We’re a Baby Wise family. Kind of. There. I said it.
Today’s post is about why we tried Baby Wise when Anna was an infant, what we liked about it, what we didn’t, and why we’ll likely follow a similar scheduling technique with our next baby.
Some of you are thinking: “What’s the big deal? We did Baby Wise too.”
Others are thinking: “You’re terrible parents who starve your child.”
And others are wondering, “Um, what’s Baby Wise?”
Let me first say, I’ve hesitated to write this post because anything related to parenting choices can easily become preachy, judgmental, cocky, arrogant, or all of the above. My intention is not to do any of those things but rather explain what Baby Wise is, why we chose to try it, and how it’s worked (and not worked) for us.
Additionally, I’m leaving any and all faith based arguments for Baby Wise out of this summary. While there are faith based elements in the Baby Wise book, I don’t believe God advocates parents to one parenting technique over another when it comes to feeding, sleeping and loving on infants. As my friend Ashlee recently wrote, “At the end of the day, I’m going to do what is best for my family, and you are going to do what’s best for your family. One does not equal the other. It doesn’t mean one of us is right and one of us is wrong.”
What is Babywise? Babywise is a term coined by authors Gary Ezzo and Robert Buckman and comes from the book On Becoming Baby Wise: Giving Your Infant the Gift of Nighttime Sleep. On a very basic level, Babywise is both a feeding and sleeping method. I like the way this blog summarizes it:
The Babywise method indicates you should feed on schedule every 2 1/2 to 4 hours (depending on age) rather than on demand after your baby is a week to 10 days old. It is also routine-based that indicates that you should eat-play-sleep, in that order, every time. This means that your baby wakes up, you feed him, your baby plays, then goes to sleep and repeat this all day long. The book outlines how long between feedings at various ages and indicates your baby should sleep through the night from an early age (around 8 to 12 weeks, for the most part).
The idea behind the eat-play-sleep routine is that your baby will know what to expect every day, providing predictability and security to both of you, will take a full feeding since he is not too sleepy falling asleep while eating, and will not associate feeding with sleeping (a common reason for baby sleep problems), and have a much better/happier awake period being both full and rested.
Why we tried Babywise: To be honest, all of my college girlfriends who had babies before me used the eat-play-sleep schedule and had amazingly happy babies. When I spent time with these friends I noticed they were confident in their baby’s needs, and the babies weren’t as fussy or unpredictable as many other infants I’d been around. Happy babies, happy mamas? Sign me up!
Did we ever question Babywise? During our hospital’s labor and delivery class, the nurse instructor was VERY, VERY anti-Babywise. We left the class feeling judged about our decision to try this parenting technique but agreed that her warning meant we should do more research on the method. We found out why some people are critical, and called a few friends who advocated using this type of feeding/sleep training. What we discovered is that some die-hard-follow-the-rules parents did not pay attention to, or follow, their child’s actual needs for milk resulting in baby’s failure to thrive. We committed to not being those people.
Did Babywise work for us? In a short answer, yes, I think Babywise was a key part to us establishing a healthy routine with Anna when she was young that resulted in her being a healthy eater, and a great sleeper, at a young age. In a much longer answer, no, Baby Wise didn’t work perfectly…nor should it. My biggest complaint with Baby Wise is the author’s attitude and belief that all babies can and should follow identical patterns. I think the reason this book is both popular and hated is because it takes an absolute stance on the whens and hows of feeding and sleeping. I’d argue that other best-selling parenting books do the same. As a parent, it’s very important to read these books with an understanding that not all babies are the same.
What I’d recommend for people trying to implement Baby Wise, or any type of scheduling method with their children:
- Read several different types of books and/or blogs on scheduling to get a varied opinion on how it can be done. Chronicles of a Babywise Mom is great because she has three very unique children, so one can see how the method varies per child.
- Talk to other parents who have successfully used this type of feeding/sleeping schedule. I had many desperate late night phone calls with girlfriends where I said, “Babywise said do this, and this, and this, but it’s not working!” and they said, “Yeah, that didn’t work for us either. Here’s what we did instead…”
- Know that scheduling is very easy for some babies, and takes longer for others.
- Start early, but don’t start too early. Enjoy your newborn days without the stress of watching a clock every moment and never getting the sweet moments of rocking them to sleep.
- When you start thinking, “I’m doing something wrong because she’s still not sleeping!” just know this: you’re not doing anything wrong. Babies are, well, babies. Sometimes they don’t sleep.
For more on this topic: