Control Freak??

So two mommy friends of mine left comments about how important it is for dad to be involved.  And you know what, they are RIGHT!  It makes me ask myself, "why did I say that?" [that being: "No offense but parenting seems more like a woman/mother's domain to me. Most effective households I am familiar with are run by women and the dads follow her advice and lead."]  "Am I around a lot of absentee dads?  Am I just a mommy control freak???  Is my hubby an uninvolved dad?" 
go to this page for the rest of the post


E.A.S.Y vs. BabyWise vs. Ferberizing

Pardon any typo's, I enjoyed perhaps one too many glasses of wine this evening :)

As a Newborn Care Specialist I come in contact with many child rearing techniques, philosophies, styles, troubles and successes. Undeniably there are those I like, those I dis like, and the ones I don't understand. Nevertheless, it is my job to understand, respect, and be able to work with all of the different techniques out there, so I like to review and post and get your comments on them as often as possible! 

Since we posted on Attachment Parenting recently I thought we should look at the other popular schools of thought on parenting today.  We will look at Ferberizing, EASY, and BabyWise.

FERBERIZING, by Dr Richard Ferber
This would be the opposite approach to Attachment Parenting, both being the extreme.  This is also known by many as the "cry it out" or "CIO" method.  It is the approach most exaggerated in negative light probably by misunderstanding and misuse that lead to some sad expereinces.  Admittedly, I am turned off by anything called after the guy who came up with it, and since when do we mommies want to learn parenting from a man anyways?!!  No offense but parenting seems more like a woman/mother's domain to me.  Most effective households I am familiar with are run by women and the dads follow her advice and lead. 

Despite all theses inital negative reactions, this method is quite sensible and certainly works when taken as a guide rather than doing it exactly by the book.  It is very important that any extreme method be adapted to each family and child, and is best employed with help from a professional out side of the family.  A professional can help adapt the method to the family and baby, and has an easier time carrying out the less emotional more methodical approaches.  As a new mother and Newborn Care professional, the Ferber method is much easier with other people's children than your own! 

According to BabyCenter
      Why is Ferber's approach so controversial?
      Not all parents and parenting experts believe it's okay to leave a small child alone to cry, even for a few minutes. "No cry" advocates consider Ferber's approach harmful to children, and argue that it could undermine a child's sense of security in the world.

      Some of the controversy surrounding the Ferber method also springs from widespread misunderstanding  about what his method actually involves.

      The new edition is a more flexible approach. Ferber's tone in the updated volume is a little warmer and more relaxed than it was two decades ago. Years of working with families have taught him that a wide range of approaches to sleep can work, and in the new book he encourages parents to adapt his program to the needs of their particular child and family culture.

       Rumor:  Ferber says you should let your child cry it out alone in his crib until he falls asleep.....

Baby Center goes on to ditinguish the facts from the rumors

Dr. Ferber himself addresses the hard questions from the good and bad experienes parents have had with his approach and what his true intentions are....

BABY WISE, by Dr. Gary Ezzo
"On Becoming Babywise is more than an infant-management concept; it is a mind-set for responsible parenthood."
                 ~from the ParentWise site by Co-Authors of On Becoming BabyWise

I personally couldn't get through this book because of the condescending tone of the author(s), but the general method is pretty close to what I do with my baby, and recommended by my very caring middle of the road pediatrician.

A great critique from an Attachment Parenting mom out there:
"Babywise Is Anything But Wise": (click underlined title to follow link)
Gary Ezzo reduces parenting to lists of do’s and don’ts. This would work if babies were machines. But they are not. His feeding schedules are considered medically dangerous, producing a fair number of malnourished
babies. His methods of ignoring a babies cry are known to lead to depression and attachment disorder. He teaches parents to ignore their basic parenting instincts and stick to his schedule instead. He claims that parenting instincts don’t exist. Well, I have three sons, and I can tell you that my parenting instincts are alive and well, and helping me each and every day to be the best parent I can be. According to Dr. William Sears, Dr. Jack Newman and Dr James Dobson (all of whom have verifiable credentials and have published excellent books on the same topics covered in Babywise) parenting instincts are an extremely important aid in child rearing... Babywise completely misses and undermines all the most rewarding and exciting parts of parenting."

EASY, by Tracy Hogg, The Baby Whisperer

As a parent I chose to take the E.A.S.Y. route by Baby Whisperer Tracy Hogg. Tracy teaches that a human's natural rythm is to eat, be active, then sleep, rather than to eat and go right to sleep. Like me, Tracy believes in teaching and preparing babies for real life in our culture by respecting them as capable individuals (to an age appropriate extent). She debunks attachement philosophies that encourage parents to cater to babies as completely dependant and insecure little beings. In the company of the late Magda Gerber, Ms Hogg advocates respecting children and babies to learn and accomplish and resolve things on their own with our support but without our unnecessary interferences. Throughout her Baby Whisperer series Tracy teaches nearly the exact same tenants as Magda did with her RIE method that I have loved and incorporated into my life for the past 5 years.

No Matter Which Approach you decide to try, if you are having trouble knowing what to do consider consulting a professional who can come in with an outside objective perspective. Professionals have experience with all these methods and many different babies/families, and can more easily select the best and discard the worst of each method to fit your family.


Is Attachment Parenting Working For You? A Look at Dr. William Sears' "Baby Bs"

The Dr. Sears Family seem to be everywhere these days! According to every blog, article and popular baby book, if you are not following their attachment parenting style you are damaging your baby...

November 2009 Issue of Baby Talk magazine features an article by Dr. William Sears with 7 points he calls the "Baby Bs":

1) Birth Bonding - this is the perfect time for 100% attachment parenting as your new baby transitions from a cozy life in the womb to a stimulating out of her control world.

2) Breastfeed - Without coming out and saying it Dr. William Sears promotes "on-demand" style of feeding, a notably controversial topic. While it is important to feed on demand the first month to help milk let down and ensure bond and trust between mother and baby, the continuation of this practice past the first month can severely disturb the flow of a well functioning family and set unrealistic life expectations for baby. An agreeable point is that feeding time should be an intimate experience between parent and baby, whether or not mom is breastfeeding and that bottle feeding can be great way for dad to be a part of this nurturing and bonding time.

3) Baby-Wearing - This is a great way to continue into the "fourth trimester", giving you and your baby the physical closeness you both need, and you, the parent, confidence that your love is felt. I am an absolute proponent of baby wearing over car seat carrying when out and about as it is much better for baby's proper physical development. Not to mention it is great for the baby to see life from your level!

4) Bedding Close to Baby - While Dr. Sears and most of his followers may be proponents of Co-Sleeping (a practice of letting the baby sleep in the parents bed, often called the family bed), he is careful to follow AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) guidelines of recommending separate sleeping accommodations. Sleeping in the same bed is strongly discouraged by the AAP as it increases the risk of SIDS. Where too put baby to sleep is a decision every family needs to make as they go, and adjust as baby becomes more and more capable of sleeping through the night.

5) Believe in the Value of Baby's Language - I DECIDED TO REWRITE THIS after hearing some feedback from AP mommies
Dr. Sears states that "babies cry to communicate, not manipulate..." True...babies do not have it out for you and they have a very limited mode of communication, so crying litterally "says it all" those first several weeks.  But, I have spent countless hours with numerous babies and as they get older babies certainly can manipulate, and I have seen parents fall for it many times! Manipulation is a survival skill, and survival of the fittest means the more manipulative a baby can learn to be, the better his chances for survival! If you feel like your baby is manipulating you, he probably is. With that said, most communication from most babies truely is them experessing their needs, dislikes, and trying to get your attention.

6) Beware of Baby Training ????- The widespread nature of this very principle has nearly put me out of work! Parents are taught habits that keep them and their babies from sleeping through the night sometimes until a baby reaches 2 years old or older! How is this healthy?

How is this a realistic practice and life expectation for a child? Is he going to go to college and need sleep aide to get through the night, or not be able to sleep without eating every 3-4 hours??

Think about this... Is it not healthier for parents to promote sleep habits that naturally have babies sleeping 8-12 hours a night by 3 months of age? What if this would allow for better brain and physical development of the baby, emotional and mental stability for the whole family, respect for each's different needs, and appropriate societal functioning? I, like many other professionals working with families, babies, and parents will tell you that is exactly why helping "train" a baby and her parents to ditch bad sleep inturrupting habits and replace them with sleep promoting ones is vital to the health of the family. (side note, this should never be done by force or abandonment)

Lastly, 7) Balance and Boundaries - Attachment Parenting offers a lot of suggestions to promote bonding and trust between babies and their parents, but a parent could go into a depression thinking they are an utter failure for not doing them all. This is not the point. Not even Dr. Sears expects you to do all these things, but find the practices that fit your family and adjust the ones that don't. This is where I come in to help. A balanced approach to parenting with an allowable margin for human error is crutial for the mental and emotional health of parents, especially moms, when adjusting to each new baby.

Let me help you focus on the simple habits and practices that are in harmony with your parenting goals and forget about the rest! You and your baby will thrive and everyone will be asking YOU how to do it!


Parent Directed Feeding vs On Demand Feeding

Why is it that when it comes to our own children we need outside professional help to do what we get paid to do professionally for others?  My Aunt in law suggests that our children are here to humble us; at any rate, I know I am not alone here!  When it came to scheduleing and sleep training my own daughter, I couldn't do it without help from other Newborn Care Specialists.

For the first month of Gigi's life I feed her every 3 hours during the day and whenever she needed it at night.  But, she didn't gain weight....so I had to add a supplementary bottle, which I did not like.  In an effort to improve my breast milk supply I was told to nurse more often and for as long as the baby wanted to.  I was initially opposed to the on-demand style of nursing, but scheduling wasn't working because my daughter wasn't thriving, so I gave it a try. 

Well, it certainly worked to improve my milk supply, but my daughter still needs the supplement in order to gain weight.  Feeding On Demand made me crazy though!  I struggled to know if my baby was fussing because she was hungry, tired, or just needed a change of scenery?  My life had NO predictability, I could hardley make plans unless they litterally hours ahead of time.  Hoping I wouldn't have to give up breast feeding I knew I couldn't last like this much longer. 

Right when I was coming to terms with having to supplement my daughter more formula and more bottled breastmilk she went right back to eating every 3 hours during the day and sleeping 8-10 hours at night- all on her own!  Fortunately my daughter is a natural nighttime sleeper, but during the day she is the alert, looking around, smiley, playful baby who fights sleep and wants to be with mom..... Then she is the VERY LOUD screaming overtired baby who you CANNOT ignore.
With night time sleep consolidated I just had to get her to take regular daytime naps.  My problem was that my baby would sleep on the breast while nursing and not go down for naps, so I tried putting her down before she ate so she would be rested.  She cried the whole time, and only wanted to engage and interact.  I tried putting her down after nursing since she had been sleepy.  Neither worked and I just could not get it right.

That was until I reached out to my local circle of Newborn Care Specialists for help! Terian Johnston,CNCS guided me through E.A.S.Y.  E.A.S.Y., or Eat, Activity, Sleep, You (mommy) time, is a middle of the road, parent directed while following baby's cues, approach.  I always liked the EASY model but when it came to my own child I found the "S" to be anything but easy.  But after a little guidance from Terian, a Certified Newborn Care Specialist, my daughter in now napping, eating, and playing "on schedule" like clockwork! 

Once again I am a happy mom enjoying a happy, sweet, talkative baby that spends her days discovering herself and her world, rather than constantly trying to sooth a frustrated and overtired baby.  Not to mention I now have my life back!!!  I can confidentally make plans that won't interfere with my baby's needs, and my baby has a predictable routine she can come to feel in control of, and is getting nourished and rested evenly throughout the day.

I especially love the EASY because it's based on the same respect principles and practices as something I've been following for years called RIE. I know I am respecting my baby's needs and loving her better than ever!  She is sure to be a confident child as the daily things in her baby life aren't happening to her by force or surprise, rather flowing predicitably and calmly as her body's natural rhythm goes, and she can always count on me to care for her like that!


Do YOU Know When Your Baby Is Hungry?

Okay, so I am a Newborn Care Specialist, an experienced Nanny, a Family Science graduate, and I am a new mom that got to spend 10 days in the hospital with my baby and has had 4 wonderful pediatrician visits already... and NEVER ONCE was I taught all the hunger signs in a newborn! 

If I didn't know what to watch for how many other moms don't know either?  Millions I suspect. How tragic!  Now I know why so many moms give up on breastfeeding and give in to formulas.  Now I'm not saying this about the working mom, or those who never wanted to breastfeed, but for those of us who set out to breastfeed and had to supplement with formula, or even breast milk, and bottle feed their babies.

Today a lady from WIC called to see how it was going with a breast pump I "rented" and I went into the whole scenario of how my baby hadn't been gaining enough weight and how I am having to supplement her, and all the issues we are having with that.  To my utter blessing this call came at the perfect time!  I was able to go in same day and meet with lactation counselors and get great little tidbits, support, and a game plan!

I now have a renewed sense of confidence in my ability to increase my milk supply, in my baby's ability to demand/suck enough milk from me, and for all of this nursing business to get better with time!  As a part of my astonishment I want to share what I learned today that I never learned in my Newborn Care courses (if I was taught it didn't stick, sorry), from the hospital NICU and nursery staff, the hospital lactation consultant, my fantastic pediatricians, my doula and childbirth education, or anyone else that I came into contact with over this time. So here it is:

Hunger Signs in a Newborn:

  • baby making fists, usually near the face
  • sucking on hands and/or fingers (at 2 months there is a difference between this and the ravenous fist knawing)
  • rooting, which includes the tongue mouthing thing they do (mine does a slightly different form of this when "talking" so I had over looked the rooting form)
  • rapid eye movement when asleep (which seems weird b/c babies spend abt 80% of their sleep time in REM sleep but this is what they said...)
  • and one I figured out is anxiously sucking in pacifier when offered it then spitting it out mad that it's not giving them food, (mine screams, will take the paci again then spit it out and get mad)
  • and of course very upset behavior soothed only by the breast or bottle

Anyone who knows anything else or has an issue with any of these please respond!