To begin with, I'm very much aware of the fact that this is a hot topic and I do not wish to start an uproar. I am of the firm belief that every family and child is different and what works for one will not work for another. I believe that God gave us intuition and all we can do is the best we can. If you love your child and you are doing the best you can to care for your child, I think every parent has a right to privacy and a choice. That's my opinion.
Now, I lean by nature towards a Type A personality. I like schedules and order and I can easily
become obsessive when I get something in my head. I enjoy knowing
what's coming next and being proactive. My husband, on the other hand,
is on the complete opposite end of the spectrum and is one of the most
laid back human beings I have ever come across. He lets things slide off
his shoulders easily and is perfectly happy just taking life as it
comes to him. It's one of the reasons I fell in love with him. Over the
years since I've been married to T I have been forced to adopt more of a
Type B personality because of the baseball lifestyle. When we are
assigned to a team we often get less than a 24 hour notice and then only
3 days (72 friggin hours) to find a place to live. Not only do
we have to find an available place in such a short amount of time, but
we face the challenge of never knowing how long we will be there. It
could be 6 months or 24 hours. This makes planning anything difficult to
say the least. Because of the short term nature of things (and because
once they send T somewhere, I'm often left alone to deal with the
packing) we only travel with what fits in our car. Minimalistic and
spontaneous - this is how I must live my life.
was planning for Cali and getting ready for her arrival I knew that a
strict schedule wouldn't work for our family. First of all she was born
on the last day of Spring Training while T was across the country and he
got approximately 72 hours with us those first few days. I knew once we
moved to whatever city we would be living in (which we found out on the
day she was born and not a minute before...) that I would be going to
baseball games that don't start until 7pm. Therefore an 8 o'clock
bedtime in her crib was impossible every night. I also knew that T's
schedule was unconventional during the season. He often doesn't get home
until 11 at night and our days don't normally begin until around 9 or
10. With him being on the road so often, I wanted to option to let Cali
stay awake longer or skip a nap here and there in order for them to
spend father/daughter time together. I feel as though Cali and T bonding
and us spending time as a family as often as possible is more important
that Cali being on a strict schedule.
With all of that
being said, I also happen to believe that God created order and some
sense of predictability creates happy families. I have done tons of
research (did I mention I can get obsessive :) ) on the effects of sleep
deprivation in children and I definitely wanted Cali to have a set
bedtime on most days so that she could get the rest she needed and T and
I could still spend quality time alone. After reading books and blog
and research papers on different types of parenting, I decided I fell
somewhere in between the strict schedules and the baby-led parenting. I
wanted the best of both worlds.
So here's what I did:
1. Eat-Wake-Sleep -
After reading both "On Becoming Baby Wise" and "The Secrets of a Baby
Whisperer" I chose to implement the Eat-Wake-Sleep routine. I liked the
idea of teaching her the difference between night and day this way and
having more of a pattern than a schedule. This way, Cali still gets to
decide when she's hungry and when she wakes up.
2. Semi-strict Bedtime -
I say "semi" because Cali goes to bed any time between 8 and 8:30. This
depends on what time she wakes up in the morning (usually between 7:30
and 8), and how often she eats during the day. Also, if T happens to be
home at night I don't mind her staying up later if she can handle it.
3. Drowsy but Awake -
This is something that I didn't start out doing. For the first 8 weeks
of her life I rocked her all the way to sleep. It didn't seem to effect
her nighttime sleep and I was ok doing it. However, around 8 or 9 weeks
it started taking close to 30 - 45 minutes to get her to go to sleep.
Between that and her eating every 2 - 3 hours, it left me with no time
to eat or bathe myself. So I taught her to self-sooth. I did not let her
cry it out (more on this below).
These are really the only 3 things I was strict on. Following are the things I did not do:
1. Schedule Feedings -
I don't feel comfortable telling my child when she can eat. If I tried
to withhold food from T when he was hungry, he would have a major
problem with it. The least I can do is give my child the respect of
listening to her when she tells me she's hungry. This being said, I try
very hard to listen to her different cries. Just because she gets fussy
doesn't mean I automatically feed her. I am slowly learning to hear the
difference between what she's trying to tell me.
2. Cry it Out - *DISCLAIMER* My opinions are my own and I have a right to them.
I do not have an issue with parents that use the CIO method. If I ever
have a strong willed child and I pray about it and believe this is the
only way she/he can get the sleep they need, I'll consider it then.
Luckily I never had to make this decision with Cali. When I decided to
teach her to self-sooth I told myself I'd try every other option before
CIO. After reading "Secrets of a Baby Whisperer" I settled on the pick
up/put down method. With this method you put the baby down drowsy but
awake and leave the room. If they start to cry you go in and pick them
up until they settle down, then you lay them back in the crib drowsy but
awake again. You repeat this process until they put themselves to
sleep. In the book, she mentions she once had to do it over a hundred times. Thankfully,
this method was exactly what Cali needed and it only took me one day
and the most I had to pick her up was 5 times. Now I can lay her in her
bed fully awake when she starts to show signs of being tired and she
falls right to sleep.
3. Schedule Strict Naps -
Mostly because she. won't. let. me. (hahaha) While my child sleeps great at night, she refuses to nap for longer than 45 minutes...and that's on a good day. Cali follows the Eat-Wake-Sleep pattern and can typically stay awake
between 1 and 2 hours but these are just guidelines. Depending on what
time she wakes up in the morning I have a general idea of what time she
will take naps but I can only tell you for that one day. If someone were
to ask me what time she would take naps tomorrow, I'd have no idea. I'd like to eventually move her to 2-3 hour or longer naps a day but for now, I'm satisfied.
you have it. The rules I did and did not follow. I realize it's only
been 3 months and these things will change in the coming years but up to
this point it is what works for us!