Chronicling Babywise- Week 1

In an effort to share about our breastfeeding journey, and hopefully encourage other moms, I decided to chronicle the eating, sleeping, and early days with our new little guy. We follow the routine laid out in the book Baby Wise: Giving Your Infant the GIFT of Nighttime Sleep, as we have done with our other four children. If you aren't familiar with Babywise, it's a book that outlines a basic routine: Eat, Wake, Sleep, that you follow with your newborn. By following this pattern, baby is alert during his most content period and learns to sleep on his/her own (rather than falling asleep at the breast and/or needing a prop to fall asleep).

Yes, I know this particular book is sometimes controversial. Though, after living it out five times over the course of the last 8 years, and having read the book at least 7-8 times in that same time period, I really can't figure out why it's so controversial. Each time I read it, I'm blown away by how many times the author clearly says to feed a hungry baby, to not live by the clock, and to carefully assess your baby's growth (all the areas where criticism generally focuses).

Anyway, this post is not about that. It's about our personal journey, this week, with a new little person who has joined our family. And it all started last Sunday night.

The night before our son was born, I got no sleep. My parents were in town, and so we stayed up talking with them, then went off to bed. Shortly after midnight, I was up reading, and the contractions began, fast and furious. They stayed at every 3-5 minutes for the next 6 hours, then got closer and closer, and finally, after the doc broke my water at 8:10, he was born at 8:26 in the morning.
Day 1: He's here!!! So much joy and excitement! He nursed right after birth, and then every hour or hour and a half thereafter for pretty much the entire day, and night. Like Ezzo writes, this first week or two, you feed them when they're hungry, without regard to the clock. And HE WAS HUNGRY. So most of the first day (and night) was spent feeding him. My main focus was keeping him awake long enough to take a full feeding (at least 10-15 minutes on both sides) every time he nursed.

Day 2: He's hungry and today, he decided to let us know about it! Obviously, my milk hadn't come in yet, so he was hungry with good reason. Again, every hour to hour & a half, throughout the day and night, he nursed. Towards the afternoon, and into the evening, he was quite fussy when he wasn't nursing. Because those fussy times came right after lengthy feedings, my husband would try to burp him, walk him around, or bundle him, before I nursed him again. Looking back, those times weren't long (a matter of minutes?), but at the time, it seemed interminable.

Though it made for long nursing times (45 minutes to an hour, and then less than 30 minutes later sometimes, doing it again), I kept working towards full feedings... not just snacking here and there. To me, this is the key to achieving good milk supply AND good sleeping skills with a newborn. I never, never let him cry. When he cried, we'd check his diaper and/or try to burp him, but then I fed him those full feedings right away.

Day 3: My milk started to slowly transition from colostrum to more mature milk, and our little 8-pound-plus-er was feeling the need. The need to feed. :) So we continued feeding him as described above.

On this day, it was more like every two hours, and I was exhausted. Just about the time I fed him, went potty, and laid down to rest, it was time to wake up and feed him again. Throughout the day, I focused on drinking plenty of water, resting if ever the moment came available to do so, and fed him pretty much every two hours or less throughout the day. Whenever he was hungry, he ate. And he got full feedings. Later this evening, my milk supply began increasing, and I could tell by his suck (and the evidence dribbling out of the corner of his mouth once he finished) that he was getting more. That night, he did one three-hour stretch, and then the rest were every 2 or 2 & 1/2 hours throughout the night. But that one 3-hour stretch told me his body was already getting into the pattern. Just three days in, he was beginning to catch onto the rhythm of full feedings, and resting in between.

Day 4: Throughout the day, he ate every 2 & 1/2 hours. I had to wake him up several times to encourage him to eat during the day (in hopes that we'd be doing our best sleeping at night!), even though he was sleeping soundly.

It's not easy to wake up a newborn and keep them awake. This is definitely a necessary skill during these early days of getting used to a Babywise routine. Getting them slightly uncomfortable (removing the extra layer of clothing/blanket, rubbing their backs between the shoulder blades, leaning them forward and talking to them) so that they'll wake up enough to eat during the day is so worth it! Their little bodies don't come out knowing the difference between day and night, and so we get to help them adjust. It's so worth it to do a little legwork on this end to help him establish the clear norms of eating more during the day and sleeping more at night time!

Soon enough, he'll be getting his calories during the day so he won't feel the need to wake up at night for more. This is the basic idea behind Baby Wise that I think gets overlooked-- I've never let a baby cry it out, nor does the book advocate doing so. That just isn't necessary. When we work to teach a baby to take in his calories in the daytime, through regular, full feedings, they don't *need* to wake up at night. All of our babies have achieved this all on their own.

Days & Nights 5, 6, & 7: These three days & nights looked very similar to one another-- all three days, I focused on helping him eat full feedings (for me, with a nursling who latches on well, that usually means shooting for at least 10-15 minutes on each side).

Because he was awake for 2 & 1/2 hours with my husband on night #5, we worked on days 6 & 7 to be sure he had more lengthy waketimes during the day, so that he would sleep at night. And it worked! And each night, we had one longer sleep cycle (3 & 1/2 to 5 hours between feeds), and two shorter 2 & 1/2-hour cycles. Again, I'll stress-- there is no "crying it out" in this scenario. The minute he wakes, he gets fed a full feeding, his diaper gets changed, and he's back to sleep.

Also, on day 7, I took him into the pediatrician and he was already back up above his birth weight, so that was great news!


Day 8: The last day or two, I've notice that he is naturally trying to sleep beyond the 2 & 1/2 hour cycle during the day. So if necessary, I'm waking him up to feed him during the day at the 2 & 1/2 hour interval, certainly before we hit the 3-hour mark. The goal is to get his body into the habit of receiving the necessary calories and nutrition during the waking hours so that he'll more quickly achieve not needing to wake up at night for additional calories and meals. So we don't stretch out the daytime feedings until extended nighttime sleep has begun.

Final Thoughts: So far, following the Babywise routine has "worked" for all of our kiddos by helping them to sleep through the night (defined as going 6-8 hours between feedings) from 5 & 1/2 to 10 weeks old. Moses seems to be doing really well already, and so we'll see how he does. But this first week has gone as well, I think, as a first week can go. It's such a pleasure to nurse this little guy and see him grow. The contentment is evident, and it's so sweet to see him already relaxing and readying himself just before I begin to nurse. It appears he's already at ease with the routine as well. He's a happy and content and alert little guy for just being 8 days out of the womb!

I hope this little day-by-day breakdown will be helpful for some future moms trying out Babywise. This is fairly typical for how my last four babies' Baby Wise routines have gone (my first son was in the NICU his first week, and so that adjusted our norms as well as affecting the strength of his suck... we still nursed past a year, but his nursing sessions took much longer, much more patience and intentionality, and I had a lot of pain from mastitis and the like).

My hope is that by writing this out, it will inform or reassure other moms using or considering the Babywise routine. I'm going to try to do a semi-regular update of our progress, but not making any promises! Life gets busy... but I will try. :)


[Here are links to this whole Babywise series: Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 5, Weeks 6 & 7, Weeks 8-14]

44 comments:

Mrs. Dan said...

It is so nice to read a sensible application of this book! Thanks for sharing... and thanks for the pictures of your little man!

--adrienne from RGT

Erin said...

Good post! I've never read Babywise, but what you described is exactly what I've done with all my babies, as well.

Jessica said...

I have not read Babywise but that is just about identical to the breastfeeding plan I had with my daughter. I wish I had read the book... then I wouldn't have been worried about her going 4-5 hours at night between nursing when she was only a two weeks old. The way the hospital treats you I kept asking my husband "Should I wake her up to feed her? Isn't she too young to go that long without eating?" But he convinced me that if she wanted to eat she would tell us and that we should keep sleeping. She is 14 months now and I think this is her last week of nursing. (She's only nursed once a day 3 spaced out days this week). This was my first time breastfeeding and the book "So That's What They Are For!" was extremely informative (and entertaining) for me.

Thanks for sharing your experience. More moms need to know about it! ~Jessica

The Hunters said...

I recently found your blog through a friend and I've greatly enjoyed reading it! thank you! As a mom to four young ones, I agree that babywise is a wonderful tool! My littlest one is now 12 weeks old and still not sleeping through the night, so I would love for you to keep up writing about your process, as it encourages me to keep it up! thank you! Shelly

Freckle said...

Congratulations Jess.
Just wanted to let you know of the blog http://www.babywisemom.com....its really useful if you ever need to do any troubleshooting.
Enjoy your little one. Blessings
Tanya

Denise said...

I have also used the Babywise method for all of our girls. They were all pretty much textbook to the plan. I am now nursing our 11 week old and still following this plan. I never understood the commotion either.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Jess,
I am expecting #5 in three weeks and I have re-read Babywise as often as you! I think you are right on in making the day time feedings every 2 and half hours (though that can be tiring). The pay-off is getting better sleep at night. Congrats! Moses is beautiful. Jennifer

Chelsey said...

Congratulations Jess! He is BEE YOU TI FULL!!!!!!!!

I love Babywise. I've used it for all six kiddos thus far. I'm always reaching for it when I have a new little one. :)

cornhusker said...

Thank you so much for writing this out. With my first baby, who's now 7, I had no clue what I was doing & everyone kept saying not to wake a sleeping baby. So she slept all day & was awake every 2 hours at night for 10 weeks - I thought I was going to die!
Our second child we adopted from Ethiopia at 6 months, so he came home sleeping 11 hours straight through the night & still does at 2 yrs old!
Now, we're trying to get pregnant again & I'll definitely be following your journaling so we'll have an easier time. Thanks for being willing to do this!
Amy

Amy said...

Congratulations Jess...he's a gorgeous little man, and you can totally see the look of his siblings in his sweet little face. You guys are so blessed!

You, btw, are amazing to be doing a post like this with a brand new little one. This is a fantastic post, seriously! Thank you for doing this...I think this will greatly help us should the Lord see fit to bless us with more little arrows. Sleep issues have been MAJOR in our camp, and this post gives me hope for something better! Now, to find a way to correct said sleep issues with a toddler and preschooler. *sigh* Bless you and your sweet family!!

Jules said...

I love your blog! I don't think that I have ever commented before but I had to when I read this! We have 3 children and we used Babywise with all of them. They all slept through the night by 10 weeks of age. We are expecting our 4th in late January and we are most definitely using it again! I look forward to reading the rest of your journaling on this topic.

By the way, your new little son is ADORABLE!! :)

Blessings to you and your family,

~Julie

annie said...

I have only read Babywise in various excerpts, so I don't know anything about it but have wondered a few things, if you don't mind my asking. I know this is a controversial book, but I am only curious so I hope that comes across.

Both of my children ate every 2-2.5 hours, around the clock, until they were about three months old. Their feedings weren't 10-15 minutes on each side, more like 25-40 minutes on one side. How does Babywise fit in with that? According to my LLL leader and my pediatrician, short 10 or 15 minute feedings on each side per session is no longer considered good for the baby (because the most important milk comes after the first 10 minutes). From my own experience I've found that to be true, because when I tried to switch sides after 10 minutes, my babies were crankier and hungrier sooner, resulting in less sleep and more frequent feedings.

Also, while my babies continue to nurse every three hours or so for 20 minutes or more on one side at a time (only one side per feeding), they both continue to wake up at least twice through the night until age one and then once or so past then until age two. They don't need to eat, they just wake and go back to sleep when they know we're there. Because they're getting more than adequate nutrition throughout the day (always in the 95th percentile), they aren't waking because they're hungry. I don't know why they wake, since they usually go right back to sleep. But I wondered how Babywise would fit in with that type of child.

This is where Babywise comes off cold to me (again, I've only read excerpts so I really have no idea): My child doesn't fit the prescribed temperament so I have to force him into the Babywise schedule. We do try to do the eat, wake, sleep cycle (which I found in another book), but sometimes they would fall asleep while nursing anyway if it was an extra feeding not part of the usual every 2 hours meal. I didn't worry about that, or about feeding outside of every two hours, because they slept pretty okay and they were obviously healthy.

Anyway, I was just curious. I'm so glad it isn't as awful for you as so many people have claimed it to be. Moses is absolutely adorable and I love his sweet little baby face, especially looking up at whoever is bathing him. :) I love new babies!

Anonymous said...

Hi,

You sound like such a common-sense mama. Good for you. What a lovely baby.

In all honesty, however, I completely know why Babywise is controversial. The book is set up so that the reader clearly gets the message that "Jim and Joni" (or whatever the names might be) are wonderful, rested parents of a delightful child because they did things the "Ezzo way." I think the other sad couple has a screaming, manipulative infant and mom/dad have failed and fed on demand. Oh, my, the lifetime of misery they will certainly endure. Puh-leeze.

There are lots of ways to commonsensically feed an infant without clock-watching or feeling like a nervous wreck for failing at the "Christian method."

I did not know of Babywise when I had my firstborn, and the moms who I learned used it fell into two camps: 1)they loved it and tried to pawn the method on everyone they knew or 2) they felt like complete mothering failures because they couldn't "get it right." When I read it, I found it to be the type of book that a young mom might pick up and attempt to follow rigidly, without allowance for her own personality or that of her infant. I'm certainly glad that I didn't read it until after my first baby was well out of infancy. I have four kind-hearted, well-behaved, and well-rested children :) and we somehow managed without the Ezzos.

I think that you have latched on to the idea that the program is supposed to be flexible, but many moms seem to gloss over the flexibility aspect in an attempt to gain control over life in the early days of motherhood.

As a parent educator for a local parenting program, I once visited the home of a young mom who had been enduring her four-week-old baby's crying for 30 minutes because it "wasn't time" for him to eat. I noted the copy of Babywise on the table and grimaced. It is difficult to know how to "gently suggest" to a young mom that she might want to feed her red-faced, panting, sweating baby because he is HUNGRY despite the orderly "plan" of Gary Ezzo. God certainly is a God of order, and Jesus his son of mercy. :)

Blessings to you in these sweet, early days. They are so fleeting, aren't they!

Mom of 4

Valerie said...

Dearest Jess,
First of all, CONGRATS on your adorable little boy! You are SUCH a great mom and your children are so blessed to have you...and I know you feel blessed to have them!! I rejoice with you in this new life!

My daughter and I have been following your blog for more than a year now (maybe more!) and although she just got married 9 months ago, she and her husband are expecting their first in the next few weeks (God blessed them almost right away!!)
She has been reading BabyWise and this is SO VERY helpful to her. If you do have time to do updates, that would be great and very helpful also!
When do you think would be the most helpful for me (the grandma) to be there with her and what is most helpful for me to do? Of course, since this is her first child, there are no onther little ones to care for. And, she would like for me to be there while she has the baby, if I can get there in time (I live more than 5 hours away.) How great that you went into labor while you parents were there!
Any other advice for the first-time mom or grandma?
Thank you and we will pray for you and your family as you adjust. God's anointing upon you!!
Blessings,
Valerie

PS I highly esteem you in the priorities of your time...and though I miss your more frequent posts, think you are making a very wise and disciplined choice!!

laurapeery said...

thank you, thank you! I'm a mom-to-be (only three weeks away from the full 40 weeks), looking forward to using Babywise when our little Moriah Grace arrives - the specific daily progress is really encouraging to me :) Laura

Michelle said...

A few things:

1. I just found out I was pregnant with #3 and your description of the first 3 days makes me cringe! I forgot! The horrible wait before the milk comes in!

2. I read Babywise with Baby #1 and it stressed me out SO bad! Nursing was a mess even though I managed to nurse past the first year. I really had to lay down the book for my sanity. I had never been around a baby and so it was hard for me not to pick her up everytime she made a noise. She was still on a pretty good sleep, eat, wake schedule though.

My second there wasn't even a chance. In the end, God still graced us with landing on a schedule.

I will have to look at the book again. With a 3.5 yr old, a 2 yr old and a newborn...good sleep and eating habits are a must. I know Babywise gives great advice...but I think just like everything, people can take or leave different things.

Jess said...

Annie,
Your comment did come off as curious, not rude, to me. I'll be happy to share my thoughts. I think your 25-40 minutes on one side could fit just fine with Babywise. The point is the full feeding, not a certain number of minutes. I shared my "shoot-for" goal for my own personal body/milk production. After nursing (now) 5 babies, I know about what it takes and about what it feels like to get to the end of a feeding. With my first son, it was anywhere from 30-45 minutes per side because he had spent the first few days in a NICU and had taken my milk from a bottle, so he had a weaker suck. The point is not to *hit* a certain target (as in, "only go for 10-15 minutes per side")... rather, the point is to not go *below* a certain target, so that you do get that rich hindmilk. Ezzo talks a lot about the importance of that nutritious hindmilk.

As for the night waking, that sounds like it's your call to decide to continue getting up with your child even though you yourself said there's no apparent reason why they're waking. For our family, if there's a reason (a loud noise frightens them, teething pain, a dirty diaper, etc), we deal with it and get them right back to bed.

Your descriptions of "cold" "prescribed" "schedule" "force" do lend credence to your admission that you haven't read the book. I suggest you do so if you really want to get a flavor for the flexibility therein. At the very beginning of the book, he describes different sorts of Babywise families-- some more spontaneous, some more rigid-- that are the way they are based on the parents' & babies' temperaments. Babywise is definitely not a schedule that one has to force... but if what you're doing has worked in your family to produce peace in your home and happy, healthy kiddos, then that's great! That's the aim for all of us, I think.

~Jess

Jess said...

Mom of 4,
I think every advice book has the tendency to fall into the pattern you describe, of a reader feeling that they aren't "getting it right" if they don't follow the advice therein. But really, it's a bit silly, isn't it?, for anyone to expect an author dispensing advice to not communicate that they believe their advice to be better, wiser, or somehow superior, to other options. Else, why offer the advice?

I'd suggest to anyone in your shoes (in a situation where you are advising/assisting Babywise-following new moms) to sit down with a copy of the book and dog-ear every page that mentions flexibility and not watching the clock. It's positively shocking how many times he stresses these things. Really. It's what I did the last time I read through it, just to see for myself how often it's stressed,and barely 2-3 pages go by without him saying something else about flexibility, careful parental assessment, and/or not being a clock-watcher. That would be a very easy and natural way to encourage and assist a first-time mom to watch and assess HER infant rather than the clock, as to when it's time to feed... just show her where he himself advises flexibility and tells moms that, when the baby is hungry, feed the baby, regardless of the clock.

That said, it's funny what you say about those who feel they have to follow a method- that's been my observation as well... and one reason why when I reviewed the book on my 2010 book reviews:

http://makinghome.blogspot.com/2010/01/2010-book-reviews.html

I specifically wrote the following:

I recommend the book with this caveat: if you are a person who feels that you have to have RULES and then have to FOLLOW those "rules" without fail, then you may not want to read this book. Again and again, Ezzo stresses that these are guidelines and routines, not hard and fast regulations, but whenever I see criticism of this book, it is because someone has apparently overlooked the dozens of times when Ezzo advocates evaluating your child and using your parental awareness to make feeding and sleep decisions.

It's important for all of us, no matter where we are, to carefully assess what we read and not just rigidly adhere to what someone else writes. Aside from the Bible, there is no book we should read with such reverence as that.

Best wishes to you and thanks for your comment.
~Jess

Ashley L said...

I really appreciate this post and can't wait to read the rest! Our 3rd is due tomorrow! It is so great for me to read what an ideal or at least very good "Babywise" schedule looks like.

With my first, I had no idea what I was doing with baby sleep (I was the first among my friends to have a baby and had no idea that you actually had to train a baby to sleep! Yikes!)

With my second though, I read almost every well known book that there is, including Babywise. I didn't have any problems with the Babywise book and thought, like you said, that it was great as long as you make sure not to gloss over those references to flexibility and meeting the baby's needs. It is a great plan for the families whose parenting styles mesh well with it, but I can see how parents who naturally prefer the "attachment parenting" style might not be well suited for the method. It seems that there is so much about personal preference that needs to be considered when choosing a sleep method. I know that our preferences have changed with each child even! Attachment was easy with the first, but for us it is less practical as we add additional children.

One thing that is mentioned in Babywise (at least I think I remember it was) is that the method will likely not work for colicky babies. Our son was EXTREMELY colicky and absolutely NOTHING worked. I felt so defeated in this area as I read all of these books that "should" lead to well rested happy babies. Here I was, probably devoting a ton more hours a day of effort each day to try to help my little guy sleep, but to no avail. I just add this little comment to encourage those moms of the 1 out of 5 babies with colic that you are great mommies, even if nothing that you do results in a calm content baby who sleeps well at night. You are not doing anything wrong! Dr. Weissbluth wrote an excellent book called "Your Fussy Baby" that I felt to be so freeing as a mom to a colicky baby. It gives lots of helpful hints as far as making things as bearable as possible and making baby as content as possible, but it also really emphasized the fact that parents of these babies are doing nothing wrong if their children don't sleep well and cry a ton. It gives lots of help and encouragement for parents who literally just have to endure those first months.

Anyway, I know you are writing about 4 out of 5 babies who would likely do just fine with this (or any) method, but just thought I'd drop a word of encouragement if any moms of colicky babies read this comment!

Blessings on your beautiful family and thank you so much for laying this out in real life terms. It is so helpful! I hope our 3rd will be a good sleeper and I've already taken to heart the encouragement to get those full feedings established!

Catherine R. said...

Reading this has given me a good reminder of how stressful those first few days of breastfeeding can be. I think for some reason I keep thinking since I went through all the craziness one time before that this next time it will be a breeze but getting that milk to come in seems to be a challenging time period with each babe from what I hear.

I am okay with Babywise but it did cause me stress, like someone else said. I think it depends, like many other things in life, where your starting point is mentally, emotionally, experience-wise etc. I had practically never held a baby in my life by the time I had my first and it was crazy nerve wracking.

Love to you and sweet baby Moses < 3

annie said...

Thank you for answering, Jess. I know I really should read it, just to get my own feel for the advice given, but since I've found a good pattern of habits with my two so far I've kind of held off on reading too much of baby-advice books. I've found, for me, I start to confuse my own instincts with advice from a book and then nothing works the way I thought it should.

I did want to add, with the night-waking, we have tried ignoring it and letting the baby settle back to sleep on his or her own. With my daughter, that resulted in all-out screaming for two hours. Ugh. With my son, because I was so anxious to avoid the screaming, I started right away responding to him. It never took more than a few minutes before either would settle right back to sleep, so I didn't mind responding. However, once my son was about a year old (he's 15 months now), we decided to stop going right to him to see if he would scream like my daughter. He didn't! So we stopped going to him. :) It's funny, though. She was so prone to screaming at night, from an early age, but has such a sweet temperament during the day. He's the opposite! We've had to do some major strong-will training with him. :)

Anyway, thanks!

Herding Grasshoppers said...

Congratulations and praise God for a healthy delivery - mom and baby :D

Oh, reading about your first few days makes me wish for another baby... but that's not to be.

Our three thrived on babywise and it made for a much more rested and sane mama.

Hurray for baby Moses!

Julie

Jess said...

Hi Valerie,
Thanks for the compliments on our little boy... we are enjoying him!

As for your daughter, congratulations to her first! As for when for you to be there and how to be a blessing to her, I think that varies from woman to woman and family to family. Some women want their moms there (as I like, and as your daughter has requested), and some desire a little bit of privacy or time to adjust before a visit.

The ways that my mom has helped me over the years has varied-- honestly, a lot of it has probably been doing the dishes and then (with subsequent babies) helping with the other children. She also has been willing to hold the baby while I go crash and have a nap... and when I've had difficulties, particularly with our first (I had a severe case of mastitis), she would help in practical ways (making warm compresses, helping me stay on track with getting a dose of ibuprofen when needed, etc.). Another way many mothers help their daughters is by keeping things going in the kitchen, which becomes more difficult the more people there are in the family. Having a few simple meal ideas, or running for groceries, or keeping the dishes up... these are all things that I think could potentially help a new mom.

Thank you for your kind encouragements, and I hope everything goes well with your daughter's labor and your grandchild's birth. Children truly are a blessing from the Lord-- Congratulations!
~Jess

Brigid said...

I recently re read it and I was struck that--with some parenting experience--the book itself seems really reasonable. I'm so glad that you've found what works for you and your family!

I do think that the problem comes when this book--and the subsequent ones and the church related curriculum they wrote--gets used in a sort of Gnostic way in Christian communities (ie "really good" Christian parents use this and are successful; everyone else is going to end up with unsaved hedonistic brats. That is an extreme description but it has had a very divisive effect on Christian communities of all denominations). The authors of this book are a bit shady, at best, and make no claims of being medical professionals.

For a mother with a colicky baby or a baby with a high need disposition or low milk supply, following any scheduled feeding regime could set her up for failure or attachment issues down the road. Getting the baby fed AND feeling like the expert of your baby are more important than any external thing in those early days.

Those are the concerns I have about the way this book is used. I'm not really interested in debating, and again I'm so glad you've found what works for your family!

Vanessa said...

We are big Baby Wise fans - but with my 4 month old has such severe acid reflux (despite meds) that having a full feeding is almost impossible. This situation has confirmed to me how well Baby Wise works - I KNOW he is not sleeping because he can't get all his calories during the day. :( It worked amazingly for my first son.

More importantly I have a question for you about simethicone (gas juice). You use it all throughout the day - but do you exceed the 1.5mL suggested daily amount? Or do keep to the daily amount but just use it in smaller increments throughout the day? It works SUPER well for my son, but I find I just wish I could use it more throughout the day. I worry about using too much. What do you do?

Thanks,
Vanessa

Jess said...

Hi Vanessa,
I'm sorry about your infant, I have close friends who've had babies with severe acid reflux, and it really is a difficult thing to manage.

As for the gas drops, I discussed it with pediatricians on several occasions (on several continents, LOL) with my first few babies and all of them assured me that it goes through the digestive tract and not into the blood stream and they could be used freely, so I've done so. As for the 1.5 mL amount, with a newborn, that would give me 5 doses of .3 mL, which I probably never, or at least only rarely, exceed. As they get older, I find that we need them less... it's in those early months that I use them fairly often. So I don't know that I've ever exceeded the recommended amount. But like you, they work really well for our babies, and I use them as needed.

All that to say, I'd ask your pediatrician about it. After speaking with ours, I felt much more relaxed and free about using them, but I know we all feel differently about these things, so I'd recommend asking a doctor.
~Jess

Tent Revival said...

I was just wondering if you use Ecological Breastfeeding, and how this book would work with that. After my first we really felt convicted about using any form of birth control and stopped early on. I am fine with having babies close together and trust God to provide for us, but going only six months between has been very hard on my body. We would like to try ecological breastfeeding this time, for the natural spacing, and because it just feels right to me, but I know what a blessing it is to have some sort of routine.

I posted a little about this on my blog and linked back to yours.
-Addie
addielore.blogspot.com

Jess said...

Hi Addie,
I had to look up "ecological breastfeeding" if that gives you an idea of whether or not I practice it. :) I had heard of it before and had a general idea of what it meant, but didn't know specifics.

Based on the definition I found here:

http://www.physiciansforlife.org/content/view/1421/43/

I do not practice ecological breastfeeding, and it would not technically fit with using Babywise, at least not as written.

Based on the "7 standards of ecological breastfeeding" laid out on that site:
(1) I do exclusively breastfeed for at least the first 6 months. This does fit with Babywise.
(2) I do not pacify the baby at the breast. This does not fit with Babywise.
(3) I don't use bottles, but I do use pacifiers. With Babywise, it wouldn't matter either way what you did on this point.
(4) I do not sleep with my babies, generally speaking. Occasionally, after nursing in a middle-of-the-night feeding, I've woken up 2-3 hours later with them still next to me and realized that I fell asleep during the previous feeding. But I don't think that's the same thing. :) Babywise advises against co-sleeping.
(5) I have occasionally taken a nap with my babies beside me, but not made it a practice. I think Babywise would be fine with this.
(6) Obviously this one is not what I practice, except for the first few weeks when physiologically necessary and when I'm working to establish milk supply. I do nurse frequently and fully throughout the day, but seek to end night feedings ASAP. This point also does not fit with Babywise, as one of the main points of Babywise is to achieve early, contented nighttime sleep.
(7) I do avoid any practice that would restrict nursing or separate me from my babies. For the first year, I stay close... (I actually have never even pumped, except for the first week of our first son's life when he was in the NICU)... and when we've had dates or the like, I take the baby with us or we keep it within the time frame of the normal nursing periods. I don't think Babywise would be either for or against this point, although togetherness is certainly beneficial and mother-care is recommended by Babywise.

Babywise does have a section for "starting late"... I wonder if you could practice ecological breastfeeding during the time that you feel convicted to do so, and then get into a routine by following the "getting started late" section in BW once you're ready for that transition? Perhaps that could be a sufficient compromise that would suit your convictions?

Blessings,
Jess

Vanessa said...

Thanks so much for answering Jess! :) Congrats on baby Moses. He's pretty delicious.

-Vanessa

Alison said...

Thanks for this! I am six months pregnant with #4 and this was a good reminder that I need to pull out Babywise again SOON rather than relying on my memory. :) Your little Moses is so sweet!!

Alison

Anna said...

Congratulations! He is gorgeous! Thank you for sharing your experience...I'm 32 weeks pregnant and excited to meet by little one and I'm loving following your diary!
Here in the UK there is "The Contented Baby" by Gina Ford which sounds really similar to the Ezzo book! Again its controversial but its been so helpful with our 3 children!
Thanks again Anna

Anonymous said...

So-called ecological breastfeeding worked well for my family. I never minded my babies "using me for a pacifier" and found I slept better once I stopped trying to get baby to sleep in a crib and embraced co-sleeping. Regular night nursing also delayed the return of my fertility, which helped with the child spacing we were hoping for. But I recognize that approach isn't for everyone.

I agree with the above commenters who noted that high-need babies are unlikely to thrive with the Ezzo approach. But if Jess finds it has worked for her babies so far, good for her.

I do find it remarkable that Babywise is promoted as the ultimate Christian parenting style when that method of relating to your baby would have been foreign to mothers in Biblical times and for many centuries afterwards. It would not have been possible for early Christian mothers to avoid co-sleeping, because until relatively recently in our history, infants left to sleep alone would have been vulnerable to predators and hypothermia.

I'm not saying everyone has to co-sleep or nurse on demand, but it should be understood that the Ezzo approach to feeding and sleep-training is not at all traditional. It is new and closely linked to modern western culture (which puts a premium on babies learning to sleep independently for long stretches, separately from their mothers).

Laurie B

Jess said...

Hi Vanessa-
I wanted to write again and let you know that I happened to look on the back of my bottle of gas drops (I buy the generic ones from Target cause they're so much cheaper than the brand name!), and it says, "do not exceed 12 doses per day". That's a lot of potential doses... and their recommended dose for babies 2 & under is that .3 mL amount-- so that would be 3.6 mL maximum per day.

Again, I suggest you ask your physician, but that is quite a different amount from the 1.5 mL per day, and if accurate, may allow you some freedom in your use of gas drops with your son.

Polly said...

He's adorable!!! I'm glad it is going so well so far! Your thoughts on babywise are very balanced.

I read the book in full at least 3-4 times when my son was almost here or just after he was born, taking copious notes! I credit it with getting breastfeeding established *very* well--those full feeds meant my milk came in well, he gained weight, and so on. I also concentrated hard on keeping nighttime eating low-key, no-lights, etc. and feeding frequently during the day. He didn't sleep through the night early at all, but he was doing pretty well! The whole cycle worked well for a few weeks, but then the colic kicked in.

All bets were off, and I definitely had to revise my philosophy. (One part of the book mentioned if the baby doesn't stop crying, put them in the crib, where at least they might fall asleep. That didn't work with his temperament.) we later discovered he's allergic to casein, which he was getting via me, of course. Babywise mentioned something about colic being a rare issue, so I really didn't even think my son could have it, but he sure did--and I've known many babies who have suffered through it (or had allergy issues that were manifesting as 'colic' or 'fussiness'.) My parenting style changed dramatically (and it had to, if I was going to work with my baby and follow my God-given instincts on how to soothe him) those first few months as a result of these lessons learned.

He didn't sleep through the night completely until after he was 2 years old, but his wakings were not disruptive--he just sort of roused, looked around to be sure we were there (we continued to keep him in our room, which worked out well for us--I slept like a log with him nearby), and back to sleep he went. Sometimes he'd nurse--he stopped nursing right around 2 as well.

So I agree w/ annie, above, who mentioned temperament. Many women are savvy enough, as you are!, to discern babies' needs. Some women are not. I think the effectiveness of the 'program' also highly dependent on the baby's personality, temperament, colic-issues, and other health needs (like the inability to deal w/ dairy that my son has). Babywise seems to me to work beautifully for the babies who don't have many or any of those issues! I have a few friends who have enjoyed success w/ 'sleeping through the night' with at least one baby via Babywise, and there are others who could never have used the approach because of the baby's needs.

Tent Revival said...

Jess,
Thanks for your detailed response. It has been a while since I read babywise so I had forgotten about some of their guidelines. I have realized I just need to read it over as well as new books on these other approaches and then just find a middle way that works for us.
-addie

Karen Pruneau said...

Never read Babywise, didn't even hear of it till now. I was fortunate with my children, the first slept mostly through the night from the beginning (until I messed him up by taking him to Australia) however, I was nursing plenty during the day,from your writings, I understand that was what I was supposed to do. My third child a girl was so interested in her brothers that she was awake all day long too. Very short naps. My second child was fine EXCEPT for putting him down at night when he would have a really high pitched scream, which was really annoying. We had to stay with the in-laws for about a month and they weren't concerned at all - "all their children sang themselves to sleep at night"! I relaxed after that and he went to sleep much much better. I've since learned that babies who have had a difficult birth have an annoying high pitched scream - He was breech and I had so MANY examinations that his poor bottom was all black and blue. My daughter was breech too, but we knew it with her and there were not the exams. and she was not black and blue.

Anonymous said...

Jess,
As an avid reader of your blog, I was delighted when you wrote this series this summer. I'm due in 3 weeks w/ my 2nd daughter. I'm re-reading your posts to refresh my memory. I appreciate your balanced approach. You remind me a lot of our first Babywise experience. I'm hoping by God's grace to have a similar enjoyable time with our new little girl. Thanks for taking the time to write this out!
Blessings, Annie

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for writing out your experience! We are on day 4 with our third son. We've pretty much followed babywise with the others, but I'm always surprised how much I forget. One question I had was regarding getting them to sleep, rather than the feeding. Do you rock them, walk them, etc. to get them to sleep when they're newborns or do you just lay yours down (swaddled?) when they're awake? I don't want to create sleep "props" but I also have a hard time listening to him fuss to go to sleep. Thanks!

Julia K.

Jess said...

Julia,
When they're newborns (as in, a few weeks old), I don't worry about it. Sometimes one of us wants to hold them while they fall asleep. Sometimes they fall asleep accidentally in the carseat or bouncy seat. Sometimes I lay them down swaddled when they're awake, or sometimes when they're at that mid-point between sleep and awake.

By about 3-6 weeks, I really start focusing on laying them down while awake (at least a vast majority of the time). Once you do this for a few days to a week, it will kick in and become second nature to them. In that time, I might have to reset because of crying a few times. I do allow a little grunting or fussing, but if it's an out-and-out cry, I pick them up, snuggle for anywhere from 10 seconds to a few minutes to settle them back down, and try again. I'm not one for letting them cry, ever, either. A little fussing or grousing, I can do... but out-and-out crying, from a newborn, I always always respond to.

Hope this helps. Sorry it took me awhile to reply.
~Jess

Danee' said...

Thank you for this post! I read Babywise cover to cover with my first daughter. I used it as I saw fit and it worked well for us. Our second daughter is 6 days old and I needed a refresher without wanting to read the whole book again. Your post had filled that need! Your reminder to have wake time even at a few days old was really helpful and we have had successful nights the last two in a row! Thank you! -Danee'

Michala said...

Thank you for the post! My baby girl is 3 days old and we want to try the ideas behind Babywise. My two year old still has a tough time sleeping through the night so we want to be more intentional with feedings/routine this go around. The problem I'm already running into is she will not sleep in the bassinet or rock n play at night,only next to me. I don't want to Co sleep but by four am I give up. Any ideas?? Thank you!

Jessica Connell said...

Michala,
Keep at it, gently, over time. It doesn't have to be all or nothing. Enjoy snuggling your baby for now, and don't feel guilty about giving up at 4am. WE ALL GIVE UP AT 4AM!! :)

Then wake up the next day and try, try again. As your milk supply gets established and you guys get the supply/demand thing worked out over the next couple weeks, things will even out. Hang in there and just love on your baby. Try swaddling, and putting her down, but if she'll only sleep on you or near you for now, that's A-OK. This is not a hard-and-fast regiment, but a routine that you are working toward.

Give your baby and yourself grace and enjoy these rare and special early days.

Blessings to you both. (Sorry it took me a bit to reply- I intended to do so right away as I know those early days can seem like an eternity happens in 24 hours.)
~Jess

Anonymous said...

I'm reading the book now, but I'm a little confused on "wake times" in the early weeks. How long do you keep them awake for before you let them go back to sleep?

Thanks, Kristin

Jess Connell said...

Kristen,
In the first week or two, they are often barely awake 15 minutes (and sometimes that can be a struggle) before they go back to sleep.

Once you get to about a month, they should be doing 15-30 more easily.

It's a gradual thing, and you will learn to watch for sleepiness and not exceed baby's window. You'll start to see (especially if you accidentally keep baby awake too long) that they get really fussy when overstimulated. Sleep will probably come before people thing baby "should" be tired… but in reality, newborns sleep almost constantly. In the early weeks, I find that keeping them awake for at least 15 minutes is the greater challenge.

Their wake time will gradually extend (and sometimes they'll have one long one somewhere in the day but all the rest will stay tight), so watch for wakefulness and overstimulation and you'll find that "sweet spot" window.

Hope this helps.
~Jess