Monday, October 5, 2009

Baby Whispering

I'm just about finished reading Secrets of the Baby Whisperer and it is by far my favorite baby book so far. It strikes a balance between what I consider the cruelty of Ferberizing your baby and the burden I felt with attachment parenting (wearing her non-stop really wears on my back and shoulders). At last: a happy medium!! And the result? Hannah is napping regularly and for long stretches (up to 3 hours at a time) and she is still sleeping pretty well at night (we're up to one long 5-hour stretch at the beginning of the night and then she's up sporadically the rest of the night) though every couple of nights she throws a curve ball by screaming for an hour straight sometime between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m.

Here's what I love about this book (and why I recommend it to everyone who is even in remote contact with a baby):

1. Hogg (the author) sets up an easy to follow routine (which is what I was aiming for but unable to construct because I just didn't know how often she should eat and sleep). Hogg, uses the E.A.S.Y. acronym which stands for Eat, Activity, Sleep, You. She doesn't recommend feeding babies right before napping because it gets them in the habit of needing that to fall asleep. She's all about starting good habits from the get go. The exception to eating before sleeping is when you're putting them down for night; then she's okay with topping off the tank and "dream feeding" to keep them down longer. So now Hannah wakes up, eats, has an activity, and after being up for 1-2 hours, is put in her crib for a nap where she will sleep for 2-3 hours usually.

2. I am now able to decipher the "tired" cry!!! Hogg focuses on helping you interpret your baby's crys which equals less screaming for both parent and baby (that way you aren't shoving a nipple in their face when all they want is to go to sleep, which, by the way, is what I was doing--all cries meant "feed me" as far as I was concerned). The "tired cry" clicked in my head the same day I read about it. All of a sudden it was soooo obvious that she was whining because she was sleeeeepy! That cry even sounds like a sleepy cry. Duh. I don't know how I missed it before. So I put her in her crib and within seconds she was out. Wahooo!! I haven't learned to tell the difference between any other cries yet ("I'm hungry" vs. "I'm tired of this stupid bouncy seat" for example), but I have picked up on the body language for "I'm hungry" (back arches and she atttempts to flip herself sideways out of my arms, assumably lunging for the boob that she knows is down there somewhere).

3. Hogg made me feel normal because she has worked with a TON of moms and most all of them have the same freakouts and insecurities that I've had. As I've admitted in many blog posts before, this motherhood thing is extremely humbling.

The lesson I learned: Hannah's lack of sleep and crying fits were my fault because I wasn't putting her down to sleep (I guess I just assumed she'd fall asleep when she was tired???). The result: I was letting her get over-exhausted. With the E.A.S.Y routine, I can keep better track of the last time she ate or the last time she slept so I can better figure out what it is she needs which in turn helps me to learn to differentiate between her cries. So these days, at the onset of sleepiness, I put her in her crib. Sometimes she fusses for a few minutes before dropping off to sleep, other times she's quiet until she passes out. If she ever starts getting worked up, I pick her up and try to figure out what she needs, but if she's just fussing that tired fuss, I leave her alone.

All family members are much happier now that Hannah is napping!! Now if only we could figure out how to get her to take a bottle...Eric has tried to give her one on three different occasions now and using three different bottles but so far, no luck....

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