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?
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.