The Baby Whisperer

There are tons of baby books on the market, and one that was recommended to us before Elliot’s birth was Secrets of the Baby Whisperer (en français, Les secrets d’une charmeuse de bébés). I started reading it and it made me feel uneasy for a few reasons, the main one being that the author is against feeding on demand. Feeding your baby whenever they seem hungry, whether they have had their last feeding 1 or 3 hours ago, is what most experts now recommend, and from everything I have read it is the best way to succeed in breastfeeding, as it helps build and maintain the mother’s milk supply. According to Jack Newman, Toronto pediatrician and North America’s foremost expert on breast-feeding, a lot of successful breast-feeding moms run into problems when they start trying to put their baby on a schedule. The Baby Whisperer, however, pretends that feeding on demand makes for demanding babies and that you should instead put babies on a routine (but not a schedule, as she carefully points out) of eating, followed by activity and sleep, repeated about every 3 hours. After reading her take on that I stopped reading her book.

I should have given up on it completely, but a friend told me she had really liked the book so a few weeks after Elliot’s birth I started reading it again. It made me so upset! I suddenly felt like a terrible mother who did pretty much everything wrong. I started panicking when Elliot had a bad night, thinking it must be because I didn’t put him to bed sleepy, but awake, like the author recommends. I was unable to do it back then, but now, he can fall asleep by himself at night, and it happened naturally when he reached 7 weeks. Elliot is also feeding on demand, but he’s gaining well and he’s happy and healthy. So maybe I’m not doing that bad after all. But with every chapter I read, I started second-guessing myself until I finally realized that I was being silly and came back to my senses.

I’m sure that this book contains some good advice that can work for a lot of people, or else she wouldn’t have sold that many. But the author presents it that way: sure you can do things your own way and not listen to me, but sooner or later you will find yourself overwhelmed and need my help to fix the damage you did. So when I tried to follow her advice and found myself unable to do it, I felt (unnecessarily) guilty and useless. The future will tell if I should have tried harder, but for now I’ll stick to my ways and to books to have a philosophy similar to mine. And I’ll look at Elliot’s smile and pat myself in the back a few times. He’s all right. I’m all right. It’s all good!

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