I shared a little bit about Jeremiah’s lack of a sleep routine here. I also confessed that I was giving in and reading books on sleep training looking for any nuggets of wisdom that I could find. I just finished reading (and by reading I mean skimming and by skimming I mean wishing it was a picture book) my first book, On Becoming Baby Wise: Giving Your Child the Gift of Nighttime Sleep by Gary Ezzo, M.A. and Robert Bucknam, M.D.. First off, I think that all subsequent editions should be subtitled “Giving Yourself the Gift of Nighttime Sleep”. Anyone who knows me well knows that I do not do well when I don’t get a full night’s sleep. I require a solid eight hours of sleep to be in a good humor and function well. As one might infer, I’ve been pretty cranky the past five months!
I found the overall tone of this book to be somewhat judgmental. It is blatantly anti-attachment parenting and seems to condemn most of his tenants. While I do not proclaim myself to be a hardcore proponent of attachment parenting, I do implement some of its practices. This book goes so far as to imply that attachment parenting does not involve any thinking on the mother’s part, who simply offers her breast as a remedy to every cry. Baby Wise claims to be superior because their theory of parent-directed feedings utilizes parental assessment, something attachment parenting supposedly lacks. I don’t care where anyone falls on the parenting philosophy spectrum, I believe that all parents follow their instincts and use their best judgement at any given time. To say so otherwise is rude and unnecessary.
Once I was able to look past their hate mongering, I did find a couple of useful suggestions. First, they propose that sleep and eating routines go hand in hand. Baby’s routine should be eat, play, sleep. Most babies eat, sleep, and then play. Guilty! Jeremiah often nursed to sleep. That seemed like something easy enough to switch up. I just needed to start my day off right by feeding him immediately, allowing him to play, and ensuring he had the opportunity for a good nap afterwards.
Then they got into the nitty-gritty of baby’s meals. If your baby is snacking during the day instead of eating full meals, he is more likely to sleep for shorter amounts of time. They suggest that babies eat every 2.5-3 hours. If they can’t make it that long, then they are probably not getting a full feeding. Guilty again! Jeremiah got full feedings as a newborn, but had become a snacker as he is easily distracted by his surroundings. I had a tendency to watch tv or be on my iPhone during feedings. No more auditory distractions. Now we nurse in completely quiet rooms. I still check my email, but if he starts to get curious, then I put it away until he’s done.
Another point they made about feedings related to solids. They are to be given at the same time as the regular feeding, not in between. For breast-feeding moms, this means right after a nursing. For formula moms, start with formula, then food, then finish off the formula. Thrice guilty! In my mind, it made more sense to give him solids in between nursings to help tide him over, but that is an obvious offender to the eat, play, sleep cycle. Another easy fix.
All this talk about food. Where does sleep come into play? The authors propose that it is a common misconception that babies need to have full tummies to go to sleep. If you get your baby in the routine of eat, play, sleep, then they aren’t conditioned to being full to sleep, thus being better able to sleep for longer periods of time at a younger age. The authors go on to say that baby’s naps should be 1.5-2 hours long, but never longer than 3 hours. Babies should wake up happy and refreshed. If they are crying, then they probably didn’t sleep long enough. Around six months is supposed to be when baby drops from three to two naps a day. Getting adequate naps helps baby to sleep through the night; however, babies under 6 weeks of age shouldn’t sleep longer than 5 hours at night.
Jeremiah was the ultimate cat napper, so the idea that he might sleep for more than 20 minutes at a clip was almost like a taunt. I implemented the three nuggets above and his eating and sleeping routines have improved. The snacking is a thing of the past and he does fine going 2.5-4 hours between feedings. Over the past few weeks, he has been taking two lengthy naps and a cat nap. While he doesn’t fit into their model perfectly, I think he’ll get there eventually. I’m just grateful to have an hour of time to get something done.
The Bottom Line
-If you’re a proponent of attachment parenting, you might not want to read this book.
-Baby’s routine should be eat, play, sleep.
-Baby should have full feedings to discourage snacking.
-Baby should have solids with regular feedings.
-Want to read more? Check out the chapters on establishing your baby’s routine, wake time and nap time, and when your baby cries (Chapters 6-8 of 2006 edition).
Now you tell me, what are your thoughts on this book?