I am a big fan of the books Babywise, Babywise II and Toddlerwise. I don't know how many other people have heard of these books or believe in the methods used in the book, but I have used many of the principals in the book and have had nothing but success so far!
I feel like because I followed the ideas of the first Babywise book, Xander sleeps through the night in his own crib every night.
The book says you need to get your baby on a schedule (even though some parents think it is wrong or borders on abuse to put your child on a schedule) and teach them to sleep in their own crib from an early age.
I feel so bad for parents who are co-sleeping and trying to get their child to now sleep in their own crib and are having such difficulties. I know the parents never thought they were doing anything wrong by co-sleeping. They probably thought that, at the time, it was easier for everyone and now they are paying the price. No parent does something such as co-sleeping, thinking it is bad for the child or for them. Every parent wants what is best for the child but most parents are simply misled in what that is.
I also found that getting my son on a schedule from an early age made it possible for him to get full feedings every time and he never needed to 'snack'. I think that is why he is so content now with 4 feedings a day. He nurses in the morning, then 4 hours later, he nurses and eats fruit and cereal. Then 4 hours later, he nurses again and has vegetables and cereal. Then before bed, he nurses one last time and also gets some formula. He is a very content baby and growing just fine and I feel really lucky that he is able to eat only 4 meals a day and get everything he needs from those 4 meals.
I know as he gets older he will probably want more snacks, but that will be once he is done nursing completely and I won't mind so much then. I think it wears down a mom to have to nurse a baby so often, not only in the beginning, but also as the child nears their first birthday. As I said, I am thankful we are on such a simple schedule - my little guy just turned 7 months.
Now we are transitioning to the principals of Babywise II. This book is meant for 5-14 month olds or so. It focuses on high chair manners (since they are starting to eat solid foods) and playtime activities (since they can finally start doing something other than just lying there).
I have already found several things to be really helpful with this next phase of Xander's life. Here are a few of my favorite ideas/points/rules.
-You teach the child that their hands are not to be involved while they eat pureed foods. They obviously cannot feed themselves yet, so there is no need for them to try and stick their hands in the food. All that does is create a mess for mom and baby and requires behavior modification at a later date. I have already been working with X on that. He keeps his hands down to his side while he eats and I feed him the food with no help from him. They mention that if you feel your child needs to learn how to hold utensils, give them to the child during bath time, when no mess can be made. Then the child gets all the practice they need until they are eating foods that actually require a fork or spoon and until they are truly ready to feed themselves.
-You should wean the child from a bottle altogether around age 1. Their is no need for a bottle after that time and some children become overly attached to bottles. It also says kids are not to go to bed with a bottle as the formula/milk/juice can then pool in their mouths' causing tooth decay at an early age. Xander only has a bottle once a day right now and he never goes to bed with it. We don't let him play with the bottle when he is done feeding (since their is a difference between drinking from a bottle and playing with it - playing with it can cause an unnecessary attachment). Every time I feed him solid foods, I set out a sippy cup with water for him to practice. I started at 6 months and plan to continue until he has it down completely. He is already getting close to being able to drink from it himself.
-Along the lines of no bottle, they talk about not giving your child juice all the time as the child doesn't really need it nutritionally. I haven't given any juice to X yet but I am not saying he will never get it. They say when you do give juice during the first year, you should dilute it with water by at least 50%. Now, this is not a nutrition book in general, but I do think all the ideas/principals fit together in some way and I do think this is a valid point. They mention giving the child juice more as a treat then a staple during meal time. X just has water in his sippy cup for now and I am not sure when I will let him try juice.
-The book also talks about while teaching your child high chair manners, they need to learn to eat foods and have their drinks in the kitchen. You shouldn't let your child carry around a bottle or sippy cup wherever they go. There should be designated meal and snack times and that is when baby can have their food and drink, and you as the parent decide where they get it. We obviously haven't practiced that part yet, but that will be something we do in the future.
-The book talks about play pen time as being necessary every day. First of all, it gives the child an opportunity to concentrate on their toys and gives them some learning time. Second, it gives mom a break or allows her to get a few things done knowing baby is safe. This is something we need to work on as X spends most of his time in his crib, the swing, the high chair, the jumper or being held by me or daddy. I guess I was hesitant about this one because he can't sit 100% by himself just yet. He is almost there but does fall sometimes. I want him to be able to sit in the pack and play by himself without falling over and me having to come to pick him up. I would be able to lay him in there with soft toys for him to play with but I just haven't done it much yet. Something to work on.
-One of my favorite points they talk about is 'parenting outside the funnel'. They have an illustration in the book showing a funnel like diagram showing the child's age and the child's understanding/skill level. The basic concept is, you shouldn't let your child do or play with things beyond their comprehension. To do so is parenting 'outside the funnel'. A good example is this - your child does not need to play with a TV remote or cell phone for several reasons. First, it has no practical purpose for them - they have no idea what it is or what it does and won't be learning how to use it anytime soon. It doesn't benefit them in anyway, therefore, they don't need to play with it. The second reason they mention to avoid letting them play with is this - say you let your child play with a remote at home and think nothing of it. It is not hurting anyone and it is keeping your child entertained and quiet. Well, what if the next time you go to your friends house, your child only wants to play with the remote controls? You risk your child breaking it, the child turning things on or the volume way up and the host may not want your child playing with it anyway. You now have to take away a 'toy' that was perfectly acceptable at home and suddenly is not! The child does not understand this and soon they are crying, upset and confused. This is not the way to go. You had previously granted them a freedom that was beyond their understanding/level and now you have to take it away. The book talks about avoiding this in general as all it does is cause frustration for your child and makes them unhappy. They talk about only allowing freedoms to the child as the child shows the ability to handle them.
-So that that paragraph doesn't go on forever, I am starting a new one about basically the same thing. Your child does not learn best by trial and error - that is, being able to do whatever they want and messing up or having something taken away when they show they are not able to handle it. Studies have been done that show structured learning is better than trial and error. It the child is allowed to do whatever they want, they will never have to become a creative thinker. People with the most limits/restrictions are the ones who have to come up with creative ideas and 'think outside the box'. I am certainly no expert on child learning or development but I think most of the things they say make sense. I do believe I will give my child an advantage by following some of these rules and not have him constantly frustrated.
-The book also talks about the benefits of teaching your baby a few signs. I have been working on this with X just a little while he is eating. The child is able to understand language and communication much sooner than they are able to speak. Most babies who are taught some sign language are able to use it after a short time to convey what they need before they can talk. I am not sure how far we will get with this one, but I do see the benefits of it so I will do what I can.
-One of the biggest points they talk about throughout the book is 'training' not 'retraining' or being 'proactive' not 'reactive'. They talk about how you shouldn't wait for bad behavior to try to teach your child what is right. Start teaching them the right way right away before they do things the wrong way and you have to correct them. It is not only better for the child, but much easier on both of you. That is why I started having X put his hands down to his sides when he eats from the very beginning. I didn't have to have him put his hands in his food, then in his hair and on his clothes to teach him what to do. I started before he ever had a chance to do it wrong. There have been a few times where he has put his hand out and tried to grab the bowl or spoon, but I quickly stop feeding him until his hand is back where it should be. I think this is huge. I think X will be a happier baby overall if I don't have to retrain him on everything, if I train him right from the beginning. I am not saying that if I 'train' him, he will never do the wrong thing. I am sure he will still frequently need to be corrected. I do, however, think that the book is right when they say babies get frustrated because they are confused. I think some kids cry because they are actually protesting their parents parenting style! That may sound weird, but think of it this way. If you started a new job and you never had any training or direction on how to do things and you just started working and all of a sudden you got tons of corrections from a manager, wouldn't you be upset, mad and frustrated? You would think, if only they just told me what to do from the beginning, I wouldn't be feeling this way now. It's not that you wouldn't make any mistakes with being trained, but you are bound to make a lot less of them and end up much happier and less frustrated. Makes sense to me!
So that was a longer post than I planned. I am sure you can tell I feel pretty passionate about some of these ideas. I know there are people out there who are majorly against these books and some of their concepts, but I am not one of them. I don't think all of the ideas work for every person but I do think most people can benefit at least some from these books.
The funny thing is, when I talk to my mom about some of these ideas, she says to me that most of it would have been common sense back in her generation. There are so many new parenting ideas out there these days that it is so confusing to know what is best for your child. I think a lot of the problem is all of the 'psychologists' out there think that so many things parents do, such as discipline, will harm your child rather than help them. That is crap and most people know it! A child needs love, discipline and direction. Emphasis on the discipline. Some people may end up thinking I am too strict of a parent but I hope and pray that the way I raise my child is the right way and that these concepts will work and he will be a pretty good little boy. Time will tell!