Babywise Eat Play Sleep Schedule: Pros and Cons

Eat Play Sleep Schedule: Pros and Cons

If you’ve done any reading about baby sleep training, then you are no doubt familiar with the word ‘Babywise.‘ It’s kind of a buzzword in the world of sleep coaching! The book On Becoming Babywise is one of those controversial volumes. Some parents love and swear by this book, and others strongly disagree. This is easy to understand, once you know the gist of the book. Essentially, Babywise advocates for letting your baby cry it out from a pretty young age.

Regardless of how you feel about the book itself, there is a nugget of wisdom in its pages. This info can be useful for all parents, regardless of how you feel about cry-it-out sleep training. This “nugget” is what we are discussing today!

Babywise Eat Play Sleep Schedule: What Is It?

This is pretty simple. With an eat-play-sleep schedule, your baby eats (at the breast or the bottle), then plays for a bit (has some tummy time, listens to a book, enjoys a lullaby, etc.), and then goes down for a snooze.

The particulars of this sleep and feeding schedule depend largely on unique factors. The length of the feeding, the length and type of play, and the timing of the nap (and the length of the nap), all depend on your baby’s age and temperament. But the basic layout is the same: it’s always eating, followed by some playing, and then finally a nap.

Note that I keep saying “nap” here. That’s because this is a schedule designed to be used during the daytime. Your bedtime routine should be different (although you would still, ideally, end the bedtime routine with your child awake and falling asleep without the help of sleep associations). In addition, you would skip the ‘play’ part after any night feedings, and simply put your child straight to bed after night feeds. If you’re sleep training, you’d want to put your child back to bed at least slightly awake after night feeds.

Babywise Eat Play Sleep Schedule: Why It Can Work

So what’s all the buzz about? Why is this particular kind of schedule so popular? Why it is the central theme of On Becoming Babywise? Great questions, and here’s the answer: an eat play sleep schedule is the single best way to teach your baby to fall asleep without the help of sleep associations like feeding, rocking, or holding. This makes sense, right? Your baby eats, and then plays (which prevents your baby from falling asleep during the feeding). Then, after playtime, your baby is awake as he or she goes into bed for sleep.

This schedule is a popular one for parents who are working on sleep training because you can scale it up or down, depending on your baby’s age. This is a schedule that can work for newborns up through older babies, which makes it adaptable (something that we busy, modern parents love, right?).

Finally, this schedule is popular because it’s fairly flexible. You can adjust what happens between the “play” and “sleep” parts of the schedule. You can put your baby to bed wide awake, or you can do a little rocking/soothing to get your baby drowsy before sleep. The beauty of this schedule is that it ensures your baby is awake after feedings. What happens before the next nap (and how awake your baby is going into the crib) is up to you. What’s more, this kind of schedule works well with just about any kind of sleep coaching method. Gentle methods like fading work with this schedule, as do cry it out methods. If you’ve decided to try out the eat play sleep routine, check out some helpful tips on our article: “How to put baby on an eat-play-sleep schedule.”

Babywise Eat Play Sleep Schedule: Why It Can Sometimes Fail, and When To Avoid It

The eat play sleep schedule isn’t all good all the time, however. There are situations in which this kind of schedule isn’t ideal. Times to avoid (or at least to modify) an eat play sleep schedule include…

….during illness. A sick child needs comfort and soothing. When your child is ill, it’s perfectly fine to suspend your usual schedule in favor of soothing your child to sleep.

….during times of travel or change. If you are in the midst of a big life transition (like moving to a new house or having a new baby), then you’ll need to cut your child some slack. Be ready to offer more soothing and sleep help than usual. In addition, if you are vacationing, and your child is in a new and unfamiliar sleep environment, eat play sleep may not work as well as it does at home.

….during growth spurts. During a growth spurt (especially a newborn growth spurt), your child will feed for what feels like forever! In the midst of all these feedings, it may not be practical to do an eat play sleep schedule.

….during the early weeks after birth. While the eat play sleep schedule can be scaled to work for newborns, it’s usually not a great schedule to use in the first 4-6 weeks after birth. Very young newborn babies tend to do nothing BUT eat and sleep. Trying to insert any “play” in there usually doesn’t work well. Additionally, babies this age tend to naturally fall asleep during feeding, so it can feel fruitless to try and wake them for playtime.

Your turn, parents! See if you’d like to try an eat-play-sleep schedule!

All content of The Baby Sleep Site®, such as articles, e-guides, e-Books, advice, evaluative consultations, text, graphics, images, and other material contained on The Baby Sleep Site® (“Content”) are for informational and supportive purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always, always, always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding your or your child’s medical condition(s), behaviors, feeding and sleeping habits, and environment. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on The Baby Sleep Site®.

The Baby Sleep Site® is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and other product affiliate programs. If you click on a product link and make a purchase, The Baby Sleep Site® may (but not always) receive a small commission from the company selling the product, but will not affect your purchase price. We only recommend products that we believe are quality products and are good for our readers.

Holistic Sleep Solutions from The Baby Sleep Site®

e-Book bundles

Do-It-Yourself: Just getting started with your research but you want to stop Googling? Choose from any of our e-book bundles for practical advice you can put to use TODAY!  

Become a VIP Member

Do-It-Mostly-Yourself: Would you like to continue learning with the option of getting answers from an expert sleep consultant? We have a perfect solution! Become a VIP Member for access to all of our premium content. This includes ALL of our e-books and bonuses, audio courses, access to our “ask the author” feature giving you answers to your pressing questions from an expert baby sleep consultant, and more!

Get a Personalized Sleep Plan

Work With a Sleep Expert: Tap into over a decade of experience with thousands of families before you! Get a Personalized Sleep Plan® just for your unique situation, get guidance and answers to all your “what if?” questions while you work through your plan, and benefit from expert support along the way. We can’t tell you how many times we’ve heard “I wish I had done this sooner!” Not sure? Read these stories from well-rested parents.

Don’t lose another wink of sleep — GET STARTED TODAY with our gentler, kinder approach to healthy sleep!

FREE Guide: Five Ways To Help Your Child Sleep Through the Night

Join over 500,000 parents for 15+ years & sign up today to receive the guide and Newzzz, our Baby Sleep Newsletter absolutely FREE!

Share to...