It was interesting to see the feedback on my last post on the Babywise system. Seems like other new parents (just like me) are looking for reassurance that if they can’t follow the book exactly, it doesn’t make them bad parents. So as a follow on, here are some random thoughts on my own experiences when trying to apply all the systems and methods we’ve read or been taught about…
On the “whys”
As a new parent, the biggest question I had when something unexpected happens is “why”. I believe it’s only natural to look for the “why” to help us determine the “how” to overcome the same problem the next time it happens. Why is baby finding it so hard to fall asleep? Why does baby want to nurse all the time? Why is baby not behaving like he should? There is of course no single magical answer, but I found it helpful to at least learn that I was not alone. I turned to numerous resources… parenting websites, blogs, forums, facebook, friends. I had my phone with me and was constantly surfing and reading various articles while I nursed Nathan. I will not tell you not to worry or be concerned, because when baby is crying or not settling, you ARE concerned – no point people telling you not feel a certain way, it’s only natural you feel those emotions as you try all sorts of solutions and suggestions on baby. The emotional rollercoaster is all part of the journey.
On the Cry-It-Out method
I gave every principle in the book a try which I’m glad I did. At least when someone asks me, I can say I’ve tried it and be able to articulate to what extent we could apply it. Most of the points in the book I had no problems following as they just follow general common sense anyway, but some controversial methods like the ‘Cry It Out’ method I was a bit more dubious about. One time I put him down for a nap and I went to the kitchen to cook lunch. In theory he should learn to eventually drift off to sleep himself even if it involves some crying. I was midway through the process of cooking something on the stove when he started crying. It quickly progressed to a wail which was uncharacteristic of him. I couldn’t really stop what I was doing immediately and I reasoned that perhaps he just needs to cry-it-out as they say. Well soon I was in tears hearing him cry as I rushed to finish what I was doing. I found him clearly in distress so I picked him up and nursed him until he calmed down. Safe to say, I decided not to attempt a full blown cry-it-out session again. These days when putting him down for a nap, what I do is to carry him for a few minutes in my arms or in my sling until his eyes start to droop, then I put him down in this cot.
On cluster feeding
At one point I used to wonder why Nathan needed to cluster feed all the time? I tried to look for explanations – Is it a growth spurt? Is he forming a bad habit of using me as a pacifier? Is he feeding to much at the risk of becoming obese? The book seems to suggest that cluster feeding should only be occasional or lasting a few days at a time which was not the case with me for weeks. I was quite stressed about it at first but in the end gave in to his needs. I think it’s better to go by baby’s cues and meet his needs rather than agonising over what’s right or wrong, especially in the early weeks. Babies need only a few things anyway – nursing, sleeping or sometimes a cuddle. To deprive them of one I’d say is just wrong. After a few weeks, the constant cluster feeding has settled down. So I think babies know how much food they need, even if it seems like they’re a bottomless pit. If you find it draining, you can learn to nurse lying down on your side like I did.
The most important thing I took away from the book was about the need to establish clear routines. Note the use of the word ‘routine’ as opposed to schedule. So for each main feeding cycle for Nathan, I worked hard to ensure he had a good feed, followed by some wake time, then sleep time. In the early weeks it doesn’t always work perfectly… sometimes Nathan was just too sleepy and couldn’t muster up a decent wake time, sometimes he had trouble falling asleep, sometimes he just nursed and nursed for hours… and sometimes the continuous nursing happened in the middle of the night! It was discouraging at first, but I reminded myself that poor Nathan was still brand new on earth and was still just learning how to survive and grow… with plenty of milk, sleep and cuddles. But I still had the eat-wake-sleep routine set up as the main point of reference in my mind to revert back to at all times, and sure enough we’re now well on the way on a good 3-4 hour routine throughout the day which leaves me ample time to do other stuff during his nap times.
I’ll continue post other thoughts and experiences as they come to mind down the track. Hope some of you new mums and mums-to-be out there find it helpful!