Friday, April 13, 2007

Scheduling vs. Attachment Parenting

Okay, okay, I know that this is a highly controversial subject that people have very strong, emotional opinions about, and I probably shouldn't stir the pot. But because this is my blog, I can talk about whatever I want, so here it goes. (Disclaimer: I do not consider myself an expert in childrearing AT ALL as I have only gotten two out of infancy so far. These are my opinions only, and I do not think that other people who do things differently are WRONG because of their beliefs. I have many friends and loved ones that practice one or the other philosophies, and they each have successes and failures as we all do. These are my own personal musing, so don't get mad at me please if you are offended in any way!! Maybe this is a good way to start getting more comments on our blog, start writing about controversial subjects. Next topic on The Washington Markworts: Birth control and whether it is a sin to take the control from God. How is that one for a hornet's nest! Don't worry I will refrain from that topic until further notice!)

Well, the reason I am broaching this subject is because I just read On Becoming Baby Wise by Ezzo and Bucknam. (ooh, I just heard a collective groan from many of you) I have two children and have done things very differently with each of them. I have read that your first two children are like a pendulum. You swing way one way with the first and then way the other with the second. By the third, you stop somewhere in the middle. I am having my third now, but feel like I don't want something in the middle, but maybe a whole different pendulum. This is only in regards to infancy as I am happy with our childrearing once they get a little older.

Maybe I should explain what we (I guess more I, since I am the night waker/nurser/ daytime caregiver) have done with Bennett and Rachel. Bennett was the firstborn and with that, I couldn't imagine putting him down or being away from him or letting him cry too much or harming his psychological future in any way. Don't laugh, it's true and you know you felt at least a little like that with your first child! The earth revolved around Bennett and we are still trying to alter that to this day! I demand fed (nursed whenever he seemed hungry, sad, out of sorts, etc.), rocked/bounced/ cajoled to sleep for naps, layed down with him and nursed him to sleep at night, and brought him to bed with me to nurse him as he awoke constantly during the night, sometimes every hour or two. I quickly learned why "they" say to sleep when your baby is sleeping. It was the only rest I got! At about 5 months of age, I had had enough. I needed to sleep and was beginning to get very angry at my little sleep intruder and didn't want to do it anymore. I was frusterated, sleep deprived and running on empty. I will let him cry it out I thought. Well, by 5 months old, he already had figured out that all he needed to do was scream and his needs would be met. After a couple of nights of listening to screaming for 3 hours, I was back to square one. I read a book that told me that my child was just high-needs and required more nighttime parenting than most children. My child should be sleeping, so that no one has to parent at night , I thought. Thankfully, on his own, Bennett began sleeping by himeself, through the night, at around 8 months old, with one early morning feeding around 5 am. He then would sleep til about 8 am.

Enter Rachel to the scene. She had a very fussy first week home due to some tummy distress, and I ended up sleeping with her on my chest so that I could jostle her back to sleep before she woke up. Once that issue came to an end, I knew that I had to try something different in regards to sleeping, and the earlier the better! I decided that after night feedings, I was just going to lay her in her crib and let her put herself back to sleep. No rocking, jostling, be-bobbing around in the middle of the night. (Don't awww poor baby, I didn't shoot a puppy or anything!) Protest she did, but only for 15-30 minutes. That was a far cry from 3+ hours. After a few days, she learned the new ropes and started putting herself to sleep for naps and nighttimes. She is more easy-going just naturally than Bennett, but I still think the fact that we started so early with her helped alot. She was sleeping 8-10 hours a night at a stretch by 3 months, and never woke up every hour to nurse.

Okay, where I differ from Babywise is that I still demand-fed Rachel ( I fed her when she showed signs of hunger regardless of how long it had been since her last feeding). For those of you that don't know, Babywise has a system called PDF. Parent Directed Feeding. Their philosophy is to get your baby on a 3-step program: feeding (starting every 3 hours and once they are sleeping 8-10 hours a night, stretch it to every 4 hours), awake time, and sleep. In that order. They say that most people go wrong because they flip-flop the last two. They say that this system alone will have 95% of babies sleeping through the night on their own at 10-12 weeks. I personally have never felt real comfortable with restricting food from my baby because of the clock. They do stress that you should feed your baby when they are hungry, not deprive the baby. The other area that I differ is that for awake time, they recommend crib-time, a bouncy chair, swing, play-pen or other apperatus to hold your baby. They are not baby-wearing advocates. I am not one that wears my baby all day long, but I don't know how I feel about my baby spending so much time in a play-pen either.

I have seen how scheduling a baby that has many other siblings works out very well. I have a friend with a large family, and she has to homeshcool the older ones during the day and can't stop every 5 seconds to figure out what's wrong with the baby. The baby knows the routine and is content because of that. She has the baby scheduled to the family's life and not the other way around. I do like that aspect and see how important it becomes when you have a wide age range and are trying to meet everyone's needs. I just don't think I am convinced with the feeding though. Rachel solely nursed until she was a year old. She ate pretty frequently during the day because she was growing and needed alot of sustinence. I think that I like Babywise with parent directed feedings based on the individual needs of the child. I don't want to be slave to a schedule. I want the schedule to work for me and the baby. I have not tried the awake time before sleep time either, so I am willing to give that a try because I already was putting Rachel to bed awake. She had just nursed first instead of having awake time. We'll see if it changes anything.

I am sure I will look back on all of this and laugh at my elementary parenting skills, but hey, I am still trying to figure it all out. Each new child is different and presents a new set of challenges and joys. I don't want to go back to the days of sleep-deprivation, but with a newborn, that is par for the course for a while. I do like knowing that I can direct the new baby into sleeping through the night much more easily if I start early. I am thankful that both of my children are now excellent sleepers and require no night-parenting in general. Thank you Lord!


Mystie said...

I think the hardest problem is just remembering with any coherence at 2am what it was you had resolved to do! :)

Rohnda Sue said...

i think that this is an individual and family decision. personly, i love night-time parenting. i have slept with all my kids, hold and nurse all the time and anywhere. but i am a person who can function on little sleep when i need to. looking back now, i know that it was the best chioce, especially for my was born premature and the other is autistic. i am convinced that my attatcment parenting helped them to form strong attatchments that they could have otherwise had dificulty with. the most important thing is to ask for God's leading with each child and listen to his still small voice and your God given "mothers instinct"... he already knows what this baby will need.

Mike and Rachel said...

I am totally a Babywise infant mommy. I thrive off of a schedule, why shouldn't my child? That being said, I think it is important to use parent judgemnet first and a clock second. After the first 8 weeks of Aubrey's life (that's about how long it took to figure her out) she was on a pretty good schedule of 7-8 feedings a day that were between 2.5-3 hours apart. I always fed her when she woke up regardless of the clock and then went to wake time. It was great. She was sleeping 6 hours at 6 weeks, 8 hours at 8 weeks, 10 hours at 10 weeks, and has been sleeping 12 hours a night since about three months. She probably woke up once a night a week for the first 9 months, and I WOULD nurse her. I did have a hard time laying her down to sleep while whe was awake. I think we started that at 9 weeks for bedtime and a little later for naps. It has been great and I plan on srating out the same way with our daughter when she comes around. I didn't do playpen time, but I did use the swing and bouncer to get things done around the house. Eventually, after solids were introduced she ate at 7, 11, 2, 5, and 7. I only nursed at 7, 2, and 7 though. So it wasn't a clock, but it was a schedule. She still goes straight to her highchair at 11 and 5 regardless of my plans for lunch and dinner. That would be the only drawback is that she isn't very flexible as a toddler with her eating times.

It hasn't flowed as well into her toddlerhood, but I can wing that a lot easier. I do demand first time obedience, I just don't get it. She knows what she is allowed to do and whenever she steps outside of that she yells "no" as she is doing it to let me know she is breaking a rule.

I hope this is helpful. I promise she was never hungry to all you haters out there. I remember someone asking me what her hunger cue was at about four months old, and I honestly didn't know, because she never had to tell me she was hungry, her needs were already met.

Samantha said...

okay, you guys have been nice and constructive with your comments. I thank you. Rohnda, I totally agree that your boys needed that extra care and God knew you could handle it. Your patience amazes me. Rachel, thank you for your input of what has worked for you. It is nice to know how the scheduling works for other families. Mystie, you are right about trying to be reasonable or resolved in the middle of the night! Not a good time for me either!

Kristen Borland said...

i didn't know there were titles to these types of parenting. actually, i'm not sure what i do. it's different for each child i think. so there's a little feeding when they cry, but my babies only cried if they were hurt, hungry, tired, or needed a diaper change, so it was pretty easy to figure out. they progressed naturally to eating less frequently, and going longer at night. zeb slept 8 hrs at night at 10 weeks, and nehemiah slept 8 hrs at 8 weeks, though off and on he's had trouble. so yes, we have been very fortunate.

with nehemiah, i watched the clock and gave him a bottle whether he asked for it or not because he's so content he'd forget he was hungry sometimes.

if feels like we have a method, even if it doesn't sound like it!

Crunchy Hippie Mom said...

Co-sleeping from birth helped my daughter to get good sleeping patterns. She was sleeping 5 hours a night soon after she was born and now can sleep between 7-12 hours a night.

jeromy said...

Thanks for your comment crunchy hippie mom (and everyone else - it's great to have feedback). Even though this is our third child each one is different and we are trying to find that balance between making them what we want (or think is best for them) and letting them be who they are. It is an interesting dance.

Brianna Heldt said...

I for one like reading about controversial blog topics and eagerly anticipate your post on birth control (seriously, I hope you do it soon! Kevin and I have had several conversations about this.)

With Anna we let her figure out her own schedule naturally, which she totally did. Same with Kaitlyn. I've found that they get into their own routine if you let them.

Personally I just try not to get too worried about any of it. On a side note I think there are some great things about attachment parenting (especially for adopted children!) but have never heard of Babywise.

Mike and Rachel said...

At six days old my little one is eating about every two hours during the day! That's a lot of wear and tear on my girls. I am looking forward to her staying satisfied longer in the weeks to come.