what type of parent are you?

So, I feel a little odd about my parenting style so far.  When you have kids (if you had kids, or if you’re thinking about it) all of sudden there is the big question: what kind of a parent will you be?  Attachment?  Authoritative?  French?  Helicopter?  Tiger Mom?  Intuitive?  Baby Led?  Seriously, those are all parenting styles.  It’s a little insane - and there’s no conclusive research that says “this one makes the best baby” because no two babies are the same!

I read SO many books about parenting when I was pregnant, and I have three favorites:

Baby Wise

Bringing Up Bebe

The Kind Mama

Here’s the funny thing about those being my favorites - they’re not at all similar to one another.  There are things I love and hate in each book, so I thought I would share a little bit about each, and what we’re pulling from each philosophy.

Baby Wise 

Baby Wise focuses a lot on the scheduling of children.  It encourages child led feeding and sleeping for the first few weeks, and then gently nudging baby onto a schedule.  Here’s the thing….I feel like a very observant mother, and I feed Claire on demand most of the time, but she still isn’t on much of a schedule.  In fact, I use an app to track my nursing and her feedings are pretty erratic.  In general, about 3-4 hours apart, but sometimes 2.

What I do like?  It encourages you to let you baby learn to fall asleep on her own.  The author pushes a baby schedule of sleep, feed, wake.  What this means is that you don’t nurse baby to sleep, you let baby learn to fall asleep on her own by putting her to bed awake.  It sounds very strange to parents who do the dance of feed, rock to sleep, place baby genttttttttly in the crib, pray they don’t wake up on impact, repeat x10 until it works.  We have never done that, not since the day Claire was born (knock on wood!!) and now have a nice system where Claire will go to bed sometime between 8:30 - 10:30 (like I said, she’s not on much of a schedule) and calm herself to sleep for the night.  I also try to let her take at least one nap each day where she falls asleep on her own, be it in the stroller or her crib.

Bringing Up Bebe 

This is probably my favorite parenting book by far.  I’m only going to speak to the baby portion of the book, because I obviously haven’t tried any of the toddler techniques.

Probably the most important technique in Bringing Up Bebe is learning to do “The Pause.”  In case you didn’t know, most French babies sleep through the night (8 hours) by 4 months old.  Sounds like a dream, right?  We’re not there yet of course, Claire is only 1.5 months.  But, we do practice the pause.  I don’t get up to respond to Claire at every whimper - in fact, I wait until she’s actually crying.  First of all, if she isn’t properly awake, she won’t eat well!  Second of all, if I do, I’m robbing her of the chance to learn how to soothe herself.  French parents believe a baby should be able to be alone & happy in their crib, and that doing such is a skill.  In fact, I believe that babies NEED that sometimes after doing it myself!  One morning, Claire was fussy no matter what I did - she’d been fed, I’d swaddled her, unswaddled her, put her in the swing, changed her diaper, and rocked/bounced her.  Nothing was working!  So I laid her in her crib and walked away.  She fussed for a second, and then went silent.  When I peeked in a few moments later, she was silently staring at the wall, and shortly afterwards fell asleep.  She just needed a moment alone!  So now I try to practice that every day, usually for her afternoon nap.  I lay her down, awake, maybe with a pacifier and let her work it out by herself.  This is NOT TO SAY that I let her cry it out, I don’t.  I’ve never let her cry (full on CRY) for longer than 5 minutes.  That’s never worked anyways - when Claire is full on wailing, she needs something.  But there’s a distinct difference between the cry of a lonely baby and a hungry/needy baby - Claire makes a “nyah” sound when she really needs something, and a “wah” sound otherwise.  I would never have noticed the difference between these two cries had I not started doing the pause, and I’m willing to bet other babies have separate cries for these reasons as well.  And as for how it's affecting her ability to sleep, she's recently begun going about 6 hours at her longest stretch at night, and we're thrilled with that.  

The main principle of Bringing Up Bebe is that the French teach their children patience, and that children who are able to practice patience are able to be happier.  I really believe that to be true, and the author backs it up with scientific evidence.  Have you ever heard of the marshmallow experiment?  Chances are if you took Intro to Psychology in college, you have.  

Essentially, a study was done on children's patience using marshmallows (or pretzels or chocolate, child's choice) as motivation at Stanford in the late 1960s.  About 600 kids ages 4-6 were presented with a marshmallow in a room, and told that if they ate the marshmallow immediately, that would be their only one.  If they could wait 15 minutes to eat it, they would receive a second marshmallow.  Most of the children failed to wait - only 1/3 made it, mostly the older children.  In follow-up studies, the researchers found that children who were able to wait longer for the preferred rewards tended to have better life outcomes, as measured by SAT scores, educational attainment, body mass index, and other life measures.  

What I don’t like about Bringing Up Bebe?  Well, it doesn’t discuss breast-feeding as a priority very often, but that’s pretty much it!  I basically thought that every other aspect of the book was dead-on.

The Kind Mama 
(Attachment Parenting)

I’ll probably get a lot of flack for promoting this book, so let me get out of the way what I DON’T like about it:

I will vaccinate Claire, and it bothers me that Silverstone suggests you shouldn’t and that you shouldn’t take your child to the doctor unless they’re very sick.  I will take Claire to each and every suggested check-up.

I do not practice elimination communication - we use Honest organic diapers, and I love them.  

She's strongly advocates having a natural home birth.  I have no real issues with home birthing, if you're close to a hospital and have a low risk pregnancy and a midwife attending.  HOWEVER, she tells her birth story in the book, and at the end she's forced to go to a hospital (while crowning) because her baby won't descend and needed medical intervention to be born safely.  After all that, she still pushes for natural home birth, even though the unthinkable could have happened had her own son not been born at a hospital.  As I said in our birth story, I was induced with Claire and had an epidural, and I wouldn't change a thing.  I don't like it when books are pushy with what they think is the "right" way to have a baby.

I don’t eat a vegan diet, although I am pescatarian.  I do believe that loading up a breastfeeding mother’s diet with the best possible foods will make better eaters in the long run, and I don’t believe eating meat is a part of that.

Phew!  So lots of things.

What I do like:

Silverstone goes in-depth about the importance of breastfeeding and how to troubleshoot any problems you’re having with it.  I strongly believe in the importance of breastfeeding, and I plan to do it with Claire….well, I’m not entirely sure how long.*  I can’t say I’d be surprised if we breastfeed until she’s 2, and although that seems strange to Americans, it's actually recommended.  In fact: "
the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reaffirms its recommendation of exclusive breastfeeding for about the first six months of a baby's life, followed by breastfeeding in combination with the introduction of complementary foods until at least 12 months of age, and continuation of breastfeeding for as long as mutually desired by mother and baby."  And okay, the mother on the cover of Time may have taken it a bit far, but I think it's time we drop the notion that breastfeeding a baby beyond a year old is weird......because it's just not.  

*I do want to note that this book is a bit militant about its recommendation to breastfeed, and could make some women who have trouble with it feel a bit bad about themselves.  I understand that it isn't possible for every mother and child, is sometimes very difficult, and I strongly believe that a happy mother makes a good mother.  If breastfeeding doesn't or didn't make you happy and you fed your baby formula, more power to you.  

Co-Sleeping. Claire sleeps in her crib each night from her “bedtime” until about 5 or 6 am, but after that she comes into bed with me.  I can’t say I see myself stopping this practice, I really enjoy having her in bed with me, and she sleeps much later in the morning if we do this.  Even if I get up and leave her there, she’s more likely to sleep in if she’s in our bed.  Cuddling with Claire in the morning is probably my favorite time of day,  and hers as well.  She actually smiled for the first time one morning laying next to me, and it's where she's smiled the most ever since.  The Kind Mama advocates full time co-sleeping, and although we don't practice that, I can't say that I hate the idea.  The media demonizes it because of some horrifying stories, but studies actually show that when a breastfeeding (non-smoking) mother and child sleep next to one another with very light bedding and baby's face away from the pillows, & with ZERO drugs or alcohol involved co-sleeping is safe and actually promotes healthier sleep for everyone involved.

Baby-wearing: It's been well-documented on this blog, I adore babywearing.  I think that so far, it has been a tremendous source of comfort for Claire, and has also enabled her to have the confidence to fall asleep on her own.  It allows us to really experience the world together - she can see nature from my vantage point, rather than from on her back on a stroller - and she's quickly calmed by the motion of my walking.  It keeps her from being overstimulated, a common problem that causes fussy babies.  Claire usually takes one nap each day laying on my chest in the sling, and there's just nothing better than that.  We can bond, even while I'm reaching around her to my laptop keyboard.  Baby carriers provide an easy way to breastfeed discreetly in public, which is fantastic if you're modest.  Claire also gets stressed out if she's passed around too much, especially with strangers, so if I have her in the sling it's easy for me to say "oh, it's kind of a pain to take her out, sorry!"  The Kind Mama goes even more in depth about the benefits of baby-wearing, and although attachment parenting advocates wearing your baby pretty much all the time, I don't take it quite that far.  In fact, as I said, Claire sometimes WANTS to be laid down by herself.  But I attribute that independence to the confidence she's gained from my being responsive to her and keeping her close much of the rest of the time, and that is a principle of attachment parenting - responsiveness to a real need breeds confidence in a child.  

So, those are the main things I've chosen to run with from the books I've read!  I guess that makes me a French/BabyWise/Attachment Parent?  That's probably the most ridiculous descriptor of a parenting style I've ever heard.  

Did any of you read these books?  Did you have other favorites?  I'd love to hear which parenting style or styles you most identified with!  

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