Now that I have my second child, I am determined to do 'right' what all new parents struggle with- infants sleeping and eating. The first time around I read a few books like Dr. Sears' Baby Book, remembered what veteran moms had told me, and went with the flow.
Yep, I basically winged it. And when I say winged it, I mean that when I had been up for 2 hours with my newborn at 3am, I brought her into bed with me since it was the only way she would fall back asleep, and told myself to worry about it all later. And so she learned to only sleep next to me for the next 6 months, which meant I didn't sleep for 6 months. Sleep deprived mommy= cranky and tired mommy. I always slept with 1 eye open, afraid I would crush my child or she would end up rolled onto her face and not able to breath.
And I winged her eating habits too. I would breastfeed her whenever she seemed cranky, which varied and would be every 30 minutes to every 2 hours. I guess you could say I did 'on demand' feedings but I also ended up getting mastitis twice from that method! I went to La Leche Meetings and read books, but I still wasn't quite sure what the heck I was doing.
So what to do this time around? With all the parenting books out there and theories on raising newborns, there are lots of parenting styles to choose from. From Attachment Parenting to Babywise to the strict schedules, Dr. Spock, Healthy Sleep Habits and Dr. Ferber.
I decided to sit down and re-read some of these books and figure out what to do this time around. I think it's pretty funny that each style has a lot of research to back-up their method. I don't remember Attachment Parenting back in my nanny and daycare days. Those moms all swore by Babywise and if their child was not sleeping through the night they did the Ferber method.
But after reading them all, I still feel like taking a little here and there from each one and doing my own thing.
I love the Baby Book by Dr. Sears and still use the useful medical information for my toddler.
He's a huge co-sleeping fan, and I think if you want to co-sleep with your child, then so be it. If that is how you get the best night's rest, and your child does too, then great. Or if you want to bring home your newborn and have them sleep in a separate room in their crib the first night and that works for your family, then that's great too. I think you have to do whatever works best for you and your child.
For me, co-sleeping did not work so great. I still sometimes nurse my baby to sleep next to me and there have been many nights so far where my newborn ends up in bed next to me because she falls asleep so easily there. BUT, I am determined to not do it if I can. I have been working hard at getting her to sleep all night in her nap nanny and so far it's been going better than I expected, 6-7 hour sleep stretches and I have been able to nurse her and put her right back in the nap nanny next to me in bed, yay!
Dr. Sears is also a fan of baby wearing and on-demand feeding. I for one never 'wore' my first child much, but this time it's become a necessity so I can get things done around the house. AND double bonus is that it calms her down! My second baby is colicky, which is a whole other issue I'll save for another post, but the sling actually works. The minute I put her in it, she is calm and sometimes falls asleep. I don't want to do it all the time and have her depend on it, but for a couple of hours a day, it's been a real life saver!
Babywise is another big baby raising book:A lot of people think it's a 'schedule' type book, but it's really not. It makes recommendations but tells you that you don't have to follow it so strictly. And the advice they give makes sense: to try to feed your baby, then play with them for an 'awake' period and then fall asleep. Sleep, eat, play. Sometimes it doesn't work out that way, but I've noticed that my newborn follows this pattern on her own. I think it's a good idea to try not to have your baby learn to fall asleep while being fed, because then in a few months when you are trying to get them to learn to fall asleep on their own, it will come back and bite you. But yes, sometimes I do nurse her to sleep when I'm desperate, but I'm working on it.
And they also recommend feeding your child every 2.5-3 hours. It's not a strict recommendation though, so they say if you feel like your baby is hungry after 1 hour, then go ahead and feed her. They say that babies are usually happier when they go longer stretches. I've been trying this out and my child seems to be going every 2 hours on her own, sometimes 1 hour but mostly 2, and it's good to know when she'll be hungry again instead of playing a guessing game.
And a friend of mine (thanks Jenni!) recommended this book:
I just started reading it and it has a lot of good information in there! It gives good feeding advice and advice on colicky babies. I like the way it's divided up by age, starting at newborn and going week by week. And so far I agree with the advice on putting your child to bed earlier to get them to sleep longer, and how so many kids are sleep deprived by not getting the recommended amount of sleep. I'll keep you posted on his recommendations and if they work or not.
And then there is the infamous Dr. Ferber book! It's not really a parenting style, but more of a 'sleep style.'
And let me just say a side note here. I so did not want to let my child cry it out. I thought to myself, 'if my child is crying, and I don't answer her cries, then she's going to learn that her mommy isn't there for her and not trust us.' So I tried everything else out there, even that No-Cry method book. But nothing was working. We would rock our baby to sleep and it would take 15-20 minutes, then if she was not completely asleep when we put her in her crib, she would wake up and we'd have to start all over again. She would also wake up all the time in the middle of the night and we'd have to do the same thing again!
So I finally gave in at 9 months of age, but I found the softer version, The Sleep Easy Solution book,
This book saved our lives! Instead of being strict on waiting 5 minutes, then 10 then 20 like Ferber's it recommended laying her down almost asleep but only let her cry 1 minute, then go back in and sooth her and then let her cry another 2 minutes and go back in, etc. and after 12 minutes of this, she was asleep and NEVER woke up again for 8 hours. It worked amazingly well and we wondered why the heck we didn't try this sooner. And this was written by 2 moms who are counselors, so I felt like I could relate a lot more to it.
My parents swore by Dr. Spock, but they also put us to sleep on our tummies, didn't have pumps to breastfeed, and worked on strict feeding schedules too. But I guess we all turned out okay ;)
My next book on my list to read is the Baby Whisperer, anyone out there read that one? What style of parenting are you and what works best for your family??