More Thoughts on Infant Scheduling

In response to some questions at my other Infant Scheduling post, I’ve been emailing a mother of an almost three week old baby girl this week. Here’s a slightly edited version of my letters to her. Wanted to make this follow-up info available here on the blog…

Dear “Mother” of two-three week old infant,

So daytime naps are the issue. She is still very young. My girls didn’t always take their naps in the crib at that age. I varied the places they slept. Another thing to think about is if you’re returning to work and need to have your daughter accustomed to sleeping in a variety of places…not just in her own cozy crib at home. KWIM? At 2-5 weeks old, I let the baby swing have one nap session, the bouncy seat another, and even a cushioned (w/several blankets) area on the floor be another.

I think wearing her in a sling is fine for a nap now and then, but it’s a little different than the other “sleep aids” because she’s being held by one of you guys. She just might get to liking that a whole lot and fuss for it eventually. Not to say you can’t hold them and love on them, or even rock or bounce them to sleep once in a while. The danger is in them getting used to it, having it done consecutively to the point that they expect it and feel that they need it. Because typically they don’t need it “to get to sleep”…they DO need it during their wake times, to know that all is well in their world and they are loved muchly!

Here’s my first thought. When is her first feeding of the day? If it is in the early morning/still dark hours, I’d lay her back down to sleep. When my babies started sleeping through the night, they slept anywhere from 10-12 hours straight through. So if I put them to bed at 9 pm, they’d wake up for their first feeding sometime between 7-9 am. That’s when I’d start the feed-wake-sleep cycle. Since your darlin’ is still too young to make it through the night, I’d still treat her early morning feedings (anything while it is still dark outside) as middle of the nighters, which would mean you feed her and lay her back down in the bassinet. Maybe her biological clock is telling her she needs more night-time sleep before starting the scheduled part of her day.

On to daily nap times:

If you’ve put her down for a nap, and you know all the obvious things are taken care of (dry diaper, full tummy, no diaper pins poking her, no bubbles needing patted out of her!) then going in to comfort her at intervals is all I can suggest, and you’re already doing that. I’d start by just patting or lightly rubbing her back as she’s lying in bed.

[Explaining why back and not tummy: in my case, our babies never slept well on their backs–somewhat okay propped on their sides but they drifted off best on their tummies! My doctor reassured my concerns by saying that it’s the high-risk infants whose mothers smoked, or who had low birth weights that are at risk for SIDS]

Anyway, first try comforting her without picking her up. If this doesn’t work, then go ahead and pick her up, do whatever you need to do to get her on the edge of sleep and lay her down again…or put her in the bouncer seat or swing, etc. She should outgrow this phase and adjust to normal naptimes in her crib by 5 weeks, I’d think?

The typical 3-5 week growth spurt would cause her to be more hungry, ie: less time between feedings, but it shouldn’t affect her naptimes, unless she doesn’t need many. It could be that she takes after her mama, you indicated that you like to be on the go a lot. You might try only waking her during the daytime when she’s gone four hours from the “beginning of one feeding to the beginning of the next”. Four hours was the longest I waited while they were that age. I didn’t “make” them wait that long, but if they were sleeping, I let them go up to that point. Just be careful of your milk supply. Probably up to this point you still have an overabundance, but as she goes longer and longer w/o feedings, and starts sleeping through the night, you might need to add pumping to your routine, so that your milk supply stays up to her needs.

Maybe TMI: Just an extra caution…two weeks postpartum seems to be the time when most women develop mastitis, from a plugged milk duct, so don’t forget to massage/press down on your breasts while baby is nursing, to get every last bit of milk out of each duct. Mastitis is HORRIBLE. I thought I was going to die, I’ve never hurt so badly that I couldn’t keep from crying/moaning out loud, but I was in so much agony and had such a high fever, and with my first daughter I had no idea what was happening to me! I learned my lesson, and came close to getting it with one of my other daughters but caught it in time.

Difference between overstimulation and sleep cues:

Overstimulation always hit my infants hard after they’d been at big gatherings and passed around from person to adoring person! They would cry and cry upon reaching home, and dh and I thought it was no wonder, can you imagine how sore we’d be if people passed us around constantly, and adjusted how they held us and positioned us? Talk about too much for a brand new baby and thank God for baby carriers! I think that’s why infants so often sleep when they’re around groups of people. Could be their natural way of shutting all the brightness and activity out.

Sleep cues would include fussiness, droopiness. Do you let her suck her thumb, or use a pacifier? Sometimes they seem to want to suck on something as they drift off. You could try swaddling her really tight in her receiving blanket, with her arms tucked next to her.

How many naptimes?

If she’s on a 3 hour schedule, say starting at 7 am, she should be napping 4-5 times during the day at this point. Eventually she’ll nap early-to mid-morning, then again right after lunch, once in the late afternoon and then another short nap around 6-6:30 pm. Her naps will gradually spread out but she might still be napping 3 times a day at 9 months old. Depends on how much sleep she needs. Of course, when they get that last nap, they usually stay awake/alert a little later with the last feeding being around 9:30-10 pm. And it’s so variable per infant.

The main thing to remember is that if you can keep the feed/wake/sleep cycle the key thing, she should end up very well-adjusted and sleeping through the night by 8-10 weeks. Barring health problems, that is. The sleep part will work itself out eventually. I remember stressing a lot over wanting mine to always go down in the crib, and my firstborn slipped into that routine with no fuss, but she also refused to nap at church or at Grandma’s house because she became reliant on her own bed! The other two I made sure could sleep anywhere!

And please don’t take my comments on the sling wrong. We never got into sling wearing, but I’ve observed it to be a wonderful thing for other mothers. I had a baby frontpack, but somehow never owned a sling–so I’m really the wrong person to give advice about it. I do know that my girls slipped into “ruts” easily when they got used to dh or I holding them to sleep. That’s not to say they didn’t get their fair share of chest time on daddy while he snoozed in the recliner–and I counted it as a naptime!

One last important thing. Pray for wisdom! There will be times when you’re exhausted and have no new ideas on things to try to help your little one settle in and sleep. New mommyhood is a beautiful and stressful time of adjustment. If you’re unsure about any of it, pray for a breakthrough, and God will give it. He’s told us to “be anxious for nothing but by prayer and supplication, let our requests be made known to Him”…

It’s really awesome, having children that go to bed happily. That even initiate the bedtime process! That’s the reward at the end of all this second-guessing of sleep-training.

So hang in there and when in doubt call upon God for what to do next. No doubt there will be times when the fussing is legitimate, maybe they’ll be tangled in their blankets or have a leg stuck through a crib slat…baby monitors are great for helping you determine what kind of cry it is before you actually open the door and let them know of your presence!

God bless,

For everyone else’s information, the importance of the feed/wake/sleep schedule is flexibility. There will be times, during growth spurts and such, when your baby will need to eat more often than every 3 hours. Go with it. My own personal rule of thumb was no more often than every two hours, from the beginning of one feeding to the beginning of the next.

This method worked for us, it worked amazingly. I don’t rant against attachment parenting, or assert that this way is the “only way”…I share what’s worked for our family and encourage all of you to do what’s best for yours, whatever that may be. We moms need to be on the same side here. The side of healthy, thriving infants, however we may approach reaching that objective.

God bless us all as we try to do our best with our babies, and to Him be the glory!

38 thoughts on “More Thoughts on Infant Scheduling”

  1. Mary,
    I could echo everything you wrote. What a blessing it is to have children who willingly and happily go to sleep- for naps, and for bedtime! What a blessing it is to have children who are well-rested and thus have cheerful attitudes throughout the day! What a blessing it is for my husband and I to have time together in the evenings because our children are all happily in bed by 8/8:30 every night.

    Like you, I don’t think everyone has to do it that way, but for our family, it has worked beautifully and wonderfully.

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Jess, thank you for understanding and sharing how it has worked for your family. Whenever I post things like this, I’m a bit apprehensive about how they’ll be received. Nice to have the first two comments be so positive! Your list of blessings sums it up perfectly, and it’s because of things like that that I so want to get this info into the hands of others who don’t realize there is a “formula” to help us all get there!

    Colleen, can’t wait till it’s your turn to experience the joys of motherhood!

  3. I wish I had a chance to read this prior to Kyle being born lol! There are tons of “surprises” which only a Mother can know about and I never had anyone to tell me this stuff. Great info!

  4. I agree with flexibility, but I liked getting my kids used to a set routine, too. So we always had those absolutely fabulous lambswool things. My kids would nap at church, on the couch, in their bassinet, in their playpen, stroller, at Grandma’s, wherever, if I put them on their lambswool. I go in with a friend or two for baby showers to provide them for new mothers. We have Jessica’s original one, 19 years old, a second one we got along the way, And I just picked one up for $15 at a consignment shop, obviously unused and never been washed. Woolite is the trick, in washer, then dryer. See and look for the short hair lambswool.
    Another thing I learned to do was not to always nurse them to sleep. They get to ONLY want to sleep if they are nursed. So, I would nurse them, then change their diaper, and then lay them down for sleep. Or nurse, then change their clothes, wrap snugly and put them down, etc.
    After 10 children it never ceases to amaze me how tired I am for about a month after a birth, and the sooner they sleep well, the sooner I do. Then I can make clearer decisions and be a happy Mommy.
    Just for the record, my 9th child cried pretty much 24 hours a day for 8 weeks straight after he was born. I was a wreck, ready to take the credit cards and head for Hawaii ALONE. I was so exhausted I cannot describe it. A friend at church suggested I take him to a Chiropractor, I did, he adjusted his little neck 2 times, and he was an perfect little angel after that. I was thrilled and felt bad for all the other people who had said “some babies just cry for about a year.” I thought, uh oh, maybe they were in a little pain…

  5. Geri, I “stumbled” upon this great info when I was pg with my first, can you believe it? I was soo grateful, it made so much sense to me. And dh and I thought there’d be no harm in trying it…and it worked! 3 times now! I was part of a wonderful group of Christian moms who met once a week at church (they still meet but due to homeschooling and other commitments, I no longer can go). They watch DVD’s on child training and marriage, and have several grandmothers in our congregation watch all the little ones for two hours. Sometimes we’d just visit about life! And we’d always end with prayer time. I really think churches all over should have this kind of “support” group for moms. The older women encouraging the younger, and teaching them–that’s Biblical! Anyway, it was great for my early married years and beginning parenting years. I’d still go if I had any way to…

    Cena, where were you at my first baby shower? I’ve only seen what you’re describing–the lambswool–once, years ago…at least with an infant on it! Never dreamed they were anything special till now! Thanks for the link, and for the excellent advice.

    You are absolutely brilliant for bringing up the chiropractor angle! That is something we’ve done with all our babies, within the first week! My dh had to convince me of the worth of chiropractic care when we were first married…and a breathing problem (basically a really trigger happy “stitch” in my side) I thought was part of life was corrected permanently with one adjustment! So we took our newborns in right away. Our chiropractor said that often the baby’s neck (the atlas portion) gets jammed while in the birth canal, and it’s an easy fix at birth.

    Another friend of ours had a colicky baby, and whenever a crying jag occurred they’d drive him to the chiropractor who finally showed them where to push on their infant’s tummy to adjust some valve in his intestines…and the baby would instantly calm down. They had to do it daily for a while, till he outgrew it!

    Chiropractic care has been a lifesaver for our family! We go to them before medical doctors! Unless it’s an emergency, but even then we’ve sought chiropractic first on occasion.

  6. I quite agree with rarely nursing your baby to sleep. Our first child slept through the night at 8 weeks, but she slept on her back. We would just go in and lay her down, once she was able to get her thumb on her own we were home free. Our second slept though the night at 5 1/2 weeks; she sleeps on her tummy. She is much more sensitive and needs a little rocking, first but I don’t rock her clear to sleep just enough to calm her down. Life is much more hectic with a big sister who is only 18 months older. Once they are asleep though they will sleep through each others noises. They have slept in the same room since we brought the youngest home from the hospital. Even when the youngest was in the middle of unsoothable crying that first month she did not wake up her big sister. I never tell oldest to be quiet when youngest is sleeping. I want her to learn to sleep in spite of the noise.

  7. Lots of good parenting here. Don’t you just LOVE happy content babies? It’s funny though how people often say how lucky I am to have such content babies. Luck? 10 times? Nah, it’s a skill all about listening to your new one and getting them to listen to you. I read something during my first pregnancy about obeying your baby for the first year, then teach them to obey you. I don’t exactly do that, but it was a great start. And isn’t it amazing how completely different each one is?

  8. It is quite amazing how different children can be. It amazes me everyday. I love getting to know our newest little one finding out her quirks and what gets her smile. Their differences is what makes life exciting. Their similarities will bond them for life.

  9. That’s really smart, Andrea, not worrying about noise levels, because they really can learn to sleep through anything. Imagine all the noise they’re used to in utero! I did fall into the habit of wanting “white noise” with my first two during naptime…leaving a fan running or something, but decided with number three that it was a waste of electricity! I even vacuumed while she was sleeping, and she never woke up because of it. So you are vastly ahead of me in not shushing the whole household when baby needs her sleep.

    Btw, your last sentence is frame-worthy! 🙂

    Cena, no way is it just luck! There is definitely a method to achieve this kind of contentedness in a newborn. Some claim their babies sleep through the night early on, but it’s not usually an “every single night thing” and many times it’s only for 5 hours at a stretch. Once mine hit the two month mark, they slept that 10-12 hours consistently, each night. The exceptions were for sickness or teething, but they’d get right back into routine once back to feeling 100%.

    We did have a stretch when my oldest was 7 months old, when she’d start waking in the night as if she’d had enough sleep and wanted to get up and play. It lasted several nights, her waking the same exact time, and dh finally made the connection (I’m always too tired in the middle of the night to reason these things out!) that I’d just started feeding her baby cereal…and I was staggering her baby food meals with her breastfeeding meals. Breastfeed/bath-play/baby food/nap. I felt like an idiot after realizing how I’d sabotaged her life! Totally messed up the feed/wake/sleep schedule! Once we figured this out, I immediately started following her breastfeedings with her meals and she fell right back into her patterns of sleeping 10-12 hours each night. So that feed/wake/sleep cycle is really where it’s at. At least in my experience!

    That’s another thing. I was so amazed at how well this worked with my first child that I often *wanted* to brag about what a great method it was…but I was too afraid she’d just been a lucky first try. So I called her the
    “poster child” for this kind of scheduling. But when it worked just as well with babies #2 and 3, I realized it wasn’t just luck, and became more willing to share about it in the hopes that it would bless others as it’s blessed us.

  10. Mary,
    It’s funny you say that (in your last paragraph of this last comment)… because I actually had a couple of friends that were wary of Babywise, and just thought I had lucked out with my first one. My sister-in-law commented that some of us just have “easy” babies… and some of us don’t. Well, I had worked hard those first few weeks and months to get into a routine, in order to make my life with a baby easier, and I knew it… but like you, there’s not much you can say when you’ve only done it once.

    Even after the second time, I still had an aunt and that same sis-in-law make comments about how “not everyone has it easy, you know… you’ve been blessed in how yours do.” Finally, I think, after seeing it three times over (and we’re about to “try it” another time!) ;), I’ve stopped getting such non-sensical comments! Come on– at some point, you’ve got to acknowledge that different personalities and different genders and even different continents and circumstances have all yielded the same, happy sleepers… I can’t say enough about how thankful I am to have a basic guideline from which to parent.

    It’s not like I have to follow all the rules exactly at every particular moment. But having a “baseline” of what’s “normal” makes flexibility a possibility rather than a lifestyle (as it has been for many of my non-babywise friends).

    Oh yeah, I’ll say this: one of my best friends hadn’t really said much about BW when I had my first- she was skeptical but couldn’t deny the results of my happy baby. After the second, she was due to have her third child and she decided to give BW a whirl. She couldn’t believe how simple it was and how much more confidence she had… she said, I can’t believe it could have been like this with my first two but I was running around like a crazy person trying to fulfill their every whims. Watching that transition in her confidence and in their family life was enough for me to conclude a few things– (1) it’s not based on the personality of the baby, and (2) it’s not based on the personality of the mom. It’s a workable routine that can help just about anyone who will give it a fair shake!

    Thanks for writing about it; I think all the criticism stems from people who have followed it to the farthest extreme, without paying attention to any of the flexibility and adaptability that’s built into it. It’s hard to be a BW user and see all the junk that’s written about it from angry moms who tried it for 3 weeks and now are against it… or who took only the most strict sentences and followed those without paying attention to the cautions and flexibility…

    Anyway, I could go off about that, but I’d better not. Suffice it to say, I am quite thankful for having some predictability and regularity for myself and our babies… it makes it so that I actually want to have more children rather than dreading them. 🙂

  11. Exactly, Jess! You have got to post about it at your site when this “new” one arrives, or before. I couldn’t have said it better! It’s so nice to have it all summed up so well…and by someone else who has traveled it three times with success as well! I’m glad you shared how it worked for your friend and her family. It just makes life easier, what new mother can argue against all the help she can get those first months post-partum? 😉 Plus all the other benefits you mentioned. I think the “happy baby” benefit lasts into older childhood. I especially loved the “wake-up happy rule” for 8 month olds and up…did you do that one? Wow, I found the guidelines on that one particularly effective…and to this day my girls pretty much bounce out of bed raring to go! (Except my middle daughter does like to lounge around a little bit in bed before joining the family–we can hear her humming or singing in there though, it’s pretty cute for an 8 year old!)

  12. I don’t know; we’ll see… it’s such a hot-button issue, and it’s one that can draw a lot of venom. I’m so thankful for it, but I don’t know if I’ll be up for all the controversy just after having another baby. We’ll see. 😉

    As for the wake-up-happy rule… yes, my oldest and youngest are excellent at this- my middle son, well, he just needs to snuggle for about 5-10 minutes, and then he’s ready to go.

    The thing that I love is that my children actually LIKE to go to sleep- and they recognize when they need it. When my now-three-year-old was two, he would be fussy and whiny, and I’d ask, “do you need to take a nap?” (it would be about naptime)… and he’d nod and say, “yes, I do…” and be off to bed. 🙂

    Bedtime is not a battle- naptimes are not a battle… I can’t imagine living family life where twice daily I had to rage against my children in order to get them to do what was best for them: get some rest. BW truly is a blessing to our family… I’m convinced that we definitely wouldn’t be open to more children if these simple, everyday things weren’t in place. I’d be too exhausted!

    Thanks for the discussion!

  13. Thank YOU for the discussion! And you’ve made a very good point in saying that these guidelines have made family life such a blessing that you wouldn’t mind having a big family. I’ve heard many moms of one or two complain and question the sanity of mothers with many children. I think the BW way really opens up a great path for dialogue and encouragement to these women, to show them that it doesn’t have to be all about “crying it out”, etc. Hearing success stories like yours and mine (especially that a toddler would want and even more, realize he needed a nap!) are hard for them to believe…they automatically assume the poor kid needs a life if they succumb to parental “suggestions” like that without a fight. It’s sad that parents expect parenting to be a constant struggle.

    It’s when I’m with other children who are used to ruling their roosts that I realize how great I have it. What a blessing to have happy kids who want to be a blessing. Kids that have been raised to be other centered instead of “me” centered.

    I’ll completely understand if you don’t broach the subject of BW, especially soon after birth. It took me at least a year of blogging to brave the subject, and it’s one of my favorite ones! If you do, I’d love to know about it so I can come alongside you and echo your sentiments as you’ve done here for me. 🙂

    When are you due, btw?

  14. Easter Sunday- (which falls in late March next year)… I’m at about 5 months right now. 🙂

    And if I ever wade into the BW discussion over at Making Home, I’ll be SURE to come look you up! 🙂

  15. What a great time of year to have a baby! I’ve always wanted one in the spring time! Mine have been late summer/fall babies!

    You betcha, I’ll be there in a heartbeat! 😉

  16. I’ve linked to this post on my recent show & tell (uh-oh… I’m taking a slight toe-dip into this controversy), so there may be comments over there that would interest you as time goes along. (FYI!) ~Jess

  17. I agree wholeheartedly with daytime scheduling. It’s worked great for my kids, and like Jess, I’ve got kids who go to naps and bedtime willingly, even excitedly sometimes. My two year old now tells me “Go!” when he’s ready for me to quite reading him books and go to sleep. 🙂

    It seems funny to me to think that there are moms out there who don’t do this now… almost every one I know has used BW and loves it…

    However, my experience with both of my kids breastfeeding has led me to re-think the “getting them to sleep through the night as early as possible” mentality. For me, as soon as my kids started sleeping all the way through the night, I started loosing milk. I never put it together until after I was done breastfeeding both of them (by reading about ecological breastfeeding) that it might be due to not nursing them at night. Both of my kids were sleeping through the night around 3 months (at least 8 hours). My milk was completely gone around 6-7 months with both of them, after much struggle, pumping after each feeding, popping fenugreek four times a day, feeding more often, etc… but never thinking to wake them up at night to feed them.

    I think next time around, I’m going to keep feeding them as long as they want in the night instead of making them cry it out when they wake up at 2 a.m. at 8 weeks old… and just see if my milk lasts longer. I’m all for the Babywise day schedule, but for me, I’m thinking feeding them during the night for longer will help sustain my milk production past 6 months. I’m sure they’ll learn to sleep through the night eventually… We’ll see after number three (whenever that is!) 🙂

  18. Thanks, Jess, I’m sure twill be interesting, can’t wait to jog over and see what you said! And what others are saying! 😉

    Megan, thanks for sharing your experience and thoughts on this topic! I’d forgotten that Fenugreek was something I used this last time around…though I wasn’t sure it helped me all that much. I had plenty of milk–almost too much (I joked about selling it to all the health-crazy people out there who buy it for cancer cures, etc!) with my first and last babies. My middle daughter got gypped because I came down with pneumonia when she was 6-7 months old and the weeks of high fever and bedrest (my mil kept the baby and I was too sick to pump)effectively dried me out! Wish I’d known then that I could coax my supply back. Oh well.

    Anyway, the benefits of breastfeeding are well worth your rethinking the night-time sleep schedule. I love to be able to nurse a little past my children’s first birthdays, so having my supply run out at 6 months would be very hard! I’m blessed that I never ran out of milk b/c of the night-time sleeps, but it’s definitely something to watch out for. Sorry you tried so hard (fenugreek/pumping, etc) and still lost your supply! May it go better for you this next time, and hopefully, baby will drift right back to sleep for you after the 2 AM feeding!

  19. Reading your thoughts on baby scheduling is interesting and has taught me a fair bit. I always like to learn how others “do it” 🙂 It is silly when these issues become so divisive, especially as we are all on the “same team” with the same goal in mind- happy, healthy, God honoring & loving children!

    I hope you do not mind me offering my experiences from “the other side” 🙂 We are pretty much AP parents and were not planning on scheduling or “crying it out” with Peapod, which worked out very well as she was a preemie and “kangaroo care” and nursing difficulties would have filled the first few weeks of parenthood anyway. 😉 I have done ecological breastfeeding, except for the first two weeks when I was exclusively pumping, have never had an issue with milk supply other than a bit of OALD, and am still nursing Peapod now at 13 months. I have often nursed/cuddled Peapod to sleep and/or my husband has rocked her, and even still, have never had an issue with her falling asleep without this extra “help”. Even with co-sleeping at night, she has no issue falling asleep on her own at bedtime or for her nap during the day. She has slept well anywhere (our bed, crib, grandma’s, hotels, the sling in a busy market, etc) we have been and is a very calm, content, happy baby. My family always marvels at how she never fusses, since all the babies in our family are “colicky.” 🙂

    My in-laws are from South Korea, so so-called “attachment parenting” is what my husband considers “normal,” and was certainly what he intended to do should he ever became a father. Both my FIL & MIL loved their experience of raising children in this way, even with the extra amount of work they put in, so I knew I had to be openminded to at least giving it a try. Soon after I learned about a term for this sort of parenting (AP) and read up more on it. Seeing how this has worked for us has been wonderful, and AP type practices are certainly what we intend to do with Stringbean when he/she arrives in June! 🙂 For us, it really is a peaceful, beautiful way to parent our child/ren. (As an added bonus, my parents have also enjoyed doing the “AP grandparent thing.” Nothing seems to make my dad’s weekend quite like wearing his granddaughter out & about at the farmer’s market with us :))

  20. I am being respectful while I comment that I personally am VERY wary of Babywise, because of independent research I’ve done on the Ezzos, as well as reading the books. Most every pediatrician will tell you that you can’t spoil a baby at newborn age with too much attention, as the Babywise books teach. I don’t disagree, by any means, that some sort of daytime schedule is crucial to a happy and healthy baby, I think that Babywise is just too strict – especially for the people that follow it religiously, which is how Gary Ezzo teaches that you are to do it. For example, I have friends whose babies are well adjusted at home, but not anywhere else, to sleep. They cannot adjust in the nursery and could not sleep there – too noisy, too bright, people holding them, not their beds, etc. I have one friend who, with her 10 week old, let him scream for what amounted to most of his “scheduled” nap time, he fell asleep at about 15-20 minutes left, and she still woke him to eat at 3 hours because “that’s the only way he’d learn.” He was 10 weeks old. That is not good.

    I know this is all dependent on parent confidence and flexibility and listening to baby’s cues. I am just incredibly wary of babywise because I’ve seen and read about some extreme cases. Besides, just in caring for my nephew, it doesn’t seem natural. It goes against every bone in my body to let him escalate into a full-fledged panicky cry because I am not willing to rock and cuddle him some more. He was rocked to sleep his whole first year, and now puts himself to sleep with minimal crying.

    Anyway. I just am voicing these opinions in love and the interest of hearing answers to them. I am not a parent, but I know that I will rely more on books such as Dr. Dobson’s Child and Family Care (or whatever it’s called) and also The No-Cry Sleep Solution (an excellent book) when and if I ever have kids. 🙂

    Mrs. Brigham, it’s cool to hear of a Christian parent doing AP. That’s not too common, at least around these here parts! Is eco-feeding what most call “demand feeding”?

  21. To Megan – there is research that shows that women who follow Babywise/parent-directed feedings have a drop in milk production around the 4 month mark – which is when you drop night feedings, if I am not mistaken. So that’s not too far off base.

    That is all. 🙂

    Another question – have any of you nursed exclusively (no baby food) the first year? I am interested in doing this, if I can and I have a decent milk supply (oh, and if I ever have kids). I’ve read that baby food is not required or necessary, and that a child can thrive on breastmilk alone.

    Anyway. Thanks! 🙂

  22. Kim- This link offers a good description of ecological breastfeeding:

    As for your question about delaying solids for a year- My husband and I were open to this, but Peapod simply would not allow this to happen by the nine month mark-ish. Every time she saw food, she would try to steal it from us, so we opted to venture into solids at this point. We have essentially wound up doing a “baby led feeding” type thing. Her earliest foods were just veggies & fruits that I had prepared at home and from there she began trying what we were eating. We never used rice cereal or anything like that and believe me when I say she eats *everything* now. ;o) Broccoli, kimchee, onions, lentils…she is will try anything once- just as long as we are eating it too. Despite her voracious little appetite, the bulk of her food is still mama milk and she is doing very well.

    One of my best friends did delay solids with her one little boy until he was twelve months old and he is a healthy, thriving little guy. And a BIG boy I might add- her milk was *good* stuff! hehe. Her other son was similar to Miss Peapod and just could not wait to eat, so they introduced some fruit & veggies a bit earlier.

  23. Hi Mrs. Brigham, I fixed your smilies! This site doesn’t allow for the circle between the “eyes” and “mouth” which is how you entered them, and how I usually do as well!

    Thank you for your wonderful sharing of what has worked for you…I’m glad to have both sides here, as a good balance for moms who just don’t know yet or have questions. I know I was wary sharing what worked for me with just one child, for fear it was “just a fluke” and now that it has worked with the exact same success with all three, I’m more vocal about it. I’ve never heard success stories like yours with the demand feeding/AP parenting, and I value the fact that this is coming from you, as I do enjoy visiting your site via MInTheGap’s and Weekend Kindness. 🙂 It sounds like you have come upon the right path for you and your hubby and Peapod, what a blessing, huh? I know I feel blessed that I discovered the pros of BW before becoming a parent, it made things much easier than the trial and error that most moms experience in the adjustment and postpartum of newborn bliss! 😉

    The only thing that bothers me–I really cringe when I hear it called the “crying it out” method, because I only had one instance of CIO with one of my babies, and it only lasted 19 minutes–yes, I was watching the clock! And it never happened again, thankfully.

    Kim, I appreciate your cautious and respectful sharing as well! As you both can see, this subject seems to bring out the worst in people (just see a couple of the above comments!) I do agree that there are some terrible things on the net about Gary Ezzo, and they may be true, I don’t debate them. I have met the Ezzos at one of their conferences and of course, they seemed like wonderful people and had some wonderful common sense parenting to share with all in attendance. Pretty much all of their literature (and I’ve probably read it all or watched it on video in parenting classes) has worked for our family, but that doesn’t mean I treat him as the “god” of parenting, or that this is truly “God’s way” of parenting. It’s simply been ideal for our family. Much as with Jess at Making Home, it’s paved the path for order and peace and time for hubby and I to keep our sanity ;). Not to say other methods wouldn’t do that as well, but since we tried this way first, and its worked so marvelously, we probably won’t fix what’s not broken by trying another method at this stage of the journey!

    I don’t blame you for being careful…it sounds like you haven’t seen a positive example of BW families whatsoever! My first child did have a slight issue with wanting to sleep only in her bed, but thankfully she outgrew it. I think the real reason for her, was that I’m a sahm, and we never ever had a babysitter! She rarely had to sleep anywhere other than her crib, and I didn’t think that was a bad thing till I started venturing out more and trying to put her down for naps while I was volunteering at church or whatever. So it definitely made me aware, and with my next two I adjusted their naptimes to include a variety of places other than the crib! Never had a problem with it after that. I just encourage ladies to give this method a flying start by beginning in the hospital…I always did, and with the one exception, my babies never fussed themselves to sleep. It was incredible…how they adapted to the feed/wake/sleep schedule. I’m talking even at 8 weeks…no fussing to sleep, just gentle drifting off, which really impressed me since I’d had years of babysitting experiences that led me to believe that naps and infants didn’t mix! At least not peacefully! It can and does work, and it doesn’t need to be a nightmare…in fact, if it is, then something else is wrong!

    You are way ahead of the game, Kim, in doing all your research now. It helps to observe others and learn from their mistakes…though it doesn’t sound like you’ll be trying BW, because of these others’ mistakes, which is really too bad. When it comes right down to it, there is nothing like having two or three babies to throw all parenting advice to the wind! That’s why I was so surprised that BW worked the same with all mine, despite their different temperaments/personalities. Watch me have Baby #4 and him/her be a total rebel to “this cause”! 😉

    I’ve never tried to hide the fact that milk supply can be threatened when your newborns start sleeping through the night so early…it’s not necessarily the bottom line for all mothers (it wasn’t with me) but definitely something to plan against, whether via pumping or adding an extra feeding. My infants never needed the extra feeding, so I would have frozen the milk, or pumped and dumped. Some babies could be “failure to thrive” babies, and in that instance, a mom’s got to be alert and keep her infant’s best interests in mind.

    Thanks for the great conversation, feel free to keep it up, I may be AWOL if this ice storm gets the best of our power lines!

  24. Oh, I forgot to add that I do know of mothers who successfully breastfed their babies to one year without supplementing with baby food! It works! I couldn’t make it past 5-6 months of exclusive bf-ing with my first–mainly because I was way too excited about beginning the baby foods with her, lol. (And didn’t realize it wasn’t in her best interests, with all the pediatricians pushing solids on us from 4 months on!) I waited till 8 months to introduce baby foods to my other two. All three of our girls are very adventurous in their eating, not a picky one in the bunch. They love asparagus, spinach, artichokes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower…etc. I see no problem with trying for a year of exclusive breastfeeding, as long as your baby is still growing and thriving, and I think you’d be able to tell. Two of my girls have steadily been in the 95th percentile on the growth charts for both height and weight, while my middle daughter has been average height and weight since her very first birthday! Amazing, having a “little” one with these two giants…my 3 year old can even wear the same shirts as my middle daughter…sigh…

    Another plus for waiting as long as you can to introduce these other foods, is it’s very beneficial in avoiding triggering food allergies. And as gluten and dairy intolerance runs rampant in my dh’s side, I wish I’d known to avoid early feeding of solids with my firstborn! As I said before, you are going to be so much better prepared for parenting than most, Kim!

    Thanks again for stopping by my site!

  25. I will say that my friends do not do alternating nap times, and they are also cautious about being quiet around nap time – and I think this harms kids just because they can’t sleep with noise – there goes the nursery!! 🙂 My friends, however, would consider themselves very successful BW people – their kids sleep. I just personally (as a caregiver to their kids, both at home and at church) see negative sides of it in that the kids – even the baby who started as a snuggle bug – seem almost to be “broken” of cuddling, if you will. And that’s just sad. Plus, it takes away one of the best tricks to soothe a baby in the nursery when they are overtired and can’t sleep. (I am thinking of starting a sleeping child nursery for the two kids we have who would nap during church! :))

    I will also say (and I told Jess this) that I personally was a very difficult baby – I was a baby who would ONLY go to sleep in my bed (or later, they figured I could sleep in my own sleeping bag at church) and with a cloth diaper over my head. So I know that some of it is just plain old baby personality.

    I also will say that I do not plan to co-sleep when/if I have kids. It just seems counterproductive to the marriage! 😉 Although friends who have co-slept say you figure out ways around having a baby in your bed. 😀

    Like you said, though, it can all go out the window when the kid arrives!! 🙂 Every baby is different, that is for sure.

    Thanks for including me in the conversation!

  26. Thanks for the food advice! I definitely want to make baby food – it’s SO easy (I’ve helped a friend) and it just seems healthier!

  27. It is easy–and I didn’t have anything special other than a small container that attached to my blender. I froze my homemade baby foods in ice cube trays and then popped them out frozen into freezer bags…perfect serving sizes and way more healthy and affordable than Gerber! 🙂

    It sounds almost as if your friends’ children have attachment disorders, from your descriptions. It really goes to show that no matter how you parent, rigidity is not prudent. I’m all for consistency, don’t get me wrong, but that’s more for first time obedience, etc. I think there is a ton of room for flexibility with the BW scheduling, the main thing I kept in mind was the feed/wake/sleep routine. And I had an internal “rule of thumb” that I wouldn’t feed more often than every two hours (from the beginning of one feed to the beginning of the next)…and with my two “off the charts” daughters, I really think they had more growth spurts, and needed the extra feedings, as opposed to some who feel that the baby has to wait 4 hours between feedings at all costs. Welshing on that rule never affected my infants’ ability to sleep through the night! And if my infant woke through the night, I fed them! I didn’t “wake them up” to feed them though. And by 8-10 weeks, they simply stopped waking up to be fed. Like a charm!

  28. RE: feeding stuff
    I’ve nursed all my kiddos past one year, and as far as baby food goes, I just wait for readiness cues, which I’ve found (for my kids) has been almost directly linked to their weight. Ethan was a big baby (born big– over 9 pounds, and got to 19 pounds by 6 months). Even still, he didn’t start eating until about 7 months (though I tried). With Baxter, I didn’t even TRY until about 7 months, and he started right up enthusiastically because I had waited for the “cues” that he was ready to eat real food (you know, like drooling over our food, stuff like that)! 😉 Maranatha was my little string bean and didn’t even get interested in food until about 9 or 10 months, at which point she ate baby food for a couple of weeks and very unenergetically (though she was hungry and wanted it), until we realized that she just wanted to skip right over baby foods and go to table foods. So that’s what she did… mashed up spaghetti and Mexican food veggies were the norm for her for baby food. So my kids have been all over the map- but all of them started later than the 4-6 month “recommendation”.

    As for milk supply issues, I’ve never had a problem at all. But like Mary, I’m not rigid. I nurse during the day so that I don’t have to nurse at night. My goal is not, and has never been, to get them to where they nurse as little as possible… rather, my goal is to help them adjust their bodies to what we do: eat periodically during the day, and sleep during the night.

    I’ve made all our baby food too, and totally loved that. It’s so much cheaper and healthier than buying the mass-produced stuff.

    And as for crying it out, I never had to let a baby cry it out in order to get them to go to sleep. E slept through the night at 5&1/2 weeks. Yes, weeks. That’s something, again, that I attribute to his weight and ease in handling longer periods without food because his tummy was larger, etc. B slept through the night at 10 weeks. M was more like 12 weeks… which I thought was going to KILL me… I seriously would be no good with feeding round the clock- have I mentioned that? 😉 But for all of them, this was not a mommy-imposed cry-it-out at X time sort of deal. They happily slept through the night, and each time, I woke up surprised and pleased when they had slept 6 or 7 hours straight.

    I did, however, let my older one cry it out when he was older (around 5/6 months) and I knew all of his needs had been taken care of and yet he was just waking up for teething, or a random noise, etc… so I would comfort, pray, give him gas drops or orajel as needed, and then put him back to bed. So in those cases, yes, he would sometimes cry while he fell back asleep. Those are the only times we’ve ever had to let a baby “cry it out”, and that was well past the newborn stage, once we knew (after 4-5 months of a pattern) that he was capable of sleeping through the night because he had done it for so long.

    Again, I’m convinced (internet research notwithstanding, Kim) that the anti-Ezzo stuff springs from rigidity without flexibility, which is not advocated in the books at all. Like Mary, I’m so thankful for the peace and ease (for everyone– parents and baby) that this brings to our home… it’s certainly given us confidence and gives the baby security as well.

    (Oh, and I would agree with Mary, that the babies you are describing, Kim, are nothing like my babies have been– they’ve all been friendly and well-adjusted, and can cuddle or play contentedly. I, too, would be concerned –not pleased– if my babies acted as you described.)

  29. Okay. See, my friends all had to CIO (and I don’t mean fuss it out, I mean sometimes 30 or more minutes (once or twice, I know they’ve mentioned hours!) at a time). So how do you do it without doing CIO? Is it just watching sleep cues? I am totally cool with scheduling in the sense that you are saying, Jess and Mary – where it’s much more flexible. Did you start right away with your babies in their beds, rather than a basinet or anything? I am very curious!

    Jess, I was wondering about your milk supply, since you mentioned having very few cycles between babies – most of my friends who do BW have cycles returning at sometimes as little as 8 weeks. ???

    Gotta get ready for work…third graders to brainwash…

  30. (Just adding, the cycle thing might be individual to the woman, and have nothing to do with BW.)

    Jess, do you do feed/wake/sleep? Or Feed/sleep/wake?

  31. Mary- Please accept my apologies if using the term CIO caused any offense, as this is certainly not what I was going for! When we first had Peapod, we have people at church who were just awful to us about not using BW, so I know how icky these issues can make people feel. We apparently had a “dream baby” since she would hardly wake up to eat, day or night, without being dipped into cold water. Never mind the fact she was a 35 weeker, with severe jaundice, and had dropped more than 10% of her birth weight, so she really could not wake up on her own and not doing so would be dangerous. This experience has honestly made me a bit weary of interacting with those who BW in “real life,” so reading this discussion here is very refreshing.

    I wonder if “parenting style” have a lot to do with mom’s personality moreso than anything in particular about baby? Each baby is certainly different and little changes must be made, but I know I have never heard of too many mothers who made *drastic* changes in between each child, barring an extenuating circumstance, of course. If anyone has any thoughts, please do share!

    Kim- When a woman has her cycles return is a very individual thing, but *could* be affected by BW. Ovulation is suppressed thanks to prolactin, which is released each time a mama nurses. Higher levels of prolactin in the blood steam usually allow for ovulation to be suppressed longer. Cycles after pregnancy can be odd. I would up having mine return at nine weeks postpartum but did not ovulate for a good seven months afterward. I am assuming that my early pumping and nipple shield use may have played a factor, as the lack of skin to skin contact can make the other nursing hormones a little funky. I had these perfect plans of conceiving again on my first cycle so I could go a few yeras without a period. LOL. It didn’t work!!

  32. Jess, your mention of gas drops made me smile…haven’t thought of those in so long! Strangely enough, they only worked for my firstborn! And my dh and I were convinced that they were magical! She’d be fussy at night and I’d dose her with a drop or two of Mylicon and immediately she’d quit fussing and go to sleep…I always noticed with her, that what I ate affected her a couple of breastfeedings later. And she’s the one that I craved jalepenos with while pregnant! You’d think she could have handled chocolate and spicy foods via my milk, but evidently not! I do wonder though, what if I’d tried nursing her instead of the gas drops? She wasn’t hungry, it probably would have comforted her, but it would have also filled her tank a little too full (and she spit up a lot anyway, so we didn’t want that!!) and probably would have made her more fussy in the long run. I’ve always marveled and questioned why so many moms (at least in my sphere of friends)think that the best way to comfort their babies is by nursing. Maybe I don’t fully understand that part of it yet.

    Kim, I’m convinced that this method can avoid the CIO if you start from the hospital, from day one with the feed/wake/sleep routine. I’m sure that’s the same routine Jess does, as it’s the foundation of the BW program. I think starting from the beginning helps a newborn know what to expect, and mine have all fallen in line with no problem. I was very reluctant to diagnose their crying as a need for food, though. And upon investigation, it usually was something else. This isn’t to say that we never cuddled or rocked them to sleep…we just didn’t do it enough times in a row that they came to expect it, or think they needed it to fall asleep. Mrs. Brigham’s experience with Peapod sounds ideal…I wish I hadn’t always felt so afraid of “spoiling” my kids. I just knew from babysitting that it can happen…they can get into a routine of their own expectations and fight anything contrary to it! I do think this mostly happens when they are older though…past 5 months, say.

    I never had a bassinet or cradle, just a crib. So that’s where my babies slept. I wouldn’t have slept well with them in bed with me, though on the rare occasion, when they were getting me up half a dozen times in two hours during a sickness, I’d take them to bed with me so that the two of us could get a little more rest.

    When you do the feed/wake/sleep in that order, you don’t have to pay attention to sleep cues so much. The bigger worry is keeping them awake after the coziness of nursing! I was happy with even keeping my newborns awake a few minutes or more after nursing (time enough to change their diaper or bathe them), just so they didn’t get accustomed to falling asleep while nursing.

    My kids were all very easy to wean…but of course, I weaned very gradually over several months till they were barely getting anything, and by that time, all their food needs were more than met elsewhere.

    And happily, my cycles didn’t resume for 6-7 months after childbirth…at least, once the post-partum healing/bleeding process was over with.

  33. Mrs. Brigham, I can’t imagine anyone handling a discussion on BW and AP so nicely as you have…you’ve been a delight to learn from, and I’ve enjoyed all you’ve said. I would hate to be so narrow minded that I thought “my way” was the only way. And having your story on here, really creates a good balance for my readers. We both want healthy, thriving infants, and not all babies can be successfully parented in one way alone. And I’m so glad that our options aren’t limited to one way! Just because my 3 have been “poster children” for BW, doesn’t mean that all babies will fall in line behind a mom who follows the BW plan. I wasn’t offended at all, by your use of CIO, I know many people who think of BW and CIO as the same thing. I just wanted to clarify that it hasn’t been about CIO. Kim’s story of the friend who let her newborn scream for hours and then woke him up 15 minutes later to feed him…that broke my heart! I can’t imagine people getting that from the BW books, but I know it’s all over the place…and similar horror stories as well.

    I’d like to think that most moms would recoil at letting their newborns cry for that long…that’s why it bothers me to have people think that when I advocate BW, I’m also advocating letting your newborn lay unattended, screaming. Never! Like Jess said, there is a time, when they’re older by several months(!), that sometimes CIO becomes necessary. But by then you really know your child, and know how to define “necessary”.

    I understand where you are coming from! And am so sorry that the BW families at your church made you feel inferior for not taking the same route they did. It’s for this exact reason that I don’t usually even bring it up to my church friends…even though at heart, I’m a “fixer” and want to offer suggestions. I’d hate to add guilt or frustration to an already struggling mom, especially if she was already dealing with a preemie and all the other issues you mentioned. Now if they ask me…watch out, I usually can’t stop once I get started on this topic! 🙂

    On parenting styles vs. baby personalities…I don’t know. I know I read success stories like yours with Peapod and wish I could have approached parenting w/o so much anxiety over “ruining” or “spoiling” my baby. Holly, over at Seeking Faithfulness has a similar approach to yours on infant feedings/sleeps and it sounds so precious, my heart leans into that like you can’t believe!

    Yet,I’m also the youngest of 5, and when I say youngest…the one nearest in age to me was 11 when I was born…so I’ve gotten to watch them raise all their children from infancy, and watch I did! It taught me so much. I’ve seen poor parenting turn sweet kids into whiners, I’ve watched and heard my sil lament about having to let her toddlers (yes toddlers!) CIO (more like scream it out!) at naptime because they hadn’t learned yet to go to sleep happily. Or similar rants about how their one year old couldn’t go to sleep, ever, w/o nursing, things like that. I think that’s why BW sounded so good to me (before children!)…and thankfully it worked for us! And I still cuddled, sang to, and rocked my babies…maybe not as much as I would have otherwise (24 hours a day maybe??? I LOVE newborns!) but enough. 🙂 So, I think my parenting styles would have been different anyway…because of what I’d observed in my growing up years…but I like to think that if things didn’t work, I’d be open to change!

    I do know of new moms whose horrid times of adjustment– no sleep, fussy babies–escalated to the point of not being excited about a new pregnancy b/c of all the trauma of infancy. That, to me, is so sad, when I believe that for the majority of parents, parenting doesn’t have to be hard at all. A couple of these friends ended up sold out for the feed/wake/sleep routine, because they found it incredibly changed the “life with baby” scene at their house.

    Boy, I really can go on and on, can’t I? This whole topic makes me want another baby! 😉

  34. This is such an interesting discussion. I am really enjoying it!

    The friend who did the extreme CIO with her son was determined that he was going to get into line with the program (I am sure he is now, but at what cost to his little spirit?) even if it took him screaming. “He has to learn,” he said. He was baby #3. It just seems so overstrict to me. And against nature. BUT, he’s not my kiddo. (She lives away now, so I am not sure how he’s doing.)

    Thanks for including me and teaching me new things!!

  35. Hey Mary!

    Wow, I hadn’t read this! Must have been during our early baby days. 🙂

    I think…it’s just a great example of how different things work for different families! We do everything probably 100 percent different than you describe – and yet – still have babies and kids who happily nap and go to bed, etc.

    Blessings to each family and how they work things out! 🙂

  36. You’re welcome, Kim, I always appreciate a little “stirring of the pot”, so thanks from me too!

    Holly, I echo your final thoughts there…blessings to each family and how they work things out!:)

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