On Becoming Baby Wise

It’s hard for me to find time to read a whole book about parenting when I’m actively being a parent. When I do have time to read, I’d much rather read something fun and escapist. So, when my neighbor heard that we’re having problems getting Nora to sleep at night and lent me a copy of Baby Wise, I didn’t want to read it. I looked for an audiobook version, but there doesn’t seem to be one. What I really wanted was for someone to read the book and just tell me the important or relevant points. Well…nobody did that, and we needed to get Nora’s sleeping schedule straightened out, so I bit the bullet and read the book myself.
The tone of the book is a bit condescending, and it alternately made me feel like great parent and like a failure who was ruining her child’s life, but there are some good points. I think we’ll try some of the things we aren’t already doing and see if our situation improves. In case someone else is looking for the easy way out (like I was), I’ll list what I feel are the salient points.

  • Your job is to be a parent, guiding your child to do what will be best for him/her in the long run. The child is not your friend or peer, and doesn’t know what is best for him or herself.
  • The parent should run the home, not the child. The child should be welcomed into your existing family structure, instead of changing the family setup so everything is centered around the child.
  • Feedings should be administered when a parent assesses that they are needed, based on hunger cues from the child balanced with an eye to the clock.
  • A regular routine is comforting for your child and helps his or her body to settle in to a healthy schedule of sleeping and metabolizing food. It also promotes more successful breastfeeding. Some flexibility in the routine is fine.
  • Your child can sleep through the night. A little crying before the child falls asleep is normal. If the child wakes up cranky and crying, he or she is probably not getting enough sleep–the parents shoud let the child fall back asleep. When the child is rested, he or she should wake up cooing and happy.
  • A breastfed baby should be fed every 2 1/2 to 3 hours, with the feeding followed by wakeful time and then a 1 1/2-hour nap. An exception to this is the late evening (or midnight) feeding, when the child can be put to bed immediately after eating. The child will be awake when he or she is put in bed. As your child gets older, there will be more wakeful time and fewer naps during the day.
  • Parents must learn to interpret their child’s different cries. Not all cries should be answered with food–babies can also be comforted with cuddling, burping, a diaper change, or resettling into sleep.
  • So, there you go! If this system works for Nora, I’ll let you know.

    2 thoughts on “On Becoming Baby Wise

    1. Good luck with the system. I’ve ruined two children on sleeping using every method available (Babywise, Ferber, stressed-out-Mommy that puts baby in bed with her, etc.). My conclusion is that where sleep is concerned, it’s a crap shoot. I hope she starts sleeping for you soon! I know how it is to be sleep deprived all the time…

    2. A MUCH more helpful book for baby’s sleep is Health Sleep Habits, Happy Child. The most important thing I learned from Baby Wise was nap, eat, play; in that order.

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