After a brief love-affair with The Baby Whisperer, I am ready to end the relationship. The package is bright and shiny, but underneath is a messy ball of contradictions not grounded in reality.
I've come to this conclusion as after a week of Henry not suckling on one of our fingers (and refusing to take a pacifier), I began to realize that his need was not disappearing like a bad habit should, but that his crying before going to sleep was because his need to suckle was not being met. Yes, he could still get to sleep and function without the suckle, but how unpleasant to be consistently ignored by your parents and really for no discernible good reason.
Now that Henry can suckle again, he doesn't always cry before going to sleep and I feel is more secure knowing that he is being understood and his needs met. His suckling does not last very long, and I am not as liberal with putting my finger in his mouth as before.
There are many BW practices which I will throw out the window. Starting with waking him up from any nap longer than 2 hours during the day. So long as it doesn't affect his night sleep, why not let him sleep when he's tired?
Then there's the routine I will no longer reinforce.
After he wakes his diaper is changed. Then he is offered food, even if he doesn't seem hungry. If he doesn't want to eat, that's ok, but at least he knows when it will be offered. (Why does he need to know this?) Then he has activity until he yawns. I then wind him down with some sitting/cuddling/story/food until he is ready to sleep and then I hold him until he's almost asleep. I try putting him in his crib in order for him to learn how to put himself to sleep. Most often doesn't work and I end up holding him until he's asleep.
Even the above is not quite up to BW standards. I should only offer the bottle every 3-4 hours, NOT as a way for him to prepare for sleep. Also, he should be put into his crib as soon as he's wound down so that he can learn to fully put himself to sleep. She recommends starting her EASY routine as early as Day 1, with obviously some weeks to implement.
Basically, now in lieu of following the Baby Whisperer's plan, I will instead listen to and respond appropriately to what my baby wants/needs. GASP! Of course I will be mindful of not creating bad habits, but who is this woman to determine that all babies will respond to her insane method?
I know I've been driving S crazy with my micromanaging:
"No, it's not time for Henry to be hungry, I know he sounds hungry but don't give him a bottle!"
"Henry should be waking up in 0.25 of an hour, but it's possible he'll enter into another sleep cycle. So be poised to get him up if he wakes (we don't want to create any trust issues) but let him cry a little in case he does just go back to sleep."
Seriously. Henry is a good communicator. It's not difficult to know when he's hungry/ tired/ bored and he doesn't over-eat, over or under sleep or have trouble playing.
The Baby Whisperer pretends to be about understanding your baby and treating them with respect. But I feel that a baby is still a person and should be treated as such.
I would not tell my friend that she couldn't eat in-between lunch and dinner just because she was hungry.
If S wanted to read a book after he woke up without eating first (God forbid), would I take his book away and force him to chow down some scrambled eggs and then give the book back?
So my conclusion is that the Baby Whisperer's approach is essentially flawed. Perhaps it can work for all babies who live in a bubble and are being groomed for military service. But our life like most people's is a little unpredictable.
On the upside, I feel more assured that should we need to get Henry onto a real schedule for daycare in a few months, that it won't be as difficult as I might otherwise have thought.
We are looking forward to spending the next few days and weeks celebrating the holidays with family and friends.
I wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!