How To Avoid Common ‘Babywise’ Pitfalls

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Avoiding Common Babywise Pitfalls So let’s just get it out in the open right away: we’re talking about the book On Becoming Babywise today. And if you’ve been a Baby Sleep Site® reader for any length of time, you know that’s bound to create some controversy.

We’ve written about Babywise before, and about the cry-it-out method in general. And we know all too well that this is an emotionally charged topic for many of our readers. Some of the parents in our Baby Sleep Site® community are proponents of cry-it-out methods like Babywise; others denounce these kinds of methods completely. And many of you fall somewhere in the middle.

The purpose of today’s article isn’t a controversial one, though. This article doesn’t denounce Babywise methods (like crying it out.) But it doesn’t attempt to convert parents to those methods, either. No, we’re not doing either of those today.

What are we doing? We’re taking a look at how to apply Babywise methods properly and safely, and how to avoid some of the common pitfalls associated with Babywise.

Babywise Works for Some Families; It Doesn’t Work for Others

Before we get into some Babywise “do’s” and “don’ts”, though, let’s make one thing clear: Babywise isn’t for everyone. Here at the Baby Sleep Site®, we believe that every child (and family) is different, so there isn’t a sleep training method out there that’s right for everyone. And Babywise is no exception.

We’ve heard from lots of parents who tried Babywise methods and, for various reasons, had no success. We’ve also heard from parents who’ve used Babywise methods with great success. Recently, one of our readers, Amy, e-mailed us and told us not only about her own success using Babywise, but also about how helpful the techniques were for her friend:

The reason this method is so near and dear to my heart is because of a dear friend of mine. My best friend had her baby a week early, and her daughter only weighed 5 lbs at birth. The baby wasn’t considered failure to thrive, but she was very close. The pediatrician tried everything from supplementing, to medication, but nothing would really work. At 5.5 months, her daughter stopped sleeping through the night, and would only take one 20 min nap a day if they were lucky and she fell asleep while eating. By 7 months, her daughter was losing weight, now making her failure to thrive, and my friend was desperate since there was no medical reason for it. I told her about Babywise, and helped her set up a schedule, coaching her through it. At month 8 (2 weeks into the program), her daughter is now sleeping through the night, taking two 45 min naps, and gained almost two pounds!! I have witnessed what this method can do for a failure to thrive baby.

This is a good example that what doesn’t work for some families will work for others. In some situations, Babywise has been known to contribute to failure to thrive; in others (as Amy points out), it can actually help a baby overcome the failure to thrive problem!

Some Babywise Do’s and Dont’s

In the spirit of Amy’s e-mail, we wanted to remind our readers that you can apply Babywise principles (and cry-it-out principles in general) in a thoughtful, safe way. Babywise tends to be painted in extreme terms, but it doesn’t have to be an extreme sleep training method. Remember, any sleep training method is only as intense and “hard core” as you make it.

So, if you’re interested in using some Babywise methods to sleep train your own baby, but aren’t sure how to go about doing it in a way that’s both effective and safe, consider a few of these “do’s” and “don’ts”:

  • DON’T start too early. We generally don’t recommend formal sleep training until a baby reaches 4 months of age. Some editions of On Becoming Babywise recommend starting earlier (as early as 6-8 weeks), but we don’t support that recommendation. Newborns need loads of sleep and loads of breastmilk or formula, so trying to impose sleeping and feeding schedules too early can be problematic (and potentially dangerous). What’s more, your baby really isn’t ready for sleep training until the 4 month sleep regression, when her sleep patterns have become more developed.
  • DO consider your personality (and your baby’s!) Babywise is built around carefully-timed schedules. This kind of schedule-oriented method can work beautifully for a mom and dad who are schedule-oriented people themselves. But those who aren’t? Those parents who tend to be more carefree, “let’s see what comes” types? Highly-scheduled methods like this may not work.

    You’ll need to consider your baby’s temperament, too. Some babies are very regular and consistent; others aren’t. Having an inconsistent baby doesn’t mean you throw the schedule out the window; it does mean, though, that you need to be more flexible.

  • DON’T check your brain and parental instincts at the door. There is no (NO) parenting book, or sleep training philosophy, that can stand in as a substitute for a parent’s own common sense. If you’re going to try Babywise with your little one, remember that you’ll need to combine the book’s recommendations about schedules and feeding with your own observations and gut feelings. For instance, if you know your baby is crying his “hungry cry”, don’t ignore it, even if the schedule you’ve created says he shouldn’t eat for another 45 minutes. Instead, use your instincts to keep your schedule in check, and vice versa.
  • Nicole’s Note:
    “The biggest misconception we’ve come across is that Babywise is too rigid with feedings and recommends too long stretches when your baby is young. While it does encourage stretching out feedings to a point, it also clearly states that if your baby is hungry before a designated feeding time to go ahead and feed him. It is important not to get too caught up in following every little thing to the letter. Every baby is different.”

  • DO honor your parenting philosophy. Some parents are just flat-out opposed to any method that’s going to force them to listen to their babies cry. That’s okay. Other parents are fine with letting some controlled crying happen, because they believe that, in the end, the benefits to the entire family can be worth it. And you know what? That’s okay, too. Know your parenting philosophy, and own it. If Babywise stands in direct opposition to everything you stand for as a parent, then forget it (and feel fine about doing so!) But if Babywise is right up your parenting alley, you can embrace that, too. If we’ve learned one thing in our work with families over the years, it’s that loving, caring families can have very different approaches to raising their children. But the “approach” matters far less than the “loving, caring” part.
  • DON’T be guided by extremes. There are those who will tell you that Babywise will have your 4 week old baby sleeping through the night. There are others who will attempt to convince you that Babywise will ruin your baby forever. Odds are, though, that neither extreme is accurate. When done properly, Babywise methods can work well, but they won’t perform actual miracles. And provided you implement them with love and care, they almost certainly won’t harm your baby.

These aren’t hard and fast rules, of course. That’s not the purpose of this article. Rather, it’s our hope that these general pointers will help you think through whether or not Babywise is right for your family. And if you decide that it is, we hope that these insights will help you apply it in a way that works well for your baby, and for you.

And remember, if you have a sleepless baby at home and are struggling – we’re here to help! Consider using our consultation services, and get personalized, one-on-one help with your baby’s sleep. You will be able to connect with one of our expert sleep consultants, who will write up a Personalized Sleep Plan™ just for your family. Browse our list of consultation package options, make your choice, and after you purchase, you will immediately receive an e-mail with your Helpdesk login information. You’ll be able to login and start your Family Sleep History form right away – it’s that simple!

Have you tried Babywise methods? Did they work for your family? Share your Babywise experiences with us! And remember — let’s keep our discussion civil and respectful. :)

  • Want an alternative to Babywise? Why not take a look at our 3-Step System To Help Your Baby Sleep? Available in three affordable packages, this book is designed to give you practical, hands-on tools you can use to help your baby learn to fall asleep on her own, and stay asleep. Best of all, the book is available to download instantly – you can put it to use as early as tonight!
  • Want an abundance of resources to help you in your sleep coaching? Consider becoming a Baby Sleep Site Member. Our Members Area is packed with exclusive content and resources: e-Books, assessments, detailed case studies, expert advice, peer support, and teleseminars. It actually costs less to join than buying products separately! And as a member, you have access to a once-a-week chat with one of our expert sleep consultants – ideal for those times when you need some expert advice! And the icing on the cake? Members enjoy 20% off all sleep consultation services. That savings alone can pay for the cost of membership!
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75 Responses to How To Avoid Common ‘Babywise’ Pitfalls

  1. Elena says:

    We did a modified approach. We started with scheduling–that was the biggest benefit when our little one was just around 2 mos old. I had my sanity back and my girl slept better at night, waking only about once for feedings. When she was around 4 mos old, everything changed and she started to wake up more. We tried the crying out part a few times, against my gut instinct, and it did not work for us. I personally think that some of the method can work for most people, while most of it works for very few. If they can get through their baby crying for long periods of time, i say, more power to them! It does not mean that they love their kids less. I simply cannot take more than 5-10 minutes of tears… but would prefer none… so, we are still in search of our perfect methods to get our baby to sleep on her own and through the night.

  2. Chanda says:

    Thanks Emily, really appreciate the ear and advice. I don’t feel criticized at all, I know what I’m doing is not a good long term solution…just not sure how to proceed.

    I’m re-reading the 5 part series. And I’m afraid CIO is where I’m headed… :(
    It focuses more on bedtime I noticed, what about naps? Can I use it for naps too? I let her CIO yester-afternoon after she didn’t do her normal doze off during nursing (then I’d pull her off). She cried for approximately 20mins and then slept for 30mins-felt like that was a waste.

    Then last night she had one of her wakings. Dad went in to rock her back and she kept waking up everytime he put her down. So we let her cry in two 30min intervals-and it was an epic FAIL. It has been one of my more stressful days/nights. Sigh…

    Right now I put her down for a nap and she’s been crying for 35m. I went in after 15m calmed her down and put her back…still nothing….It’s way past her bedtime and I feel like after she cries this much she doesn’t sleep that well because she’s overtired from the crying. I gave in and went in and comforted and nursed her. I know, should’ve probably opted more for the rock as opposed to nurse option. She slept only 42m after all that screaming. It’s almost a lose-lose. No?

    I know I just need to be tough(er) and consistent but this sucks.

    How may I contact you if I need to work on a plan? Your plans are 100% guaranteed to work right? ;)

  3. Chanda says:

    @ Elena! I hate hearing her cry too. I cannot sit still, pace and basically are filled with anxiety when she’s crying. It was much easier before she started rolling because she’d actually fall asleep before 15m was up and that got less so it got easier to handle. Now that she rolls onto her back and doesn’t sleep that way she’s able to go past 20 and it’s killer!

  4. Emily DeJeu says:

    @ Elena — good insight, about part of this working for lots of families, while the rest works for a smaller percentage. I think you’re probably right about that. Most parents can get behind the idea of a general schedule for feeding and sleep, but not everyone is willing to go full-fledged CIO!

    Thanks for sharing your experience, Elena. Beautiful picture, by the way! :)

  5. Emily DeJeu says:

    @ Chanda — funny you should ask about naps vs. nights; I’ve spent part of today working on a blog article that addresses that very question! We’re publishing an article on 3/26 that addresses the different challenges of nighttime sleep training vs. naptime sleep training, so stay tuned for that.

    In general, I’d say that naps can be more challenging than nights for a variety of reasons (routine sometimes changes, it’s light outside, it can be noisy, etc.) So don’t feel bad if you have to modify your sleep training plan a little, or if your results don’t seem to be as good for naps. I think that’s pretty normal.

    Regarding our personalized sleep plans: yes, they’re 100% guaranteed. You can read more about our guarantee here: http://www.babysleepsite.com/terms-of-use/ You can also read some frequently asked questions (and their answers) here: http://www.babysleepsite.com/sleep-helpdesk-faq/ If you have specific questions that you’d like answered before you purchase a package, you can contact support@babysleepsite.com and ask anything you’d like.

    Hope this helps, Chanda! And don’t hesitate to keep commenting, if you have more questions. We have a nice little conversation going, don’t we? ;)

  6. Chanda says:

    Ah! Looking forward to those nap posts! And you’re right about them…she’s getting pretty hard to put down these days unless I really tire her out but sometimes even that doesn’t work…she’s like me…extra hyper when tired :P

    Thanks for the information, will check it out momentarily. And thanks for taking the time to respond, it kinda makes my day :)

    Quick question: her bedtime is not set in stone because it depends on how long her last nap was but I really try to not go past 8…sometimes she’s extra hard to put down and the latest is 8.30 or so. Sometimes she gets up too early…like today…and because I don’t want to keep her up too late just to stick to around the 8pm time frame I put her down after 2hrs coz that’s my max wake time period. I do try to shoot for between 7-8pm ideally though.
    Is this ok? Or does that just screw up her internal clock?

    The past 2 days she’s woken up at around 6am and that’s also kinda screwed with (me :P and) our breakfast schedule because I give her her cereal between 8-8.30 but if she’s up at 6 that should be the time she’s heading back for a nap…I want to keep that time consistent but don’t want to keep her up for more than 2 hrs at a time. And she’s an active one, so if you let her, she’ll stay up for 3-4hrs! Yesterday she was defiant and was awake for 3hrs and then napped for 30mins! Grrr… Are babies this sporadic?

    Thanks again! And will continue to be in touch! :)

  7. Emily DeJeu says:

    @ Chanda — I’d say that yes, some babies are more sporadic and schedule-defying than others :) But it’s good to remember, too, that at 5 or 6 months, your little girl is still pretty young to follow a schedule really closely. I’m guessing you’ll find that when she’s a little older, it’ll be easier to have more set bedtimes/naptimes/mealtimes.

    In terms of getting her on a schedule that’ll work – have you checked out our recommended sleep and feeding schedules yet? You can see them here: http://www.babysleepsite.com/baby-sleep-feeding-schedules/ That page will likely be helpful for you, since the schedules kind of “grow” with your baby.

    I’d use the 6 month schedule as a reference right now.

    Also — are you based in the US or Canada? If so, how is your daughter dealing with Daylight Savings? Has that helped or hurt her schedule? Fingers crossed that it helps… ;)

  8. Chanda says:

    Thanks for the reminder Emily! It’s not easy trying to follow a schedule when babies are so unpredictable! And thanks for that info! Hadn’t come across that yet on the site.

    I’m wondering about the 5-6 breastfeeding sessions though. I feel like I’m BF a lot more because she doesn’t BF for long and is so distracted so want to make sure she’s getting enough. The max she’ll do is 7mins. She can do 10mins on a good feed, but ranges btwn 5-7mins mostly. So since she naps about every 2hrs, within those two hrs I feed her twice or 3x depending on how distracted she is but usually I do it right when she wakes up and just before she goes down for her next nap. I know I shouldn’t be doing it so close to nap/bedtime but I’m still working on that…She has veg/fruit for lunch in the afternoon depending on how long her morning nap lasts and then cereal for dinner. (She has cereal for bfast too). This is kind of my typical schedule. Is this ok/normal?

    I have an update on the sleep:

    For the past few days we’ve had some good nights, in particular she’s staying in her crib the whole night and doesn’t cry when she wakes up (except last night which I suspect was because she was overtired from the day, she’s usually a little unsettled when this happens) . So when she wakes she’s just been lying there playing for a bit and then falls back to sleep.

    We tried to have her CIO this evening since she didn’t get drowsy during nursing and she just screamed for 50mins. I didn’t want to get her anymore tired and awake (she’d been awake for 3 1/2hrs at that point) so I went in and fed her and she was asleep in 5mins(I pulled her off as soon as I saw that the sucking decreased).
    The first night we were preparing ourselves for her to CIO she just lay in the crib and talked to herself, didn’t cry and fell asleep after about 20mins, she woke up after every hour and a half, stayed awake and did some fussing for about 20-30mins and fell back asleep each time till about 11pm. But each time didn’t cry! It was such a nice surprise! Oh forgot to mention she’s figured out how to lie on her side (remember she has a rolling issue) so when she rolls over she doesn’t cry even though she might wake herself she’ll just go back to sleep. I really, really pray this continues! Cross your fingers for me! :)

    I’m in Canada but will have to get back to you on how DST’s affected her. Definitely affected me! I was a total zombie this morning :P

  9. Emily DeJeu says:

    @ Chanda — in terms of whether your daughter’s feeding schedule is normal or not, I’d say there’s a wide range of “normal and acceptable” when it comes to feeding. However, it does sound like she may not be getting full feeds when she’s nursing; it’s possible that she’s just taking in a little bit at a time, and that could be contributing to your frequent nursing and her restless sleep. So you may want to think about trying to stretch the time between feeds gradually, to encourage her to eat more when she does nurse.

    Glad to hear you’ve had some progress! Always exciting when that happens. And yes, I’ll keep my fingers crossed over here. ;)

    I hear you on DST. It was ROUGH for me on Sunday. Oddly, my kids are doing fine. I think it was worse for me than it was for them. Go figure!

  10. Chanda says:

    Thanks for the tip Emily!
    I’ve been in the trenches the past couple of days so been pretty tired. I swear I jinx myself–everytime I think we’ve hit a high and I share the news, she steps on the break and turns back around! She went back to her old habit of crying when she wakes up in the crib and basically not knowing what to do with herself. The only good thing is that I’ve done my best to stick to 2 feedings at night-except the times where she’s been inconsolable.

    Tried CIO yester-afternoon and it left me feeling terrible. I let her CIO for 1h45 and though she quieted at the hour mark which I thought was a phew! She just stepped on the accelerator and started up again. When I gave in and went to check on her she was red in the face (fyi I’m Black) and had done a poo. Felt pretty bad that I’d left her like that for so long. But that wasn’t even the worst of it. She refused to nurse and stayed up for 5 1/2hrs! (From 9a-2p) And when she did sleep it was only for 1h20mins. I’m really starting to feel like CIO will not work with my kid. Maybe I shouldn’t do it during the day? What do you think?
    To say I was stressed and frustrated is an understatement. We definitely paid for it at bedtime. She had to be rocked 3x in the first 2 1/2hrs! I’ve tried to keep her out of my bed but it’s been hard esp. after 4+ attempts to get her back in the crib. Being so determined has left me quite sleep deprived. Sometimes I just need to give in and tell myself I have another day to work on it. My husband keeps telling me, it’s just one day it’s not going to ruin her but I can’t help it.
    I just read the post ‘it’s your fault your baby won’t sleep’. I have mixed feelings about it because I do know its my fault which doesn’t make me feel good because I feel like I should’ve been a little more ahead and learnt/read about this sleep thing earlier, otherwise I wouldn’t have let her nurse all the times I did when she was a newborn. But like Nicole said it’s because I’m a loving parent…loving to a fault though eh? ;)

  11. Emily DeJeu says:

    @ Chanda — I’m so sorry things have been so rough lately! I’d say definitely don’t stress yourself out, or make yourself “push through” something that you know you’re uncomfortable with. There are many, many ways to sleep train; if CIO isn’t working for you, that’s okay! There are other approaches.

    And there’s no harm in taking a break, if you think things are spiraling out of control.

    Also — no beating yourself up! You sound like a wonderful mom who’s doing the best she can for her daughter. You really do. The fact that you care so much about her sleep is proof of that!

    Hang in there, Chanda. You are doing a good job, even when it doesn’t feel like it. You really are! :)

  12. Chanda says:

    Hey Emily! Thank you for the kind words but I think I’m ready to purchase a consultation! It’s been an EXHAUSTING weekend and I’m at my wit’s end. Who do I email? Will I be consulting with you or Nicole?

  13. Emily DeJeu says:

    @ Chanda — well, boo to your exhausting weekend, but yay that you’re ready to get some help! I don’t blame you; it seems like you’ve had a rough road to walk lately.

    In terms of how to get started purchasing a consultation: you can visit this page (https://www.babysleepsite.com/baby-toddler-sleep-consulting-services/) for a listing of all the packages we offer. You can purchase directly from that page (using PayPal — you can pay by credit card even if you don’t have a PayPal account.)

    However, if you want to ask some questions before you buy, or if you feel like you need help in choosing a package that’s right for you, you can email support@babysleepsite.com and ask whatever you’d like.

    In terms of who will be consulting with you — it won’t be me (since I’m not a trained sleep consultant.) You can see a listing of all the trained sleep consultants we currently have on staff here: http://www.babysleepsite.com/About/

    Hope this info helps, Chanda! Let me know if you have more questions, and I’ll be happy to help. :)

  14. Chanda says:

    @ Emily: Thanks so much for the info! :) I think I will look to start after the Easter weekend as we’ll be travelling around and visiting family and her sleep always gets wonky when we’re out of the house for a long while. Good idea don’t you think?

    Question for you: Should she still be taking 3 naps? Because the past couple of days she’s ending both her naps just at or around 3.30p which means bedtime would be around 5.30/6-ish which is not my set bedtime (which is more like 7-8p). But it’s been hard to get her to nap so late in the day so she’s had a 3hr wake time. Problem is she’s getting up less than an hr after bedtime and I’m wondering if she’s a) overtired or b) she’s taking that time as her last nap. Which leads me to my other question: should I just let her take that last nap, try to stop it (i.e. wake her) before it goes into the late bedtime hr or stick to that earlier time (5.30/6 as her bedtime)?

    So after she’s been awake less than an hr, we’ve spent 40mins rocking her and 4+ attempts trying to put her down, she’s ended up waking up fully and I’ve had to feed her to get her back down but even that hasn’t been easy. She’s been extremely restless so even after she’s seemingly asleep trying to put her either on the bed or crib has been HELL! When she does get down she sleeps for about an hr or so before she has a waking and rolls! Then I have to either pat her on the side but because she’s not used to sleeping like that she fidgets to death and ends up on her back and her eyes are open. So I just put her on my chest and then she falls back to sleep. But she’s getting heavy and you can only imagine trying to fall asleep with 13lbs on top of you!

    I cannot wait to start the consultation I tell you! You guys have got to be miracle workers if you can help me get this baby to sleep!

  15. Emily DeJeu says:

    @ Chanda — regarding your nap question: we have an article on that! You can check it out here: http://www.babysleepsite.com/naps/6-month-old-baby-naps-how-many/ In general, most babies this age need 3 naps (although some do okay with 2). I’d say stick with 3 for now, and once you start the consultation process, your consultant can give you specifics (since she’ll have all the details about your situation.)

    Regarding when to start the consultation process — definitely wait until after Easter to start any sleep training, if you’ll be traveling. We advise families to plan their sleep training for times when life is as normal as possible — no traveling, no illness, no big changes, etc. So yes, very good idea on your part to wait. :)

    I can imagine how ready you are to get your little 13 pound weight off your chest and into her crib! It can’t be fun having to resort to letting her sleep on you for every nap.

    Can’t wait to see how your consultation progresses, Chanda! So excited for you. :)

  16. Claire says:

    Count me in to the “Babywise didn’t work for my kiddo” crowd. Daughter had some reflux issues, and just couldn’t take more than 3-4 oz feeds at a time until she was around 4-5 months old. She only started going 4 hours between milk feeds when she was 5 mo old, and she would still cluster feed during growth spurts. Aside from a sleep regression at 4 months, feeding more frequently never really affected her nighttime sleep, as she was technically “sleeping through the night” at 6 weeks.

    I think it’s great if this works for some parents. I might try it again, should baby #2 ever happen. But I have friends who have been genuinely upset that their 3 month old isn’t sleeping 12 hour stretches and eating every 4 hours, even though they’ve been following Babywise to the letter. However, I have to say, I like (and used) the eat-play-sleep model for structuring daytime. That way, the baby never gets the eat-to-sleep association, which is SO hard to break.

  17. Christin says:

    Baby wise did not work for me either, I thought it would be great because I heard such great things about it from a friend who is a pediatric anesthesiologist, she used it on her daughter and had great success. Months later, I had no luck. I read several books and applied several different methods and had some progress here and there but it wasn’t consistent. He just took practice and help from my baby sleep site sleep coach and we finally have a well rested baby day and night. I took it slow, I tackled night time sleep first and then naps (naps were the worst) but now at 11 months we have a great schedul we can all live with.

  18. Stephanie says:

    It’s so amazing to me that people can say things like “it broke my heart to hear him cry so long” “I had to leave the house!” “I was pacing the whole time and worried” “I finally could t take it anymore and went in to calm her down”…why don’t people realize that the reason it’s SO hard for us to leave our babies to cry alone in a room is because it’s UNATURAL! Our babies need us. Period. Yes it’s hard and yes it’s unbelievably tiring…yes you want to pull your hair out sometimes but that’s part of the package. For centuries babies have nursed, slept and stayed right next to their mother for YEARS before vejng expected to sleep alone, and often times they were/are still in a family bedroom.
    Maybe after several thousand years of parents making their babies CIO the human brain will evolve into one that babies no longer need their mothers for comfort, safety, love…food on demand. But really…do we want to live in a world where that’s how babies are born?

    Am I being extreme? Yes. But so it letting your baby cry alone and bit responding to him/her. Even 10 mins! One person above said their baby cried for 1hr45mins!!!! I’m sorry but why is that not abuse ? If you were to leave the home and ignore your child for that long or not respond to them in a store for that long or any other situation people would give you the nastiest looks and assume you’re a bad parent. Why is it ok to let them be alone and sad and hurt at home in their crib?

    Advice like Babywise needs to stop being spread around. And I read the book before I knew any better. And the sad thing about it is my baby was 3 months old. My friend gave me the book and after reading it I told my husband “we’re doing everything wrong! We’re supposed to feed her on this schedule and sleep her at these intervals and only hold her at these times…” He said “well that doesn’t sound right” and it didn’t. After 1 day of thinking about it I actually felt guilty for questioning my most basic. Intuition…how to care for my baby.

  19. Rachel says:

    The one thing I found helpful with Babywise was the sleep, eat, play cycle. It has worked good for us.

  20. Evonne says:

    I have 3 children the youngest now 2.5 yrs. We used a very modified version of Babywise.
    The eat, play, sleep cycle works incredibly well and in my experience works best if you start from the get go, then you never have a feed to sleep association to break. By implementing the eat, play, sleep routine and breastfeeding on a flexible schedule ( I always woke my baby for feeds through the day) this worked for us very well. I used these modified methods with basically no CIO ( would let bubs grizzle to sleep but never be seriously crying). This i did with both my 2nd and 3rd child and they were very settled good sleepers. I did not do any of this with my first child and she had lots of sleep issues, the biggest and toughest to break with her was the feeding to sleep. I truely believe that because I never let my other 2 be feed to sleep they did better.

  21. Emily DeJeu says:

    @ Claire – thanks for offering such a well-balanced perspective! Sounds like you have a good handle on what you can take away from Babywise and make work for you kiddo, and what you should ignore and leave behind. That’s the best kind of approach to baby books, IMO – glean what’s good, and ignore what’s not :)

    Thanks for commenting, Claire!

    @ Christin — way to go, mama! Sounds like you put in the hard work that was necessary to help your baby sleep, and did it on your own terms. Fantastic!

    Thanks so much for taking the time to comment, Christin! :)

    @ Stephanie – sounds like you have some strong feelings about Babywise, which is understandable – the book tends to inspire strong feeling! ;) Thanks for taking the time to share yours. We respect families’ choices when it comes to sleep coaching, whether they’re pro-Babywise or not. We think having lots of diverse perspectives and opinions in our Baby Sleep Site community keeps things interesting, and exposes all of us parents to new ways of doing / thinking about things.

    Thanks for adding your voice to the discussion, Stephanie! :)

    @ Rachel — agreed! We make recommend the eat/sleep/play routine to lots of the families we work with.

    Thanks for commenting, Rachel! :)

    @ Evonne — sounds like we have the same family! Seriously — I have 3 kiddos, too, and the youngest is 2.5! Oldest is almost 7, and my middle guy is 5. I took the same approach you did – I focused more on routines and sleep associations with my second 2, and the result was that they slept better sooner than my oldest. Live and learn, I guess!

    Thanks for commenting, Evonne! :)

  22. Jessica says:

    Great, balanced article on a highly controversial subject! Well written, well written.

    We tried CIO with our oldest, a spunky, determined, sensitive girl, and I’m afraid it damaged her emotionally. We only did it for a short time, but I wish we had quit sooner! Now she’s almost 4 years old, and I find that she simply doesn’t need as much sleep.

    Our second child we used modified Babywise, mostly sticking to the sleep eat play cycle. I’m not a scheduled person, so following more of a cycle than a schedule works better. He is a very happy child, who can sleep pretty much anywhere.

    Still working on the second son…just over a year old, he’s somewhere between the other two children. :-)

  23. Emily DeJeu says:

    @ Jessica -thanks for the kind words! Glad you appreciated the article :) We strive for balance at The Baby Sleep Site – glad it shows in our articles! I agree with you, that the eat-play-sleep routine is probably the most useful piece of info in the whole Babywise book. I utilized that, too, and it was really helpful with my younger 2 kiddos!

    Hope you ‘figure out’ your 3rd soon ;) Thanks for taking the time to comment, Jessica!

  24. Aria says:

    I do co-sleeping and baby lead schedules. I watch their cues and create a schedule-ish…(giving room for growth spurts, illnesses etc…

    With my first she naturally nursed every four hours with a few sips in between for comfort and would go 6 hours at night from day one(as a first time mom this really stressed me out and I thought I needed to wake her up… lol) But she grew well and was happy and content when awake and she slept a lot!!! like hours more then the average kid. It was weird, but worked for us and again when she was awake she was alert and content or happy so for the most part I didn’t worry.

    Insert my son here….:
    He cried and cried and cried all the time… He refused to fall asleep unless he cried it out… :( It was so sad. I don’t like the CIO method, but that was the ONLY way he would fall asleep when he was newborn.(but his falling asleep cry did sound different then his hungry cry) The first time he fell asleep without CIO was when I was holding him and rocking him and I “pretended to fall asleep” and he looked at me and copied me and then fell right to sleep!!! wow! I finally caved and got a binki which also helped immensely. I tried to follow his “cues” to figure out when he’s tired and when he’s hungry… he doesn’t have any, he just goes from perfectly content to screaming in 0.1 seconds…

    So I have had to roughly put him on a schedule… And he has done Much better being on a schedule. Another thing is he’s a very hearty eater, or may be he’s just really thirsty like his dad? lol. So anyways during the day I usually can’t go much longer then 2 hours before he gets too upset to eat(screaming for 10 minutes until he’ll calm down and latch on)… With the binki I’ve been able to stretch his night time feeds to every four hours. One thing I always do for my baby’s is at night I NEVER turn on the light ever. I comfort I nurse or whatever, but I don’t talk and I don’t turn on the lights. So he will sleep from about 8pm till 8am… which is awesome, but his night is interrupted. I love babies, but interrupted sleep to me is torture(I get one constant non-stop headache when my sleep is interrupted.)
    He’s almost 4 months… and I’m hoping it’ll get better soon.

    We’ve naturally gotten into a routine of eat, play, sleep during the day. Though he eats every 2 hours and he naps for a half hour/hour at a time… If he goes longer then that he gets WAY over hungry. lol. He used to bite me when he was hungry! Yikes. His dad wouldn’t sleep through the night till he was 6 months and his mom gave him 2 full bottles of milk right before bed. sigh… I’m pretty sure I’m doing everything to get him to sleep through the night. :( Here’s to lasting a couple more months with a headache…

  25. Emily DeJeu says:

    @ Aria – oh my goodness, those headaches sound terrible! I understand, though; I am no good when I’m sleep deprived. I’m deeply envious of my friends who can cope for weeks on end with just 4 or 5 hours of sleep each night.

    It sounds like you have learned your son and his personality and temperament really, really well – good for you! That’s fantastic. It also sounds like you’re doing everything you can at home to accommodate his needs while still trying to encourage sleep – again, awesome!!

    If you do decide that you want help in solving some of your son’s sleep challenges, we can help with that. You can check out our consultation packages here: https://www.babysleepsite.com/baby-toddler-sleep-consulting-services/

    Best of luck to you, Aria! Thanks for taking the time to comment, and to share your story :)