Babywise vs. Attachment Parenting

Preparing For A Little One

I figured since I'm on a roll with remeniscing about baby life with Zoë and delved deep into what breastfeeding was like for us, I'd continue on in my looking back as Kaitlyn has been doing link-ups on everything baby. (Ok, so I'm not really on a roll, but I'm just feeling it in my blood after all the nostalgia yesterday created.)

The hard part of this post is I won't really be able to reference On Becoming Babywise by Gary Ezzo, M.A. and Robert Bucknam, M.D. The copy I read I borrowed from my older sister. And though I own the AP book, I'm not going to use specific quotes from it just because it's been forever since I read it, I didn't highlight when I read, and I just don't have it in me to make this more like a research post. Just giving my thoughts regarding looking back at the parenting style I adopted.

However, what I can tell you is that I wanted to throw Babywise (BW) out the window within about two weeks of having Zoë. Not because the book is horrible and doesn't offer any advice, but because I'm already type-A organized and I found that, for me, the book was just a little too restrictive. I found my maternal instincts waging war with everything I had learned from the book. Well, almost everything.

You see, one piece of very valuable information I did glean and cling to was this: allow yourself to work into an eat-wake-sleep cycle with your baby. Val, who has an awesome blog on the entire -wise series (Did you know that they go through...oh gee way older children is all I know? And yes, I said her blog is awesome even though I'm telling you that I wasn't a completely sold out "Babywise Mom".), has a great post on this topic. She likely has several, but I've read and gleaned from this post.

I faintly remember that I also learned about sleep training your child through BW, which is completely against Attachment Parenting (AP). (One of the AP "building blocks", as they call them, is to "Beware of Baby Trainers".) And while I think there is a certain amount of training that goes into the sleep schedule, I also think that you have to determine what is best for your family and make it work for you.

Let me explain: Babywise discusses how there are periods where you child will, a few months into life, begin waking around 5 am or some other not-normal-to-be-awake hour of the morning, but not because they are hungry. They will wake up. Talk to their little hearts content in baby coo. Make you want to peek in their crib and start cooing with them. But with everything in you, resist! Why? Because it's just a pattern almost every baby goes through and should you decide to be awake with them to enjoy it, your new wake-up time will become 5 am. If you ignore it, your baby will go through this cycle which takes days, at the minimum, up to possibly a month or two, at the maximum.

I don't know about you, but I wasn't waking up at 5 in the morning unless my daughter was calling for nourishment. And believe me, if you take the time to learn your child's cries (another AP building block), you will know the difference. Your voices of doubt may jump out at you, if you're anything like me and don't always believe in your ability to reason (Yay for fighting myself!), but if you have taken the time to learn them, you will know the difference. Period.

However, and I don't think BW is the only "parenting style" out there that says this, Ben and I didn't like the "don't pick your child up if they're crying" rule. Now, it wasn't everytime Zoë woke up that we would pick her up. Learning your child's cries plays into this. A lot. Because you see, we were blessed with a daughter who would cry because she needed just a bit more comfort. So we would go in, pick her up and snuggle her, and just before she was ready to sleep, put her back down.


It worked like a charm. Every. time.

Oh and not picking her up? Well, let's just say we only did it one night, the next day was h.o.r.r.i.b.l.e. and my momma heart was ripping at the seams trying to be held back when something in me knew. I just knew that my daughter needed comfort, not crying herself to sleep. And, by the way, she cried for at least three hours that night. I personally felt like a failure as a mom that night.

We then moved to the start with checking on baby at the 10-15-20-etc periods and letting her cry in between. We also were adament about sticking to the "not picking her up" and just rubbing her belly.

Yeah. That didn't work for us either.

And thus we found out our daughter actually needed to be picked up. All it took was one night of me picking her up, singing to her and swaying a wee bit, for maybe all of ten minutes while she calmed herself and was comforted by mommy. When I put her back down she wimpered for maybe all of five minutes and was out. like. a. light.

But this isn't the case for all kids. And it can change. My older sister was never really able to pick her oldest up out of bed when he was working himself to sleep because it only made him madder. (Lindsey, correct me if I'm wrong here, but I'm pretty sure that's what you told me.) As Zoë has grown, nap time has become a, and this is a general rule of thumb which must be broken every now and then, don't go in and so much as look at her when she's crying or she will not nap at all.

It's a general rule of thumb now because if she has been overstimulated, I generally have to calm her down to either just before she sleeps or get her to fall asleep on me and then put her down. Which, by the way, is a big BW no-no. Baby should always go down for sleep awake, but calmed, according to BW. I'm not sure that AP addresses this or not, but I'm pretty sure it is suggested that baby not be "nursed", in any form, to sleep. (You can allow a baby to form attachments to rocking, the swing, the breast, the bottle, etc. Not that you shouldn't form a routine, but that baby should really learn from the beginning to actually finish the falling asleep process on their own.) However, I do know they never say it's taboo for baby to fall asleep in someone's arms.

I do believe that a baby shouldn't always fall asleep in someone's arms, and the older the child gets, the less frequent the falling asleep not in their bed should be. If a baby isn't put to sleep in their own bed at all, it's going to be harder for them to figure out how to soothe themselves to sleep there the older they get. My personal opinion, though it has held quite true with our Zoë.

Anyway, as I mentioned before, a few weeks in I was desperate for some help, and not from BW after the first few weeks, and so against what I'd heard about AP, I bought The Attachment Parenting Book by Dr. Sears and his wife, Martha.

And I. loved. it.

Not every part of it, but from the get go I loved it because they were very adament about how even though they believe using all 7 of the building blocks of AP works best, you have to use what works for you. And so if you're not using all of them, that is ok.

I needed to hear that like I need fresh air.

The seven blocks of AP are as follows (found on pp. 5-7):

  1. Birth Bonding
  2. Breastfeeding
  3. Babywearing
  4. Bed sharing
  5. Belief in baby's cries
  6. Balance and boundaries
  7. Beware of baby trainers
Ben and I did not do bed sharing, except for in rare, utterly fatigued instances, and I only slightly followed number 7, using my judgement as to when "baby trainer's" had good or bad advice.

Also, because of so many emotional decisions and the fear that consumed me with knowing what I was stepping into as a mother, birth bonding didn't happen for us. I deeply regret it and know that next time I will do it differently.

What is it exactly I wish I'd do differently?

I want to hold my baby or at least have them placed on my abdomen, depending on how long the cord is, right after they're born. I don't want my baby taken from me unless they have to be, like for weighing them, but otherwise that baby will be loved in my arms from the second they enter this world. Yeah, it's could be a bit messy, but birth is a little messy naturally and my heart couldn't get my mouth to scream with Zoë that I was wrong and I want my baby. right. now. So I know that I will want that with the next one we're blessed to have in our arms here.

Breastfeeding, well, I gave you link to my post from yesterday. They recommend breastfeeding past the first year, but I wasn't really all for that. I knew a year was my mark and that worked for us.

As far as bed sharing, Zoë's crib was in our room, actually out of necessity, but I loved it for the first few months. That worked for us. There were occasional nights that I begged Ben to just let her sleep with us, and he graciously allowed. That was more out of my extreme fatigue than her need, usually, but either way it was nice to have her there when wanted or absolutely needed, but in her bed otherwise. I should note that we also only had a full size bed. It was tiny without a third body.

I didn't follow baby wearing to the letter of the law, as to generally be classified as such, the baby must be worn 3+ hours every day. In the beginning it's quite possible that happened out of necessity, but once the reflux medicine kicked in, it was more on a want basis, though it did happen daily and I do think it was nice for both of us.

Also, they highly suggest that dad baby wear some. This didn't completely appeal to Ben as the first "baby wearing" carrier I bought was the Moby. However, once we got the Boba, he was a bit more inclined to use it. He never really wore Zoë, though I wonder if that will change with the next baby as we already have the Boba. Not sure, we'll see. But that was one part of it that we just didn't follow.

Belief in baby's cries: I CANNOT OVERSTRESS HOW IMPORTANT THIS IS! Even if you decide to lean more to the BW method, this is VERY, VERY IMPORTANT! For the first several months, I'm talking it really doesn't start changing until around 8-9 months, at least in my experience, your child cries to communicate. Not to manipulate. Not to try and get you to do what they want. No, they cry because they need something. And that cry changes depending on what they need. Don't believe me? If you haven't tested this out yet and you plan on having more children, try it out with your next.

Yes, the cries may change over time, but if you've been paying attention, you will be able to decipher those tiny differences in the cries. You will be able to give your child what they need and soothe the tears long before it becomes a long, drawn out cry fest.

I was so enlightened when I read this in the AP book. And it clicked with my heart. I knew that I wasn't going crazy when I thought Zoë had certain cries that were communicating different things. (Like the way I just knew in my heart she had silent reflux and knew a specific cry was associted with the discomfort.) The day I started listening to Zoë and what she had to tell me, was the day that I began really connecting with my child and noticed that she trusted me more and more. Not that she didn't trust me before. Most children are born with an innate, inbred "trust your parents". I just noticed that the bond grew stronger as time went on and I believed in what each cry was telling me. It was also nice because I found it hard to be around adults much in those first few months, sheerly because I was so exhausted I thought it was great if I had showered and changed clothes that day. Maybe that was just me, but it was how we operated, and so learning that Zoë was communicating with me gave me a small bit of connectivity that I desperately needed.

(Please note: I am not saying that this is everyone. Nor am I saying that your child replaces good, healthy relationships with other women. I'm just saying that those first few months were not covered in visitors and going places. And though they were good, I did miss some of the connectivity, especially considering I went from a full time job five days a week, where I was around people from 7:30 until about 6 every day, to home alone with an infant who only spoke "cry". It was rough.)

As far as balance and boundaries, I think this should be put with any parenting style period.

It. is. essential.

Even more so than believing in baby's cries, though I think they could practically tie for first place.

I say this because setting boundaries and striving for balance in the relationship is very necessary. Our children need us, but more than needing us, they need mom and dad to have a healthy relationship. I know some people don't have this option, but if you are married, then make sure that your relationship with your husband is not put on the backburner. Both BW and AP talk about this.

This can be very hard. Especially in the first months when the baby is so very needy. And it seems many times that mom may be the only one who can help. But do whatever you can to include dad. I know that Ben loved when he was included, even if it was giving Zoë a bottle. And I was also blessed with a dad who, though had some moments he wasn't so sure he could do it alone, jumped right in on the diaper changing. And still does. (Those "Megan, I need your help" moments usually came with the lovely blow outs an infant gives you. Fun times.)

Now as far as beware of baby trainers goes, I took this on my own terms. I found that some information baby trainers give can be very helpful. After I read the AP book, I felt they would classify BW as baby trainers. I obviously didn't throw everything BW taught me out the window. I just held loosely to some of their guidelines. And there are some great sites out there that have some useful information, but also had information that I wasn't comfortable with using or didn't like at all.

Looking back, I guess you would call my style to fall along the lines of AP, though I used what I liked and left either what Ben couldn't stand or I didn't find necessary behind.

I know people who don't read any of the books and parent solely off of instinct and God's guidance, and ultimately, I feel that this is what Ben and I did/do. Yes, I read books to get a general idea to help me with forming my style. Yes, my style is more of an AP style than anything else. But if that isn't working for me tomorrow and I come up with or find something else that is, then that's what I'll use.

And that is probably my biggest plug on parenting. And the way I hope I will continues to parent as long as I'm raising a child.

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