On Becoming Babywise

For the next few weeks I am going to be sharing my experiences as a first time mommy and what has worked for our family during this past (very soon to be) year. Sigh. I can’t believe my baby is going to be year old in June. If you are with child or looking for a baby shower gift be sure to check out my Baby Registry Must Haves.

Josh and I decided early on in our pregnancy with Caden that we would be following the schedule outlined in On Becoming Baby Wise: Giving Your Infant the GIFT of Nighttime Sleep. We know there are many differing opinions on this book but for us it has been one of the best decisions we have made for our family.

If you have never heard of Babywise take a few minutes and google the title. Bloggers and reviewers have devoted entire websites to this book, both for and against. I am not going to debate this book or tell you it is the right choice for all babies, because there is no such thing. What I am going to do is explain how this method worked for me and my family.

The basic principals of the BabyWise Method include:

  • Eat, play, sleep schedule for baby
  • Striving for awake time during and after a feeding
  • Trying for full feedings as opposed to snacks
  • Putting baby to sleep without many props

With Josh being a firefighter sleep is crucial. For our family, deciding to sleep train Caden was a must. After talking with several friends who all had huge success after implementing the suggestions in this book we knew we would be a Babywise family. This method provided us with structure and taught us how to establish a routine for our newborn. We had an open and flexible mindset as we followed this book. If something didn’t seem to work for us we kept trying different variables until we had a positive outcome.

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Our first day home from the hospital was a blur. Putting everything away, finishing the final touches on the nursery, and of course sitting and staring at our new baby. That night as we placed Caden in his crib and made sure his swaddle was snug we quietly walked out of the room and immediately went back to look at him again before gently closing his nursery door. I admit Josh and I were glued to the baby monitor and checked on him multiple times that first night. Needless to say, we didn’t get much sleep, maybe 5 hours total after waking up round the clock to feed him. By three months of age Caden was sleeping 8 hours solid at night and at four months he graduated to rockstar status by sleeping 7pm-7am.

The following is an outline of Caden’s nursing and bedtime schedule for the last 11 months.

Birth: Every 2-3 hours for the first two weeks to increase Caden’s weight per doctors orders. After Caden’s weight increased we were given the go ahead from his pediatrician to allow him to sleep during the night without needing to wake him to eat.

Week 3: 4am, 7am, 10am, 1pm, 4pm, 6:30pm, 9pm, and 12:30am. Bedtime at 7pm followed by the last two feedings.

Week 7: 5am, 7am, 10am, 1pm, 4pm, 6:30pm, and 9:30pm. Bedtime at 7pm followed by a dream feed.

Month 3: 7am, 10am, 1pm, 4pm, 7pm, and 9:30pm. Bedtime at 7pm followed by a dream feed.

Months 4 – 9: 7am, 10am, 1pm, 4pm, and 7pm. Bedtime at 7pm.

Month 10 – 11: 7am, 11am, 3pm, and 7pm. Bedtime at 7pm.

Nap times were more of a challenge. Three month old Caden was averaging 60-90 minutes of daytime sleep. The Buschel house was not a fun place to be from 5-7pm. We had a very tried, cranky, and screaming baby for 2 hours each day. Up until this point we had been successful with following the book verbatim in regards to attempting to encourage Caden to nap without a sleep aid. My definition of success changed the moment we introduced Caden to the glorious pacifier. Cue sunbeams and choir singing! This was a game changer. We deviated from what the book said, became more flexible, and Caden napped! Yay for sleep aids!

At 11 months old, Caden now takes a morning and afternoon nap for a total time of 3-4 hours. It is amazing! Caden’s nap routine did not change overnight. It took several months of adjusting, using sleep aids, and being patient. The most common response Josh and I hear when we describe Caden’s sleep schedule is some variation of “You are lucky you have such an easy baby.” We agree! Caden is a super sweet kid! We also agree that it took both of us consistently working together in order for Caden to develop healthy sleep habits.

Life is short and time is too precious to waste judging others. I have nothing against feeding on demand or having your baby sleep in the same room with you. Each child is unique and what worked for my baby might not work for yours. I am just sharing what has worked for our family.

If you are thinking of trying BabyWise or using it as a flexible guideline here are my suggestions:

  • Don’t be afraid to deviate from what the book says. Make it work for you and your family.
  • Make sure any caregiver who watches your baby knows your plan and is willing to commit to it also.
  • Give it time. Habits do not form overnight.
  • Your baby’s schedule is constantly changing. Be flexible and ready to adapt.

What has worked for your family? If you don’t have kids, would this be a method you would try? I love to read your comments!

xoxo, Tamara

PS…Want to know what I else I will be blogging about over the next few weeks? Stay tuned for my breastfeeding story, how to make your own baby food, an overview of what we feed Caden, and other random goodness. Happy Wednesday!

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Comments

  1. Christina says:

    Hi Tamara! I recently found your blog and I love it! My husband and I have a 15 month old girl, and we also read BabyWise before she was born. It helped us see the beauty of a routine and consistency with our daughter, and she fell easily into the “every three hour” eating pattern. Unfortunately she was not a good napper until she was about 9 months old, so the “eat awake play” cycle didn’t work very well for us. But now it’s smooth sailing! I also read “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child” – I know there are various perspectives on this book, but I really liked it and learned a lot from it. People occasionally look at me like I’m crazy when I tell them my daughter goes to bed between 6:30pm and 7pm every night, but hey, it works for us – she sleeps until 6:30-7am every single morning and rarely wakes up during the night.

    Anyway, sorry for the novel! I’m enjoying your blog (I’ve book marked your quinoa pancakes!) and keep up the great work 🙂 I also recently followed you on Twitter, thanks for following me back!

    • Hi Christina! Thank you so much for reading :). We had such a hard time with naps too until a few months ago. I have read “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child” also. I bought that book when we were having trouble with Caden’s naps and learned so much. It is awesome when your baby sleeps at night and during the day, I am so happy you have found what works best for you family too. Yay! I loved reading your comment! Thanks for leaving it. Let me know when you try the pancakes :). I am totally new to twitter but super excited to follow you. Have a great day!

  2. Hey Tamara! I also read Becoming Baby Wise before Sadie was born and then referred back to it during her first several weeks at home. It’s crazy how people seem to be either so strongly for or against the book! I went into it with the same mindset as you and used it as a guide. I can personally say that the eat, play, sleep schedule works wonders, as dose trying to get them to eat full “meals” during nursing sessions, as opposed to “snacking.” Those were the 2 biggest pieces of info I took away from the book and really feel they benefited both Sadie and us. No matter what your parenting style is, I think you can take those 2 suggestions and try them out since they really don’t go against any specific styles/beliefs. 99% of the time Sadie went about 3 hours between feedings during the day BUT if the girl was hungry after an hour or 2, I FED HER! Again….I used it as a guide. I really don’t think you can go wrong with the eat, play, sleep aspect of it though. I kind of put my own spin on the “no sleep aids” aspect of the book and decided that I wanted Sadie to be able to sleep pretty much anywhere and not be used to the same exact place with the same exact things every time. So, I had her nap in multiple places during those first few months. Sometimes in her swing, sometimes in her bouncy seat, pack n play, crib, her rock n play sleeping (where she slept at night the first 3 months) and occasionally she took a nap with me. Or, if we had somewhere to go, she napped in the car. I don’t know if it’s her personality or the fact that I did that, but she has always been a super flexible baby. She sort of fell into her own schedule within a week or 2 of being home and has continued to keep a predictable schedule as we approach the 1 year mark. I feel like I just guided her a bit early on to help her set her own.
    We also usually use a pacifier at nap/bedtime but she CAN go to sleep without it and although she naps and goes to bed within about a hour of the same times each day, she does fine if she gets to sleep late a nap is cut short or she has to sleep on the go. My sister-in-law recently visited and she followed the book pretty strictly and her kiddos had major trouble napping being away from home because they couldn’t always go down at their “scheduled” time every day and weren’t at home in their cribs. I’m a believer in trying to help your child be a bit flexible, but still have predictable routines, so that it’s not only easier for them and you on a daily basis but also so that they don’t freak when things don’t go 100% as “scheduled.” That’s just my experience and 2 cents on the whole thing! I am a STRONG believer in doing what you think is best for your child, no matter what any book, doctor or friend’s say. Nobody knows your child better than you and if your gut tells you to do/not do something, LISTEN!
    Love your posts (and you!). Can’t wait to read your upcoming topics!
    Jess recently posted…May 30×30 Challenge {With Baby}: Week 2My Profile

  3. Hi Tamara,
    I read your blog when I have the chance (yay, for longer naps!) I read babywise before Kai was born but I also read Dr. Sears book dealing with attachment parenting which is the polar opposite of the babywise theory. I have been implementing both. I have been trying things and coming up with something in the middle. Granted Kai is only 7 weeks old but I was beating myself up when I couldn’t implement babywise. For us, I think that flexibility and being knowledgable about all of our options is key!

    • Yay for being flexible! He is still a little guy and I understand what you are saying. Be kind to yourself 🙂 you are doing a fantastic job!

  4. I am so glad you posted this! A friend told me about Baby Wise and now I want to definitely read it. It just makes sense. I am a very organized and scheduled person, so the book’s way of thinking just seems like it naturally goes along with me.

    My friend’s advice: Don’t Google Baby Wise…lol People are CRAZY!!! I am planning to try to use their guidelines but will be totally ok adjusting them as needed.

  5. What a great post! I didnt just a book for either of my kids, I will have to look into Babywise when we have another. With our daughter, she wanted to sleep with me. She would not sleep unless she was touching me or my husband until she was a few months old. She sleeps in her own bed now but climbs into ours sometimes. I enjoy the cuddles. 🙂 My son is completely opposite. He wants his own space and doesn’t have time to cuddle. Its so funny how two little people can be so different.

    I cant wait to hear your breastfeeding and baby food stories! I love all this mommy stuff!
    Kelley recently posted…Google Analytics ExplainedMy Profile

  6. I am SO ready to tune into this mama series of yours! i can not wait! i read happiest baby on the block and baby wise is sitting on my night stand to be started this weekend! we arent due until july so im excited to learn options and possibilities! i will do almost ANYTHING for a great nights sleep!

  7. This was a great post. THe most important thing is flexibility. We try to have a routine but sometimes it doesn’t work. Currently, our six month old likes to wake up in the middle of the night – maybe teething but not sure why. Otherwise though she has been a good nighttime sleeper since she was about 5-6 weeks old.
    I really like your blog 🙂
    Kelly recently posted…Greening Our Children and other Successes at Hoppy BottomsMy Profile

  8. I’m a big fan of babywise, with some built-in flexibility, as well! We definitely use sleep props – the swing and the pacifier – and I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s just nice to know what each day is generally doing to look like, and it also makes it easier to get out of the house because you can predict (or at least somewhat predict!) what your baby will do. Great blog!!
    Erica {let why lead} recently posted…RandomMy Profile

  9. Hi! New follower…found you from Wifessionals.

    My 2nd son is 8 weeks old today. My first was so easy, but finding a schedule has been tricky this time around, so, last week, we started Moms On Call (which is similar), and we are almost a full week in, and it’s going really well! I’ve heard great things about the method you’re using, too. It’s definitely a trial and error thing, this parenting/baby stuff. 🙂

  10. Hi Tamara,

    I like Your blog! I’m a new mom of Zach (2.5 weeks old). Without really trying he/we’ve naturally adopted the babywise schedule for Zach. He was already showing hunger cues at the same times and wanting to sleep at roughly the times suggested by babywise. So far so good. The only spot where things get a little crazy is after the 6:30 PM feeding. Our son just naturally seems to want to be awake and active between 6:30 and 9. It’s also a good time to hang out with Dad, etc. But he definitely does NOT want to sleep between then and the 9 pm feeding. I was just wondering if you experienced a similar situation. It seemed like that from what you said about evening nap time you did have a simiar situation. But i wasnt sure. If you did have a similar experience (and i know all babies are different, I’m wondering if you felt like a shorter sleep cycle had any negative impact on any of Caden’s other sleeping patterns). Also, i should say that i actually have no problem having a longer awake time with him in the evenings if he is happy, thriving, etc..but I’m looking to hear about the experiences of others. 🙂

    • Hi Sarah! Congrats on baby Zach! I can’t remember if Caden would stay awake at 3 weeks old after that feeding but I can totally understand Dad wanting some special time with Zach :). Keep up the great work :). If he is happy you are are happy that is all the matters. Which I could remember more detail , I even went back through my notes I kept of his feedings but I didn’t write anything that would be helpful. Have a great day!

  11. Hi! My babies are not babies anymore, but I had to comment. We have three and we used Babywise with all three. I completely agree with how you presented it. Parenting is a very personal thing and none of us should judge. Flexibility and teamwork are so important regardless of your approach. We love the series and I highly recommend the rest of the books. My oldest is a pre-teen, so we are constantly entering new territory and we love having a guide, which is just what it is, a guide! Blessings to you and your sweet family. xo Morgan

  12. Hi! I just recently stumbled across your blog from linking up with Wifessionals for the Preparing for a little one series – We are reading Baby Wise right now and plan to implement it when our little one comes in October. I’ve heard great things about it and am excited about the plan!! My question is, how would this work with daycare in your experience (and I don’t even know if you used daycare – I’m just desperate for answers! ha.) – We’re probably going to need to use a daycare center of some form for at least 3 days a week starting at 8 or 9 weeks old. In your experience, will this just totally derail any sleep patterns we manage to instill in the baby?

    Thank you so much for this great post and all the info!! 🙂
    Rebekah recently posted…Pintastic Parenting!My Profile

  13. Hi! I just recently discovered your blog. We have been following baby wise for a while. My 10 month old, almost 11 months, takes a good morning nap, but has trouble staying asleep for his second nap. I put him down based on wake times (2 hr 15 min after morning wakeup and 3 hr after morning nap). I’m not sure of what do to to get the afternoon nap better. Did you have set nap times for this age no matter the time he awakened to start the day? Thanks for your help!

  14. So happy to have found your blog! I was super happy to discover I wasn’t in the minority in this link-up. I expected to be and it kind of made me feel better. I’ve experienced a lot of negative feedback, which is really sad. Thanks so much and I’m excited to check out the rest of your blog 🙂
    Rheanna recently posted…Preparing for a Little One: Baby Wise vs. Attachment ParentingMy Profile

  15. Common sense is key… the danger in Babywise is a hyper-vigilant, overly structure parent. We have 4 children. We used Babywise with only our last. ALL our children were sleeping, eating, playing, etc. on a schedule by the time they were 6 months old with virtually no difference in outcome except for the first few months of MISERY with Babywise. Maybe this concept is more important for parents who do not have any common sense but for most, the process happens in a natural way. I have terrible regrets about using this with our last child. It was all the rage among young, educated, Christian parents. There were actually 10 couples in my circle using the system. 8 years later, all but one couple would say they have regrets and feel very guilty about using Babywise with their infants. It simply was not necessary.
    One other thing not addressed is that this system should NEVER be used with an adopted infant. The first weeks and months home are CRITICAL for bonding, attachment, etc. Many adoption agencies are now addressing this topic of the importance of these early days and months for adopted infants. Some of the agencies who are front runners in research of adopted infants will say DO NOT USE BABYWISE or other similar techniques. They address the feelings of the infant being removed from all smells, sounds, etc of the birth mother and advise almost constant touch and bonding during this infant phase.
    There are couples out there who have adopted infants who are trying to use this with devastating results in later life….
    All of us love our children and want what is best for them. As a mother of 4 almost grown children, I can tell you that some of what I thought was “best” turned out not to be. We all live and learn.
    My advise is to talk to older parents who used this and see how they feel about it say 6 or 8 years later. You should be able to find some of them. Surround yourself with older parents who you see as wise and ones who are “doing it right”. I wish I would have done more of that in my younger days of parenting.
    Be blessed on your journey!

  16. No comment on the last comment. I have a 3 year old that’s thrived with the babywise method. We just had our second child and even though we did this before and took notes its nice to find your blog as a refresher along with a quick reread of the book. I have a quick question, at 3 weeks you pit your baby to bed at 7, was this because the baby was asleep or is that when you staryedvto teach them to go to sleep on their own…not fun at all, ha. With the second kidbi realize I can’t follow the same pattern or I have 2 kids that need my attention at the same time, just advice for others. My newest is on a 30 minute earlier schedule than my first. My first is so well trained she asks to be put to bed and runs to beat us there.

    • Hi Sarah, That was when we started to get him into the routine of going to bed. I still woke him up for more feedings later if he wasn’t awake but that was when we put him in his crib. Love your advice!

  17. Hi Tamara-
    Your post on babywise has been super helpful while I have started my first little guy on the eat-play-sleep routine. Though our baby had some complications in his early weeks, after the first month we were finally able to begin a 3 hour routine with sleep training. He is now 10 weeks and sleeping about 7 hours a night, with 6 successful daytime naps. However, I have 2 questions for you (if you don’t mind lending advice!):
    1. As our baby has slowly lengthened his night sleep, his morning wake-up time has shifted. It was 6am for a few weeks and then 7am for about a week and now he wakes at 8am (which is great b/c I am not a morning person!) I was wondering how I should handle this—should I try to keep him at the 7am wake-up by waking him up early or just wait and see what he settles at?
    2. Also- and this is related to the first question-the last feeding is at 11:30pm (for a total of 7). Is there a way I can move that up? Also- the second to last feeding is at 9pm and he follows the eat-play-sleep rotation rather than going to bed for the night.. In other words, he is awake from 9-10:15pm and then wakes to eat at 11:30pm. I notice you have this awesome 7pm bedtime thing! How do I achieve that rather than a continuation of the e-p-s cycle? thanks sooo much for your help!

    • Hi Sara,

      I am so glad the post was helpful. I know I will be referring to it myself in the next few weeks as a refresher when baby girl arrives. Yay for sleeping 7 hours at night! That is awesome. To answer your questions…I think that they will both directly play into each other. Depending on what time you want him waking up that is the time you would strive to either wake him up everyday or go and get him out of his crib. You can move up the last feeding, but I would only move it up by 15 minutes at first and I might try moving his second to last feeding back by 15 minutes as well. Is he sleeping before the 9pm feeding?

      I would give him cuddles after the 9pm feeding and put him back in his crib. He may not like it, but I know we did that with Caden and now he sleeps great. Each child is so different but this method worked so well for us. If an 8am wake time is what you are aiming for I would start bumping the feeding times back every few weeks and see how he does until eventually you have your last feeding at 8pm and then hopefully he will have a wake time of 8am.

      • Tamara-
        Thanks for your helpful reply! To answer your question: he is sleeping before the 9pm feeding. The day consists of a repeat (7 times over) of eating for approx. 40 minutes, playing for approx. 40 minutes, and sleeping (or at least swaddled in his crib) for approx. an hour and a half.
        The one thing I am wondering about is how to manage your milk supply as the baby extends night time sleeping (in other words how to deal with the milk back up/uncomfortable hardness over the long break from 8pm to 8am???) sorry for more questions!

  18. Hey there. I am a new mom with a beautiful 1.5 week old girl. My biggest struggle, as I am trying to implement BW is feeling like I can’t ever just hold my baby. Since she is still so young, I struggle to keep her awake during feedings … However, I do think she is getting full feedings (even with her eyes closed). But aside from her first feeding of the day, she is pretty zonked as soon as she unlatches. And suddenly I get panicked feeling like “HURRY… Get her to the crib before you miss the window of opportunity!” Sometimes I just sit in the family room crying while she sleeps bc I want to hold her and kiss her, but feel like I can’t because sleeping in my arms is not an option. Do you have any thoughts on this? Am I crazy?!

    • Hi Laura,

      I totally understand what you are saying. Feel free to pick up, cuddle, and hold your little sleepy baby :). I held both Caden and Maisie plenty of times after nursing when they were extra tired. It is so wonderful to snuggle your baby and you aren’t going to mess up her sleep schedule if you do. You aren’t crazy at all. With the BabyWise Method you just want to develop routine with them but at that age all they really do is sleep, eat, and need a diaper change. We would just cuddle our babies at that age lots during the day and then at night we put them in their cribs. We also used an ice cube on their feet to help them wakeup to eat. Hope this helps :).

  19. Hi! At three weeks where did you build in your workout time in the baby wise schedule?

    • Hi! At 3 weeks with baby Jesse I didn’t work out. I was trying to catch up on sleep, lol. With my first I would feed him in the morning and put him in the stroller before it was hot outside and I would go for a 30-45 minute walk. He would sleep and I would get to move.

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