Warning: Babywise May Not Be Right For Your Baby

On Becoming Babywise is a popular book among many parents, but receives a lot of criticism from pediatricians and other parents for being too strict or harsh, particularly for newborns. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) came out and said over 10 years ago that Babywise is downright dangerous while others say that is not true. Who is right and what is right for your baby? This article will discuss what Babywise is and why it may or may not be right for your baby.

On Becoming Babywise

What is the Babywise method? 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.

Babywise Criticism

baby sleep training methodsSo, what’s the problem? Because of how strict the Babywise routine can appear to be, some pediatricians belonging to the AAP have indicated that babies are at higher risk to be diagnosed “failure to thrive” and become dehydrated. The feeding schedule is considered stringent with feedings every 3 hours from birth (4 hours once your baby is older). Die hard Babywise enthusiasts will delay feeding their baby until the “right” time rather than on demand even if baby is hungry. Attachment parenting advocates would say this is disrespectful of the baby by not feeding on cue. After all, it’s not like your baby can go to the pantry to eat like you can when you’re hungry.

In addition, sleep-wise, the Babywise Method is considered even more harsh than Ferber, in some ways, because Babywise advocates letting your baby cry in 20-minute intervals, even as a newborn (Ferber says to wait until 4 to 6 months). In order to get to an eat-play-sleep routine AND have feedings every 3-4 hours, depending on age, your baby needs to be napping in fairly long intervals (1-2 hours each time or so). Of course, we know that not all babies nap for long periods (some babies won’t nap at all) and short naps are common up through 6 months old. If your baby wakes up early from a nap, Babywise indicates you should allow your baby to cry to go back to sleep, even at a young age. Considering some people are thoroughly against cry it out methods to begin with, allowing your newborn to cry for 20 minutes is a lot to ask a new mom, in many cases, even if that same parent may decide to do cry it out when their baby is older.

Why Babywise may not be right for your baby

In some ways I think Babywise gets a bad rap in that it states VERY clearly that if your baby is hungry sooner than the “scheduled” time, then you should feed him. Some pediatricians have submitted their own reports about how Babywise is not dangerous. As with anything else, I think some people are more prone to follow books to the letter than others. Or, maybe they just didn’t read that page (or pages). Or, maybe they didn’t read the book at all and heard about the method from a friend. With any book, including mine(!), you still need to apply what YOU know about YOUR baby and make modifications. No one knows your situation or your baby better than you do. It is possible to do eat-play-sleep but not be so stringent that you HAVE to feed your baby as soon as she wakes up, for example. As long as you use the correct amount of awake time, it’s fine to feed her 15 minutes after she wakes, if she’s not hungry because she doesn’t take a two hour nap.

With my boys, they simply could NOT wait 3 hours between feedings until they were months old (not weeks) and they actually never got to 4 hours between milk feedings. I feel that it’s a healthier way to learn to eat when you’re hungry and not let yourself get TOO hungry that you overeat. But, that’s just my personal philosophy. Even now at 5 and 3, they eat something roughly every 2 1/2 hours due to how active they are and I am okay with that (after all “they” say to eat more frequent smaller meals, right? I do the same).

My boys also did NOT take two hour naps, either, and sticking to awake times that were outside my eldest’s comfort zone was out of the question. Add in that babies get older and can stay up longer between sleep, but not necessarily wait longer to eat, and it can be difficult to make Babywise work for every baby. There are a variety of reasons that your baby may or may not “fit” in with the Babywise Method. It doesn’t mean you can’t borrow from Babywise and make your own routine, though, if you do yearn for predictability or feel your baby would benefit from it! Maybe you do eat-play-sleep-read-eat-play-sleep-read… Maybe you do eat-play-sleep-walk-eat… there are many ways you can make a routine without it being a particular book’s routine. Make it work for you and your baby.

As for sleep, I wasn’t willing to let my newborns cry for more than a few minutes, let alone 20 minutes. Does that mean that you can’t use Babywise? No. Simply work on the routine and helping your baby learn to sleep in the gentlest way possible. As your baby gets older, her brain will mature, sleep will organize, and she will be able to learn how to self-soothe. Even if Babywise isn’t exactly right for you, it doesn’t mean you can’t find something that is.

If you got Babywise to work for you, that’s great! For others, their baby will be hungry, possibly nap even worse due to being hungry, nursing mothers may have low milk supply going too long between feedings, or you may just find it impossible to get your baby to nap long enough to get to the next “eat” time. If you can’t get it to work, don’t feel like you’ve failed at all. Just find your baby’s own routine and plan to use books as guides, and not as the end all, be all.

If you’re looking for ways to get your baby or toddler into a healthy sleeping routine, please be sure to pick up your FREE copy of 5 Ways to Help Your Child Sleep Through the Night, our e-Book with tear-free tips to help your baby sleep better. For those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3-Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep (babies) or The 5-Step System to Better Toddler Sleep (toddlers). Using a unique approach and practical tools for success, our e-books help you and your baby sleep through the night and nap better. For those looking for a more customized solution for your unique situation with support along the way, please consider one-on-one baby and toddler sleep consultations, where you will receive a Personalized Sleep Plan™ you can feel good about! Sometimes it’s not that you can’t make a plan. Sometimes you’re just too tired to.

What do you think about Babywise?

Comments

  1. lrforever1 says

    My son also could never go 3-4 hours between feedings and actually he never did make it to 4 hours. He was born early and only weighed 4 lbs 8 oz. The doctor told me to feed him on demand and actually to not wait more than 3 hours between a feeding. If he didn’t cry after 3 hours, I was supposed to wake him up to feed. Since he was so small, he needed all the nutrition he can get. He actually fed every two hours until he was 4 to 5 months old and not by my choice, but because that’s when he got hungry. He thrived very well. By 4 months, he had already caught up to what the average baby should be. He began sleeping through the night (went 9 hours his first night, before that he was doing 4 hours max) a week before he was 3 months old! We always had a good routine and I did do the cry it out method when he was about 9 months old. He cried about 30 minutes the first night and every night after that, he would only whine for about 5-10 max. (I did try other methods before CIO and they did not work well for him) I cant imagine doing it as a newborn. Seems cruel to me. Anyway, he is a wonderful sleeper now at 17 months old. After his bath and cuddle time with dad, he knows it’s bed time and we will put him in the crib. He sometimes whines for a minute or so, but shortly after he falls asleep all by himself and stays asleep for about 12-13 hours a night! I am now expecting again and I sure am going to miss my sleep! Every baby is different, so with my second I am not going to expect to do everything the same way as with my first. I will trial and error until i find what’s best for this baby and myself.

  2. Nicole says

    I did Babywise for the routine. I agree with you I couldn’t let him “cry it out” at ALL. He was very similar to your boys, he ate every 2 hours when he was small and only got to every 3 hours (and at a year he also still eats or drinks milk every 3 hours). I did exactly what you recommended in your blog, I only took what I felt would work for us. And honestly the routine is about all I took and that was for the day time. At night he gets a bottle before bed and he sleeps just fine. (2 naps almost the same time every day – at least an hour to two hours and over night he sleeps 11-12 hours). I only let him “cry it out” (if that’s what you want to call it) when he was around 9 months old and was starting to wake up in the middle of the night. But even then I only let him cry for a couple mins, I’d walk in and tell him he was ok, say ni-night and walk back out. It took us 3 nights of that but he ended up learning how to sleep without me intervening too much. I just wanted him to know I was there. Great site, I’ve done all the same things you mention here and it worked for us.

    Good luck to all those mommas that have it bad with sleep. I’m truly sorry to hear about it and feel extremely lucky/blessed to have a good sleeper. I cannot imagine what it must be like to try to work with little to no sleep.

  3. Jacki B says

    I have a friend who is all about “Baby-wise” and has tried to convince me to read it & “Toddler-wise” for a year now (since pregnancy). I did research because I was already concerned with her raising methods. Her child is like a trained dog; won’t do ANYTHING without her permission….even talking to friends visiting the house or play with others. She spanks him multiple times a day (I asked her what she plans to do if he touches something really dangerous or runs into the road__LOL). She is frustrated all the time with her toddler, but doesn’t see that 70% of what he does is not deliberate to be defiant. A child has a right to decide in what order to eat his food at 2 years old & how long to take at the potty (if he makes an oops, then that’s his deal for not sitting there long enough). It makes me nervous that she touts this book emphatically.

    I read reviews on both books & about the life of the author. I was not impressed in the least. He has been kicked out of every church he’s pastored & been ostracized & cut off from his kids & grandkids. That tells me something about the person. Now if he had just had issues with churches kicking him out (Lord knows I’ve left a few & had trouble myself these days), then I would say, “OK, must be the church then.” But to have your kids legally cut you off from the family–that’s a red flag to me.

    To make matters worse for me. I went to his website to see people’s comments. I guess many women over the years have had questions about feeding baby & their doctor’s concerns about baby’s weight; comments about children acting up in later childhood, and many other valid, understandable questions. All this man could say was how these women were merely “cackling hens in a hen house.” And something to the effect of the idea that they didn’t follow his books and that was the reason for their badly behaved monsters. That he was told by God this is how to raise children & his books were the only proper Christian way to raise them.

    So, parents tried to ignore his insults & told him that they DID follow his book to the letter & what they should do now that they have this situation. (Not even blaming him, but just stating they did do what he said) These parents were at a loss at what to do because what they did backfired on them. The author told them off & said they obviously did not follow his books & needed to re-read them & learn to control their children; that they were the one’s not following God’s will on how to raise children. (AS if this author has the corner market on raising children).

    This attitude from the author right there tells me I want to steer clear from the book. I want authors who are willing to talk about things & reassess what they have written. If something isn’t working for parents, go over it again & maybe change something or give some advice…don’t berate & mock parents that have dutifully followed your “Baby-wise” & “toddler-wise” and other books, gone to your seminars & classes. This man is human & he doesn’t seem to recognize the idea that he could be wrong in some areas.

    TO make matters worse even still. His wife wrote the breast feeding sections & cliamed to have worked as a pediatric nurse & lactation consultant at a hospital at one time. (I can’t remember which one off the top of my head). I guess there were some people trying to take legal action against the book for their kids illnesses & malnutrition (I won’t comment on the right of wrong of that), but what did come out was research into his wife’s claims. Apparently she was lying & there was no record of her even working as a nurse in the hospital she claimed or any other at the time, let alone as a lactation consultant & pediatric nurse. AGAIN, this worries me. Why lie? When the truth comes out, it makes me want to read the book less.

    From my reading of numerous reviews, both for & against these books, I find that the main ruling thought in them is: control of the child’s will from birth because if you don’t, that evil-spirited, selfish child will control you from its first breath.

    Now, I am a first time mom & now have a 5 month old. Never once have I felt “out of control.” A baby can only cry for his needs right now & maybe a couple words if you are rarely lucky. How is that control to ask for his needs to be met? If I need to eat, I go get food; if I am dirty, I take a shower; I can use the restroom myself, so I don’t need to complain about that; If I am cold or hot, I can take care of the proper clothing myself; If I am sick, I do what I can & rest–baby doesn’t know why he is uncomfortable…he just wants love when he’s ill or in pain. HOW is this control evil? Right now it is about baby getting what he needs to be secure as a toddler & child. Not meeting a kids needs weakens the bond with you & your child. It doesn’t mean you will be perfect about it & mess up or be tired. It means you do the best you can to meet his needs as a parent.

    The idea of discipline for a baby is silly, they don’t understand, its obvious! So I say love your baby, watch for the tell-tale signs as they near their first year when you KNOW the child needs discipline to start.

    Until then, love your baby & meet his/her needs…that’s all you need to know!

  4. Euphy says

    I read the Babywise book about three weeks after my daughter was born. I loved the idea of a schedule, but it would have never worked for my daughter. She was never a big eater when it came to the breast or the bottle later. Even at nearly a year old, the most we could get her to drink at a time was 6 oz, and that was rare in itself. I had serious issues with the “cry it out” aspect so young. Most everything else I was reading at the time said that three months was much too young. We did let my daughter cry it out eventually, but I think she was eight months old. (We should have done it much earlier–she slept through the night after two nights of crying. First night was on and off for about 45 minutes–AWFUL. But the second night was only about 10 minutes, and then the next night, she slept all the way through.)

    I do believe that if we had been more structured that she would have had more success with nap time. Bed time never was an issue, but nap time was a struggle nearly every day until she was 15 months old. We just didn’t have a specific routine in place for nap time, or at least did not establish it early enough, and we paid for it later.

    I do have two close friends who pretty much followed Babywise to the tee, and they both had great success. Neither of the sons had any issues with failure to thrive…one of them is in the 95% for both weight and height. Although, it was pretty painful for me to watch/hear one of them let her son cry it out when he was only two months old. He is a great napper/sleeper now though and slept through the night really early. I think he was only eight or nine weeks old.

    I believe that what Nicole says is very wise (if not baby”wise”). Find a balance for what works for you. Take some, leave some.

  5. Catherine says

    I read Babywise, and started to follow it when my son was born. I agree with others that I like it for the routine (eat, play, sleep) as my son doesn’t need a full belly to nap…however, we never got on the timed schedule they suggested. It just wasn’t realistic. My son would have a really long morning nap…sometimes up to 3 hours…then would have smaller naps until bed time (45mins ish). We did attempt the “cry it out” method they suggest, but my son just got more energized by crying. I think this book does have some merits when it comes to creating a routine, however, and I think with any book, you need to read it to get the ideas you are comfortable with, and then follow your own intuition.

  6. Kate says

    I, too, read Babywise before my son was even born. I made a schedule and everything. I was a first time mom and had no idea what to expect! Well I soon found out that he might not eat-play-sleep. Very hard to play and keep a newborn awake. I still kept him on a feeding schedule but if his schedule went eat-sleep-eat-play-sleep I was fine with that. He started sleeping for about 6 hours at night around 8-9 weeks. He’s six months now and sleeps for about 11-12 hours! He usually takes one really good nap and a few cat naps throughout the day. I’ve always had a bedtime routine with him too. I think that helped more than anything. It is trial and error. You just have to find what works. I still don’t let him cry it out. Maybe 5 min at the most.

  7. Marcia says

    While that method may work for some, there is NO way it would have worked for my daughter. She still can’t go more than 3 hours without eating during the day. When she was a newborn, it was more like every 2 hours. And she has been completely unpredictable in terms of eating, sleeping, etc. since she was little. It took about 10 months to get her on a somewhat predictable sleeping routine. She might have been one of the failure to thrive babies had I insisted she follow a routine I set for her. And letting her cry has never worked. She just gets more upset and can scream for hours on end. I can only do the best I can for my daughter, not what someone else who doesn’t even know her thinks will work for her.

  8. Lainie says

    I remember hating the EASY method cause I thought I was doing something so wrong. Of course, as you said, it works IF your baby naps well.

    What does BabyWise say about sleep for toddlers? My 16 month old seems like she can stay up way longer before bed than I would expect, like 8 hours, before she’s ready to fall asleep. I think that’s “against” what BabyWise says, but what is considered normal awake time at that age (after a 2-hour late-morning nap)?

  9. Mahua Mandal says

    I didn’t read the whole book – I read parts of it and stopped b/c it didn’t make sense to me. The authors seemed to have very little understanding of healthy child development. What about growth spurts (and my son seemed to have on long growth spurt for his whole newborn phase!). What about mom’s milk supply dropping if the babe is sleeping 7-8 hours straight early on? Even when my son was 9 months old and started eating more solids and sleeping for longer intervals at night my supply dropped to the point where I wasn’t able to provide enough to the nanny. I had to “turbo-boost” my supply with 10-12 nursing and/or pumping sessions for a couple of weeks to get my supply back up (my breastfeeding goal was at least 1 year). I can’t imagine what would have happened to my supply if my son had been sleeping for such a long interval at night from just few weeks or even few months old. I also glanced at some pages of the second book (about the 5-15 month olds) b/c I was curious. The author advises holding the hands down and a “swat to the hand” to promote highchair manners. For a 5-15 month old?!? Pediatricians and all child health experts I know of do not advise parents to ever hit their kids, no matter what age. To note, I am not a Dr. Sears fan either (the pediatrician beloved by many parents who follow attachment parenting). I don’t think a mom should always “parent” her child to sleep, neglecting her own health and sleep needs for years on end (and, frequently, not helping the child get the better, more consolidated sleep s/he also needs). Or that a Mom has to constantly “wear” her baby in a sling to bond well. As with all things in life, I think there is a good middle ground in parenting. For me, Babywise seems too harsh and rigid (too parent-centered) and Dr. Sears seems too fluid. I prefer something in-between for my family and me, and – from what I’ve gathered over the first year of his life – that’s what my son needs too.

  10. Ems says

    Seems to me some households are more strictly routine-focused, some more easy-going and people pick the baby approach that appeals to their personal style. In a way, if that’s how the child is going to be raised anyway, you might as well start as you mean to go on. However I don’t see how regimented feeds and breastfeeding can work, especially at the start. I think new moms are still largely misled about how much work and responsiveness to your newborn is necessary to get nursing established. If you don’t want to nurse, fine, but I have friends who were really disappointed about not being able to because it all got confused with other things they thought they ‘should’ be doing. I nursed my son to sleep for nearly a year, stopped when I thought he was ready and he fussed a little but no CIO dramas at all. So much for bad habits!

  11. Camille says

    I was a nanny for a woman who was set on the babywise method. While I started watching him from 4-9 months of age… I do have to say that he did sleep really well at night but he was very HUNGRY during the day. She would set aside breastmilk for me for the day and was clearly not leaving me enough milk for him because like I said before, he was never satisfied food wise. As I would tell her that he wasn’t getting enough milk for his feedings, she would continue to tell me, the amount of milk he was receiving was the right amount for his age. I’m sure babywise does work for some babies but is it really worth watching your baby practically starve sometimes?? I think not.

  12. Zsoelle says

    I read ‘On Becoming Babywise’ before I had my first child and I just want to say… IT RUINED MY EXPERIENCE!!!! I was so stressed out because I was trying to make my baby conform to a schedule. My mind was so polluted with that book that I couldn’t even follow my own motherly instincts. Babies are human beings, not robots! I went through the first 4 months of my baby’s life constantly looking at the clock. She wasn’t happy, I wasn’t happy and my hubby wasn’t happy. Finally I decided to read Dr. Sears ‘Baby Book’ and it saved my life. They teach you about attachment parenting. Reading it was enough to rid my mind of the poison that Babywise teaches. I don’t think it is wrong to have your baby on a schedlue but I do think it is a horrible thing to look to the clock instead of your baby’s cues. Children need to feel loved and cared for more than they need ‘consistency’. I would never ever recommend this awful book to anyone. Babies naturally create their own schedules as time goes on. My child is now 8 months old and ever since I started to read her cues (5-6 mon) she has made her own schedule that fits right into ours and keeps her a very happy and sweet baby. I am sorry to her that I ever read the Babywise book.

  13. says

    Thanks for the great conversation, everyone!

    @lrforever1 Congratulations on your pregnancy with #2! Thank you for sharing your experience with others!

    @Nicole Thank you for commenting and sharing!

    @JackiB Thank you for sharing what you’ve found in your research about the authors and what you read other parents questioned. That’s awful the responses they gave!

    @Euphy Thank you for saying I’m “wise”. :D I’m sure it works great for some babies/families, but not for others.

    @Catherine I agree that we need to learn to trust our own instincts and intuition a lot more. It is scary becoming a new mom, but we know more than we think we do. Or, at least we learn fast! Thanks for commenting!

    @Kate Thank you for sharing what worked for you! It does take some trial and error as you get to know your baby.

    @Marcia Yes! You know your baby best. Some babies are naturally irregular, too, like our kids. It makes routine and schedule much more variable. My son (who inspired the site) is still different every day but, of course, it’s a lot easier now that he isn’t napping. :)

    @Lainie I have not read the Babywise Toddler book (and hadn’t planned on it, except that I should probably know what it says!). During the summer, bedtimes do get later, but at 16 months, I’d expect awake time to top out at 5-6 hours. 16 month olds still need 11-12 hours of sleep at night (if taking just one nap).

    @Mahua In general, I found the book was not breastfeeding friendly. I was thankful it was by far not the first book I read and I didn’t read it until I had my second child, so I had already knew a lot about breastfeeding and sleep by then. I was more curious about it and tried bits and pieces of it. I, too, am very much more “middle of the road” when it comes to either “extreme” but I do at least feel Dr. Sears is “baby friendly” which at least is more favorable for a newborn who needs a lot of TLC, in my opinion. As a baby grows older, though, I probably veer away from ALL the attachment parenting principles, but a lot of it I think is my natural instinct, anyway, even if I don’t call it my “philosophy.” Thank you for commenting and sharing!

    @Ems Very true! I do think the parents’ personality is a big factor. I am Type A and structured/anal (or used to be), so it did drive me a little nutty when I figured out my son wasn’t a robot. LOL He sure isn’t/wasn’t and I just had to learn to adjust my expectations and let him guide me more. I do agree that expectation setting is important and if you are going to have a structured home, it does make sense to be consistent about it. I guess it’s all about balance and respecting that even if YOU are that way, your baby may not be. Thanks for commenting!

    @Camille Oh wow! I can’t imagine not leaving enough milk for my baby. :(

    @Zsoelle I’m so sorry for your really bad experience having read the book and it making the first few months even harder than they already are! I’m glad that you did find what was better for you and your family! Thank you for sharing with us today.

  14. MegD says

    Jacki B – can u give me links or references to info you’ve found? I want to read more about the author and give links to friends. Babywise is very popular in my church and it’s sad to hear all of the things you found out, but not surprising as I’m not a fan of the book. Thanks!

  15. Lainie says

    Thanks for the info! And great, honest article.

  16. says

    I really like Babywise. I’ll say that up front. I’m not a fan of any of Ezzo’s other stuff. But I feel like this book is helpful and a nice refreshing balance from the attachment parenting over-the-top child centeredness that’s so prevalent today.

    I am also a bit confused at how so many people are complaining that it’s “too strict” for newborns, when the most the book says about newborns is that a goal should be to get a full feeding in at every feeding. Feed when hungry, on demand, aiming for every 3ish hours (many newborns are too sleepy to eat on their own), and if you get in a full feeding then most babies fall into the 3 hour routine fairly easy.

    I wonder how many of the moms who said “that would NEVER have worked with my unpredictable child” would have not had an unpredictable child if they’d aimed for full-belly feedings (even keeping their kids awake by undressing or diaper changing) right from the first, in addition to feeding on cue and regularly the first few weeks.

    I’m naturally a middle-of-the-road “compost pile” type person; I’ll take in a lot of information, sort it, take what I like, and make it my own, so I was never “by the book” about any book, much less babywise. I think the schedules are way too involved for me, almost laughable. But the routine, the schedule, the foundation of the parental bond, the freedom to allow a child to cry in moderation without being afraid I was damaging his psyche forever (like many moms I never let my infant cry longer than 10 minutes, much less my newborn…toddler throwing a fit, that’s another story. My 2 year old screamed herself to sleep tonight in an angry fit, sigh.). Sometimes babies need time to unwind alone!

  17. says

    PS- “Babywise” doesn’t try to dictate anywhere how many ounces your baby should get… so maybe that mom was getting it from someone else?

  18. says

    I really like Babywise. I’ll say that up front. I’m not a fan of any of Ezzo’s other stuff. But I feel like this book is helpful and a nice refreshing balance from the attachment parenting over-the-top child centeredness that’s so prevalent today.

    I am also a bit confused at how so many people are complaining that it’s “too strict” for newborns, when the most the book says about newborns is that a goal should be to get a full feeding in at every feeding. Feed when hungry, on demand, aiming for every 3ish hours (many newborns are too sleepy to eat on their own), and if you get in a full feeding then most babies fall into the 3 hour routine fairly easy.

    I wonder how many of the moms who said “that would NEVER have worked with my unpredictable child” would have not had an unpredictable child if they’d aimed for full-belly feedings (even keeping their kids awake by undressing or diaper changing) right from the first, in addition to feeding on cue and regularly the first few weeks.

    I’m naturally a middle-of-the-road “compost pile” type person; I’ll take in a lot of information, sort it, take what I like, and make it my own, so I was never “by the book” about any book, much less babywise. I think the schedules are way too involved for me, almost laughable. We took the 3 hour feeding schedule and made it our own; my a year old my daughter was napping 3 hours in the afternoon after staying awake for 3– not by-the-book but it worked will. By then she knew how to sleep on her own so I didn’t mind nursing her right before that nap. But the routine, the schedule, the foundation of the parental bond, the freedom to allow a child to cry in moderation without being afraid I was damaging his psyche forever; these all were useful to me as a new mom. ((like many moms I never let my infant cry longer than 10 minutes, much less my newborn…toddler throwing a fit, that’s another story–My 2 year old screamed herself to sleep tonight in an angry fit, sigh.). Sometimes babies need time to unwind alone! They cry to tell us to leave them alone, and if we respond by picking them up and smothering them then that just frustrates them. It takes humility to realize you aren’t always the answer to your child’s every desire.

  19. Jazzy says

    Thank you for allowing me to respond. I have found your website a great resource and appreciate your honest insight-fulness to sleep.
    After seeing some of my friends, who are loving sensible people, implement Babywise my husband and I decided to. The funny thing was our baby was born 4 weeks early and it was the pediatrician who put her on 4 hourly feedings because she was so sleepy and he wanted her to be hungry enough to suck well. She was in hospital 2 1/2 weeks and the pediatrician told us to stick to the 4 hourly feedings when we got home (should we have ignored what he said? Maybe we would have if we thought Ezzo was bad). We had to wake her for most feeds for a few weeks and we found it easy to follow along with Babywise. We just extended her nighttime sleeps gradually after 6 weeks, when she was putting weight on consistently, and as we did that she started wanting her day feeds about 3 1/2 hourly. By 3 months she slept about 8-9 hours a night and we were putting her to sleep in her cot awake following the feed, play, sleep routine and she went to sleep happy & woke up happy.
    I don’t understand the criticism of Ezzo’s philosophy when he clearly states it is important to use parental assessment in all situations – he doesn’t encourage starving your baby if she’s hungry, nor leaving her to scream for hours without cuddling her. No matter what you as a parent decide to do whether its demand feeding (another parenting philosophy which has been popular for sometime but is just another philosophy, and why should it be promoted as the only option for women as it is taught in all public hospitals in Australia???) or Babywise, you as the parent have to use the brain that God has given you to assess what your baby needs at the time. We have a beautiful happy little girl or 15 months who sleeps 12 hours through the night and has done for months. We are following the next books in the Babywise series but are reading lots of other material to compare and give ideas. Our daughter has learnt some signing, knows what ‘no’ means, says ‘ta’ and signs ‘please’, plays in her portacot with toys by herself for 30 mins each morning, follows a similar routine each day so knows what to expect and generally naps when I put her down.
    We know of around 15 couples who have implemented Babywise with their children (and 1 it didn’t work for). These children between the ages of 6months & 16 all sleep well, are just lovely well mannered children who are a credit to their loving parents. People who criticize Babywise generally haven’t tried it but I suspect are going by what they have heard from other people.

  20. says

    @Christina Thank you for your comments! I think the definition of “newborn” may be different for everyone. To me, an 8 week old is still a “newborn” so trying to “force” 3-hourly feedings or two hour naps seems unrealistic for *all* babies nor would I let my 8 week old cry for 20 minutes at a time. That is just my opinion, of course, so I can’t speak to what others are referring to, but that’s what I mean by “strict for newborns”. You make a good point about whether our unpredictable babies would be as unpredictable if we follow a routine such as this. In fact, I’ve wondered whether it may have made it easier/better for my eldest son. In fact, even now at 5, he really loves predictability and routine, so I’m sure he would have also enjoyed that as a baby. The main problem he would have had is staying up too long between sleep because he was so sensitive to being over-tired and CRANKY because of it. I do think it’s an interesting topic you brought up. I wish there was a way to go back and try it or a way to raise the same baby two different ways in some alternate universe that would not harm children in any way. :D Okay, that’s my sci fi mind coming out. ;) You and I definitely sound like-minded when it comes to middle-of-the-road opinions and I definitely agree sometimes my kids just need a moment to deal with what they are going through and nothing *I* do will change how they are feeling. In fact, I think we need to let our children feel the way they do, sometimes, and not try to teach them there’s something wrong with it. Let them express themselves and be them! Thanks again for commenting! Oh and I agree that I don’t remember Babywise ever saying your baby should only have this many ounces or that many. Not sure where that mom was getting that rigidity.

    @Jazzy How interesting about the 4-hourly feeds! I rarely hear that. It just goes to show that all babies are different and you really need to use your own judgment of your baby and work with your pediatrician. No book can tell you what’s right for YOUR baby. The main thing I find about Babywise is that if Weissbluth is right then a large percentage of babies are at low risk of having major sleep problems after 4 months anyway, if they have easier temperaments and common fussiness. So, in some ways, I really think Babywise works because so many babies will go on to sleep well, anyway. Though the number of babies with sleep problems is not a small number (as evidence of people looking for sleep solutions), it is a smaller percentage of the 12,000 babies born daily in the U.S. alone. All babies have schedule challenges and so on, but only some go on to have major issues. I wonder how many of the families you know used Babywise would have had those same great sleepers and well-mannered children anyway. It goes back to not being able to raise the same child two different ways, I guess. :) Thanks for commenting! Good stuff and I love a good discussion!

  21. jessica miller says

    Imagine I took a piece of poop wrapped it up beautifully and presented it to you as a great gift. Once opened it would still be nothing more than a stinky piece of poo. That’s how i feel about “Becoming Babywise.” It’s presented a s the great gift to new parents but once opened it’ s nothing more than a piece of crap (pardon the expression) from start to finish.
    Why do I detest this book so much? I think many would like oto give the impression that only those who practice attachment parenting would find fault with it. However, I’m oppposed to this book with every cell of my being because I am a Mother. Enzo takes mothers out of the mother/baby equation and turns them into robots. Where is the tenderness, responsiveness, and love?
    This book wasn’t designed to help infants sleep through the night but rather to make the “job” of parenting as convenient for parents as possible. This so called “expert” (or better yet quack) mocks “maternal instincts” in his book and likens it to merely a cliche. Human mothers have been caring for their young for thousands of years and did a fantastic job of it until middle aged men such as Enzo decided to call themselves experts on Mothering and dictating to women how to care for their young.
    The AAP issued a media alert for a reason. Parents who strictly follow this mans “program” put babies at risk and sever the close bond between mother and child that stems from instinctual and responsive parenting. Period.
    The title of the article should read “Warning Babywise isn’t right for any baby!”

  22. Lori says

    There is no way I could let a newborn cry for even 10 minutes unless I was in the shower or something and just could not get there. My little one was colicky and nursed every hour at one point. He only ever made it to 2.5 hours. Even once he started solids and now at a year old, he eats or nurses every 2 hours. I do think routine is important, and my little guy does not nap well if he gets too far off of his routine. We try to stay within 30 minutes or so, but our schedule is just a guide. It does make it easy if I have to leave him with a sitter, though.

  23. Debbye says

    @ Jessica Miller- Thank you for writing, and you obviously feel very strongly about the Babywise ways. I’m sure many families are happy with the book, and hopefully (like every other piece of advice), take it with a grain of salt, and make it work for them without compromising their parenting philosophies.

    @ Lori- Thank you for sharing what works for you!

Trackbacks