Friday, March 12, 2010

New mom. Slightly neurotic.

I’m a new mom…and as such I know nothing about child rearing. Luckily this is the “easy” part and the decisions I’m making aren’t going to turn Genevieve into a threat to society. But “easy” is relative isn’t it? For me, I want, no I NEED to have some structure…and know what to expect…and have a plan…and be in control. I know what you’re thinking: Why did she have a kid again? Trust me if it were not for the beautiful miracle that is my daughter, the closeness gained with my husband, and my heroic (yes I said it) defeat of the labor process, I might wonder myself. Even though this part might not have a long lasting effect on Genevieve, it certainly will on my sanity. And so to learn about feeding, schedules, and general infant maintenance, I turn to my friends (poor Meg must be tired of my incessant texts) and family (sorry Erin) for advice, but so as not to tempt them to sever their relationship with me, I also read a couple of books religiously for how-to’s.


"On Becoming Babywise" was recommended to me by my oldest and dearest friend, Angela. I honestly can’t compare it with much else because I basically read it and obeyed. But I can say it seems to ‘work.’ Genevieve is 3 months old and has been sleeping through the night (8-9 hours) for about a month. Now I warn you, this book is not for the faint of heart. I think at times it can definitely seem harsh. Case in point, the nurse who runs the mommy and me group I attend basically took it out of their library. Now to me that seems extreme, but it goes to show different strokes for different folks. Babywise basically employs the “eat, wake, sleep” (sometimes called “eat, play, sleep” or “eat, exercise, sleep”) method in order to teach your baby to fall sleep on his own rather than be nursed to sleep. The book discusses establishing a routine, feeding philosophies, and babies and sleep. The premise of the book is that the baby enters an already established family unit, and that rather than the world revolving around baby, the family unit’s foundation is a solid relationship between husband and wife (though the author does address single parents). Now again, the book isn’t for everyone but I agree with about 90% of it and it seemed to work for Genevieve.


The second book is "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child." This one is a bit more technical. It goes into great detail about the mechanics and science of sleep. I personally didn’t find it quite as easy to read and follow but it does give solid advice about the do’s and don’ts of sleep for infants. Now the two books do sometimes conflict with each other, which for me, is where my maternal instincts must break the tie. But their overall messages tend to be similar—a baby can learn to sleep through the night but we, the parents must teach them and not leave it up to chance. This book discusses how children sleep, how parents can help their children establish healthy sleep habits, and how to deal with sleep disturbances and concerns. I’ve only read up to Genevieve’s age so I have yet to complete the entire book, but so far, so good.

Hopefully if you’re looking for some advice about parenting or getting your child to sleep through the night one of these two books will help you. For my personality, research is king! That said, you can read five books that will tell you five different things to do (or not to do) which can drive you crazy. This is where I’m learning to trust my instincts and be confident that I know my baby better than some doctor or author who has never met her which sometimes trumps the “right” thing to do.

So tell me, when did your baby start sleeping through the night?  And is there a particular method you used or book you followed?

P. S. Here’s to a good night’s sleep to all you moms with new babies!!

5 comments:

  1. Hey Tiffany! Did you let Genevieve cry to sleep at all? Ironic that you have posted this right when Max is 4 1/2 weeks old and we are on Day 3 of being on our own after lots of family visiting. I have read Baby Wise and have tried the principles of a full feed and also the play, wake, sleep schedule, but Max just cannot seem to put himself to sleep! I'm looking for lots of ideas from people! Would love to hear more detail on your experience with Genevieve and if you let her put herself to sleep and how you went with seeing that happen!!

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  2. Hi Rebekah! I also followed Baby Wise's schedule of feeding time, wake time, nap time with both my kids. My son Cole had a lot of trouble with the putting himself to sleep thing... I remember sooooo many times of walking and rocking and praying desparately as I would gently lower him down in to the crib and try to tiptoe out of his room... only to hear screaming 2 seconds later. :) For me the turning point came when I read the other book Tiffany discussed, Dr. Weissbluth's. I agree that it is VERY technical, but the main thing I got out of it was that it was not only OK to let him cry himself to sleep... but it might be the only way to fix the problem! And it did! It took less than a week for him to learn, and once he learned how to fall asleep at the beginning of the night, he then stopped waking up in the middle of the night too, as he then knew how to put himself back to sleep. Unfortunately for me, I waited til he was around 5 months or so. It's great that you're looking into it and researching it so early. With my second, Grace, I did the cry it out right around 10 weeks. (I believe that Weissbluth says that they are ready for it anytime after 8 weeks.) It worked again like a charm! Of course, you will run into hiccups every now and then, but personally I feel it's a great way to train them. I did also go in the first day or two after about 5 minutes to just console them for a brief second, without picking them up. Also, do you swaddle your son? That has helped tremendously for both of mine! Ok, sorry this is a book, but I remember being in your place and I was always looking for what might have worked for someone else. Congratulations on your new little one and I hope maybe a little bit of this might help! :)

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  3. As a nurse practitioner, I can't agree with Babywise. A new mother should know that it is not okay to let the baby cry, especially in the first 3 months. One of the main instructions we give as a nurse to a new mother is that crying is a form of communication of a need that needs to be adressed. Also a "good" baby(not crying, goes to sleep easily)is not always necessarily a good thing as it can be indicative of infant depression. An infant generally becomes more secure and independent if they learn to trust their caregivers, and the way they learn trust is by having their needs addressed in a timely fashion. Also, the writer of this book does not have many credentials as far as the subject matter and none of the studies done in the book are backed by any scientific research. (Just my two cents.)

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  4. It seems there are a lot of conflicting opinions on the topic--from nurses, doctors, moms, and other 'experts'! All I can say is Genevieve and Grace are amazingly happy babies that sleep well!!
    Tiffany

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  5. Thanks so much Linda for your comments and professional opinion! I agree that letting the baby "cry it out" in the first 3 months is something that should not be done carelessly. With Grace, when she was 10 weeks old, I let her cry only when I knew that she was well-fed, well-burped and in a dry diaper. As I said, I did go in and check on her, to make sure she was ok. For her, her crying was very very mild and more like whimpering. If your child is screaming bloody murder and seems very upset, I would whole-heartedly agree with waiting on the crying it out method and instead comforting your child. As with everything with babies, every child is going to respond to things differently! In regards to the scientific research, I agree that Babywise is not backed by any, however for me personally, I found the personal recommendation of the methods by numerous friends with children successfully sleeping through the night far more valuable to me! For scientific backing, Dr. Ferber's progressive waiting approach in "Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems" (which is actually more what I did) is scientifically verified and recommended by many pediatricians.

    In regards to infant depression, what I have read on the subject indicates that oftentimes infant depression has a lot to do with a neglectful family environment. (And by neglectful, I mean entirely different than letting your baby cry themselves to sleep in a controlled and loving situation so that they learn how to self-soothe and fall asleep on their own.) How sad that someone could be labeled as "depressed" (and even potentially medicated) in the first few months of their life for reasons largely out of their control!

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