Thursday, July 11, 2013

on baby scheduling and babywise

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.

When I 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.

There 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!

-Whitney