Good news from Mummy A! Baby Z has come into this world! Mummy A is beaming with happiness and baby Z looks so kissable! I shall dedicate this post to her as she did not have time to reread her Baby Wise book!
Having a new born is like an extreme sport, such as overnight rock climbing. You need endurance, resilience, and sleeping is like hanging off a cliff. Ok gross exaggeration but you get the idea. My cell group mate commented that during the first few months of having her baby, she really feared going to sleep only to be woken up 2 hours earlier. This interrupted sleep is so bad that she’d rather not sleep at all. Anyway, just like an extreme sport, gaining victory over challenges as a new mother is also exhilarating and sweet. So when I was pregnant with baby J and knowing that my pet peeve is not sleeping enough, the greatest cliff that I wanted to conquer when he was born was getting enough sleep.
So I went about doing my usual, talking to others and reading. I read these:
William Sears’ philosophy of attachment parenting,
hoping to find a good solution… but the more I read, the more worried I got, “Sounds like a gargantuan task!”, my mind spoke, “I won’t be able to endure it!”. Then I began talking to my colleagues, you know those mummy idols that you have, whose kids are well-behaved, and are able to sleep and eat well. I discovered that some of them followed the principles from this book, On Becoming Baby Wise by Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam.
I borrowed it, read it, was hooked on it and in short, it became my parenting bible. I read it at least 6 times over from cover to cover, and when baby J was born, I referred to it whenever I encountered problems, which was a funny sight, to be reading when baby J is inconsolable. I told Daddy J, “It’s like an open-book exam!”
These are the principles that I really love in that book:
1) The book started off differently from many other baby books. It says “great marriages produce great parents” and that is the most important foundation to good parenting. Too often when the baby is born, he becomes so central to our lives such that it eclipses everything else. This is something that parents need to be conscious of so that parents do not burn out. Parents need to be in for the long haul, like a long distance race, not a burst in sprinting. Till today, I firmly believe that I need to take care of myself (and my spouse), so that the both of us can emotionally invest in our kid.
2) It follows that the focus of the book is then to get your child to: A) sleep through the night and B) sleep on his own.
3) The focus of this system is that you need to observe and listen to your child closely to know him well.
A) Getting your child to sleep through the night
1) The definition of sleeping through the night is that your baby can consistently sleep for at least 6 hours straight at night, which was so precious to me.
2) The system is to establish an EAT-PLAY-SLEEP cycle in a 3-4 hour schedule once the baby is born. This schedule is not a totally rigid one, but it definitely should not be a 1-2 hour cycle. How you determine the duration is through detailed observation: by consistently taking down the timing of EAT-PLAY-SLEEP in a schedule. The timing of one cycle starts when the baby wakes up to EAT and the timing of the cycle stops when the baby after PLAYing, goes to SLEEP and wakes up to eat for the next cycle. If you have read Bringing up Bebe (BUB) by Pamela Drukerman, a similar idea in French parenting is the concept that every child has a circadian rhythm, a schedule that we need to help the baby discover.
3) The utmost important thing to do is to ensure your baby has FULL FEEDS during the EAT stage. This can be done by waking the baby if he sleeps while feeding by massaging his foot, tapping his leg…I have even used a towel dipped in ice water to ensure that he is awake. In essence, using whatever method to ensure he is awake and feeds for about 20 minutes at each breast.
4) This cycle also advocates EAT-PLAY-SLEEP in this order, unlike other schedules, so that the baby does not form the habit of suckling to sleep, which may become an issue in training him to sleep on his own.
5) The beauty of this cyclical approach is that if my baby is crying out of schedule e.g. my baby wakes early by crying or is crying immediately after feeding, I know what to do to make informed decisions through observation, rather than just assuming he needs to eat. Is he crying because he needs a diaper change? Or has he not been stimulated enough during play? Is it too hot/cold in the room? Did he have a full feed? Does he need to go back to sleep? This is somewhat like the “pause” in BUB. By going through this thinking process nth times a day, I actually got to know “his pattern” better. The best part is, once the baby is nudged onto this cycle, I roughly knew what to expect throughout the day, and can plan to nap, do housework, go out with the kiddy and say Whew!.
6) If there is a consistent attempt to establish a schedule, the book says that the child will be able to drop one feed in the middle-of-the-night (which means he doesn’t wake at all for the MOTN feed), hence, sleeping through the night by about 6-10 weeks old. My boy started dropping his night feeds at about week 9 and was consistent by about week 10. I seriously remembered singing Halleluiah! as I decided to go back to work after 2 months and really, really needed my sleep! Interestingly, my friends who had schedules for their babies also reported that their baby began to sleep through the night at around the same time, so based on anecdotal evidence, this works!
7) Looking at your baby sleep soundly is seriously the most beautiful and peaceful experience in the world! You cannot help but smile from ear to ear! (Plus, you get some free time! haha!)
I would like clarify that by sharing this post, I am not advocating that one method is better for the baby or the mother, than another. My principle in child rearing is ‘Yes, by all means, do what’s good for the child, but also remember to take time to do what is good for yourself’. My belief is that whatever approach you choose, choose one that suits your lifestyle and personality. I knew I had to go back to work, we weren’t intending to get a helper, not getting enough sleep is really stressful for me and I am not the resilient type, so I knew that schedules and sleep training are vital for the long haul physically and emotionally. Whatever you and I choose to do – no guilt, no judgement, there is no right or wrong. WE ARE ALL GOOD PARENTS. YOU ARE A GOOD PARENT. Besides, if you look at Mummy A, Mummy M and I, we differ in so many ways in our parenting but out kids turned out just fine. At least, I would like to think! 🙂 Perhaps, Mummy M, you would like to share your parenting philosophy and your wonderful journey? Ok, look out for my next post on training the baby to sleep on his own!