What Attachment Parenting Overlooks and Baby Schedulers Get Right

Watching for nap cues and paying attention to optimal waketime length.

At least, this has been true of the books I’ve read so far. I’m all for wearing Lydia most of the time during the day and co-sleeping with her at night, but after the first weeks where she would just fall asleep when she was tired right away no matter what (at least, it seemed as though that was what she was doing), I’ve found that the single most important thing I can do to make sure she remains happy is make sure she doesn’t stay up for too long of a stretch. 

Against the recommendations of books like Babywise and the Baby Whisperer books, I’m fine with walking and nursing her to sleep, but I’ve found that it’s very helpful to start that process before she’s too tired, which can actually happen kind of quickly. I carry her a lot, but sometimes she’s having tummy time, or I’m talking to and flirting with her, or having her practice using her leg muscles, or pottying her. And these days she can’t usually fall asleep while I’m doing those things, so I run the risk of letting her get overly tired, at which point she’s upset and it gets harder for her to relax.

Our current rhythm is that Lydia usually has two naps that are about two hours long between around 9 or 10am, when we both get up for the day in earnest, and around 7 or 8, after which point I mostly encourage her to go right back to sleep after feeding if she gets up. That seems to work okay, and is getting increasingly to the point when it’s stable enough that I can actually schedule around it, which is also very convenient!

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!