So, if you recall, one of my first posts on this blog was my version of the Baby Wise sleep method. I posted it first to help myself remember for the next time I go ’round the baby wagon, but also because I hate the tone and style of Baby Wise even though their techniques worked like a charm for both my kids.
Well, a few weeks ago, I found my new alternative to Baby Wise: Twelve Hours’ Sleep by Twelve Weeks Old by Suzy Giordano. (My husband looked at me funny when he saw I was reading a baby sleep book even though both our kids are done with all that. Yes, I have odd hobbies that include raiding the parenting section at the local library for fun.) This book has much less of a moral tone and focuses more on techniques and strategies for stretching a baby’s sleep schedule to fit yours.
In particular, I loved the daytime and nighttime “toolboxes” she includes for you to use in the transition from “eat whenever you want” to “stick to the schedule, kid.” The first time you hear about the idea of helping a baby delay a feeding, it seems like torturing a poor infant who just needs food. But basically, you’re trying to distract the baby into waiting a little bit longer to eat so that they can eat more so that they’ll be able to wait longer the next time. (A virtuous cycle, as the Tiger Mother would say.) That’s where the toolboxes come in. Suzy Giordano give a short list of ideas to use when you’re trying to extend feeding time (or keep your baby awake until nap time):
- Offer a binkie (not if you’re trying to keep the baby awake)
- Place baby in a bouncy seat and entertain him/her with toys and songs
- Place baby on an activity mat or gym
- Bounce baby on your knee and sing songs
- Play baby games (peek-a-boo, pat-a-cake, this little piggy, etc.)
Giordano recommends not picking your baby up when they’re crying in the crib during sleep training, but standing by the crib and trying the following:
- Offer a binkie
- Pat your baby’s tummy
- Rest your hand firmly on the baby’s tummy
- “Shush” the baby
- Whisper understanding things (Seriously, the thing that works best for me with crying babies is to talk to them about how hard it is to be a baby and how they’ll grow out of it. It calms me down as much as them. :D)
- Reposition the baby to help him/her find a comfortable way to sleep (never thought of this before)
- Provide an emotional toy
- Turn on soft music
Of course, you still have to listen to your baby. When gentle distractions are not stopping the crying from escalating, it’s time to intervene and try again later. But it’s nice to have a go to list of things to try so that you don’t freak out the second your baby is uncomfortable.
My only complaint about this book is the strictness of the daytime schedule. A 4 feedings a day schedule puts the morning feeding right between 10 am and noon, which for me is the most productive time of the day to get out and do things. Then the afternoon feeding comes at 2:45, which is when my toddler falls asleep. The only reason to read Babywise instead of this book is because it contains schedules to allow for 6, 5, or 4 feedings a day, and is much more flexible about the spacing of feedings as a result. Here’s a sample Babywise-style 5 feeding schedule (the one I currently run on), if you want to combine it with the techniques from this book:
- 6:30 am – Morning feeding
- 7:00 am – Playtime/breakfast with family
- 8:00 am – Naptime
- 10:00 am – Mid-morning feeding
- 10:30 am – Errands/Get out of the house
- (11:30 am – Younger babies take a mid-day nap, but that’s long gone for us)
- 12:30 pm – Lunch
- 1:00 pm – Afternoon feeding
- 1:30 pm – Naptime (insert an hour of playtime for younger babies who take mid-day nap)
- 4:30 pm – Early evening feeding
- 5:00 pm – Family time/Dinner
- 7:00 pm – Evening feeding
- 7:30 pm – Bedtime
So that’s 11 hours of sleep rather than 12, but the same principles hold. And I rather like a 3 hour nap in the afternoon anyway.