Why I Keep Reading About Babywise

Recently, I’ve been spending a bunch of time reading Chronicles of a Babywise Mom: Implementing the -wise series. I haven’t read Babywise, though maybe I will someday, but so far I’ve been taking a very attachment-style approach, which is quite different. Babywise emphasizes putting your baby on a schedule for eating and sleeping, getting him to sleep on his own (with “cry it out” from a very young age as part of the toolset), encouraging “meals” instead of “snacking”, and discouraging comfort nursing. I’ve been doing pretty much the opposite of those things.

So, why have I been checking babywisemom.com every day, and why did I also go back to the very beginning of the blog so I could read it all the way through?

Valerie Plowman, the author, posts six days a week, quite consistently, which I’m sure is part of it. The posting schedule makes checking in predictably rewarding. I can also give myself feel-good brownie points for engaging repeatedly and enthusiastically with someone who has a very different philosophy from mine. The author is also experienced (she has four kid), and inclined towards creating and troubleshooting systems, which means she has detailed models that are closely tied to reality. But, if I really wanted to explain what keeps me coming back, I’d point to two different reasons. Her blog tells an honest and interesting story, and she created it to fill an actual unmet need in the world, so it’s practical.

I love parenting stories, particularly long, detailed, honest ones. Here are two of my favorite ones. I could probably read stories like those all day, even if I didn’t think I was learning much from them.

But I do find myself learning a lot from this Babywise blog. Whether I plan to use the same methods or not, all the observations, conclusions, and theories of someone who has experienced babyhood four times now are very educational. And, having just read Paul Graham’s latest essay, I can’t help but notice how her creation of the blog fits his advice for how to have good startup ideas. She noticed a gap in the world. There were a bunch of mothers following the Babywise system, including her, looking for parenting advice, and all there was to be found online was a bunch of people bashing the book and its methods. Valerie started filling that gap by answering questions on forums. Then, when she realized she kept answering the same questions over and over again, she consolidated her answers on her blog. So, she found a problem that she had herself, helped figure out solutions for individual people who had similar problems, and then put together something that scaled more. I’ve been enjoying it!