I had heard of Bringing Up Bebe while watching the TODAY show one morning when I was pregnant with Bennett. It’s a nonfiction book about an American mother who lives in France. While raising her own daughter, she begins to take notice of the subtle, but meaningful techniques French mothers used with their children. I say “techniques”, but they weren’t thought of that way by the French moms. It was just how they raised their kids. They didn’t really think about it at all.
For example, they believed in rules, but rules within a realm of freedom. Like, you have to be in your room at 8:00, but you can go to bed whenever you choose.
Or the 4 magic words: please, thank you, hello, and goodbye. They think hello and goodbye are important because it allows children to notice that there are other people in the world besides them.
There are many more, but the one that stood out to me was the concept of waiting. Basically, when an infant would cry, they wouldn’t run in and immediately start to comfort them; they would wait. Just wait and listen. The French mothers knew that children who learned the concept of waiting very early in life would carry that important characteristic with them later. The author noticed that most French children were extremely patient. In restaurants, they wouldn’t be throwing their food or whining that they wanted to go home; while her French friends were on the phone, their children wouldn’t be constantly asking them questions or to go get them something; and, French babies slept. They slept all night long from a very early age. *Cue flashing lights and fireworks*
I decided I would give this “waiting” thing a try. I started in the hospital. When Bennett would start crying, I would count to 10 before I’d pick him up. When we got home, I broke all the rules that first week because he had a hard time distinguishing between night and day. But, once he got that straightened out, it was waiting game on.
To make a long story short, Bennett started sleeping from 8 to 7 when he was 8 weeks and hasn’t looked back. Naps took us a little longer, but he eventually got that, too. These days, he doesn’t cry when he wakes up (for naps or in the middle of the night) because he knows we’ll come to get him…eventually.(ha) He patiently waits. Of course, there are exceptions every once in while. No baby is a machine, but 98% of the time, he is a very go-with-the-flow, patient kid.
I don’t know for sure that it was what I read in Bringing up Bebe that did the trick. Raising kids is a giant case of trial and error. What works for Bennett may not work for 100 other kids. They’re all different and unique and we parents just have to keep trying out different things to see what works for our little one. It’s a crap shoot. Good thing they’re so cute.