Monday, January 17, 2011

Mommy Monday

Last Monday we talked about how to feed your baby (bottle or breast). The second thing to consider in the area of feeding is whether you want to schedule feed or not. If you choose to bottle feed this is a no brainer, most bottle fed babies are easier to schedule feed because you know how much they are eating each feeding it is measured more scientifically.

There are two basic schools of thought in this area. One is based on the book Babywise, written by Gary Ezzo. In Babywise, the main premise is that parents should be dictating when a baby eats and sleeps in order to establish authority from the very beginning. The thought is that a baby is born needing direction and leading and it is the parents job to train the baby how to function outside the womb. There are parts of that that make sense. When I was pregnant with Jesse I liked this philosophy a lot because it gave me a plan of action where there was chaos. I was very fearful of the chaos and of the potential of having an unruly child. What ended up happening to me was that the schedule made me stressed and miserable. I was more concerned with how long Jesse was eating and when that I was not paying attention and learning to identify his needs. I think this had lasting effects on my relationship with him until this past year. I finally started listening to his cues and needs and he was 6 years old! I really wish I had not let fear drive me when he was a baby, I feel like I would have enjoyed him so much more.
But, that is just my experience. I know many, many people who have used the Babywise approach and have loved it. I have seen some great families use this approach and they have awesome kids. I will also say that I have yet to see an underweight, underfed baby from this approach. I have seen stress over schedules and babies not adhering to what the parents want but there is stress no matter what the approach. I think the key lesson I learned is that it is not for everyone but some people really like and need the structure. I will argue that I am not wholly convinced the babies need all the structure (albeit some is good) and that the approach is really for the parents. Some will argue that point and that is fine!
The other side of the coin (or the other extreme) is on demand feeding, which is feeding your baby when ever it cries (basically). I have heard some fear that on demand feeding will spoil a baby and get them used to getting whatever they want when they want it. I have learned, after three babies, you can't spoil a baby. One of the downsides, that I found to this approach, is that it is draining but some people don't mind being a slave to the feeding habits of a baby (and some will even claim you should be as a parent). The unpredictability can be hard as well.
I found that with baby number three I fell in the middle of these two approaches (I should think up a fancy name for it!). I didn't like feeding Silas every time he cried but I did feed him more often when he cried that I did with the other two. If I could do something else to soothe him I did (if he had just eaten within the hour). I didn't watch the clock as much but looked to my baby for cues of what he needed. I found he naturally fell into a 2-3 hour feeding schedule without me really trying so it worked for me. The bottom line: there is nothing inherently wrong with either side and I will venture to say that neither approach will effect the outcome of a baby's personality or their emotional well-being (although extreme Babywise babies might suffer some effects, I have not seen it, just a guess). Do what is most comfortable for you and your lifestyle and will stress you out the least.

I know some readers are chomping at the bit to disagree with me (this is a sensitive subject). Please feel free to kindly share your opinion but mainly share your experience. I think that my sister will benefit most from what you learned through experience.

Next week I will follow up the discussion of these two approaches in the areas of sleep and crying. Fun, fun!


emily said...

I am very interested to hear peoples experiences!! SHARE ON PEOPLE!

Gary said...

I used the demand schedule and enjoyed it. But like you Jane I usually tried to see if other things would satisfy after a couple of months. The tough time is at night.

Anonymous said...

My experience is that parenting an infant is all about establishing trust with your child, letting her know that the world you have her in is safe, consistent and full of love. Eventually the will emerges and you begin to establish boundaries. Tennyson was fed on demand and has turned out to be a pretty wonderful toddler. Most of this, I'm convinced is simply personality. But she was certainly not harmed by being fed on demand. But we are also very clear with boundaries and available choices now. Different stages require different parenting.

Of course feeding is always a balance with baby's personality, level of intensity, your own needs and what your body can do. (Not to open the BW can of worms... but please remember Gary Ezzo is not a doctor, and whatever you do you need to talk to your pediatrician first.)

Sullivan's Mom said...

I repeat my mantra...happy mama = happy baby. I was a schedule lady, which I assume comes as no great shock. Look...i had a bottle fed child in daycare, so take it for what it is.. .i'm guessing that he will sustain little to no emotional trauma because of this. We all want healthy, nurtured, and loving children. Find what works and don't spend too much time doubting your maternal instincts. At the end of the day, we're all still breathng...can I get an amen?? (and btw, I was a big fan of the baby advocate for the schedule...and I loathe child-rearing books!)

Becky said...

James's child rearing was and probably still is a trial and learn style. We tried all different things as we muddled our way through all the phases of his life (he is now almost 18). We didn't know about Babywise when he came along. Our second son, Jon we did practice Babywise and tightened up a little bit in areas where we thought we may have learned something. The biggest thing we got out of BW was that I fed James and he would fall asleep. With BW we learned with Jon to feed, keep him awake and it would teach him to fall asleep on his own. James was a terrible one to get to go to sleep, he fought us almost every single night. Even my mother was amazed at how stubborn he was to go to sleep. Jon, I could put in bed and he would occupy himself until he fell asleep. Our third, Joshua we followed the same with Jon and he is a great sleeper too. I don't know if it was BW, personality or what that made going to sleep a different experience for each.

I am a scheduler type of person and ran my house on schedule, with boundaries and consistent discipline for each. Up until the past 5 years, we had a bedtime of 8 pm, then 9 as they were getting older and school activities keep us out. We would all go to bed and if they kids were not tired, they were allowed to read or do something quietly in their rooms. It gave us all time to do our own thing, slow down, relax and they were all able to put themselves to sleep. When the kids were younger, we always read to them and sometimes we still do that even though the kids are 17, 15 and 11!! Good family time especially when we don't have TV. We also will take time to listen to a dramatization on tape, like the Mitford Series and Narnia done by Focus on the Family.

words and streets said...

Hmmmmm, okay, let me think. What did I do? It seemed so important at the time! Like "get it right or die!!". I was a baby whisperer for #1, on demand pretty much for #2. I really did like baby whisperer because she taught about reading your baby's cues and thinking logically. As in, if baby ate 45 min ago, then baby likely doesn't have to eat again. Maybe baby has gas, is tired, needs to suck (paci please, not me), is poopy, is overstimulated, is bored, etc.. I just liked the middle ground approach. But with #2 I just sort of found myself giving in a lot more frequently (also to help prevent breast infections--I had issues) and just to keep my sanity with a 2.5 year old running around. This time, I'll be more like that, too, I'm sure. What's the difference really if they eat at 8 vs 9:30? Just let them eat. Jane--I definitely can relate with the whole late reading of the cues thing with the first born. Why was I so stressing? Mercy. Being around moms who are a lot more laid back (and experienced) has proven to be my help. I just needed to see more of that approach, you know? Thankful for all the different ways though, not one way fits us all. That's the struggle of first time mommydom (and second and third....) is finding YOUR vibe, your way. Emily: here it's is: feed by faith. Love ya girl.

Anonymous said...

I was reading these comments and wondering if there is more of a need for flexibility with breastfeeding over bottle feeding. Like Allie said, logically it would seem that because you're baby ate 45 minutes ago they don't need to eat now. Unless your supply is low and needs to bump up, or she's having a growth spurt, or she just didn't get enough because she was distracted, tired, etc. When we would bottle feed it was much easier to say, "there goes 5 oz. It must be something else." I felt a lot less sure about that when T was exclusively nursing. Carla would know the answer to this.... Where you at girl?

Lisa said...

The most important principle I gleaned from Baby Wise was to give your baby a full feeding. Baby's that snack snack snack, if they are breastfed, don't get the rich hindmilk that comes in later in the feeding. Baby Wise also taught about tuning into your baby's cues. So our first response to a crying infant shouldn't always be to feed. Unfortunately, that's often the easiest thing to do. But hey, if he's hungry, duh, feed him. When you have some sort of routine, it's a little easier to anticipate when your child is hungry and you can fill their bellies before their so hungry they're crying. I fed my infants every 2-3 hours whether they requested it or not, and if they were hungry before then I fed them. Of all my babes, I fed Magdalena the most often, but she never cried. I had to set an alarm clock at night. And it would take drastic measures to keep her awake for feedings but I had to. Her medical needs were not typical but you get to know your baby and you figure out what's best. I recommend reading Babywise and The Breastfeeding Book by William and Martha Sears to get an understanding of both sides of the spectrum and see where you fall in from there.