You may be wondering, what is this Babywise you speak of? On Becoming Babywise by Gary Ezzo & Robert Bucknam is a book that helps parents get their infants on predictable eating, waking and sleeping patterns so as to create a more peaceful, predictable and happy family atmosphere. It teaches that babies function better when parents take the lead in establishing the flow of the day and have a flexible schedule of when and how often Baby will eat. This isn't to keep Baby from eating or to constrict Baby's growth - it actually ensures that he will get full feedings every time and therefore get the proper nutrition.
The Babywise rules that I've found most helpful are...
1. From the very first feeding after birth, make sure Baby gets a full feeding. This will establish good habits from the start.
2. Do not get Baby used to falling asleep with props (ie: an automatic rocking swing, nursing, riding in the car, specific music, etc) or he will not be able to sleep without them.
3. Establish a defined eat, wake, sleep pattern. Reverse the pattern (eat, sleep, wake) and Baby will need to nurse himself to sleep.
4. When it's naptime, put Baby down (even if he's fully awake) and let him cry himself to sleep. This is not harmful to Baby - it's teaching him how to sleep on his own.
There are some awesome side effects of using this method. Overall, Babywise babies tend to understand the concepts of delayed gratification, patience and schedule earlier than most children. They also learn to sleep through the night much earlier than non-scheduled babies. If the parent is directing sleep patterns, Baby will follow suit and learn how to sleep long and well. And how much happier is a family whose parents are getting enough rest at night?
Owen is a living testimony to the Babywise method. Overall, he is a really happy baby and is learning how to nap and eat when it's time. Additionally, he's sleeping through the night - even earlier than Babywise predicts (they recommend dropping the middle of the night feeding at about 8 weeks). By 2 1/2 weeks, Owen was waking up only once in the middle of the night and by 4 1/2 weeks, he was sleeping at least 6 hours straight through the night. It's been the same since then and it's been really wonderful getting uninterrrupted sleep as a new mom. I can imagine this will be even more important the next time around.
I don't want to seem like I'm bragging about my child - I truly think this is possible for every family. I mean, not all kids will learn to sleep through the night this early, but it seems to me that too many families end up totally sleep-deprived for the first six months (or more) and it makes raising children a whole lot more difficult than it needs to be. Especially if both parents are working! I can't even imagine trying to work while only getting six hours of sleep broken up over three increments throughout the night. It makes me drowsy just thinking about it!
So anyway, I just wanted to propose a toast to the authors of this incredible book - it's made mothering a lot more simple, straightforward and overall doable!!