I want to talk about something today that I have found to be a bit controversial. It is a book called “On Becoming Babywise”. Years ago, when I worked as a makeup artist, I worked with someone who had recently had a baby and raved about this book. I think I was in my early twenties, and having a baby was the last thing on my mind. Her EXTREMELY passionate review of the book and how she felt it absolutely transformed her life was so convincing, that I made a mental note that when I did have kids, I needed to read this book. I filed it away in my brain. Last year, when I became pregnant I finally sat down and read it. It is pretty common sense stuff, and speaks to the way my husband and I operate. We are planners, we like to know what to expect, and we like routine in our lives, but we are not so regimented that we can’t fly by the seat of our pants every now and then. Basically, the authors of the book lay out how to approach feeding and sleeping with your baby, encourage parent directed feeding (you decide when your baby eats) and talk about the importance of an eat, then play, then sleep routine, as well as making sure that the parenting unit stays strong and doesn’t let babies take over their lives. They also say that babies are capable of sleeping through the night at a very young age if you give them the proper tools from day 1, and give you tips on how to do that.
Perhaps if I wasn’t expecting twins, I may not have thought much of the advice given. I may not have agreed with my friend that this was mind-blowing information. However, every single person I know with children has suffered from sleep deprivation, especially in the early days, and I could only imagine how this would go with 2 babies. In our home, it is JUST me and my husband. We don’t live with extended family, as a matter of fact both of our parents live about a 13 hour drive away. We wouldn’t have doting grandparents to eagerly help out and let us get some sleep. It is just us. I like my sleep, and I was scared to death that I would never sleep again. I was actually petrified. Then I read this book that pretty much guaranteed that if I followed what they suggested, my babies could sleep through the night as early as 8 to 10 weeks. Ummm, they pretty much had me at hello. As with most of the pregnancy and parenting books I read, I passed it along to my husband who read it also, and then we talked about it. We decided that we would do our best to put our babies on a schedule right from Day 1, and we would follow the suggestions in the book. If there is one thing I have heard over and over about parenting twins, it has been to get them on the same schedule from the second they are born. So the Babywise principles naturally lend themselves to this.
When I went to find more details and examples about some of their suggestions online, I was surprised to find a large group of people who were actually bashing the book! In doing a little digging, I found that most of the controversy was stemming from the fact that the book tells parents to decide when their babies eat, instead of letting the babies decide. There were claims that babies have died from failure to thrive because parents were following the suggestions in the book. I was shocked, and in the months to come, found that I actually was encountering people in my own life who had heard the negativity about this book and were furrowing their brows that I was actually going to follow the book’s suggestions. Even now, when people ask me how I got the boys sleeping through the night, many of them gloss over when I tell them to read Babywise. Here is what I have to say about all of this. First of all, if you haven’t read the book, don’t judge. I read this book without first hearing any of the negativity and it would have never crossed my mind that anything in it was controversial. Second of all, I feel terribly saddened that some babies have lost their lives because of failure to thrive, but there is nothing in the book that I found would encourage a parent not to feed their child when they are hungry. You are the parent and you should use common sense before anything else. And finally, I have not one, but 2 babies (fraternal twins who couldn’t BE more different) who were sleeping through the night without waking up for feedings by about 11 to 12 weeks. They were premature so in adjusted age this falls right in line with what the book said would happen. Was it hard? YES! There is nothing harder than sticking to your guns when you are sleep deprived, and have not one but two little humans wanting a piece of you at all times. However, they are happy, healthy, and thriving. Do they still get up at night? Yes, sometimes they do. They may have lost a soother, or learned to roll over, or had a bad dream or heard a loud noise, or be sick or be teething, etc. Or maybe they just want snuggles, and when this happens, I am right there to hold them, soothe them, and comfort them, but they sleep in their own cribs, they fall asleep without much fuss and when they wake up, they coo and play happily until I come get them, and I haven’t fed them in the middle of the night in so long I’ve almost forgotten that there was a time that I ever did. They are on a very predictable schedule with their naps and feeding times and my life is a lot more manageable when I know what to expect and can plan my day around them.
If you are expecting or know someone who is (especially multiples!), I suggest giving this book a fair read with an open mind. Is it for
everyone? No! Absolutely not! Many parents are more “laissez-faire” and prefer to let their baby dictate his own schedule and are okay with it being different from day-to-day. And if I only had 1 baby, I may not have been so quick to employ all the book’s suggestions. It would have been much easier to feed the baby on demand or just have them take naps snuggled up in my arms..I would have LOVED that! I have friends who operate like this and I think it’s amazing that they can do all that for their baby. Every parent is different, and if you have multiples, unless you’re an octopus (I will refer to this eight legged creature often), or live in a home where there is someone else to help you all the time, you physically CANNOT cater to both your babies whenever they want. All I am saying is, this book does have some great points and you should give it a fair read and then decide if it’s for you or not. You don’t have to do everything it says but you may find even one or two things that are useful…Don’t let someone sway you from even reading it. If you do read it, and love it, like I did, www.babywisemom.com is a fantastic resource. This woman has a wonderful blog and has some amazing and helpful tips on dissecting the Babywise principles and is a pro at troubleshooting. Even if you don’t read the book, you can go to her website and take a peek at her archived posts-you may find something useful! The whole Babywise series has more books that go into toddler-hood and pre-school years so if your children are older you may want to look into those.
Finally, I would love to hear your thoughts. Have you read this book? What did you think? If you have twins, what other books have you found to be helpful? I will be doing a brief summary of each of the books I found helpful in the weeks to come, and would love feedback from moms with experience!