There are so many books out there that all promote their own philosophy on how to keep your new born happy and yourself sane during the transition of adding a baby to your family. Books like The Happiest Baby on the Block, What to Expect the First Year, On Becoming Baby Wise, and so many more all offer their own solution to getting your baby to sleep more and cry less! I have read so many books on helping toddlers behave, teens be compliant and respectful and parenting strategies for the ages in between, but I have read so little about the infant stage. So as a naturally curious person I dove into books promising to help my infant the most. I wanted to be prepared. But I was quickly confronted with a choice. How do I want to raise and treat my infant? And guess what, she isn’t even here yet! I still have quite a few more months in fact! How am I supposed to make those kinds of decisions before I even meet her!
The trap that these books set for new sleep deprived parents is that if you can’t follow them to a T you are failing your baby! And that simply is not true. There is no one size fits all parenting strategy because no two kids or parents are exactly alike. I have talked to many new moms and they feel the pressure to make sure their feedings last so long, go through extreme measures to make sure their baby stays awake for a full feeding and stays awake for a certain amount of time after the feeding. And when hormones are already raging after birth it can create quite a tense situation between the two parents.
Each book claims they have the best way to calm down your infant so they get the most sleep (theoretically so you do too), and help them be the happiest baby possible! But you must adhere to their premises, their schedules and philosophies behind their decisions. And typically, they say to start from birth! But what if the one you pick doesn’t work for you in application, or your baby just won’t follow an “Eat, Play, Sleep” schedule? Guess what it’s ok! In this post I am going to summarize some of the most popular infant parenting philosophy books. And then show you how you can mix and match them together to make it work for you.
- Happiest Baby on the Block: The premise behind this strategy is the 4th Babies are not prepared to be out of the womb yet and are still very underdeveloped. By mimicking the sounds and feel of being in the womb it will reduce colic in babies. He has 5 S’s that help you mimic the womb and when done together in the perfect combination induce the calming reflex. The 5 S’s are: swaddling, sucking (nursing, bottle, or pacifier), shushing sounds, side/stomach laying (not for sleep- but in your arms to calm them down), and swinging. When parents do all of this to mimic the womb it will reduce colic. His research is based by studying the parenting strategies of cultures all around the world, particularly those that have the smallest incidence rate of reported colicky babies.
- Baby Wise: Baby wise follows a strict wake/sleep schedule and has adjustments all for baby’s first year. They are proponents of a strict “Eat, play, sleep” schedule. I feel like this is the most strict parenting philosophy because the book includes timed schedules for each week from one to 52. Including how many naps, how long they should nap, and when they should be woken up. What if your baby just won’t follow this schedule, maybe their metabolism is faster and so they get hungry quicker and end up waking up more often at night? This book also says you should not rock, nurse or comfort your baby to sleep. This can be super difficult for a new mom. Who wants to listen to a new baby scream in protest? Definitely not me, or anybody I know either!
No new parent wants to feel like they are failing their new helpless little baby, but this can happen when parents try to adhere to only one philosophy that was picked before they even meet their baby! But we are often warned to not spoil our infants. Don’t nurse them to sleep, they will pick up bad habits and we will be doing it forever. Don’t let them sleep in the swing- they will never sleep in a crib after that. No pacifiers, they will get attached. Don’t pick them up every time they cry. They will learn to cry to get their way.
But guess what? Babies do not have the mental capacity to be manipulative in that sense. They just don’t know how to get their needs met. But meeting an infant’s needs is quite simple: change, feed, love them. If you can do those three things then all your infants needs will be met. You can’t spoil your baby too much! In fact, there have been recent studies that show cuddling your infant and picking them up on demand when they cry has positive impact on their brain development! Now what new parent doesn’t want that!
SO here is how to take those popular parenting philosophies and make them work for you!
What Baby Wise does well:
reinforce the importance of routine with infants. This is so important. Babies love predictability and routine. It allows them to predict what is going to happen next. That is comforting for an infant who depend on mom and dad for everything. Gives you the basics of sleep training for older babies- after the first 3 months or so. If you want to follow along exactly it provides sample timelines for each age bracket as your baby ages from birth to the first year.
What Happiest Baby does well:
What Baby Wise misses to me is how to help comfort a baby who isn’t following the timelines to a T! It gives parents step by step strategies for how to calm down a baby. It helps gives parents confidence moving forward when comforting their baby. Reinforces the idea that you can’t spoil your baby. If you have to nurse your newborn to sleep then its ok. And provides ages when more and more boundaries becomes helpful, starting around 9 months.
Remember, parenting is not a size fits all endeavor.
What worked for your 1st baby might not work for your 2nd. Or what worked for your neighbor might not work for you, and that’s ok! If you pick one strategy before the baby arrives and it doesn’t work for you when the baby arrives, its ok! Adjust! And enjoy your new bundle of joy!