I have been reading some books on what to do once the baby is here, and I thought I'd report what I'm thinking about. I'd love to hear from some of you who are experienced moms (or just moms at all, if you don't consider yourself experienced), or big sisters (like me) who have lived with babies in your life.
First, I read My First 300 Babies by Gladys Hendrick, who worked with hundreds of babies and their parents to train them to be on a schedule. I am not sure, but I think this book was written in the 50's or 60's (possibly 70's), just by the dated content -- glass bottles, cloth diapers, length of time women stayed in the hospital after giving birth. I found much of what Mrs. Hendrick suggested to be helpful. Her motto "It's not what the baby does, it's what you do about it . . . because babies are unpredictable," made a lot of sense to me. Her experience seemed to speak for itself, and the families who had her help seemed very pleased with the outcome! However, she was RATHER strict on her scheduling. She starts with a schedule the day you come home from the hospital (I'm imagining that really means when the baby is about a week old, not 2 days old like they are now), and plans for the baby to go 4 hours between feedings right away (3 during the day). That seemed like a lofty goal, and maybe not possible, but her firmness reminded me of a grandmother figure saying "honey, don't freak out. . . your baby can deal with it." Though I don't think I'll actually go with her schedule, I think reading this book will help me to stay calm and let my baby cry a bit when she lays down to sleep, etc. It should also help with planning parts of the day when the baby gets a bit older -- she advocates teaching a child how to play and entertain itself first in the playpen, and then in it's bedroom during part of each day. I think this is helpful especially when you only have one child, and you feel the need to be his/her constant entertainer.
Now I'm reading Babywise by Gary Ezzo. So far, this has been much more flexible, but with structure. In case you aren't familiar, Babywise advocates putting your baby on a 2 1/2 to 3 hour feeding schedule after it's a week old, and carefully monitoring your child's growth. This book deals a lot more with breastfeeding -- every aspect -- which I find helpful. Friends that I know who have done Babywise have told me the same thing: that the baby is more pleasant when he/she is awake, because they wake up hungry, you feed, and then during their alert times, they are happy! It makes sense. I know quite a few families who have done their own version of Babywise (someone told me it's like a recipe -- take out what you don't like, or put in what you do), and seem to have success. I know my mom used a flexible schedule with my sisters, and I recall clearly setting the timer for 20 minutes every time they cried when they were put to bed.
I guess at the end of the day, I'm going to have to do some sort of schedule, even if I weren't convinced of the benefits, because I'm going back to work. Hopefully, things like sleeping through the night, and being able to successfully breastfeed will just be additional benefits that come along with the territory!
What have you done? Weigh in on this topic, please!