with no problem.

I am very happy to know that my children's needs are being met while I am away from them. I haven't worried about them (excessively). I also like looking at the clock and thinking "Oh, they are just getting up from their nap right now." It has been nice to be able to enjoy our vacation.

I am sure once we get back home I will have some "detox" work to do with my kids as I introduce them back to life in the real world without doting grandparents. I am anticipating some discipline problems. However, I am sure all of them will be fixed and back to normal after a few days--I will keep you all updated on the situation. I am happy we have Babywise to help structure our day and create a predictable routine.

Related Posts:
Reader Questions:
  • bradysmom said...
    I have a question in regards to schedule/vacation. We are going away for the first time, without our child. He will be about 8 months old and is splitting the time between our parents. I am so worried about leaving him with our parents because I'm afraid they won't stick to his schedule. They don't necessarily agree with the way we have chosen to raise him, and feel taht the schedule/routine is ridiculous. How do I articulate to him the importance that he stays on his schedule while we are away?? And any suggestions on explaining to them why we do this??Thank you so much.
    August 6, 2008 9:12 AM
    Plowmanators said...
    I would try to tell them how he reacts if he doesn't have his routine. You do what you do because you think it is what is best for him. You are his parent and in charge of caring for him. This is what you feel is best for him. He is happier, well rested, well fed, alert, smarter, etc. The hard thing with grandparents can be if they think they can do whatever they want to because they have raised kids. They don't want to be told what babies or kids need, they want to do the telling. If they don't stick to the schedule, they will most likely see first hand why it is important for him. The trick would be making sure they made the connection, and it might only be the second half that they experience difficulty. They might attribute it to you being gone. Write your schedule down so they can refer to it and see what baby's needs are for the time.
    August 6, 2008 10:38 PM

Bon Voyage

I will be gone for about a week. I am unsure if I will be able to check comments or not. I will answer questions as soon as I can. Have a great week!

Should you wake up a sleeping child?

Yes, you should. If it is time for your baby to eat, or time for your child to get up, you should wake him up.

I wake both of my kids up quite often. I still have to wake Brayden, my nearly 3 year old, either in the morning or from naps, sometimes both. If you like consistency to the schedule from day to day, you will definitely want to wake a sleeping child. If you don't really care, then you could let it vary a bit, assuming your baby is old enough to do that.

You want to wake a baby in order to feed often enough. You want enough calories to get into his little body in the day that he won't need them at night. You also want to train his metabolism. If you eat at the same time each day, you get hungry at the same time each day. You want to wake a toddler just to make sure he will go back down in time for bed.

Sometimes it is hard to wake the baby. A couple of weeks ago, my son would not wake up from his nap. I gave him an extra 20 minutes and tried again with success. Also, you might need to use some creativity when waking the child. For example, some days my son is quite cranky when we wake him from a nap. If we read him a book, that usually solves the crankiness problem. He has only in the last six months started to be cranky sometimes upon waking. Kaitlyn (12 months) still wakes up cheerfully (though sometimes quite confused).

And yes, there are times you want to let your child sleep a little extra. Say naptime started late for whatever reason. Or perhaps an earlier nap was disrupted, or yesterday was hectic. Maybe you are going out that evening and need him to stay up a little later than usual. You can always make exceptions to your schedule to accommodate you, your child, and your family. But if you are following the Babywise program, then yes, you will often wake a sleeping child, and that is okay. Whenever I am waking up a cranky Brayden and am tempted to just let him sleep, I flash forward to his teen years and know I need to establish now that his parents have the authority to tell him when to wake up.

How to Wean Your Baby From Breastfeeding

Inside: How to wean a baby from breastfeeding. Week by week process for gentle weaning. 

 How to wean a baby from breastfeeding. Week by week process for gentle weaning.

I just finished weaning Kaitlyn from nursing. With Brayden, I was completely thrilled to wean him since nursing was such a battle to get him to eat rather than look around the room constantly. With Kaitlyn, however, I was sad. She was such a good nurser. Alas, I had to wean her when I did because my husband and I are going on vacation without our kids.

Yes, there are good things about nursing. I will have more freedom. When my husband and I want to go out to dinner, we can leave before her final nursing or be out past her final nursing. When she sleeps over at Grandma's house, she can have her milk as soon as she gets up and I won't have to be there at 7:30 AM sharp. If we are running errands, she can have her milk on the go instead of us stopping or coming home to nurse her. Yesterday we went to the park for lunch. I got her up and we just left--I didn't have to nurse her first. I say these things just to make myself feel better :).

Kaitlyn weaned very easily. Here is a rundown of how we did it.

WEEK ONE: I dropped the 3rd nursing (happens at 3:30). Since she was not quite 12 months yet, she had formula instead. The first day, I fed her a 4 ounce bottle, then followed it up with nursing. I knew she wouldn't nurse as much as usual and I wasn't sure if she needed more than 4 ounces. I also knew this would take some of the edge off so I could more gradually decrease my milk supply. This week I was the most engorged. It pretty much took a full 7 days to get comfortable. It wasn't as bad as when milk comes in, but not comfortable.

WEEK TWO: I waited a couple of days past me getting comfortable (from engorgement). Then I dropped the lunch time nursing (happens at 11:30). She continued to not mind in the least. In fact, after a few days of this she started to sign "milk" to me (which around here means milk in a cup, not in mommy) when it was time to nurse. We got through that, though, and she continued to nurse just fine. This week only took me about 3-4 days to physically get completely comfortable in regard to engorgement.

 How to wean a baby from breastfeeding. Week by week process for gentle weaning.WEEK THREE: I dropped the evening nursing. I debated over which of the two to nurse. There are pros and cons to both. If you nurse at night, you can be more drained for sleeping. If you nurse in the morning, you can be more drained for your daily activities. Also, I have more milk in the morning than the evening. What decided it for me was that on Tuesday (the day I dropped it), I was cleaning the highway with the youth starting at 6 PM and she usually nurses at 7. I knew I would be home after her bedtime. So I dropped that nursing. This week only took me about 3 days to physically get completely comfortable in regard to engorgement. This feeding was probably the easiest for my body to drop as far as engorgement.

WEEK FOUR: I dropped the final nursing. It has only been a couple of days--I dropped it last Sunday and today is Tuesday. I am slightly uncomfortable; I assume it will take a day or two more to get more comfortable. Last night I could sleep on my belly for the first half of the night for the first time in a year and a half! For a tummy sleeper, this is exciting. Another perk to weaning. I haven't leaked milk at all during the weaning process.

For more on weaning, see this post:

Weaning: Breast, Bottle, and Formula

Making Babyfood

I have never made my own baby food, but it is an excellent idea. My friends who do so highly recommend this site, so I thought I would share it:

This site is also helpful for general questions about solid foods.

Pacifiers and Babywise

Pacifiers and Babywise
I haven't used pacifiers with either of my children. I have viewed it as a sleep prop that the child can't control for a long time, so I don't do it.

An article I have read discusses the use of a pacifier and strategies for dealing with the use of it if you choose to use it. As it states, "Also remember, using the pacifier is neither a right nor wrong issue; often it comes down to preference and what each parent is able to handle regarding the issue of baby’s cry."

I do want to offer a word of caution about pacifiers. Many moms find pacifiers become a disruption at some point in their young babies lives. They find themselves waking up often to reinsert the pacifier. They find naps are cut short and baby won't sleep without mom reinserting it. For some moms, this is fine. No problem. For others, this has caused them to reevaluate and then drop the use of a pacifier. Most babies can't reinsert the pacifier until he is around 8 months old (some younger, some older).

A few months ago, I did a survey about pacifier use to see what the effects were, if any. Through it, I learned a good strategy. Many moms who used the pacifier without negative effects wouldn't reinsert it over and over. They would do it once or twice, but no more. Then the baby did CIO. In that case, the baby was learning to self-soothe without the use of a pacifier.

If you use a pacifier and are experiencing sleep troubles, evaluate if it is the culprit. If it is, then decide what you want to do about it. Again, the article on is excellent. It will give you several good ideas. If you want to use a pacifier, by all means, do it. I link the article to help those experiencing troubles associated with the pacifier and also to help those using a pacifier to avoid troubles.

Here is my report on my survey:

An informal survey was taken on the effects of pacifier (paci) use and Babywise babies. Here are the results of that survey:

There were 26 responders
  • 17 (65%) do not currently use paci
  • 9 (35%) do currently use paci
Nap Problems
  • 14 (54%) of those surveyed have nap problems
  • 9 (53%) of those who do not use a paci have nap problems (note that since the survey, two of these yeses have changed to nos, so that changes the statistic to 7 (41%)
  • 5 (56%) of those who do use a paci have nap problems
Night Problems
  • 5 (19%) of those surveyed are experiencing night problems
  • 1 (.06%) of those who do not use a paci have night problems
  • 4 (44%) of those who do use a paci have night problems
Points of Interest
  • One baby who uses a pacifier with no sleep issues was mentioned to be 8 months old. This baby was able to reinsert paci herself without the help of mom, so it was not considered a problem.
  • Another baby who uses a pacifier with no nap issues was said to need reinsertion of paci during nap. While this mom considered this to not be a sleep issue, I would consider it to be. This same baby was said to have night issues, so I suspect the reinsertion is needed at night, also, and the mom finds this to be a problem.
  • A third baby who uses a pacifier with no sleep issues doesn’t get paci back during sleep. Mom said she doesn’t reinsert it. This could possibly be a factor in why baby doesn’t have sleep issues.
  • As mentioned above, two moms with babies who don’t use pacifiers with nap issues have had nap improvements since answering this study. It is unknown for sure how many others (from either side) could have had changes since answering.
A rough conclusion would be that whether or not a paci is use, about half of babies experience nap problems, though the numbers are lower in those who do not use pacis. With night time sleep, there is a significant difference between those who use pacis and those who do not. Less than one percent of non-paci users have night problems. Nearly half of pacis users have night issues.

It is my conclusion that pacifiers do interfere with sleep. I think nap issues will arise throughout the first year no matter what. That can be seen with the results of this survey. It is my conclusion that a “paci baby” will wake in search of a paci, and therefore experience nighttime difficulties. A nap can simply be short enough to not experience that problem.

There are several limitations to this study. The age of the baby was not taken into account at all. Also, there was no definition of sleep issues, that was left to the interpretation of the respondent. Another problem is that there were not even answers from each side (paci and no paci). There were more people (nearly twice as many) who don’t use paci as those who do. However, this can be a strength to the nighttime sleep conclusion. If you take it against total number of responses rather than number in their category, .04% of had night issues who don’t use a paci vs. .15% of responders who do, and there were twice as many who answered who don’t use it and therefore more opportunity to have problems. Finally (but not lastly), there are so many possible factors affecting sleep that is a fallacy to assume a pacifier is the only variable.

Poll Results: What Age Did Baby Drop Third Nap? (approximate)


5-6 Months: 9 votes (31%)
6-7 Months: 3 votes (10%)
7-8 Months: 6 votes (20%)
8-9 Months: 7 votes (24%)
9-10 Months: 2 votes (6%)
10-11 Months: 1 vote (3%)
11 Months or Older: 1 vote (3%)

Total of 29 votes

Follow up: In Action--Flexibility and Mistakes

Yesterday afternoon, Kaitlyn was once again not falling asleep for her afternoon nap. I am glad to report that I did get smarter and learned from my previous mistake. I went to check on her and she was just laying in her crib talking. I told her it was time to go to sleep. As I did so, I noticed the smell. Sure enough, poopy diaper! I was glad I checked on her and didn't leave her to lay in a poopy diaper. I changed it and put her back in bed. She was quiet for a bit, then mad that I left her in her bed, then went to sleep (though it did end up being only a 45 minute nap. Apparently she wasn't extremely overly tired yet like the day before so she didn't nap well, but at least she napped).

In Action: Flexibility and Mistakes

This post outlines a major blunder I did yesterday and the measures I took to correct it. Yesterday I had one of those moments when you just wonder how you could, frankly, be so dumb. I put Kaitlyn down for her afternoon nap and she took her time falling asleep. I was preoccupied and worried because I found out a girl she was near the day before had just broken out in Chickenpox. Kaitlyn is not quite one, so hasn't been vaccinated for that yet. My husband and I will soon be taking a trip without the kids, so she could likely get it during the time we are gone. I was (and am) just worried about my little girl.

So as I worried, Kaitlyn remained awake. She stayed awake for her entire nap! This is something that is one hundred percent out of character for her. Sometimes she takes a while to fall asleep, and sometimes she wakes up early, but never does she stay awake the whole time.

Here is where I was dumb. I should have gone in to check on her after 30 minutes because it is so uncharacteristic for her. She was perfectly happy and obviously having a fun time doing whatever she was doing. I didn't even think about why she wasn't falling asleep.

When it came time for her next feeding, I walked into the room only to see her sitting up in her bed. Now, most 12 month old babies I am sure have already crossed this hurdle, and I thought we had. We had one nap one day where she sat up and had a disrupted nap, but that was so long ago I thought we were done. But apparently she hasn't really mastered the art of laying back down after sitting up.

Now, normally this wouldn't be a huge deal for her. She is such a happy person and her missing a nap isn't a cranky-sentence for the rest of the family. I would normally have just put her to bed early, or perhaps even just done a short evening nap. However, yesterday was picture day for her 12 month photos. She happens to be afraid of the camera they use where we go. A tired Kaitlyn is a Kaitlyn who is a Mama's girl and wants to sit in Mama's lap. My vision of her 12 month photos did not include me, so I knew I needed to do something about this.

I got her out of her bed at 3:30, fed her, changed her diaper, then put her right back down to sleep at 3:45. I wasn't sure if this would work, but I needed to try it. She fussed for about 1-2 minutes (which is very uncharacteristic of her, but I knew she had to be very, very tired). She then fell asleep and was able to take a 1 hour 15 minute nap before I needed to get her up in time to get ready and leave for pictures. Success!

I share that story to illustrate several points. Point one: everyone makes mistakes. I messed up in not checking on her. You can be sure that won't happen again. Point two: don't be afraid to tweak your normal schedule according to your situation. That is flexibility. Point three: always be on the lookout for changes in your child. Watch for changes they are going through, from teething to new skills.

Traveling and CIO

As far as vacations go, my children have always slept and do sleep just as well away from home as he does at home. Neither have cried. It hasn't been an issue. Part of the reason for that is that I do my best to stay home during the heat of CIO training. When we first started CIO with Brayden, we would travel and not do CIO while we were gone and then come back and try to press forward. Once I realized what we were doing to him, we put a hold on all trips until he was trained. I actually planned Kaitlyn's due date to be at a time of year I knew we could stay home for 8 weeks following her birth to get her trained. If I were in the middle of sleep training, I would likely avoid sleeping over somewhere because I would want to get things down and not disrupt the process.

However, not all people can or want to put traveling on hold for 8 weeks. If my family needed or really wanted to sleep away from home during sleep training, I wouldn't do CIO at our destination unless the baby could be in a quiet place and in a familiar bed. And I definitely wouldn't do it at night, out of respect for those you are visiting. If baby woke in the night I would feed and put back to bed, not CIO. This situation would be an exception to your normal routine.

If you do travel during CIO training, your baby will likely get off. When you get home, it will likely feel like you have regressed a couple of weeks in your training. Those weeks should be made up faster than it took originally. You also will likely have a few really bad days as your baby protests the change. Or course, your child might surprise you. Both of mine have been quite resilient and bounce back quickly after disruptions--often times going straight back without any adjustment. That is, however, after we have completed training, not during training.

Once you get sleep training down, things like traveling usually won't disrupt your child very much and sleep can still happen as usual. Keep in mind that when I say 8 weeks, that is the time it took for my children to get from not knowing how to put themselves to sleep to the point of not crying at all before naps or bedtime. It seems to take about 2 solid weeks of consistency for things to get more manageable, then 4 weeks total for them to be pretty good. Things just get better from there, and by 8 weeks of training, baby should be quite proficient at his new skill. Good luck in your training and travels!

Related Posts:

Reader Comments:
  • Lindse94 said...
    Glad to find this article today as I am starting CIO with my 9 month old tonight. We have tried before, but have a second home near my family and there has been a greta deal of inconsistency. Of course I am travelling in two weeks! He has done CIO at all naps and bedtime for many months, but the night waking has become a major issue. He has gone from having a feed and going right back to sleep to screaming for hours :(. Wish me luck!
    April 10, 2008 8:41 AM
    Plowmanators said...
    Good luck!
    April 10, 2008 1:39 PM

Allow Your Child to Surrender with Dignity

Let's reach our inner child and imagine something. Imagine you have a job (if you do have a job, you can make this game easier and just imaging your job). Now let's say your boss catches you doing something you aren't supposed to do. You may have broke the rule intentionally or you may have done so unintentionally. Motive is irrelevant to this game. Your boss stares you down to make sure you comply or lectures you until you finally move to make fix the problem.

How does that make you feel?

Now imagine how your child feels when you correct him or her and do the same thing your "boss" just did. How do you think your child feels?

When you give your child, of any age, instruction or redirection, allow him to surrender with dignity.

What does that mean?

That means that when you give you correct your child, you don't hover over him to make sure he does it. For example, you tell him to pick up his toys. You don't then stand there and stare him down while he does so. You go off and do your own thing. Of course, you check on him. Once he has made progress, you thank him for what he has done thus far.

The same can be done with a baby. Say your baby is touching something he shouldn't but isn't dangerous. You tell him that is a no and then turn to do something else. Allow your child the chance to stop the behavior. Young babies (at least mine) seem very interested in doing a certain behavior over and over to see if what was no yesterday is still a no today. Toddlers are often the same way, but they aren't as cute about it :). If I turn away from it, the child usually gives it up and move on to some other activity. Of course, if I turn away and the child continues anyway, then I continue on with the discipline.

There are other ways to allow your child to surrender with dignity. You tell him that is a no, then suggest something else for him to do. Then he can move on to the new activity as though the old one was of no interest anyway. If you have a baby, it is often a good idea to tell him that is a no and then simply remove him from that activity. You will especially want to physically remove the child if he is in a potentially dangerous situation.

Another way to allow a child to surrender with dignity is to tell him what he can do. When Brayden tried out spitting at the table, I told him he could not spit at the table but he could spit in the tub or outside. That has always been good enough for him, and he has actually never tried spitting in either of those places. But knowing he could seems to be enough for him to give it up at the table. There are many things toddlers seem to do in order to try to be independent. Take, for example, your toddler trying to work the surround sound system himself. You tell him that is a no and he is not allowed to touch those items. You tell him you know he is trying to take care of it himself, but if he needs something changed, he needs to ask a parent for help.

Allowing your child to surrender with dignity also means you don't lecture him unnecessarily about the behavior once he has stopped it. Yes, there are times you will need to discuss the behavior assuming your child is old enough to benefit from such a conversation, but a lecture is not necessary following each action. The discussion will usually prove more beneficial to all if done when all parties are calm.

Sometimes you do need to use your "mommy glare." Sometimes you need to supervise your instructions. Sometimes you simply can't allow your child to surrender with complete dignity. But do it as much as possible. When you do need to interfere without allowing dignity, you can do your best to allow as much dignity as possible with the situation. Treat your child with respect and you will see wonderful results. Your child doesn't want to be stared down any more than you want to.

For more on discipline, see this post: Tantrums and Discipline