I'm passing my copy of "Baby Wise" to a friend and I'm feeling nostalgic about it. It may be controversial but I'm standing by it.
The book, "On Becoming Baby Wise," which advocates placing newborns on a schedule in the first few weeks, is a lightning rod for controversy. A nurse practically hit the Code Blue button after a friend of mine mentioned she was planning to use the book's techniques with her newborn. A team of lactation specialists rushed in and warned her that it is a dangerous book.
Maybe they are assuming parents are morons. The book is careful to caution that you should always feed a hungry baby, it just assures parents that babies cry for other reasons than hunger, and helps you get through the first months without going insane.
I am a huge proponent of the book and I send it to all my friends who are having babies. Not only did both my children sleep through the night at around 10 weeks, we never had to do the cry-it-out technique to get them sleeping basically 10-12 hours straight nightly. I have friends who ignored the book who either finally turned to the cry-it-out technique, often with the help of expensive sleep consultants, or who just threw up their hands and slept with their children for what seems like well into the elementary school years. But everyone I know who used the book, has happy, well-rested babies -- and are able to get sleep themselves.
Parting with the book is a concrete reminder that my last baby is no longer an infant, that he is growing up. Catcher just turned one and he is sleeping like, well like a baby. Like a baby trained through Baby Wise, that is.
With both our children, people looked at us with amazement and jealousy when we said that our babies were sleeping through the night at 10 weeks (and the long stretches of six to eight hours started much earlier). It wasn't luck. It was the book.
The technique is very simple. You put your infant on a three-hour feeding schedule. With my older son, we waited probably as long as two weeks to start that. But Catcher basically put himself on that schedule from the start. The important part is not to nurse the baby to sleep. So you feed baby and then "play" with him for at least 20 minutes before putting him down for a nap. At first it seems like a struggle to keep the baby awake and there is no reason to torture him if he really wants to sleep. Even keeping the baby awake for a few minutes by changing his diaper can work at the beginning. The main point is to teach the baby to fall asleep on his own without having to be soothed to sleep every time. That way, when he wakes up in the middle of the night, he can fall back asleep on his own.
You generally start the three hour cycle from the beginning of the feeding. So I would nurse, keep the baby up for 20 minutes to an hour (the wake time progressively gets longer) and then put him down for an hour to an hour and a half nap. At first, you may end up feeding more often and that's fine. Just try to get back on the schedule later in the day, if you can. After the last feeding of the day, you can just put the baby straight to bed. I always tried to double feed at night by nursing once and then again in a half hour to give the baby an extra full belly. The schedule and nap times can sometimes get tricky so I have to advocate actually getting the book.
When Cash was a baby, it amazed my father-in-law that we would pick him up from the floor where he was playing and put him to bed and walk out in two minutes. He went from wide awake to asleep with no problem. And even if he didn't fall asleep immediately, he just talked to himself contently before drifting off. Catcher is the same.
Get the book, it could save you from spending several hundred dollars on a sleep consultant down the road -- or if you don't have the money for that (we didn't), it will keep you from suffering from severe sleep deprivation for months or years!