It’s a baby sleep book smackdown, parents!
Today, we’re taking a look at two very popular baby sleep books: On Becoming Babyswise, by Gary Ezzo and Robert Buckman, and Secrets of a Baby Whisperer, by Tracy Hogg. We’ll examine the similarities and difference between the two books, but most importantly, we’ll provide the info you need to determine which parts of each book might be helpful to you (and which parts you may want to ignore!).
Babywise vs. Baby Whisperer
If you’ve dabbled at all in the world of baby sleep books (and if you’re a Baby Sleep Site® reader, we’re betting you have!), then you are no doubt at least somewhat familiar with these two books. Here’s the rundown:
Babywise has been reprinted several times, and it’s changed a bit from its early days as a book that provided a religious slant on baby sleep – but to this day, it remains incredibly popular. The authors of Babywise are proponents of what they call ‘PDF’ (parent-directed feeding), and encourage parents to implement a fairly clock-based schedule right from birth, in an effort to get baby sleeping through the night by about 4 months of age.
Baby Whisperer is similar, in some ways – it urges parents to carve out sleep-friendly routines, and the book attempts to educate parents as to how they can understand their babies cries, so that they offer the right thing at the right time (i.e. so that mom and dad don’t offer food when baby is crying for a nap).
A Look At Babywise and Baby Whisperer Schedules and Routines
The hallmark of each book is the emphasis on helping your baby ease into a predictable daily schedule or routine at a fairly early age.
Babywise promotes an ‘Eat-Play-Sleep’ schedule — with this schedule, your baby wakes and feeds, then engages in an activity (shaking a rattle, reading a book, tummy time, etc.) before finally going down for the next nap. Parents are urged to put their babies down drowsy, but awake. The Babywise authors do encourage parents to be mindful of the clock when it comes to the Eat-Play-Sleep schedule – parents are urged to encourage their babies to go at least 2 hours between feedings in the first few weeks after birth, and then gradually to push for 3 hours and eventually 4 hours between feedings. The authors believe that by intentionally spacing out feedings, and not feeding round the clock, parents can encourage babies to consolidate their feedings, and eventually sleep through the night at a few months old.
Baby Whisperer, interestingly enough, lays out a very similar routine – Hogg calls it an E.A.S.Y. routine: Eat, Activity, Sleep, You Time. Basically, baby wakes and eats, engages in an activity, goes down for the next nap, and then you get some (much-needed!!) “you time”, in which to unwind (and hopefully take a nap – goodness knows you need one, right?). So on the surface, it looks quite a bit like Babywise – but when you really get into the book, Hogg makes it clear that the E.A.S.Y. routine is just that – a routine. It’s not meant to be a strict, time-driven schedule. Hogg is clear that one day may look different from another, in terms of the timing of feedings and naps. The routine is less about clocking your baby’s day, and more about gently shaping it in a way that will, over time, develop healthy sleeping habits (and eventually, a more clock-based schedule). Hogg is also very clear that, while parents do need to help direct baby’s day, they also need to watch baby’s cues closely, and use those to drive the routine.
Babywise vs. Baby Whisperer: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
So, what’s the take-away? In our opinion, it’s this: the best parts of both of these books is the Eat-Play-Sleep (or E.A.S.Y, depending on your preference) part. These two routines are basically the same (although cheers to Tracy Hogg, for putting the ‘You Time’ bit in hers – only a fellow mom would think to do that!), and the beauty of both of them is that they will go a long way towards preventing your baby from forming unwanted sleep associations. Because your baby is engaging in an activity before nap time, you’ll put your baby down at least slightly awake for naps. This is better, from a sleep coaching standpoint, than feeding your baby to sleep before every nap, and thus forming a strong sleep association that may create sleep problems down the road. Regardless of your situation, or your parenting philosophy, this kind of baby routine has universal appeal.
HOW you implement this routine will vary, though. Some parents love the timed nature of the Babywise approach, and are big fans of the parent-directed approach. These parents tend to gravitate to (and generally have success with) a Babywise approach. Other parents like the idea of having a flexible routine that allows plenty of wiggle room, and that prioritizes baby’s cues. Those parents may find a lot to love in the Baby Whisperer approach.
As for our take – as you probably know by now, we’re big fans of letting YOU make choices about your baby’s sleep. However, if you pressed us for our advice, we’d say this: we really like the flexibility of the Baby Whisperer approach for newborns and young babies. Tracy Hogg is a proponent of gentle methods that are suitable for newborns and young infants, but are also effective in establishing great sleep habits. We don’t love the Babywise approach for newborns – it tends to be too rigid for most young babies, and it’s not breastfeeding-friendly for babies with smaller stomach capacities, or for moms who don’t produce a lot of breastmilk.
That said, the Babywise approach can work well for babies who are very regular and predictable, particularly if baby is formula-fed. We have and parents tell us that Babywise worked perfectly for their babies.
In the end, it always comes down to honoring your parenting philosophy AND your baby’s temperament. Both of these approaches can work – but if they don’t work for you, it doesn’t mean you’ve done anything wrong, or that your baby is somehow “broken” – it just means you need a different approach!
Baby Sleep Help That Will Work For You And Your Baby…Guaranteed!
Sure, you could read these baby sleep books (in addition to the hundreds of other baby books out there) – or, you could let us do the work for you. Our team of highly-trained, caring sleep consultants has worked with thousands of families like yours – they know exactly how to account for your baby’s temperament and your parenting philosophy while still ensuring that you have Personalized Sleep Plan™ that will teach your baby positive sleeping habits and move your whole family towards sleeping through the night.
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