On Becoming Babywise: Giving Your Infant the Gift of Nighttime Sleep
From the Cover:
Scientists can put a man on the moon, but they cannot answer the most basic question of early parenting: how to have a happy and contented baby, who sleeps continually through the night like the rest of the family, and a mother who is not in a perpetual state of exhaustion. Now, moms and dads need look no further than On Becoming Babywise. Babywise is an exciting infant management plan that successfully and naturally helps infants synchronize their feeding, waketime and nighttime sleep cycles. Find out what millions of grateful parents worldwide have already learned. Discover the positive prescription for curring sleepless nights and fussy babies. Recommended by doctors across the country.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough to new parents. It changed our lives! Our Family Ministries Pastor’s Wife recommended this to me when Daniel was 6 weeks old and I was at my wits end. Within two days of reading and implementing the suggestions in this book Daniel went from waking every two hours through the night to sleeping 6-7 hours and is now sleeping an average of 8 hours each night and has been since 10 weeks.
The basic principle of the book is to establish a flexible Parent Led Schedule. A Parent Led Schedule differs from the two prevailing philosophy’s of either a Child Led Schedule or a Clock Directed Schedule.
With a Child Led Schedule the child dictates every second of the family life. You feed on demand, no matter what the time, and every cue from the child is assumed to mean they are hungry (i.e. finger sucking, crying, moth motions/noises.) even if these are just normal “baby things” Mom is constantly nursing baby regardless of how long it has been since the last feeding. This results in an exhausted Mommy and a child who learns that Mom will jump to do his bidding at every whimper, not a good precedent to set.
With a Clock Directed Schedule baby is only feed when the clock says it is time. If he is hungry earlier then he can just cry until the clock says it’s time to eat. This damages the parent child bond, is not healthy for the child and also results in a Mommy with frayed nerves from listening to her baby cry.
With a flexible Parent Led Schedule the parent determines when feeding time is, using a combination of cues from child and the schedule that is appropriate to the child’s age. Depending on the age of the child the schedule ranges from approx 2 hours to 3 hours, adjusting eating and sleeping times as the child ages and hits growth milestones.
Another principle I learned from this book that made a huge difference for us was that you don’t feed a baby right after his waketime. They have just used up all their energy being awake and have no energy left to properly digest the milk. Instead you feed them after their nap when they have the most energy to digest the milk fully. Initially this can be difficult to set up, especially if your baby is in the habit of nursing to sleep. However, keeping them awake and playing with them after nursing for a short waketime then putting them down for their nap while they are still awake helps train their bodies for the best sleep patterns.
Perhaps the best way to explain is to give an example of how our typical day looks at 15 weeks.
Between 6 and 6:30 – Daniel wakes and has his first feeding. Then we change his diaper & clothes for the day and have some play time for 40-60 minutes. When he starts rubbing his eyes and whimpering that is my cue to put him down for his first nap.
Between 7:30-8 – First nap – I put him in his crib still awake. I have eliminated standard infant “sleep props” such as nursing to sleep or rocking to sleep. I do not however, have a problem with inanimate sleep props and feel they actually help him associate that it is now nap time. I give him his pacifier and he has a small snuggle dog blanket (One of those toys with a stuffed animal head but the body is flat like a tiny blanket) and his nap Blankie. These items only come out when it is time to sleep so as soon as he sees them he knows it is nap time. He will put himself to sleep and naps between 45-60 minutes
About 9 – Second Breakfast and Playtime
About 10 – Nap time
11:00 – Feeding & Playtime/morning walk
12:00 – Nap time
1:00 pm – Feeding & Playtime
2:00 pm – Nap Time
3:00 pm – Feeding & Playtime/afternoon walk or outdoor time
4:00 pm – Nap time
5:00 pm – Feeding & Playtime
6:00 pm – Nap Time
7:00 pm – Feeding & Playtime with Daddy
8:00 pm – Nap Time
9:00 pm – Feeding, Playtime, Bath time and change into PJ’s
10:00- 10:30 pm – Bedtime story (Yes, I read to a 3 month old.) Final Feeding and down for the night.
Because this is a Parent Directed Flexible schedule these times can vary up to 30 minutes in either direction but this is a good basic guideline This also doesn’t mean you are restricted to your house at all times. This schedule fits perfectly with our service times at church so I can comfortable leave him in the church nursery, knowing that it won’t throw his schedule off completely and that he will be well behaved for the nursery workers. I can also usually manage grocery shopping or visiting with this schedule. If I’m going to be out until his next nap time I just pack the Nap Puppy and Blankie in the diaper bag and when it’s nap time I lay the stroller seat back bring out the nap items and he goes right to sleep because he is not dependent on being rocked to sleep.
The first 6 weeks of Daniel’s life, if he was awake he was crying. We could not figure out what was causing the crying and we tried everything! As soon as I implemented this schedule the crying diminished And now, crying is almost never heard in my house. I have the happiest baby you have every meet and it is a joy to spend my days with him. He knows what to expect and can communicate his needs to me without crying (i.e rubbing his eyes to go for a nap) and knows I will meet them so there is no need for crying.
Be aware that the schedule will change depending on the child’s age and stage of life and the book will walk you through how to make each transition in your schedule. I downloaded the book to my Kindle but I have wished I had a paper copy so I could photocopy the sample schedules. To get around having to buy another book I have gone back through and created bookmarks at each schedule change on my kindle so when he goes through a growth milestone I can reference the correct schedule changes.
If you are a sleep deprived new mom I cannot stress how much better your life will be after you read and implement the suggestions in this book.