Book Review 'Becoming Babywise' + Some quick learnings from the book

16 January 2019

I've had this book checked out from library since many months. I've extended the loan 3 times so last week, when it was 5 days to its due back date, I sat through this book instead of my phone, while breastfeeding. What a treat! and I only wished I'd read it earlier. It would have saved us a lot of confusion of new born days. Like baby crying. So much crying. Mix  baby crying with sudden life changes courtesy motherhood + Starving parents + Hormonal changes = Mum crying. It was overwhelming. As new parents, when the baby cries, you feel guilty and inadequate. I felt like I should know, but how. Parenthood is one job that you are suddenly thrown into and expected to excel in, with no training provided. If only I knew that its normal for newborns to cry for 1-4 hours each day and every newborn has their own preferred fussy time (Aiza's was 6-8 pm). Fortunately, the crying got better as we learned more about each other, our needs and expectations from each other. If I'd read this book earlier, I would have better prepared. But oh well! you live and learn. It's given us some good memories from those hard days so it's all good. If you are a parent-to-be, it's definitely going to be a very good read, though I feel like you'll refer to this book once again when you actually have a baby. It's not possible to imagine every hypothetical scenario, when you are still expecting the baby and are enjoying all the attention pregnancy brings. Everyone says parenthood is hard, but just how hard! you only know when you are in the thick of it. My book review is that go read it! Maybe buy it for yourself for future reference too. It has some good guidelines on how much sleep or feedings are needed at what age, so its something you might use again.

While reading it, I came across a lot of things which I felt like I'll forget so I started noting them down. I'm gonna jot down my leanings from this book below. It might help some of you too.

- Get on feed-wake-sleep cycle, instead of waketime-feed-sleep routine. Avoid feeding to sleep.
- Parent Directed Feeding (PDF) is the best and most sensible approach, instead of looking for hunger cues or being on a strict time based feeding schedule. Common sense and parental instincts should be at work. Parent decides when to feed the child based on the infant's needs and parent's schedule (usually every 3 hours)
- Crying is ok. It's normal for newborns to cry 1 to 4 hours a day.
- Some crying for self-settling is ok for better sleep habits of the future, which is good for both the baby and the family.
- Remove negative sleep associations such as feed to sleep, Rocking, moving, car seat, etc.
- Too much flexibility in first feed of the day changes the whole day. Be as consistent with schedule as possible. Babies love consistency.
- Both extremes are bad. You can't let baby cry it out all day nor should you block all crying. Some crying is acceptable. You can't keep a baby entertained all day/night.
- When babies move from one sleep cycle to next, it is normal to whimper, cry, etc. Don't do the mistake of going in and help them settle. Give them 5-10 minutes to self-settle before intervention.
- 2.5-3 hour intervals are best for feeding. Of corse it's baby dependent. More feeds will also be needed during growth spurts.
- Listen to your baby's crying cues and types of them.
- Teething starts between five to 7 months. Lower two come first, then middle upper two teeth. Teeth tend to appear sooner in girls than boys.
- It is not recommended that babies be given whole cow milk till they are at least one year old. While baby may not wean from breast or bottle for a year, mom must think ahead by introducing the sippy cup around 6 to 7 months of age.
- If you have twins, assign one breast to each for the day.
- The temptation is to focus on how much the baby eats and whether they are gaining weight consistently. The true key to eating and weight gain is sleep. A rested baby will eat. An exhausted, agitated, sleep-deprived baby will howl, fuss, suck ineffectively and spit up repeatedly. Overall the newborn babies whose parents focus on sleep rather than calories will get more nutrition because they will be better rested, have better digestion and be ready to suck strongly.
- Breasted babies over a month old may only have one or two stools per week because breast milk is 100% digested.
- Mum should focus on her hydration. Milk does not produce milk. Drink water after every feed.
- To get baby's day and night right, start with a consistent time that works well for you and your family for baby's first morning feed. Wake up sleeping baby if necessary and work with him to take a full feeding. Feed him at regular intervals throughout the day (about 3 hours).
- Every baby has a personal fussy time.
- Focus on full feeding. Do what you have to do to keep them awake during the feed- changing diaper, undressing, rubbing head and feet with cool damp washcloth. Babies learn very quickly to become snackers if you let them.
- If there's too much flexibility with his first feed of the day, everything down the line will change. Be consistent. (I struggle with this)
- If you approach care of baby as a burden or drudgery, your children will respond in burdensome way, and you will experience drudgery. Instead, see each day as an adventure and know that each stage of your children's development is precious.
- There are newborn's 3 day and 3 week checklist in the book- things to expect, milestones. They can be very helpful for first time parents. It can help with the anxiety and uncertainty of initial days.
- Healthy and unhealthy growth indicators for Week one and beyond. Examples of healthy indicators for Week 1 being baby goes to breast and nurses, nurses minimum of 8 times in 24 hours, has passed his first stool 'meconium', has 2-3 wet diapers a day and the diapers are becoming more frequent as days pass.
Unhealthy indicators examples- Baby not showing desire to nurse or weak suck, fails to nurse 8 times in 24 hours, baby nurses less than 15 minutes, tires quickly and continually falls asleep at breast, clicking sound while nursing, no wet diaper 48 hours after birth.
- The book also has healthy growth indicators for week 2-4.  For example- 8 times nursing in 24 hours, 6-8 wet diapers a day, clear urine, yellow stools for breastfed baby, strong suck and swallow action while nursing, increased alertness, baby gaining weight & growing in length.
- Research suggests that parents who carried out PDF method of breastfeeding (Parent directed Feeding) stuck to it longer than parents who demand fed or followed a strict routine. 
- Normal weight gain guide suggests that for first 3 months, babies gain two pounds a month/ 1 ounce per day and they double their birth weight by six months. In one year, baby is 2.5-3 times his birth weight.

Sleep Requirements for baby
I'm now keen to read Babywise II which is a guide on introducing solid foods, managing mealtimes, nap transitions, travelling with infant, setting reasonable limits while encouraging healthy exploration and parents learning to teach their baby the basic sign language. I'm quite excited to read it. I'm not an avid reader and I can easily be put off by the book that does not spark my interest or is too hard to read/follow. Babywise I is really well written, it keeps you engaged and the solutions provided are not extreme. They were more like a reassurance that I'm doing things right.

The next book in the series  'Becoming Pretoddlerwise' covers the period of 12 to 18 months, to prepare parents for the toddlerhood ahead. There are many other books in the series like Toddlerwise, Preschoolwise, Childwise, Preteenwise and Teenwise.

After reading the book, I've been trying to follow most of the recommendations and the one I've struggled the most is to not feed the baby before sleeping. It's a special art to time nursing so it's about 3 hours apart but is also not right before nap time. That a waketime follows feeding.

Book encourages self settling and wee bit of crying that comes it. Some days Aiza would self settle easily but most days its a cry nation if she's not patted to sleep after she wakes up after one sleep cycle. I'm also struggling with having one consistent time for her first feed of the day.

Baby girl is in her 4 month sleep regression right now so I can't say if I'm doing things by the book at the moment because you do what you have to do to get a hyperactive child to sleep, but it has certainly been a very good guide, something to work towards. Parenting a hard juggle and you cannot follow a book to T. Everyday is different, some days I'm on top of my game, somedays feed to sleep it is!

What's the best baby book you've read? Do share with me so I can read it too!


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