Babywise and the Adopted Child

We had friends who implemented Babywise and were eager to do so ourselves when we adopted our son, but were unsure what to do with an already established routine from the children’s home and forming a proper attachment/bonding. 

At 10 weeks old we were able to bring him home and were filled with joy. Even though this is considered early in adoption circles, we only wished it was from day one, as we would have loved to have known him his whole life. 

The house mother at the children’s home he stayed at gave us very little information. “He eats every 3 hours, 24 hours a day, we even wake him up for it if needed. And likes to be in arms as much as possible. He eats ____ per hour.” That’s it! Off we went with this little person that we knew not much else about. 

I remember feeling this pit of my stomach fear. Would we be able to reshape these habits? 

That first day, I kept wanting to pick up the phone and call the house mother to get more information. Finally it was my husband that said lovingly and firmly, “We are his parents now, we set the way forward”. And so we did. 

First things first, we figured out how much really was a full feeding for him. Turns out he was eating too little and thus very upset after meals. 

After we knew he wasn’t hungry, we worked on the shock we noticed he was in, so we “wore him” for days (only during awake times). Yes, this may seem very non-Babywise. But, we firmly believed that Babywise is about being Parent-Directed. He needed to get to know a new home, new smells, and a consistant set of caregivers. We as the parents felt that he needed this most in his transition. And it didn’t ruin our plan.

Next we set him on a daytime schedule. Within weeks, it was visible what how the routine made him feel secure. In this routine, we could get to know him better as opposed to chaos. I would even say as adoptive parents, this gave us confidence that we DID have the capacity to know our son and read his cries even if he wasn’t from my body.

Then we worked on the nights, setting firm bedtime and morning wake time. He had never even had the chance to STTN since he was always woken up just to keep the schedule going for the whole children’s home. (Which I am grateful for the care they gave him, and understand that they want to be sure no baby goes hungry because they fell through the cracks. But it is the difference between institutional care and a home.) At nights we let him sleep and surprisingly HE DID! He managed at first about 5-6 hours and we were overjoyed. Slowly, we worked on stretching it out to a full 10-12 hour night. 

It wasn’t easy but I’m pleased to report that with in a month of being home, he was eating well, gaining weight appropriately, happy during awake times, napping well, and most importantly sleeping a solid 12 hour night. 

He’s now over 13 months old and affectionately called “the champ sleeper”. He’s a wonderful child who is well bonded and knows his mama and pappa love him. He gives affection, laughs, plays well, and is a joy for other people in his life (family, babysitters, church friends, etc). You would never know we got a late start on Babywise.