And now for a word (ALMOST) in favor of (SOMETIMES) baby-training

I’m pretty deep into the natural birthing world.  Most women in that world highly favor “attachment parenting”:  baby-wearing, nursing on demand, never letting a baby “cry it out”, never trying to schedule the baby, co-sleeping, nursing for longer than a year, etc.

I will freely admit that, with each baby — I have had five — I grew closer to the “standards” of attachment parenting.  However, I didn’t start that way.  I know a fair number of bitter ex-schedulers who are wracked with guilt and a powerful distaste — even hatred — for baby scheduling.  Yet, I don’t speak with vitriol against those who raise their babies with the “Ezzo” methods — Babywise, Growing Kids God’s Way, etc.  Again, the longer I have been a mother, the more I find that I disagree with the basic stance of the Ezzos, and have found much more freedom and joy in mothering an infant, the further I “stray” from the Ezzo methods.

It has been my experience and observation that a nurturing, attentive heart is really “God’s way” and training, especially when “crying it out” is involved, goes against the God-given tug of a woman’s heart to shelter and provide for her baby.

But…  here’s a comment I made on the Facebook page of an AP-proponent who was soliciting for some “balanced” reviews on a free Kindle version of a book that espouses baby-training, as all the reviews at the time of the request were four- and five-star, in favor of the book and the method.  (By the way “FTT” refers to “failure to thrive”, which is one of the charges/risks leveled against scheduled babies — I have never read any hard science on that, to know if FTT is a true risk for scheduling or not — if you have some, I’d love to read it!):

One little comment (well, long comment) in almost-favor of sleep-training…

When my first was born, lo these many years ago (15), I had really ZERO support. My husband was awesome, but I had no… community, really. I was fairly new to our church (had married into it), my mother worked full-time, my MIL lived out of town, my sister was out of town, and even though I was 24, almost none of my friends had babies yet, etc. I thought my maternal instincts would kick in and I would magically know what to do and I would be able to provide that for my baby. WOW. Motherhood, instead, was completely humbling to the point of breaking my heart. I had pretty much zero maternal instincts. I could not decipher my baby’s cries. I couldn’t figure him out. On top of that, I was very ill (with what was undiagnosed celiac disease — was dx’ed about five years after my firstborn) and a tendency to depression. I had to figure out SOMETHING or I was going to lose my mind, and I’m not kidding. I ended up doing a Babywise schedule, recommended by the one mother I knew who was supportive of me and available to me. She had an infant almost exactly one year older than mine. She was (and still is) a gloriously wonderful, compassionate, kind-hearted, amazing mother and still an absolute model of beautiful motherhood to me. My idea was, “If it worked for her…” So, I did it. I honestly believe that having a schedule saved my literal sanity and helped me LEARN about my son.

THAT SAID…. I have now five children total, and with each child have gotten further and further from Babywise, et al, and can see the wisdom and blessing in attachment parenting. I’m **WAY** more AP than I was — wore my fifth, co-slept, nursed for nearly two years, only very roughly scheduled — mostly nursed on-demand, etc.

HOWEVER, I still remember how desperate I felt with the undecipherable cries of my firstborn, and how Babywise turned out to be what I needed — at the time, and given my situation. And for that reason, I will never speak out completely against it. Some moms/families need it. Moms like me, who feel very lost and alone in new motherhood, and who lack a community of help, and who desperately need some sort of framework to help them manage that first year.

And… by the way, that baby was not FTT or anywhere close to it. He was 8 lbs 13 oz at birth and was consistently in the 95th – 97th percentile for weight for his whole first year and beyond. He was **CHUBBY** with rolls on the back of his legs and dimpled hands, etc. He’s now 5’9″ and 135 lbs — skinny! And about a year ago, I actually apologized to him for his infancy… for being so stressed out and letting him CIO and training him to sleep, instead of giving him the comfort of my touch and nursing on demand. He forgave me, blessing that he is. And, honestly, HE UNDERSTOOD. Crazy. That was a weight off of my conscience!!

So, what I’m suggesting is that while I believe that CIO/scheduling should not be the GOAL, there are times/women/families who could benefit from it. On occasion.

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About Karen Joy

I'm a partially-homeschooling mother of six -- 3 boys ages 19, 17 and 15 years old, and three girls: 10, 8, and 3. I like birding, reading, writing, organic gardening, singing, playing guitar, hiking, the outdoors, and books. I am a natural childbirth advocate and an erstwhile birthing class instructor. I have a dear hubby who designs homes for a local home builder and who is the worship pastor of our church. I live in the desert, which I used to hate, but now appreciate.

Posted on August 21, 2012, in Babies, Birth, Motherhood, Parenting, Sad Things. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I agree. I think this is definitely true.

    I think the disservice we do new parents to offer formulas. Like you have to follow this book Babywise to the letter or attachment parenting is all or nothing. Rather, I feel like new parents need mentoring where someone encourages those natural instincts and helps new parents fully connect with their children. Then it won’t be a formula. If you choose to let your baby cry or rock him to sleep, you will know that it is right for you and your baby.

    Because our culture is so lacking in traditional values (and by that I mean those practices, rituals and rhythms that are passed down from generation to generation) we are always looking for someone to tell us what to do, what to eat, how to sleep, etc. There’s a how-to or self-help book for everything! All offering a 1, 2, 3 approach to nearly anything. Trouble is, real life is rarely so black and white.

    I’m a baby-wearing, co-sleeping, cloth diapering, extended breastfeeding parent. So, I could almost be completely in that attachment parenting camp. Except….we sometimes swat little tushies and at a certain point we start letting the baby fuss a little to sleep (just getting to that point with River and he’s 10 months) and a few other things.

    Some parents need something like Babywise because they just don’t know what to do. I just wish that those who do use it, use it like you did….as a bridge to get them to more instinctive and gentle parenting without formulas.

  2. Don’t know you, just stumbled upon your blog while looking for info on rod and staff books but since you asked about a subject near and dear to my heart (babies, not ezzo 🙂 I had to comment. Here is an abstract from AAP news: http://aapnews.aappublications.org/content/14/4/21.abstract

    and here is supposedly what the whole article says:
    http://www.drmomma.org/2009/12/babywise-linked-to-babies-dehydration.html

    (I say supposedly not because I don’t believe it but because I’m too cheap to pay for the full article 🙂

    I agree with Daja. It took time to learn my baby and there were so many times when I just wanted a formula or someone to tell me what to do but I had support from other moms and family members telling me that God gave me the instincts to know what to do it I trusted them and gave us both time to figure it out. Later on I was talking to a friend that did a more babywise schedule and she said that it worked for her because she couldn’t read her baby like I could read mine and if she and her baby could communicate like we did, she would have felt more confident to drop the babywise stuff. My heart broke for her, not because she was an “evil mom who did babywise” but because she didn’t have the support I did and felt like she had to resort to a formula.

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