Wednesday, November 24, 2010


I don't claim to be an expert on parenting, or even on parenting books. Nor do I claim to be a good critic. When it comes to books, I don't think I'm very critical. If someone makes a good argument, I tend to agree and say "sure--that makes sense". Like I said before, I try to take it all with a grain of salt; but for the most part, I'd say that I lean more towards the "agree" side than the "disagree".

So when my mom suggested that I read On Becoming Babywise, I did; and thought "sure--that makes sense". And when my colleague (the one who left who I really appreciate) recommended that I read Happiest Baby on the Block, I did; and thought "sure--that makes sense". And when it comes down to it, I think that they both offer some valuable input...though I wouldn't say that either of them is perfect (I do, however, wish I had read them in reverse order--I think that the techniques in Happiest Baby would have been helpful to learn before Ella arrived, and perhaps now would/could have been the right time to implement Babywise).

And while all of the "expert knowledge" in the books is helpful, I feel like the true wisdom in caring for Ella in the day to day moments has to come from God. There are so many times throughout the day that I pray "God, please give me the wisdom and the patience to care for Ella". Sometimes it's a desperate prayer when she's crying and I'm exhausted; sometimes it's a prayer of admiration when she's sleeping peacefully or smiling at me; but usually it's just a constant I-want-to-do-what's-best-for-her prayer throughout the day.

So I guess when it comes down to it, I've created my own "Happy-Baby-Wisdom" approach to incorporate all three--with an emphasis on relying on God's wisdom to help me know what to take and what to leave from the "experts". So with that, let me share some of the things that I like--and a few that don't work for us--from On Becoming Babywise and Happiest Baby on the Block (and if you have any other parenting books that you've enjoyed, I'd be open to reading them as well!).

Let me start with Happiest Baby on the Block. The book is really about colicky babies, and Ella is definitely not colicky (at least by the rule of threes), but she does get fussy at times (definitely less and less as time goes on, but she's a baby...and she's bound to fuss). Because colic seems to end by around 12 weeks (when babies can sooth themselves), the author argues that babies get colicky because they are missing the "fourth trimester".  So he advocates that parents simultaneously use the "5 S's": Swaddling (keeps them tight), Side/Stomach (minimizes Moro Reflex of feeling like she's falling), Shhh-ing (any white noise), Swinging (any quick, little, tight movements), and Sucking (pacifier, boob, finger). He says that parents of fussy babies should recreate a womb experience. He looks at babies from other cultures, throughout history, etc. It was written as a really light and pleasant read, with lots of analogies and parental quotes.  I kind of wished that I had read it before Ella arrived because I think I would have been able to better help her through the couple of sad fits that she had (there weren't many, but my heart broke when I couldn't easily console her).  By the time I read it, we had either figured out some of the techniques on our own, or Ella had grown out of her fussy-phase, or a combination of both.  As for the techniques, we stopped swaddling Ella around three weeks...and she doesn't really rely on a pacifier too much.  But we do a lot of Shhh-ing and Swinging, and those seem to work.  After looking at the book a bit, my husband developed what he calls the "airplane hold", and now drapes Ella across his arms on her stomach, thus applying the Stomach/Side position...and she absolutely loves it!  He had her from almost-fussy to fully-asleep in less than five minutes last night.  He's my hero--I'm so proud of him!

As for On Becoming Babywise, I hadn't originally realized just how controversial it can be.  If I had to sum up in one word what I liked about Babywise, I would say "routine".  I recognize that the book is all about establishing a "schedule", but that doesn't really work for us.  Rather, I like that the book suggests a routine of Eat-Play-Sleep.  Even though I'm the oldest in my family and did plenty of babysitting through high school, I admit that I was a little bit lost when it came to figuring out what to do with Ella once we brought her home.  So the routine of Eat-Play-Sleep really helped us.  Even though the author suggests that parents control the schedule, he does advocate for flexibility, so I've taken fully advantage of that freedom.  On the other hand, the author does suggest that parents allow babies to "cry it out".  We tried a handful of times...and it broke my heart each time.  My husband and I said we would give it fifteen minutes...and then we would sit there, just watching the clock, counting down to when we could rescue her.  So I don't think that we'll really let her cry herself to sleep much in the future (on the other hand, if she's crying and I have to pee or get something out of the oven, I'm not about to pee my pants or burn the dinner, so I'm not afraid to put her down for a moment to attend to whatever it is I need to do). 

As you can see, there are elements from each book that we are taking into account in how we care for Ella.  Like I said before, I'm open to other approaches as well, so please feel free to make suggestions. We're not perfect--but our favorite pediatrician told us it's okay.  He pointed out that we live in an imperfect world, and the best thing that we can do for Ella is model for her how we adjust to imperfections--starting with ourselves.  And that's where the wisdom from God comes in.  I need to listen to Him everyday in how He guides me to be the best mother I can be.

Thoughts?  Reactions?  Feedback?  I'd be interested in hearing what you think (I'm even open to criticism--just please don't "attack" me if you think I'm doing something wrong).

Today's blessing is that I get to see my parents!  They are about an hour away, and I am so excited to see them!  This is the first time that they are coming to our place for Thanksgiving, and let's be honest--they are really coming mainly for Ella.  But I'll gladly share her with them.  Besides, today is my dad's birthday.  It really will be such a blessing to celebrate and give thanks with them.


  1. I haven't read Babywise (but I do plan to read it!), so I can't judge, but what I have heard about it (from some parents, lactation consultants and the director of my school who has a PhD is child development) is that it is a very parent-centered, controlling approach that puts the baby at risk of failure to thrive and malnutrition (this is also the stance of the AAP - see Sounds like you are just taking some parts of it though and feeding on demand so you should be fine!

    We are reading attachment parenting books, which center on listening and responding to the child, trusting in the baby's cry, and finding solutions that respect and work for the whole family and not JUST the baby or parents! This matches my teaching style as well and what I know from my education that infants need at the early stages of development. It is not where you carry the baby everywhere, nor does it interfere with independence as some people think! If you want the book I am currently reading, I can Facebook you with the title.

    We plan on reading Happiest Baby on the Block as well! Glad to hear you liked it!

  2. I totally agree with everything you wrote! I found myself wanting my son to sleep longer and so I searched out and read everything to find a solution!! Babywise helped, but it wasn't until I let go and used some advice but also went with what Noah needed too. And I am constantly asking God for help throughout the day!

    I think that the most important thing we can do as parents is to lead our children to God! I am in no way perfect and I have been praying for God to help me so I can be a good example for Noah.

    And there are still times when I have to step back in certain situations and chill out b/c sometimes I get so caught up in the moment that I can't even use my common sense :D But I do have an excuss..sleep deprivation..hehe!!!

  3. I absolutely agree with you. Those two books are the ones I read as well & I will admit I have struggled with wanting Addy to fit into the perfect mold babywise portrays. I often find that I need to stop myself & take the time to ask for the Lords guidance & not that of some book or idea. Please pray for me to get better at this.

    I have also recently read the baby whisperer which is interesting & helpful.

  4. I think the best thing any parent can do is to be open to learning, suggestions, books, whatever but then to do what works for them. By using bits from here and there I think it sounds like you are doing a great job! If you are happy and Ella is happy and growing that is what's most important.

  5. We loved Happiest Baby on the block. We've turned into crazy people that SHHHHHHH all the time. We SHHHHH in the car the most. We bought a white noise machine. That is what worked the best for us.


I love to hear what you think!