I am currently a first time Baby Wise mom. We started using Baby Wise principles from birth. As of now, my guy is still little, so I have not seen the benefits of BW as baby becomes a toddler, preteen, etc, but I feel like I’ve learned a lot so far just for these beginning months. If I could go back, would I have done anything differently starting from the beginning? What words of advice would I give a first time mom who practices Baby Wise?
DON’T STRESS ABOUT GETTING ALL THE PRINCIPLES OF BABY WISE GOING RIGHT AWAY.
Coming home with Asher was hard enough being a first time parent. I told myself I wasn’t going to worry about time in those beginning weeks with Asher and just learn what kind of baby he was and enjoy the new experience as much as possible. In the first Baby Wise book, the authors remind readers that coming home with your new baby are “precious moments and not a time to be overly concerned about the clock, feed routines, or sleep training” (p 74). In fact, they go on to say that they “encourage parents to turn their clocks against the wall (figuratively speaking) and work on the single goal of providing a full feeding” (p 74). Remember to keep things as simple as possible during those first few weeks home. I focused on full feedings (trying to keep him as awake as possible) and I also focused on feeding him upon waking, then “social” time, followed by nap time. As someone who thrives on routine, it was a challenge for me to not get caught up in watching the clock. I reminded myself to observe the pattern of time of when he ate, but didn’t stress about it.
TAKE SLEEP TRAINING ONE STEP AT A TIME.
I have discussed why we chose Baby Wise, and one of the main reasons I felt BW would work for us was because of the BW sleep principles. After a couple weeks of always having to rock Asher to sleep, we realized that we needed to help him fall asleep on his own. We decided to stop rocking him to sleep. We respected Asher’s wake time by putting him down for a nap as close to his optimal wake time as possible, as to keep crying to a minimum. At four weeks old we officially started to put him in his bassinett without rocking him to sleep. If he woke mid nap crying, and I could tell this was the real deal, not just a few mumbles here and there and he’d drift back off, no, the crying where you know he isn’t going back to sleep, then I assumed it was a feeding problem, as BW suggests, and I would feed him and we just moved on with our day. We decided that we were just going to focus on putting him down for his naps and night time sleep, without any sleep props. We picked the sleep training practice that was immediate to everyone’s needs and something we felt we could deal with, going on such little sleep. Thinking that you’re going to conquer all your baby’s sleep needs/challenges right away is not realistic and will only stress you out even more. Take the small steps and successes as they come! We still do pre-nap and bedtime cuddles, lullaby and love of course!
DON’T FREAK OUT WHEN YOUR BABY TAKES SHORT NAPS.
If there was anything I would go back and tell myself not to stress so much about, it would be when Asher would take short naps (which he still does on occasion today). I am obsessed with Valorie Plowman’s blog, and she has great articles to help you troubleshoot. In one of her posts she talks about understanding the why of what your baby is doing, whether it be waking early from a nap, crying mid-nap, crying when going down for a nap, etc. I realized from her blog and after re-reading the BW book, that I should always treat his waking early as a hunger concern first and troubleshoot from there. If he was clearly not hungry, then I realized that I was most likely keeping Asher awake too long, thus he would wake from his naps early, fussy, and still needing to rest some more. So, I would adjust his waketime and keep troubleshooting. If I couldn’t figure it out, and Asher was clearly not hungry yet, then I would help him finish out the length of his nap, whether it be rocking him back to sleep (yes, we would do this mid nap, even though we quit doing at the beginning of the nap) or put him in his swing. If one didn’t work, I would try the other and if he was just not having it, we got up and moved on with our day. He was so little that I wasn’t worried about helping him mid-nap becoming an issue. Now that he’s a little older, those things that I was once worried would become a prop, haven’t. I think that was my big concern. I was afraid I was making him into a short napper, which is not true or a baby who would could only finish his nap in a swing, which is not true! Short naps are something that will most likely always come up every so often and it’s good to always try to figure out why it’s happening, but don’t get so worried and obsessed about it that you miss out on your time to enjoy your baby!
DON’T WORRY ABOUT GROWTH SPURTS “RUINING” YOUR PRACTICES
Feed baby when he’s hungry during this time. I used to worry because Asher’s growth spurts seemed to last for about five days. Things always went back to normal the sooner I acted on feeding him
DON’T FREAK OUT ABOUT YOUR BABY HAVING SUCH SHORT WAKE TIMES
This was another big challenge for me. I wanted to keep him up and play and show him off and take him out everywhere! What new mom doesn’t?!? However, I soon realized that we needed a balance within our routine. I certainly could not keep him awake past his optimal wake time and then expect him to go down for naps and bedtime without a fuss, or let him cry himself to sleep, when I was clearly responsible for that crying. I had to accept that most newborns aren’t awake for very long and need their sleep to keep them happy for when they’re awake and for when it’s time to sleep again. I also struggled with family wanting me to keep him up longer. I remember talking to my sister about this once and she said to me, “You know your baby better than anyone. You’re the one with him every day, all day. You know what he’s like. Don’t let someone else make you think otherwise.” I knew that what I was choosing for Asher was best for him. In the beginning his wake time was only about forty-five minutes! My little, sweet, happy baby turned into quite the pumpkin if he was kept up too much longer than that. Once I started staying firm on reading his nap cues and watching the clock, even with family around, life was much more peaceful in our home.
REMEMBER THE ONE STEP FORWARD TWO STEPS BACK PRINCIPLE
“Two steps forward and one step back is common during the various merges” (p 93). I think I re-read this in BW a dozen times! I would get so excited when Asher would sleep for eight hours straight, then a couple days later we were back to five hours, then up to seven, then back to five, etc. I think it’s good to expect your baby to go back to waking in the night after a night of no waking. I went along with this for Asher until he started to not eat so well in the morning because of our MOTN feeding. Then we started troubleshooting the night wakings and figured out how to help Asher break the MOTN waking, seeming to want to nurse, only to fall asleep within literally one minute. Not joking. Be patient. Just because so and so’s baby sleeps from 9:00PM until 7:00AM doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong or are a failure. Remember to keep on learning your baby’s sleep needs and to keep moving forward.
I would highly recommend www.babywisemom.com to help you with your troubleshooting. I would also encourage a first time BW mom to join other BW groups online, such as Facebook or Google. Don’t forget to go back and re-read the book. I think this is probably the most over-looked solution to some of our BW challenges! May the Force be with you all.