Thursday, March 14, 2013

Attachment Parenting VS. Babywise

I have only been a mother for 3 months. While it has definitely been the best 3 months of my life, it has also been the scariest. Being a parent brings comes with all sorts of responsibility and decision making that directly affects your child. It doesn't help that there are all sorts of "methods" that actually contradict each other! Talk about confusing!!

Over the past few months, I have done a lot of research and asked a lot of questions. The two methods that I've come across the most are Attachment Parenting and Babywise. 

Attachment Parenting is characterized by baby directed feeding, awake time, and sleep time.  It encourages parents to respond to baby's cries immediately, usually offering breast feeding as a source of comfort in addition to normal feeding times. They believe in 24/7 baby wearing if necessary, and that co-sleeping is also beneficial for the baby as a means of creating that "attachment".  Mom and baby are essentially "one" when you use the attachment parenting method. Mom follows baby's schedule.

Babywise is the complete opposite. It is characterized by parent directed feeding, awake time and sleep time. You as the parent create your baby's schedule and then teach your baby to stick to it. It also recommends only holding your baby when necessary, for feeding, burping, changing etc. The goal of babywise is to create an independent baby, even if it means letting your baby "cry/scream it out". Baby follows mom's schedule.

It's confusing as a new mom to read about both of these extremes. It doesn't help that there are amazing moms that practice attachment parenting, and equally amazing moms that do babywise.
So what's a new mom to do?

I can't tell you how many times I've listened to sweet pea cry and wondered, 

"should I pick her up?"
"Is she hungry?"
"Is she scared?"
"should I let her self-soothe?"
"If I rock her to sleep, will I have to do that the rest of her life?"
"I'm her mom, shouldn't I know what is best here?"

And then no matter what I do, I am always second guessing myself because it goes against something someone said to do!

I've had enough of that crazy cycle and am finally starting to figure out what works for us. No, I don't have a new parenting method, but I have concluded that I want my  baby to need me and be attached to me but I also want her to be able to function without me. 
Can I have both?

I'm not sure...but I'm going to try for it! I want to take some of the good ideas from both attachment parenting and babywise and hopefully they will balance each other out.

Like attachment parenting, I've worn sweet pea on several occasions, sometimes all day if needed! The moby wrap can be a life saver!
However, like babywise encourages, I also put her down and let her learn to play on her own, even if that means letting her fuss for a few minutes. She usually likes a little time on her play mat or in her bumbo seat. She's always cracking me up in her bumbo!

As far as scheduling goes, we work together on it. I have determined approximately how long sweet pea goes between each feeding and so I set my schedule by that time frame. If she gets hungry sooner, or we have to go somewhere, that time is flexible.

For feeding, I try to feed sweet pea only when she is hungry, not to soothe her. I believe that when she is crying, it's for a reason and I don't want to just shut her up by feeding her if that's not what she needs. There are times, however, when I will feed her as a source of comfort because I know she is upset and wants to be close to me. 

We are still working on the sleep thing. I want sweet pea to know that if she is scared, or upset I will always be there for her. Even I want someone to be there for me when I'm scared or upset. If she is just fussing before a nap or bed, I let her fuss until she falls asleep. However, if her crying is excessive, longer than a few minutes, or seems like she's scared or upset, I go in and let her know that I'm there. 
Sometimes she just gets so tired that she cries herself to sleep even when I'm holding her!
Check out that adorable pouty lip from falling asleep while crying.

Well that's how we've been making things work for us. It's not babywise and it's not attachment parenting, but it's what makes sense for us!
Now I know there are fantastic moms on both sides of the spectrum. Placing myself in the middle maybe doesn't make me the most popular mom on the block, but that's ok. I've learned that there aren't necessarily rules for being a good mom. I have to figure out what works for sweet pea and me and there is no "method" for that!

So what works for you? Are you a babywise mom, attachment parenting, or do you find yourself somewhere in between like me?
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Colossians 3:17 
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

38 comments:

  1. I'm in the middle just like you! and it can work great! :) My son is 2 now, so I've been able to see a bit of how he will "turn out" and it's been awesome. I now have 2 kiddos and I'm in the middle with both of them. I have let them both fuss/ cry it out, but I did it differently with each. every baby is different, and I do "take my cues" from my kids and what they respond well to. I could rock my son to sleep, but my daughter absolutely will not fall asleep if I'm rocking her. she has to be in her bed. lol little quirks like that, you just have to figure out what works for YOU and your baby! It's sounds like you are doing a great job figuring out what works in your family! :) kaileigh is a lucky girl!

    your post reminds me of one I wrote when my son was a few months older than kaileigh. (Forgive the formatting, this is one of my older posts that got messed up when I switched to wordpress and I"m still in the process of fixing them all!)

    http://www.beautythroughimperfection.com/2011/03/27/im-a-mom-part-2-parenting-styles-no-labels-for-me/

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    1. Thanks Paula! Yes your post is exactly how I've been feeling as well:) I agree that taking your cues from your kids is the best way! Thanks for your encouragement!

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  2. Beautiful post! You've learned the secret all moms need to know -- that there is no perfect method except the one that is perfect for you and that baby! (And note, each baby is different so what you do with this little girl may be vastly different from what you do with future kiddos!). My kids have always been very independent players, but my daughter is much more cuddly and likes to nurse to relax. You just do what works for you. I find it great to ask people for ideas on what they did (especially helpful when you're venturing into new scary territory like giving up the swaddle, transitioning out of the crib, and potty training), but in the end, the beautiful thing is you get to decide what you do. And you also get to change it up if something doesn't work -- it's not like you are stuck with your decision once you make it ;) Happy parenting to you!!!

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    1. Yes I have loved getting advice from others, especially moms that I respect! Parenting is much more of an adventure than I ever realized, but it's amazing as well. Thanks for your encouragement April!

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  3. We went with what works for us, too. I never read about either "parenting style" because they didn't matter to me. I knew that I would know what to do for my girls.

    I 110% disagree with feeding for comfort. Using bf to comfort defeats the point of it being just for food. Which is its purpose. Just my two cents!

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    1. That's probably for the best! I think reading too much made me second guess myself a lot more.
      Yeah, I agree about breastfeeding. The first few months, I fed her almost every time she cried because I thought she was hungry. Now I'm realizing she cries for a reason and I need to figure that out instead of just feeding her!

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  4. It's really hard to make the right choices sometimes. It sounds like you are doing a really good job, though! I guess I kind of followed both methods as well. As a baby, I always attened to my daughter when she cried but I also tried not to hold her too much if she was content. Now, she is very independent and play on her own but also still loves to cuddle. It's the best of both worlds. Figuring out what works for you IS the best method!

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    1. It sounds like it worked out great for you Vanessa! Thanks for your encouragement:)

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  5. I'm doing the same thing! Bug and I are working together to come up with a schedule that works for us. We're not necessarily following any one sort of "parenting method" but rather we're just hanging on for dear life ;) Just kidding. It's been an amazing adventure learning how to be Mom to my little bug. So really, we're doing a mixture of the two methods I guess...We're doing whatever works for us :)

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    1. Haha I know what you mean about hanging on for dear life;) That's how it seemed for the first few weeks for us! It's so much fun figuring her out though and I feel like we've gotten into a little rhythm. Glad it's working out for you too!

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  6. You sound like you are doing a great job! There isn't really a right or wrong as long as you are doing what works for your family. I practice attachment parenting, and that doesn't make me popular with our ped or grandparents but we learn to do what's best for us. Keep doing your thing mama! You are doing great!

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    1. Thanks Megan! I actually started out leaning more towards the attachment parenting, but parts of it just didn't work for us. You're right...you've got to do what you know best:) You are doing great as well!

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  7. Actually finding your own way is EXACTLY what you should do. God gave us mama insticts and we should use them! Just as HE parents us with love and comfort! You are doing good mama!

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    1. Thanks Hannah! Yes I LOVE the correlation between God as our father and how we parent our children. I always try to think about how He parents us and copy that example!

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  8. I think you're doing the best thing - doing what works for you. I don't think that either way is the 'right' way it just depends on what kind of family you are. I'm a very structured person so babywise works for us. If I had no pattern for the day I would be stressed!

    You'll hopefully find that K starts to fall into her own schedule and gets much more predictable from now on. That's what happened with Ivy anyway!! As they get older it gets a bit easier to work out what's wrong when they're crying.

    Sounds like you're doing great :)

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    1. Thanks Rachel! Yes I've realized I need to stop looking for the "right" way and find OUR way! She has already become much more predictable with naps and feedings which has been awesome!
      Thanks for your encouragement!

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  9. Good Job Faith! That is exactly the same conclusion we came to! I took what I liked from all the different books but what was great for us is when I FINALLY started trusting MYSELF with all of it, (took a while!)I kept thinking I was doing something wrong according to so and so but finally I started to realize I was her mom and I knew her best! Once I got there is was so much easier to do what felt natural and not worry about it :) NOTHING lasts forever I can tell you that! Everything is a phase so as soon as you're over one thing it's on to the next!

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    1. Thanks girl! Yes it is scary trusting yourself as a mom, especially when others can be very judgmental! I know right? She is always changing...and growing up. I don't like it!

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  10. I am inbetween also! My daughter is 15 months old. I was always encouraged by my doctor to let her "cry it out" but she would throw up after crying for just a few minutes, so that didn't work for us. But I also used to let her fuss a bit. She finally likes her crib and sleeps through the night since I sat by her crib for an hour while she fussed at about 13 months. I wish I had done it sooner! I stopped nursing around this time though so I don't know if there is any correlation between the two?! She didn't cry it out but just fussed. If she does wake up in the night (doesn't happen often now) I will sometimes just go give her the pacifier back but I don't take her out of the crib. I actually found that reading and researching confused and stressed me out so I really don't research much. I usually ask my mom and mil for advice if I really need something. Go with what you feel is right. Your daughter is so cute and I love your blog. I want to start one but I don't really think I would actually write consistently since I teach full time.:( I love how you have everything documented. Unfortunately, I do not have Julianne's life documented well.

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    1. Oh wow, that would be terrible! When Kaleigh cries, she starts gagging which I'm not ok letting her do! I have been doing the same thing-just sitting by her bassinet instead of picking her up. That way she knows I'm there, but she will hopefully learn to fall asleep without me as well. You should give blogging a try! You don't have to write consistently at all...I never do lol!

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  12. It can be so frustrating as a first time mom trying to figure out what's "right" since everyone has a different opinion. I think your doing a great job by forgetting all the labels and doing what works for you. God puts wisdom in each of our hearts as moms to know how to take care of our own babies. I wish women would stop judging each others "style" and just trust that mamas know how to take care of their own babies and do what's best for them! Great post!

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    1. I completely agree! One of the things that makes it hard for me is feeling judged by moms on either side. They both feel that their way is right so it's hard to know what to do! We need to be more encouraging of each other even in our different ways of mothering!

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  13. I guess I'd be kind of in the middle too. I know alot of people see Babywise as super strict, but I got two main points out of it - one, don't just assume your baby is hungry just because they are crying - they might need something else besides food, and two, if your baby is genuinely hungry then feed them even if it hasn't been 3 hours! I think keeping those two things in mind and judging it on a situation by situation basis can give you the best of both worlds.

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    1. That's what I learned from Babywise as well...I think it can be used too strictly but if you just take what applies to your baby from it, I think it can be good. Thanks for your input Callie! I know you are a fabulous mom:)

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  14. I am a very much middle of the road mama. A little bit fom all theories and practices.

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  15. I'll be having baby #3 in less than two months and I've found a really good rhythm right in the middle..probably a little more so babywise since we don't co-sleep and with my scolios I can't babywear but I've taken a handful of tools from each, along with some of my own ideas and catered them to each of my babies personalities.
    My oldest loved and thrived on a schedule, my second was very inconsistent with feeding/wake times but he was also a lot more flexible when we strayed from our routine. And at 4 and 2, they are both still the same way. Neither one was by the book but I did find some ideas helpful. Taking advice here and there and ignoring some until you find what works is the best you can do. But from my experience it's usually a little inconsistent the first 3 months anyway, and then things seem to find a good balance. Good luck!!

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  16. it sounds like you're doing it right!

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  17. Great post! Good for you for making things work for you! Too many people take one or the other too seriously and stress themselves, and baby, out! We do the same...I'm more on the attachement parenting side. I wear Judah a good amount of time throughout the day, he sleeps when he's tired, eats when he's hungry...I am a SAHM so I pretty much let him tell me what he needs.

    I never let Judah cry for very long. Personally, I believe 100% that babies cry because they have a need..and sometimes it's because they need to be close to mommy!

    However, in this culture, whether we meant to or not, it has become an inconvenience when baby needs to be close, especially as often as they do when they're little & we want to get things done! So it has been accepted that "cry it out" is ok because mommy needs some time or sleep or whatever...

    I know it's a very strong opinion & I promise I don't judge anyone who thinks or does different than I do!

    BUT there has been lots of research and the more I am with Judah, I am convinced that he learned to trust me because I gave him what I thought he needed and sometimes that was a cuddle, or holding him through the night, or feeding him more often then others thought I should.

    I know its all very overwhelming, but you learn more about baby & they will learn to trust you!

    I had a friend comment how Judah doesn't cry at all & then when he did (when I didn't get him his bottle right away) it was a very soft cry. It's because he knows I will give him what he needs. Most babies who still cry very loudly when they are older have learned to cry louder because they've learned their needs aren't getting met & crying louder is the only way they know to communicate.

    Again, I promise I don't judge! I'm just sharing what I've learned in a few months of practice. EVERYONE has an opinion (including me) & the important thing is to not compare yourself or your baby to ANYONE! Each mom & baby are unique with different needs!!!

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  18. Sounds like you are doing a great job Mama!!

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  19. Very well written, Faith. :) Sounds like your parenting style is very similar to mine! I lean more towards Babywise than attachment parenting, but I use principles from both sides. In reality, the Bible & prayer is the best guide out there, regardless of parenting "principles/styles."

    As you mentioned, it's good to teach independence, but it's great to teach that Mama is always there to comfort, hug & kiss when needed. I feel like I have the best of both words because both of my boys (ages 3 and 15 months) are HUGE snugglers and on occasion will nap or sleep with us for a special treat. But at the same time, they play independently & happy and rarely ever whine or throw tantrums and sleep happily on their own when needed. It definently can happen. :)

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  20. When I had my first born, I had mixed emotions too. I was scared yet happy at the same time. But ones you'll get out of that mist, you'll be able to really see the whole picture.

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  21. Hi hopping over from Thumping Thursday.
    I think all first time moms have gone through similar situation and emotions.
    We just have to bear in mind that we are not perfect. Although deep in our hearts we want things to be perfect for our baby.

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  22. I'm a first time mom and can totally relate! I also "picked and chose" from different parenting styles. Keep doing that and find a balance that works for you!

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  23. Nearly six years ago when I became a mom I had NO IDEA that there was such a thing as parenting methods! I just thought everyone just did what came naturally to them/their family:) 3 babies later parenting by the seat of my pants plus a whole lot of prayer is still my "method". And by God's grace I have 3 healthy, happy kids!

    Keep up the good work mama! Trust your instincts.

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  24. It's awesome that you are trusting your instincts! That's always the way to go.

    Thanks for linking up at The Tuesday Baby Link Up!

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  25. Thanks for this post! I am due with my first at the end of June (just over 9 weeks to go!) and I have been doing some BabyWise research and you're right... it's confusing! Someone commented earlier that God gave us mama instincts, and I am just praying that they will kick in, and I can trust myself. Anyway, your post is really comforting and I am sure I will refer to it again in the first few weeks of our son's life! Thank you :)

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  26. Another major concern of parenting newborns includes helping the child maintain the proper weight.baby

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