What I have valued most about Babywise in the four and half years I have implemented it in my home is that it is Family Centered.
Babywise isn’t all about the parents’ needs or all about the baby’s needs. It’s about constructing a lifestyle that meets the needs of all family members all the time.
Bringing home a newborn baby is scary! Especially if you have no clue what you are doing or should do and you have a mom telling you to do things one way and a friend telling you to do it this way. It’s overwhelming and stressful, but it doesn’t have to be.
I can remember Little Bug being a few weeks old and I had a pile of parenting books laid out in front of me on the living room floor. I was trying to figure this baby out because even though I had practically grown up taking care of babies, having your very own baby to care for is a whole new ball game and I felt clueless.
Little Bug was three months old when I was given a copy of Babywise. It was then, and only then, that things started to fall together for Little Bug and me. I managed to get her on a predictable schedule. I knew when she needed to eat, when she needed to sleep and our days fell into a rhythm that I hadn’t experienced since my world was totally changed upon entering motherhood.
Sweet Pea came along two years later. While I was very concerned about having a newborn and a two-year-old, in the back of my mind I knew I would start the second baby on Babywise from day one and things would be okay.
And they were even though I was dealing with a baby withdrawing from methadone and my very active two-year-old. Those days were crazy, but our crazy was no where near as crazy as it would have been minus Babywise.
There have been difficult seasons of life with two children two years apart, but through every stage we have always had the stability and predictability of Babywise to rely on and that has made all the difference in the world.
There is a time for everyone to eat, a time for everyone to sleep, a time for play, a time for learning and a time for exploring the great outdoors. There is a time for me to take care of household chores — to make sure the laundry is done, the dishes are washed and put away, the house is organized in a way that creates order and peace to our days and not chaos and turmoil. There is a time for us to spend together as a family, there are times for us to spend one-on-one time with our children and there is a time for us to spend as a couple so we can make sure through it all we are staying connected as a couple.
While there are chaotic times like any family experiences, the overall climate of our home is one of peace, serenity, order and routine. It creates a pleasant place to be.
Because every activity has it’s time and place, it is easier to keep priorities where they should be. This is still hard because we live in a world where the demands and commitments on people are tearing families apart. Marriage takes work and if we don’t plan times to intentionally focus on our spouses, to reconnect and communicate with each other, we are opening the door for everything to get in the way of keeping the marriage relationship priority over children.
Over the past four and half years of parenting there have been seasons of our married life where Dave and I felt disconnected to one another because the demands of parenthood were leaving us with nothing to give our spouse. When we would realize this, we would act on it and make changes – sometimes drastic changes – so that our marriage would not suffer. Already having our children on a predictable Babywise routine made our effects so much easier. We could put our children to bed at 8pm and know that unless something crazy happened, they were going to sleep through the night! I know couples can still nurture their marriages if their children do not sleep through the night, but having children that do sleep through the night made our efforts to strengthen our marriage and not feel like we were two ships passing at sea so much easier.
I believe there are five steps to take with a newborn that can help the family establish this order and consistency. While these are tips for those who have a newborn, it is never too late to start implementing Babywise with your baby or toddler. For more on that, read this.
1. Feed baby every 2.5 to 3 hours during the day. Yes, this means if my babies were sleeping past the three hours, I would wake them to eat! Oh, but you are never suppose to wake a sleeping baby, right?! Well, if you want them getting their calories in during the day so that they can eventually sleep all night, wake them!! It truly works. Babywise calls this stage the stabilization phase and that is exactly what feeding every 2.5 to 3 hours during the day did for my babies. It stabilized their metabolism which in turn stabilized their sleep patterns in time. There are always exceptions to this: If baby is hungry before 2.5 hours FEED BABY.
2. Find optimal wake time for baby. As a newborn (0-4 weeks old), most babies can only handle being awake for a very short period of time (30-45ish minutes). Anything more than that and they get overstimulated and it will be very hard for them to find sleep. These early weeks it may feel like all you do is feed baby and then lay them down to sleep for a nap, but that is exactly what they need at this age and stage of life. Before you know it, their wake time will extend and they will be up for longer and longer periods of time, but establishing sleep like this pays off in huge dividends once the baby is older. The eat/play/sleep cycle became ingrained in my babies and as a result there was order and stability.
3. Do certain things to help promote sleep. The top three for my babies were: swaddling, white noise and black out curtains. The swaddling quickly became a sleep cue for my babies at a very early age. I’d get the Miracle Blanket out and they would start to yawn because they knew it was time to sleep. I am talking here about my 8 week old! She learned that early! The white noise was also another sleep cue as when it was turned on, my babies knew they were going to be laid down for a nap. The black out curtains make for a nice, dark environment good for sleeping. From early on, I would open blinds in the day to signal “day” to my babies and darken the rooms at nap and night to signal “sleep time”. While we can’t make a baby sleep, we can do things to encourage sleep to happen.
4. Keep nighttime feeds dark and quiet. When my babies would wake to eat in the night, I would turn on minimal lights so that my babies would not think the light meant it was time to wake up! Babies are smarter than we think! They really can, and DO, pick up on these signals we either intentionally or unintentionally send to them. I would feed them in the dark and would only unswaddle if I needed them to be awake enough to take a full feed. Then, halfway through the feed I would swaddle them back up so they would be drowsy and right ready to go back in bed after the feed was finished.
5. Realize progress in establishing order and stability is a spiral journey. Meaning one day you are going to feel like you are making great progress, and then something will happen (sickness, teething, etc.) and baby will get off. That is to be expected and okay. Don’t panic. Just push through the sickness and get baby well and then start again on establishing order and stability. Sometimes you will feel your efforts aren’t paying off, but they are! Having even some stability and order to the baby’s life is better than having chaos every minute of every day (and night)!
I truly pity moms who complain about their baby or toddler never sleeping and life always being so chaotic. There are people out there who choose to live like this and that is 100% okay!! But, if this is your life and you want something to change, it can! You can choose to parent differently and establish order and stability for your baby that will in turn establish order and stability for your entire family and…keep the crazy to a minimum!