I Burned the Babywise Book

Yes.

I actually did.

I burned the Babywise book.

15 years ago an adorable little boy was born with a full head of jet-black hair and deep-set dimples.

I wanted nothing more than to be a mom, and I was so happy to finally hold my baby.

But, something wasn’t right –or at least not normal– from the beginning.

If you’ve had a baby with special needs or who otherwise wasn’t “normal,” you probably noticed from early on.

He cried whenever I put him down –even as an infant. He was colicky, with constant tummy problems, and wanted to nurse nonstop.

He couldn’t sleep unless I was holding him.

So, I held him.

A lot.

Basically, all the time.

I even slept on the couch with him snuggled in my arms so his dad who was working swing shift at a lumber mill (which is some pretty intense manual labor) could get a good night’s sleep.

I was hardly sleeping. I couldn’t keep with house clean. I learned to cook and wash dishes with him in-arm.

Out of desperation, I drove almost two hours to get a baby sling to wear him –this was way before babywearing was even a thing here.

I was so worn out.

I tried everything I could find from those baby tablets that were supposed to help with sleep problems to something called Gripewater.

Nothing worked.

Around the time I thought I had tried everything, a friend gave me the book Babywise.

She swore by the book, and her 2-week-old baby was already on a schedule and sleeping regularly and predictably.

Well, goodness, if it works that well it’s worth a try, right?

So, I read the book and proceeded to try the advice given.

My son cried for hours.

Hours.

Not just cried: screamed.

I did what the book said, and it didn’t work.

I called my friend back and she said, “Oh, well, you just didn’t let him cry long enough.”

Really?

Well, I’m no quitter. On average, I’m the most stubborn person in the room.

So, we did it again.

He cried for over 4 hours one night. I sat outside his bedroom and sobbed.

I was 21 years old, this was my first baby, and I am the first to admit that I really had no idea what I was doing.

But, I knew deep in my soul that this was not right.

My 4-month-old deserved better than this.

This was bordering on child abuse.

Infants cry because their instincts tell them to cry in order to communicate that something’s wrong.

Not because they’re manipulative or disobedient.

I picked up my screaming baby, nursed him until he was calm, and put the book away.

I never used a single thing taught in the book again.

A few months later we moved to a lovely little wood-heated cottage on a long country lane. I was unpacking the books onto our bookshelf after the move and spotted the Babywise book.

“What a load of crap.” My then 22-year-old self grumbled to the empty room. “Way to make me feel like a complete loser: ‘You can’t even get your baby to sleep right.’”

I almost put it in the donate bag. My hand hovered —Babywise in hand– over the bag for a moment.

Do I really want to burden another mom with this trash hogwash advice?

Then, I jumped up and shoved it into the wood stove, slamming the heavy iron door behind it.

“That’s what you can do with your Babywise.”

I returned to my unpacking and soon heard my son stirring in his crib in the other room.

He did learn to sleep in his own bed.

Eventually.

In his own time.

He was six months old before he would sleep without me holding him.

That does not make me a failure.

It makes me the mother of a child who had unique needs that did not fit nicely into a formula.

not a failure babywise post


I am not a failure. I am the mother of a child who has unique needs that do not fit nicely into a formula. —Sarah Forbes


 

Today, he doesn’t have any sleep problems.

But he does have ADHD, a handful of learning disabilities, an anxiety disorder he inherited from his dad’s side of the family, and possibly some things we haven’t diagnosed yet.

Also, he has food sensitivities like I do. But, I wouldn’t learn about his sensitivities –or mine– until more than a decade later.

I am pretty sure the food sensitivities are what caused his ongoing upset tummy.

When he was ready, he started sleeping on his own.

No amount of pushing before he was ready helped.

This has been true his whole life.

I tried potty training him at age 2 when my friends were training their toddlers.

Completely and totally futile.

He potty trained when he was ready.

At age three and a half.

I feel like my whole motherhood with him has been learning to let go and let him be his own person.

On his own schedule.

My second born did most (but not all) things on schedule –or even early.

If I’d had him first, I’m sure that I would have thought all those moms with fussy babies were just doing it wrong.

I cringe when a neurotypical, healthy mom tells a mom who has health problems and special needs (or a family history of it) that if she just followed a schedule and did the Babywise thing her baby would sleep and be happy.

That’s not necessarily true.

For many of us of, it is not.

If Babywise worked for you, I’m happy for you.

More power to ya!

If not, it’s okay: you’re normal –most parents I talk to say it did not work for them.

If it didn’t help, feel completely free to burn the book.

I promise you won’t be the first.

By far.

And, your kid will still grow up to be fine without it.

He will grow up to be himself in his own time and in his own way.

Just like mine did.

Blessings,

Sarah


Because my children need to be able to develop at their own rate, I have chosen to homeschool and let them not only grow at their own rate but learn on their own schedule too. You can read more about that here:


There Is No Behind in Homeschool


So, You Want to Homeschool Your ADHD Child


The Challenging Child


The Testimony of a Strong Willed Child

 

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2 thoughts on “I Burned the Babywise Book

  1. I could have written this post! We had an almost identical experience with my first, though we figured out the food issues around 12 months, and it made a huge difference.

  2. You did the right thing. That was the wackiest book ever. We went to 3 classes and quit.
    Their theory of, “if God let His own son cry out and did not respond, why shouldn’t we?” was a bunch of crap.
    Yes, kids can manipulate, but a baby needs attention.
    Period.

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