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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Myth of the "Perfect" Babywise Baby

Let me clear this up: The is NO such thing as a "perfect" Babywise Baby. Just as there is no such thing as a perfect person. Perfect Christian. Perfect parent. There simply is no perfect baby and surely no perfect "Babywise" one.

Just like every snowflake is unique, so is every child. Babywise isn't something that requires a certain "type" of baby to be successful. And it's not a parenting technique that promises "perfect" results.

I find it so interesting that because my newest baby is struggling with the 45 minute intruder and won't take a bottle that people tell me she's not a "perfect Babywise baby." Were my other children more "perfect"? Surely not! My first baby was just as "bad" of a napper as my current baby. (Which in itself is funny to say because he still took naps multiple times a day, just didn't sleep fully solid for them) My second child was couldn't handle age appropriate awake time lengths for a long, long time. And bottle feeding? That has nothing to do with Babywise at all.

Babywise at it's core is a sleep training technique that has sleep as it's primary goal. (Hello...the book is called On Becoming Baby Wise: Giving Your Infant the GIFT of Nighttime Sleep ) Majority of the suggestions offered in the books revolve around helping your child get their sleep. Most Babywise mothers would probably say they measure their successes and failures in it by their baby's abilities to sleep through the night. And although all three of my babies have had very different personalities, very different sleep hurdles, very different responses to the way I parent, all three of them have slept through the night at around the same age. Between 6-9 weeks old.

And even babies who don't sleep through the night at early ages still aren't considered un-perfect Babywise babies. I have a good friend who is a pretty hardcore Babywise mom and her baby needed a middle of the night feed until close to 6 months old! If you join any of the Babywise Facebook groups (which I highly recommend doing!) you will see posts about all sorts of parenting struggles. Tess's chronic 45 minute naps at 3 months old? SUPER common. Some mamas follow Babywise more strictly than I do (blanket time? I've never done it!), some are less strict with it than I am. We all have different ways of implementing Babywise...and I would be confident in saying that just like no two babies are alike...neither are any two mothers (yes, even Babywise Moms).


The early days of a new baby are hard. They are hard for every mother. They are hard regardless of it's your first baby or your fifth. They are hard if you choose to co-sleep, baby wear, or sleep train. They are hard if you work full time or stay at home. They are hard if you breastfeed or bottle feed. They are just hard! You are learning about this new person. Figuring them out and then figuring out the best way to parent the particular baby that God blessed you with. It's a time of learning and adapting and adjusting. It can be very frustrating but it's also super rewarding.

I believe very strongly and passionately about the benefits of Babywise. My older two children are VERY different kids. They were VERY different babies. Kye was a "textbook baby" in the sense that when a parenting book said something would cause him tears, he cried. When it said at such-and-such-age he'd hit this milestone, he did. He is still a "textbook kid." It's common for 5 year olds to struggle with fears...so he does. Britt was a "spirited child." Her cry could bring a grown man to tears. She was always a loud baby, demanding her wants and desires be heard. When the books said she'd be getting her first tooth...she got four. When it said she'd start having some tantrums...she became a non-stop fit pitching mess. Even at 3 she is still a spirited child. She's challenging for me as a parent because our personalities are so different. She is wide-open all over the place all the time.

Even though Tess is only 3 months old she is clearly more of a "textbook baby" like her brother. Her moods and struggles can easily be charted through following the Wonder Weeks. She has the 45 min long naps at the same ages that Babywise says most babies will struggle with them. She has a harder time falling asleep if she's overstimulated. She is a happy, happy baby and she is thriving in her weight, development, and milestones. There is no personality type that is "perfect." Although, I will say if I ever do get an "angel baby" personality type child I will be pretty crunk ;) I've seen a few babies that are true angel babies and it does seem like they are pretty dang easy to parent!

Babywise is not a "quick fix" thing. You can't read the book and then expect your baby to sleep through the night within a week. There are a MILLION different variables to consider when troubleshooting sleep issues. There are a MILLION different "correct" ways to handle them.

Using the 45 min intruder example...some moms do cry it out. Some use a paci. Some use a swing. Some hold the baby the rest of the nap. Some get the baby up and go ahead and feed them then adjust the schedule accordingly. None of those responses are "wrong" and none are more "perfect" than another. I handled it differently with all three of my babies (yes, all THREE of them went through a 45 minute intruder nap issue!). Kye was a paci baby so I spent the remainder of his naps going in and out to re-insert the paci. Britt responded beautifully to cry it out. She would fuss a few minutes then go back to sleep on her own. Tess would probably do great if we did a paci, but we don't want to go that route. So I move her to the swing. She does not respond well to cry it out (she will just cry the remainder of nap) nor does she respond well to holding (she will just cry!) so the swing has been a great fit for her during the 45 min intruder issue!

Although all of my children are different and unique, none of them have been "perfect." And none of them will be "perfect" as they grow up. You cannot expect perfection from your children, just like you can't expect it from yourself.

I do not use Babywise techniques because I want my children to be perfect. I use them because I believe, strongly, in their benefits. Sleep is crucial to so many aspects of a healthy life. And even though all of my children have different personalities and I have experienced a variety of hurdles in parenting them, they have ALL benefitted from Babywise (see my post on that topic here). I see the results. I know the efforts are worthwhile.

Babywise is not easy. In fact, it's hard. But I believe in putting forth the tough work in the beginning so I'm able to enjoy the benefits sooner. I start as I mean to go on. Yes, sometimes I get frustrated. Some days I have tears over the frustration. Sometimes the days seem so, so long and it feels like the tough early baby stage will never end. But it does. And even during the tougher days, I still see that my hard work, dedication, and consistency pay off. Even if Tess has a day where she simply won't sleep longer than 45 minutes for every nap: she still sleeps through the night at night. Even if Britt has a day where she is just non-stop drama she is still very obedient, very smart and sleeps very solid.

If you are in the tougher times of Babywise parenting do not give up! It WILL get easier and you WILL see the fruits of your labor soon. Every single Babywise mom goes through frustrations. Even my "mom idol" Valerie (from Chronicles of a Babywise Mom) has dealt with a variety of baby personality differences. She's had some of her kids who did great with cio at naps, some who never cried at all, and some who required the swing. I'm sure even the authors of Babywise would be quick to tell you that the idea of a "perfect Babywise baby" is silly and something that is simply a myth!

I believe strongly in Babywise and believe it can benefit ALL children. Regardless of personality type or the different ways parents may implement the techniques. Don't give up and don't beat yourself up either. I said it earlier, but it's worth repeating: No two babies are alike. No two parents are alike. And no one is perfect or ever will be perfect!

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