Confessions of a reformed baby-led parenting extremist

I mentioned the book On Becoming Babywise as a possible new parent gift in a recent post. It’s a controversial book that advocates a very strict parent-led schedule.

As with any parenting book, you really need to adapt the advice for the well-being of your own children. Strictly following someone else’s approach can lead to disastrous results, like in the heartbreaking case of Katie.

But how do you know which things to take, which to leave?

With my first son, I’d had some issues with breast pain and feeding frequently was recommended as a remedy. Those resources I found to help with my problem were mostly created by attachment parenting advocates, touting feeding your baby on demand, complete baby-led parenting, and other practices such as co-sleeping.

I fell into the attachment parenting category with ease at first.

But I didn’t really have a rounded view that took into account other approaches, so I couldn’t adapt it well to fit our family. Hey, it was my first baby! I didn’t know what this would mean for us as our baby grew into a toddler, given his personality. (No one can really know ahead of time, right?)

The attachment parenting approach particularly suited our first son. But maybe it was just that he responded to it because it’s what we did.

Regardless, the advice I followed manifested in his breastfeeding up to five times a night until he was past two years old.

This included months of sleepless nights as his reflux emerged and we held him upright for 20 minutes after feeding, only to have him wake and want to feed again before we could set him down.

If I had offered him a pacifier instead of the breast at those moments, perhaps he would have gone back to sleep. I would have been able to catch a few winks. And we all might have been a bit happier.

I nursed him to sleep for every nap and every bedtime for those two years, never leaving him to go out for more than two hours at a time.

With our second child, I noticed a natural schedule emerge from the start.

Almost like clockwork, he demands feeding at three-hour intervals.

Perhaps it was because he was fed on the clock in the special nursery at the hospital during his 24 hour stay there?

Or perhaps my first son was also like this but I was too quick to offer the breast, misreading his cues?

Now I know to roll with it. I have now seen the benefits of keeping some sort of schedule, sort of a middle of the road approach. While you don’t want to deny your baby nourishment when he or she is obviously hungry or ignore cries for attention, there’s really no need to offer the breast at every little wimper, either. Pacifiers and bottles all play a role with this guy. And somehow it’s all working. (Fingers crossed.)

I feel like we’re getting a second chance with this new baby. I still plan to use a baby sling when I can, perhaps co-sleep as he grows older and continue breastfeeding until he’s two.

But this time it will be a bit more on our terms, agreed upon by both baby and parents.

How about you? Have you ever switched parenting gears between babies?

Newborn photo shoots: 5 lessons learned
In defense of the lowly pacifier

Comments (2)

  1. Yacine

    Attachment parenting came natural to me. I did it with my first 2 kids before even reading about it. Attachment parenting does not mean you follow what someone said it should be. Sometimes we become technical with some of these things and when caring for babies or any human-being you can’t be too technical. Every mommy is different, every baby is different.

    One thing I knew from the start is that babies sometimes are not hungry they just want to something in their month especially when they’re teething. So knowing this I refused to be used as a pacify and of course got them a pacify. Interestingly as soon as they start having teeth they stop using the pacify. I must admit though I was never successful with setting feeding schedule.

    I think before following any parenting advice is good to figure out your baby’s personality like in your case Lisa, your baby already have a schedule so you work with that.

    When you want to be a loving caring parents lot of things will come natural.

    • Lisa

      Hi Yacine, yes, I’m learning with this second baby to use the pacifier, too. It would have saved a lot of back-breaking nursing sessions the first time around! So glad to hear yours weaned off it naturally when their teeth came in. Honestly, I’m a little nervous about having to stop it at some point. I agree with you on the points you bring up about how you can get to know your baby and then respond naturally.

      As an aside, isn’t it interesting how everyday things are given a “name” and then a definition, and then before you know it, parents are trying to do it according to how someone has said it should be? I had no idea of the different types of parenting styles until a friend sent me some links when I was first pregnant. But I knew I wanted our kids to sleep with us and to breastfeed. Just didn’t know that was part of something that had a name attached to it.

      By the way, I love hearing your comments on here! It’s wonderful for me – and the other readers – to get to know you better!

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