Zs without Ezzo

| | Comments (2)

Two nights ago our 10-week-old boy slept 7 hours straight. Last night he slept for 6 1/2 hours.

We used Gary Ezzo's scheduled feeding method with our first two kids: A minimum of three hours from the start of one feeding to the start of the next, and if the baby starts crying before it's time for another feeding, let him cry it out.

The Ezzo method seemed to work well with the first, who slept through the night at six weeks, and never had problems gaining weight or nursing. It didn't work as well with the second; my wife had supply problems, the baby had trouble nursing efficiently, and we had to supplement with formula, going to all formula after about six months.

Over the last few years, we had read enough about problems with Ezzo's method (and Ezzo's character) to decide we weren't going to do things the Ezzo way this time. What we saw as the method's success with our first child was really just that it happened to fit his natural cycle. It's like assuming that the "see-say" method of reading works because some children do very well with it, even if most would be better served to be taught phonics.

This baby has been nursed on demand. He has been rocked and swung and bounced to sleep. He has been allowed to fall asleep right after nursing. (The Ezzo method insists on awake time after eating and discourages letting your baby become "dependent" on assistance in getting to sleep.) I have some really sweet pictures of my wife snoozing in the nursing chair with the baby asleep in her arms.

Some friends from church lent us this amazing hammock-like device called an Amby Bed. The bed hangs from a spring and is attached to a frame with some flex to it. I put the baby in the bed, bounce and swing him gently for five minutes or so, and he is sound asleep. If he stirs, it creates enough movement to soothe him back to sleep. The idea, of course, is to mimic the motion he experienced in the womb.

We've been helped by the concept of the "fourth trimester," an idea put forth by UCLA pediatrics professor Harvey Karp:

Karp's premise is that infants need a "fourth trimester" to finish developing -- a luxury denied because of the biological imperative for babies to hurry up and be born before their heads grow too large for safe passage

That concept should relieve parents of the worry that by doing whatever helps to soothe our babies' crying or to help them sleep, we're somehow establishing negative patterns that will have to be unlearned later. Instead, we're helping our babies be comfortable, secure, and happy during a phase that they'll soon outgrow.

My wife and I saw a video by Karp that we borrowed from the library. He teaches five techniques, all starting with "S", to trigger what he calls the calming reflex in a baby: swaddling, hold baby on his side or stomach (not for sleeping), shooshing (white noise), swinging, and sucking. Swaddling hasn't worked well with our baby -- he manages to free his arms pretty easily -- but the other techniques have helped, particularly white noise and swinging.

UPDATE: My wife corrects my recollection re: swaddling:

One clarification should be added. After we saw the video and before the two month mark, I really worked on swaddling our baby, to stop those flailing arms, especially at night. Swaddling was very difficult with our big baby boy, but I believe it was quite important before our 2 month - 13 lb. mark.

I actually bought fabric that was larger than all of our swaddling blankets, before I could keep his hands tucked in well. This actually did gain me some extra precious sleep at night, perhaps by keeping his flailing arms from waking him up. After I began -successfully- tucking his arms in, I was able to get more than the 2 - 2 1/2 hour between the start each feeding many nights. (I tried to keep daddy from noticing some of those nighttime feedings, so I don't think he noticed the swaddling change that month as much as I did.)

Any new nursing mother can sing the glorious change in schedule when the baby shifts from needing a meal every 2 or 2 1/2 hours to the "increased freedom" of the 3 - 3 1/2 hours apart schedule. (Of course this is a general shift - sometimes he wants the shorter cycle, but I have encourage those in the daytime hours when possible. I would like to fill the majority of his calories before the wee hours of the morning when possible.)

The first shorter cycle may allow 45 minutes to an hour of "free" time between each feeding, round the clock. (Don't expect coherent conversation or an orderly household here. Real sleep is only imagined at this stage. I even forgot how to turn on my car headlights for a moment during this stage. May God continue to bless the mom's who drove my kids home at this stage - they kept you safe on the road as well.)

The 3 or 3 1/2 hour typical schedule might mean that a mom has 1 1/2 to 2 hours that are not directly involved in feeding before the next cycle. That is a glorious graduation. I would not be surprised to find the size as well as age of a newborn has a role in this transition, but when they start as large as ours have, we have a good head start.

Perhaps the snuggly Amby bed has made a difference for us as well. This exhausted mom was willing to try any safe recommendations for some sleep help.

We haven't needed to swaddle much, or desperately resort to a swing as often lately. I am still going to be grateful, rather than expect the 5 or 6 hour break at night. It is a little too recent for me to claim it as a habit, but I am hoping for it. His big brother was a champ in this arena. They look alike, perhaps they will sleep alike as well.

The best thing about being free from the Ezzo approach is that there's no guilt in doing what you'd do instinctively -- pick up and comfort a crying baby. And our little boy is growing and healthy, and he gives us some precious smiles.

Baby Bates and Big Sis


susan said:

What a great picture!

I would not suggest the Ezzo method either.

Chuck said:

After reading this post, I looked into the Ezzo method, it seems harsh. I would have totally been riddled with guilt, for sure.

Sounds like you are having fun with a new son. I can relate, we have a newborn too.

Oh, and thanks for the link to that family that has the preemie - both of my sons were early.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on March 19, 2006 12:10 AM.

Tulsa Hills TIF bonds approved was the previous entry in this blog.

Bank refuses to lend money for eminent domain development is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.



Subscribe to feed Subscribe to this blog's feed:
[What is this?]