Baby #2, moving to a new city, starting a new job, and the beginnings of raising our first 2-year-old required a brief hiatus from blogging. While this time has been devoid of blogging, it has been very rich in personal experiences to blog about. Today I am covering the idea of putting your baby on a schedule, which is the focus of most of the controversy when it comes to Babywise hatred. If you remember (or if you read between the lines) I favor the experience and recommendations of Richard Ferber, the children’s sleep expert at Harvard. However, just because what he writes makes scientific and logical sense to me, it does not mean that it works in the real world.
More on Ferberization
Now that we have survived raising two newborns, it seems quite clear to my wife and I that (as the Ferber book states) most babies are not neuro-developmentally capable of sleep training and a rigid schedule until they are around 3-4 months old. I must admit with our first two children we attempted to disprove this theory. However, after weeks and weeks filled with frustration and a general lack of success, we have really come to appreciate this tidbit of Ferber wisdom.
All Babies are Not the Same
Now this does not mean that no babies can be sleep trained before 3-4 months. Nor does this mean that ALL babies are ready for a schedule at 3-4 months. It has just been our experience that OUR children were not ready for the rigid schedule and sleep training until they were around 4 months old. Having this expectation is generally helpful. Helpful in the sense that it will reduce the frustration that you may feel if you are in the midst of the futile process of trying to sleep-train a baby who is just not neuro-developmentally capable.
Day & Night
It is also important to note that when I talk about sleep training, I am talking about the daytime nap schedule… not nighttime sleep. This is a completely different issue and understanding the difference between nighttime and daytime is an early skill that newborns can (and should) achieve.
I am not suggesting that Babywise is worthless or even wrong. In fact, the core concepts of parent-directed feeding and family centered childcare are by far the best in my opinion. Just don’t be surprised (or frustrated) if your baby takes a little longer than a week or two to the get the whole schedule thing… which is often times what Babywise seems to suggest.