Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Get them on a schedule!

Two more common questions we got a lot when the boys were babies: "How do you do it?" and "When one cries, does he wake the other?"

My answer might not be popular among some types of parents, in fact it might be considered down right terrible, but I don't care...it worked for us.  The answer: Babywise.

When I was pregnant, my cousin's wife gave us a book that I think saved our life and probably our marriage:  On Becoming Babywise.  The method, in short, is half scheduling and half feeding on demand, mixed with a method of training the babies to sleep, similar to the Ferber method.

Demand feeding mothers think that you absolutely have to feed the baby every time it's hungry, even if it is every hour on the hour.

Schedulers, on the other hand, say you firmly dictate when the baby is fed.

Babywise uses a window method.  For instance, a six week old baby might have a window of 2-3 hours.  Which means that from the time the baby starts eating, you can feed it again the next time it's hungry as long as it's been at least two hours.  If three hours passes and it hasn't awoken to eat, you go ahead and wake it to feed it.  The time of the window depends on age (although they do allow for other factors, such as weight and prematurity).

Also, you always put the baby down awake, so that it learns to put itself to sleep.  This means, you don't put the baby down right after a feeding, when they are sleepy.  Instead, you stimulate it and keep it awake (again for a certain amount of time depending on age) and then put it down awake.  If it cries, you use a modified Cry-It-Out method very similar to Ferberizing.  You NEVER rock a baby to sleep.

It sounds like a lot of work.  And at first, it is, because you have to keep track of times.  But I'm telling you, if you have two babies, and you ever want to get a good night sleep again...you have to get them sleeping!  And the best part about Babywise is that it boasts teaching your baby to sleep through the night.  And it absolutely worked for us.  Thing1 and Thing2 were sleeping 11 pm through 6 am by 8 weeks old.  Happy momma!

But, the effects lasted way past infancy.  My boys are still fantastic about going to bed.  My friends always seem jealous when we "put them to bed" and it takes less than 5 minutes.  It's because from a very young age we have had a routine and have had clear expectations about bedtime.

We aren't perfect parents by any means.  But the one thing that I strongly feel we've gotten right is their sleeping.  And to me, children who are good sleepers make for happier parents!

So, I thank the woman who passed on this secret to me.  I am thankful I can learn from her trial and error (she did not use Babywise for her first child and she said she nearly died of exhaustion).  And, maybe me passing on our good experience will help another mother out there!

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