Am I Parenting All Wrong?

I hate the book Bringing up Bebe. Not because it’s bad. Quite the opposite. I find it brilliant. And logical. And depressing. I’m only on chapter 6, but so far, every page has made complete sense to me.

I know it caused quite a stir when it came out. I wish I had read it then–before Emmett was born. I’m convinced he would be sleeping through the night by now. We might even be able to take Fia to restaurants. It makes me feel awful–like a lot of what I’m doing is now irreversible and insurmountable. Maybe the pregnancy hormones are still raging. Or maybe I’m just mad at myself for not putting down more ground rules with Cleo (nanny) about Emmett. Here’s where I’ve gone wrong:

The first few weeks of Emmett’s life, we all held him constantly. I get that. But then I started to notice if I didn’t hold him he often fussed a little in his swing/Moses basket/crib before putting himself to sleep. In the book Druckerman talks about, “The Pause.” In France, when a baby starts to fuss (not wail), the parents “pause” for a few minutes before doing anything. If it escalates into wailing, they pick them up, feed them, burp them, change them, whatever. But what they have found is that many babies fuss, then fall asleep. It’s their own way of self-soothing. Many do this out of the gate. In her book, Druckerman claims many babies sleep through the night at 2-3 weeks. But this “pause” window is finite. At around 4 months, if they haven’t learned to self-soothe, then you have to do hard-core sleep training.

I’m a Ferber fan, and we did it with Fia. But I am not excited to do it with Emmett. Unfortunately, our window is closing. He’s 4 months old this week.

He’s also on zero schedule. He naps when he’s tired. Usually when he’s being held. Or nursed. A lot of the naps are just 20-30 minutes.

Sleep? Some nights he goes down from 8:30 pm-5 a.m. Other nights he wakes up every 3 hours. There is no rhyme or reason.

Looking back, I realize that rather than capitalizing on his ability to put himself to sleep or get any semblance of a schedule, I just went with whatever happened each day. Still do.  Cleo still picks him up when he fusses. I’ve asked her to give him a few minutes before rushing to him. Sometimes she does. Sometimes she doesn’t. I can’t blame her. I do the same thing. I’ve made us both inconsistent. I also nap with him on the weekends. I love his little body next to me. Every morning I put him in bed with me to nurse and get an extra hour of sleep. Should I stop?

With Fia, I had a lot more confidence in sleep training. She woke up at 3:33 every single morning. So I knew it was just a habit. Emmett is all over the place, so I’m not convinced that he’s not hungry or gassy. Plus, he is such a good baby 90% of the time. He rarely wails. He likes to sit in his carseat or swing and entertain himself. He laughs and coos. I hate to think about CIO with my little guy.

I might take off next week and just let Cleo do things with Fia while I tackle the schedule. Maybe getting the days down will help with the nights. But how? Even with naps, I get confused, then I give up. Am I supposed to do it every 2 hours? What if he sleeps for 20 minutes? Then do I keep him awake for 2 more hours until the next nap? There’s no way. Especially if there is a feeding involved. He’ll fall asleep on the boob. Guaranteed. But probably just for 20 minutes again. By that time, I know I’ll just say screw it and throw the attempted schedule out the window. I’ll continue to be consistently inconsistent. Unless….I really decide to commit.

But then does that mean he can’t nap with me on the weekends? What about the mornings? Can I have my cake and eat it too? I don’t think the French do (which is why they’re all so skinny–as also pointed out in the book).

He is my last baby so the heart part of me says “F-ck the schedule.” But then my brain part says, “Yes, it’s time to get some order back.” And I know most babies thrive on a schedule.

I can’t even tackle the restaurant ordeal in this blog post. Suffice it to say, eating out with Fia is an exercise in misery/exhaustion. In France, toddlers apparently sit quietly and eat.

I hate this book.

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  1. by Kristen

    On May 29, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    My favorite baby book is Healthy Sleep Habits, Healthy Child.

  2. by Cindy

    On May 30, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    Jill! Nothing you’re doing is irreversible or insurmountable, or even wrong for that matter. Different strokes, right?

    I thoroughly enjoyed Bringing Up Bebe, but then it mirrored my parenting style (which, frankly, everybody scoffed at when my daughter was a newborn and I would let her fuss, but then marveled at when she slept 11 hours by 2 and a half months). Nonetheless, at 22 months she’s still a disaster in a restaurant. As near as I can tell, the only thing I’m doing wrong is taking her our in the first place.

    Wait until you get to the chapter on menus and eating. Like any good Italian, my husband (half Italian) and I have always eaten our dinner late, around 8 pm. Of course I would like our daughter to be on the same schedule, which is to say our schedule. But what about when, like last night, I spend an hour and a half making gazpacho which is far too spicy for her? I’m sorry, but that’s when she gets something simple, like pasta. Her meals are always balanced and always contain fresh fruits and veggies, but her main course is seldomly our main course. It’s just not feasible.

    I firmly believe that setting and sticking to a schedule is a good thing, but not everybody agrees. If you decide to commit to a schedule, know that it will take some time (probably more than a week) for it to fall into place. Don’t take a week off or you’re setting yourself up for (what you will consider) a failure. Just set the boundaries for yourself and your nanny and work within those. And know that you may have to adjust them.

    Here’s the key (in my opinion): start with scheduling the feedings and don’t worry about the sleep, it will fall into place. When you start out you will probably have to wake Emmett for some meals and make him wait (which will involve some crying) for others. He’ll catch on.

    Don’t be too hard on yourself. Even the very worst parents aren’t parenting ALL wrong so you’ve at least got them beat. (Joke!) Enjoy the rest of the book and keep us posted on the schedule.

  3. by Heather Morgan Shott

    On May 30, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    Jill, I LOVE the book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. It’s written by a pediatrician, and it offers great ideas for getting your kid on a solid nap/sleeping schedule. Half a dozen moms recommended it to me when Mason was a baby, and it worked for us!

  4. by tricia

    On May 30, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    I’m in the same boat. My little boy just turned 4 months. My daughter is 15 months, old. When I think about the fact that she is far too active to fall asleep on my chest it breaks my heart. I say f the schedule! Cuddle your handsome cutie while you can!

  5. by Natalie

    On June 15, 2012 at 7:59 am

    I am in the exact same boat, except with my first child. He’s a little over four months and I found myself hysterical last night reading your blog because “it brought me to Jesus” on how quickly his little life is going so far! But that’s for another time and place (I’m working on publishing a website/blog…please check it out in a few weeks! http://www.booklovinbaby.com)

    I too have read A LOT on sleep. It became my new obsession. Sleep, when it happens, how long it’ll be, what will I get accomplished while he is down. Sometimes, my obsession gets me to the point where he’s down to nap (and in his swing more than his crib–guilty!!!), I’m dead dog tired from an every 3 hour night, and I just lay there unable to nap, waiting for him to wake up. Or lay there thinking about what I should be doing instead of laying there. It’s a sickness. Much like my obsession with his sleep. Hey, they say the first step is admitting you have a problem, right?

    When my son was around 5 weeks old, I read the book “The N.A.P.S. Program” which is about a ninety minute sleep cycle that every human goes through. In newborns, they reach a tiredness around every 90 minutes. As they get older, it could be every 180 minutes or 270 minutes…blah blah until they reach their set nap times. It doesn’t promote CIO, but rather says that babies don’t know how to put themselves to sleep and you have to help them. As I was reading the book things just clicked and it was the first real thing that made sense to me about sleep. But, it’s a full time job. And when we get thrown off our somewhat schedule, mama gets a little cranky. And annoyed at whoever is throwing us off the schedule.

    My mother has been trying to get me to CIO with Jude (my son), since he was a month old. Now at 4 months, when he is still not really consistent–sounds just like Emmett, some nights 8-9 straight hours, others every 3–I’m starting to attempt the CIO for naps. I last five minutes tops. Some days 2 or 3. I’m a special educator, with a degree in child psychology. I KNOW this is confusing the hell out of my little guy and yet I cave and can’t do it!! The complete opposite of how I was with my students when I was teaching.

    Ahh who knows. Motherhood is a beautiful thing. A beautifully difficult thing. And let’s be real, babies are made adorable for a reason! Good luck with your endeavors in slumberland!

  6. by Wally Hardie

    On August 2, 2012 at 9:59 pm

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