I’ve had a change of heart.
In a previous post about baby sleep resources, I shared a few thoughts about the book, “Secrets of the Baby Whisperer” by Tracy Hogg. At the time, I wasn’t particularly fond of the book and had some mixed emotions about it. Nevertheless, I’ve held onto the book for five years, meaning to read it again with my second child. For some reason, it’s had some sort of grip on me that I couldn’t let go.
I originally started reading the book when I had my daughter and dabbled in it briefly. I then put it down because it was causing stress and confusion. My goal was to teach my daughter to sleep and experienced the opposite. I was trying to avoid using crutches like rocking or swinging, which then resulted in no sleep at all. I resolved that I didn’t care how my baby fell asleep, the point was for her to sleep.
After I had my second baby, I started researching sleep again. I was determined to do a better job the second time around. Of all the books I was planning to read, “Secrets of the Baby Whisperer” kept nagging at me. I know I have the tendency to finish a book till completion despite the boredom, disinterest or poor quality. Perhaps this was the dynamic at play. However, the persistence was so compulsive that I decided to pick it up and finally put an end to the curiosity and pestering. I soon realized that my first impressions of the book were inaccurate.
Throughout the book I noticed I common theme of respect for the baby – listening to the baby for clues of unmet needs; asking permission to be in its personal space or touch its body; and talking to it respectfully as a human being instead of an object. Tracy uses the acronym S.L.O.W. to remind parents to slow down and listen to their baby’s language so that they can respond accordingly.
I’ve come to realize that Tracy Hogg has quite the balanced approach despite my first impression. She is realistic with the necessity of respecting the baby while still respecting the family. The baby can’t run the show at the expense of the parents because that isn’t healthy for anyone. Instead of creating a rigid schedule for the baby to follow or the parents allowing the baby to dictate their schedule, Tracy meets in the middle with her E.A.S.Y. routine.
According to Tracy, a routine is more flexible than a schedule but more structured than on demand. The E.A.S.Y. stands for:
E – Eat (feeding breastmilk/formula)
A – Activity (usually just a diaper change in the beginning; more activity as the window of wakefulness grows)
S – Sleep (baby sleeps)
Y – You (do whatever you need to do to care for yourself while the baby is sleeping)
I found her E.A.S.Y. routine super helpful and incredibly valuable. Actually, it was one of my main takeaways from the book when I read it 5 years ago. Since I’ve always kept this structure in the back of my mind, I intuitively started following the plan as soon as I had Jack.
Throughout the day, whenever he would cry for something and I felt unsure of what he needed, I’d go back to the routine. “Ok, he just ate an hour ago and I changed his diaper, he must be tired now.” It created a comfortable rhythm and flow to my day. All day, all I would do is E.A.S.Y. on repeat.
Regarding sleep, Tracy had a lot of good tips, tricks and clues to help know when the baby is tired. However, I didn’t find they particularly worked well for me. I found “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child” by Marc Weissbluth to be the most helpful resource coupled with Tracy’s E.A.S.Y. routine and the Dunstan Baby Language.
Upon taking a second look at the book, I see Tracy is a blend between cry it out and no cry strategies. She doesn’t let a bit of crying get in the way of teaching babies how to sleep. Furthermore, she doesn’t encourage props – like rocking, swinging, driving, which I find difficult to not use. To be honest, I have found the swing to be very useful when nothing else seems to work.
Nevertheless, I can appreciate her logic behind this advice. She advises to start as you would finish: if you don’t want to be rocking a 30 pound baby in the future, then don’t start now. I can appreciate what she’s saying, however, at some point you need to do what works. Habits can always be changed, although they can take a lot of time, energy and crying to break.
At the end of the book, she includes a troubleshooting section called “The ABC Cure for Accidental Parenting.” In this chapter she helps parents understand how they have contributed to difficulties and how to change bad patterns into good ones. While it’s obvious that you don’t want to start bad patterns to begin with, it is inevitable. We are all trying to do the best we can with the situations we have. Figuring out babies is hard and they don’t come with a manual. On top of that, we are sleep deprived and depleted. When my storehouse is running low, I’m desperate to do whatever it takes to get the outcome I need.
In conclusion, I found the overall tone of the book gentle and encouraging with respect as a major priority. However, reading the book a second time around hasn’t taught me anything more than I already acquired the first time I read it. Nonetheless, my aversion towards the book had decreased. While the E.A.S.Y. routine is still the biggest thing I take away from the book, I’m fortunate to be reminded of the importance of slowing down and tuning in to my baby. My son is almost a year old and I want to cherish as many moments as I can with him.