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Can I just take a minute here? I know that Babywise has been around for a very long time and it has received a lot of mixed reviews. I know some of you are very against “sleep training” of any kind. I know some of you may have even tried something similar to this but it didn’t work out well. And I want to talk about why.
First of All
These books aren’t a magic pill that will miraculously cure all nighttime (or daytime) ills. I feel like a lot of people believe everything should miraculously fall into place because they read the book. Or, for those of you against the book, maybe you started reading it and found something you didn’t like or didn’t agree with completely and then stopped reading and decide it wasn’t for you? I want to address why I disagree with both of these views.
I have a very strong opinion about any kind of advice given to a general group: don’t take it at face value. It must be modified to fit you and your situation. No one (not even authors 😉 ) can tell you exactly how to handle your life without knowing you. They can only give generalizations and suggestions for some situations. I believe these books do a great job of trying to cover a mirade of situations but they simply can’t know everyone.
So here is what I did.
And it worked…almost like a miracle.
I read the whole first book. My first child was about 3 weeks old and I was starting to feel like I was dying. I had read a lot of advice, most of which told me to “read my baby’s cues” and I felt like a lost, epic, horrible failure. I had no idea what my baby was cueing! He didn’t use words!
The cry for diaper change sounded a lot like the cry for “swaddle me” and tired whines sounded just like “cuddle me” whines. I found most of the time, I just ran through a checklist of what could possibly be wrong, ending with feeding him because I was coming to resent it. I always wanted it to be something else because how could he possibly be hungry when he just ate 15 minutes ago?! He didn’t sleep well, napping for only 30 minutes to an hour at best. He was born super sweet and happy and content but in these 3 short weeks, he had begun screaming for no apparent reason and nothing I did seemed to help. I was at my wit’s end when my mom gave me the book and said to try it.
I read it all in two days (even with being sleep deprived) and started implementing the things I read as I read them. The main difference between my fumbling around and the advice from BabyWise was to switch the schedule around so he ate, then he stayed awake for a short time, then he napped. Most “common knowledge” says to lay them down on a full stomach or even to nurse them to sleep after they have been awake and start to get fussy.
Here is why that didn’t work. Having a full belly mean burps needed to come out afterwards. Maybe some babies can, but my baby could not sleep through being burped. He often needed a diaper change after feeding within 1/2 an hour and if he was asleep, this woke him up. Also, if he was tired when I was trying to feed him and fell asleep while nursing, he didn’t get enough to eat, thus causing him to wake up too soon, very cranky and hungry and still tired. No wonder I was frazzled!
When I switched it around to BabyWise’s suggested scheduling, he started napping. He started eating well when I fed him, which meant he didn’t want to eat as often. And the best part, he would wake up, get fed, and then be the sweetest, happiest, most adorable baby ever. He would watch us and lay on a blanket on the floor content. As he got older, he kept being sweet and learned to play well with me and alone. He knew his needs were met and were important to me because I fulfilled them all first so he was free to play and learn and have fun.
Here is where people often run into problems.
The books suggest this schedule. Some people read the word schedule and immediately stop reading because they don’t believe in scheduling their baby. “Schedule” doesn’t have to mean “every day at 9:00 baby must do this. Then I must wake baby up if baby sleeps too long by 10:00 so baby can do this. Baby can only eat for 20 minutes and then it is time for baby to look at a book.” It simply means having a routine of sleep, eat, wake. The time frame can be as flexible as you want or need.
If you feel like the suggestion of 2 1/2 hours between feedings is too long or that your baby just doesn’t seem to do well with it, go to 1 1/2 or 2 hours! I promise the authors will never know and they aren’t judging you. This book provides a general guideline. It must be adapted to you and your baby and your life. Don’t throw out the pearls in this book because you don’t like some of the sand that came with them. Sift through and find the things that work. Because here is the reason, after having a second child, that I love BabyWise the very most.
A Practical Guide
It gives new moms some guidelines of what to do that they can practically grasp onto and run with. Nothing made me feel like more of a failure than my inability to “read my baby’s cues” in those early weeks. And moms don’t need anything making them feel bad at that time. I’ve never been so stressed and worried that I would do something wrong. But I couldn’t find anything substantial that told me what was right! BabyWise does that.
You may not agree with everything they say, but if you implement it (with necessary adaptions for your circumstances), it will keep you and your baby alive and functioning. And isn’t that all any new mother really wants?
Now that I have a second child, I realized that I clung a little too strongly to some of the advice in the books. But I needed something to help me and it did. Casey had a much stronger BabyWise babyhood than Simeon did, but both were raised on the same basic principle of their suggested routine.
Adapt for You and Your Baby
Looking back, I see how intense I was with Casey about setting up an hourly routine that wasn’t practical. I didn’t go places or do things because of it. With Sim, we were much more lax and fluid with the routine. And both of them are excellent boys. They both slept through the night early and consistently. They both can play with each other, me and my husband, or alone without problem. They are both good eaters (not without our problems through the two-year-old years!) and happy children. And I credit BabyWise. If not for the actual text of the book, then for calming down a stressed and panicked mother enough to confidently raise her children.
If you haven’t read the books, I highly suggest it. If you haven’t ever heard of them before this post, please, ask me any questions. If there are enough people wondering, I’d be happy to write more posts explaining the basics of their theory more.
Below is a link to purchase the BabyWise books through Amazon. I do receive a small commission if you purchase them through this link. Or you can sometimes find them at used book stores or thrift stores. Where ever you get, one, hurry up and find it and start reading!