June 26, 2007

WFMW: Baby Wise

First time parent-hood can be overwhelming, even for those who have had a lot of experience with kids and babies. I babysat from the time I was 11 up until just a few years ago when I was a nanny. Now, I understand that babysitting is easy because the parents do all the difficult work of figuring out eating and sleeping schedules! I would just show up and do as I was told.

I am a research nut. I will research anything and everything far longer than is sane (thus, the reason I usually pay too much for plane tickets because I keep hoping they'll drop and instead just keep going up and up and up). A while back when the arrival of our first child was imminent, I began to fun process of researching baby-hood. How much and how often to babies eat, how long should babies sleep, when do they start sleeping through the night, and so on and so forth.

One of my dearest friends from college had a baby before me and recommended a book called On Becoming Baby Wise. She said it was an easy scheduling system that would have my baby sleeping through the night by 8 weeks. Honestly, the first thing that popped into my head was, "yeah, right. Maybe that worked for you but I seriously doubt it will for me". But, being in the first time mommy stage and not knowing where to start, I thought it was worth picking up. I ordered a copy from half.com. I read it and it made sense to me! Quite a few ladies at my church also confirmed that this system worked for them.

Baby Wise is written by Doctors, so I trusted that what they were saying wasn't going to damage my poor child psychologically for the rest of his life.

The basic premise of the book is keeping your baby on a simple, flexible schedule of eating, wake time and sleeping. You feed your baby, play with them and then nap them after each feeding so that they aren't becoming overstimulated. The one thing that the book encourages you to avoid is letting your baby "snack feed", when you sit down to feed your baby, encourage them along without letting them fall asleep until their tummy is full. Then, your baby won't really need to eat for at least another 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Obviously, if your baby is indicating that they're hungry, feed them sooner. Between 8-12 weeks, most babies on the Baby Wise system will naturally begin sleeping through the night. I didn't believe this at all, but when Monkey hit about 9 weeks, he started sleeping through the night.

I must say that Monkey sleeping through the night gives me a totally different outlook on life. I feel rested and ready to conquer each day. Plus, Monkey is happy and wakes up in just the best mood, which adds to me being in a better mood at the start of each day.

This system Works for Me (and my husband) and I hope that it will work for you, too! Don't forget to check out Rocks in my Dryer for other great tips!

Feel free to e-mail me at any time if you want to ask me any questions regarding this book and how it worked for us.


Sheri said...

Hi Emily, BabyWise has been a blessing to our family too. I prayerfully used the same principals and our first was sleeping through the night by 9 weeks and our second by 12 weeks. Every child is different, but both me and baby are happier when we get proper sleep! Thanks for the reminder.

GeorgiaMom said...

My girls are long passed the baby stage (they are 8 and 5), but those days are still fresh in my mind. We used Baby Wise with both girls and it did work. I will say that I highly recommend "The Secrets of the Babywhisper" as well. It's still scheduled feeding, but it gives more concrete examples and I never had to let the second DD cry it out. It just seemed to give me more information about each individual baby. It won't go against what you've read in Baby Wise, but it will add to it.

BTW, both my girls were sleeping 12 hours a night by the time they were 8 wks old! And they are still great sleepers, we've never had any sleep issues with either of our girls.

Georgia Mom

Cara said...

Heh, I tried that for a week. No go- didn't work for our family. But she does sleep through the night when I keep her daytime naps from getting too long, and she plays contentedly by herself, so my 'goals' are fulfilled and we're happy. I do think it was a good book, though, and was glad I read it. I bet it is really a blessing to some families/children that thrive on more structure :)

Carrien said...

Have you seen this?


you may want to read it. Baby wise is actually quite controversial and many doctors disagree with Ezzo. Just a heads up.

Melissa said...

I heard of babywise when I was about 19 and began nannying for 6 week old. I was amazed that the baby was sleeping 7-8 hours a night at that age and was on a consistent "schedule" during the day. He was one of the most easy going baby's ever. I told myself when I had kids I was definitley going to model their method of parenting.
Lo and behold 4 years later I had my first child and my second one 11 months later and my 1st was sleeping 7-7 am with two 2 1/2 hrs naps at age 7 weeks. And gaining all the appropriate weight. My next baby was doing the same by 9 weeks. She took a little longer due to her colic.

Babywise is "controversial" because some parents over schedule and are rigid and won't feed their baby if it isnt "the right time". Obviously, as with anything involving children you have to use your common sense.

I recommend it. Most of my mommy friends have used the method with success. Some have had trouble due to colic and more challenging children, and that's ok. Its not for everyone.

TulipGrrl said...

I could have written your post when my oldest was your little one's age. I recommended Babywise to every pregnant woman I knew!

Over time, though, we found that it really wasn't "working" as well as we thought. The problems crept up gradually. (And yes, we were using flexibility and commonsense. . .)

Please don't take this as being critical of you or your mothering. . . I'm just sharing this to encourage you to stay alert. What might work this WFMW might not be working a month or a year down the road.

Kenj said...

Babywise is all I know. I couldn't demand-feed to save my life... but my newborns (and I've had seven) are so sleepy that I have to wake them to feed them anyway. Pretty soon they're on a schedule- voila!

Yep, there's controversy and I've heard it all over the past 14 years I've been a parent. I've even counseled some moms to put the book down because of their rigidity. I think those moms would be rigid even without the book. And *my* experience has been that *all* seven of our babies have doubled their birth weights by three months and sooner, and all have slept ten to twelve hours (plus naps) at three months. And all have been exclusively breastfed. Seven out of seven- I'm sold :) We're all a happier household with a good night's sleep.

Anonymous said...

Hi Emily,
I am currently putting baby wise to practice with my 3 week year old baby girl. I follow the schedule but it seems to me that once I put her to bed at the last night time feeding she gets up on her own every 21/2 to 3 hours and is ready to feed. I am hoping that with time this will change and she will sleep a little longer through the night. Did you run into this while to were first implementing the baby wise rules? If not maybe some advice?


Anonymous said...

I am a first time mom and we are finally baby-wise. We love the schedule as it helps structure our day. And, wouldn't you know it, our son is a creature of habit so we all benefit. My problem is that he is 10 weeks old and still not sleeping through the night. He wakes 2 times a night for a feeding. We do a bath and final feeding between 7/8pm, he wakes for a feeding at 12/1am and again at 3/4am. Any advice on how to drop those 2 feedings?

Anonymous said...

Baby wise is not written by doctors Gary Ezzo claims to be a doctor but has no qualifications to prove it.Please read www.ezzo.info.

Anonymous said...

My 10 month old daughter follows babywise, and it's the best thing for her and us. She is right on target with all of the physical, mental and emotional milestones that she is targeted for within her age group - and more advanced at some.

I'm afraid that most people don't read the book before they become critical of it. They make assumptions based on what they hear from other critics!

There is not a rigid schedule. There is a FLEXIBLE schedule, which helps the entire family (and babysitters) know what the expect next. How many of you can say that you have babysitters fighting over who 'gets to' babysit your child?

For the critics out there who have not had children, or are of the many parents who wonder why they have demanding children and they don't know where they went wrong - or it's just the childs 'personality to be obnoxious' I assure you; the people you pass in the mall, on the street and everywhere you go with demanding children without a shred of respect for time or for you, are thinking to themselves - 'if only they'd read babywise'.

I've had friends who have had babies at 5 months and 8 months who haven't yet slept through the night. Within 3 days of receiving babywise and following the simple and flexible scheudle, they are sleeping through the night for the first time. This is not only for the child's benefit, but imagine how much happier the household is when Mum is well rested!

I will go to my grave singing the praises of this fabulous book, without which the world of parenthood would be full of much more irritation and helplessness.

I commend Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam with the common sense and talent that they have willingly passed on to the millions of parents who have benefitted from thier wisdom.

For those of you considering the book, I encourage you to read it and give it a try. The worst that can happen is that you all get a great nights sleep! Better yet, try to go without following the principles for a while and see how that works out for you, then try babywise! You'll be in for such a treat!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...
Baby wise is not written by doctors Gary Ezzo claims to be a doctor but has no qualifications to prove it.Please read www.ezzo.info.

June 9, 2008 3:53 PM

Gary Ezzo does not make claims to be a doctor, the book is co-authored by a doctor, Robert Bucknam, M.D. Please get your facts straight before blasting the book. By the way, Ezzo.info is of course, written by a critic. Touche.

Anonymous said...

In all my years of baby sitting, I have NEVER had a child who could put themselves to sleep until I babysat for a family who practiced Baby Wise. After being told what time to put the child down for a nap, I asked the mother what her routine was for this, as in my experience, babies cry when put down for a nap and I wanted to follow the families normal practice for dealing with this. She said "What do you mean? I lay him in his crib." And that's exactly what I did! He smiled at me before sticking his thumb in his mouth and went right to sleep!

Anonymous said...

I have never read Babywise but have a friend who is into it. I have three small children and all have had very different sleep patterns. I do know this--my friend who is following the Babywise philosophy has a tiny baby who is gaining weight slowly. I would always be hesitant to follow a practice that is not in line with what most lactation consultants and the AAP says. It is great that your children are sleeping through the night by 8 weeks (for those of you whose child does this) but I know that my kids will sleep through the night--they all end up sleeping through the night before 1 year of age. In the scheme of things this is a small amount of time for me to give to them.

Anonymous said...

I have a 4 mo and my sister-in-law wanted to buy me this book right after my baby's birth. She used it and her children are now 6 and 4 years, and although it seemed to work for them, their children now have trouble going to sleep without a lot help from their parents, lasting 30-60 minutes. I researched the book and the author has been discredited by the AAP for making unsubstantiated medical claims. Dr. Bucknam, the solitary medical personnel involved in Babywise, contributed no more than the forward to the material. He was a pediatric resident at the time, not an experienced, respected pediatrician. Our pediatrician and nurse-lactation consultants advised that the information in Babywise is contrary to current medical knowledge and not to use it. I further researched this myself by looking into studies on infant sleep patterns and nursing patterns.

Infants do not sleep through the night because their bodies are not designed to. They have a different sleep cycle than adults, cycling through REM sleep into 20-30 minutes of deep sleep and back into light REM sleep. This pattern repeats itself numerous times throughout the night. It is so baby can wake himself if he is in need of assistance, hungry, etc. When baby sleeps through the night too early on, he is more susceptible to SIDS because of baby's irregular breathing. SIDS is thought to be connected to baby sleep apnea or periods of not breathing, which under normal circumstances baby wakes and cries. When trained to sleep through the night too early, the natural infant sleep cycle is suppressed and baby is more likely not to wake enough to re-establish breathing. This of course does not mean that every baby trained to sleep before 1 year will die of SIDS, but it does mean that the risk is increased.

The most recent studies on breastfeeding are particularly striking. Every mother's breast has different storage capacity, which is unrelated to breast size. Every baby nurses in his own pattern. It is a supply and demand function, whereby the amount of milk produced is in direct correlation to how often and how much baby eats. These amounts are unique to every mother-baby breastfeeding pair. During growth spurts, the baby nurses more frequently to stimulate more production and then nurses at that higher frequency through the growth spurt. Additionally, not only do infants have very small stomachs, but breastmilk is easily and quickly digested. Babies are designed to have small, frequent meals 24 hours a day. Skipping feedings for 12 hours of sleep can be detrimental to baby's development. Babies instinctively know how much and how often they need to eat, which is why lactation consultants advise to simply feed baby when hungry and don't try to control or time feedings as it may be detrimental to baby's nutrition and development. Of course this does not mean every baby will have a problem with scheduled feedings as they may naturally fit the proscribed pattern. However, "Watch the baby and not the clock" as any certified lactation nurse will advise.

I have posted only basic information and would encourage parents to check the research themselves for more specific information. This can be done by searching scientific publishing sites or other sites that compile research.

I do not post this because I'm a "critic". I won't accept information simply from critics, I do my own research. Be informed.

Baby is only baby for a short time.

Hannah's Mom said...

Emily, I love your blog1

My 9-month old monkey is an absolute joy. By the time she was 8-9 weeks, she was on a perfect schedule- going to sleep by 8- 8:30, waking up around 6- 6:30 a.m; However, when she was 6 months old, we had to relocate to a different state- (we're church planting)- we were on vacation for about a month, traveling around, visiting family etc. Needless to say, we've now settled into our new home, but my little one has altogether lost her schedule. She wakes up every night once (and cries till she is fed). She hasn't done this since she was 4 weeks old.
She only drinks 20-24oz of formula during the day. She is a very happy most of the day, but I'm not sure how to get her back into a schedule. I've tried various things, but failed.

Does anyone have any suggestions?

Ashley said...

Has anyone read any information on the original Babywise? Just so you guys know, the secular version is the version that is often passed around. It omits many references to sinners and the devil, and truly reveals the motives and thought processes behind the authors.

kristin62181 said...

Hi, I have a 2 week old son that i'm trying to follow the babywise schedule with. He is getting up every hour or two at night and I nurse him and as soon as I put him in the playpen next to our bed, he wiggles out of his swaddle and screams until I nurse him again. I have two other kids and they slept in bassinet next to our bed just fine and loved to be swaddled. Am I suppose to feed him again or let him sleep with us. I hate to make these habits but don't know what to need. Any other tips please let me know.

Anonymous said...

Babywise shmaybewise. If your baby has been sleeping through the night, good for your baby. It has nothing to do with babywise and more to do with your baby's temperament. Some baby's will just respond to any system or "schedule" that you put them on. My 6 month old is one of the happiest kids ever, but the WORST sleeper. I do the same ritual each time... sometimes he goes right to sleep without a peep, sometimes he screams bloody murder. Sometimes he wakes up after 30-45 minuetes (usually). sometimes he sleeps for an hour and a half. This is just how he is. Don't praise the book, trust your judgement and common sense. Be thankful is your kids sleeps.

Piper said...

This is a great post. We have used babywise in a lot of areas and it has worked well for us. Sometimes I wonder if people who have negative things to say about the book have ever actually read the thing?!?! The author NEVER suggests to make a baby go hungry. They say that is it parent directed feeding. Not clock feeding. Not shoving your boob in your kids' mouth because they are fussy/crying. As the parent you use your common sense and determine your baby's needs. If your baby usually eats every 3 or so hours and is telling you they are hungry at 2 hours then you feed them and then try to figure out why they were hungry(growth spurt, didn't get a full feeding, maybe there is an issue with the supply--the author always tells the mother to keep watch over her supply). They never suggest less feedings in a day than is also recommended pediatritions. They also suggest doing a "dreamfeed" where you give your baby an extra feeding at night and put them right back down to bed. This has worked well for us and keeps my supply in check and gives my baby an extra feeding. She has always been in the 90% and is doing great. Now, all this to say--there are people that read the book, swear by it, and I still wonder if they understood it because they are sitting there watching the clock as their kid screams for food. THIS IS NOT BABY WISE PRINCIPLES!!! These parents are misunderstanding and maybe rather than beat them over the head we should offer advise in a kind way--because really, regardless of our method--we all misunderstand at times and no one is a perfect parent.
As far as the comment about SIDS, I personally disagree with this and if anyone is interested in some really good info about SIDS look up the Toxic Gas Theory and order a BabeSafe mattress cover for your baby's mattress. Respond to this comment if you want me to give you even more info concerning this. Besides, if it was believed that sleeping through the night increased the risk of SIDS then "experts" would say "back to sleep and up in the night to eat!"

Anonymous said...

I hope you don't mind me commenting, this book tends to get lots of comments!

I read the book TWICE and tried to implement it. The book is full of contradictory statements that are very confusing (feed if hungry, but don't let it become the norm, try to stretch it out to the 2.5 hour mininum, find out why baby couldn't make it the min.) These statements made me feel like I had done something wrong every time my daughter could not go the whole time (she ate every two hours) This book is full of breastfeeding advice that goes against the AAP, is linked to FTT, loss of milk supply, dehydration, etc. I have read the book, so you can't say that I'm critisizing it without reading it first. Some moms have different milk capacity and their babies will not be able to go long without eating. Also, I read that breastmilk contains tryptophan and that prolactin is a natural tranquilizer. If God made it so that breastmilk helps babies sleep, why do we need a Eat Wake Sleep cycle such as Babywise suggests? Also, during growth spurts, they suggest adding one or two additional feedings a day. During my daughters' growth spurts, she ate 3-6 times more a day. I am thankful that I did not follow Babywise longer than a day. My baby could have been a failure to thrive baby.


Tandy said...

PLEASE LISTEN....the problems with using Baby Wise show up later in the child's life. I know first hand. At first glance, everything seems perfect, with well-behaved, rested children (and happy parents.) But that's on the outside. You don't see the emotional damage on the inside of the child. That comes a little later. And so does the guilt of the parents. And the confusion. And the frustration. I have an 8-year-old neice to prove it.

Piper said...

I completely agree that what you have to say about your niece is valid. However, one kid that is having some emotional issues because of what her parents believe is the way they treated her as a baby does not mean that the entire methods of babywise are wrong. I could just as easily say that an 8 year who is unhealthily attached to his mom is the result of her practicing attachment parenting and "wearing" him throughout his childhood, and now he does not want to be a part of this. Now really, I don't think either is the case. I think that some kids are just overly attached to their parents when they are 8 and some kids have some emotional issues when they are 8 and some kids are fine when they are 8. And those that need some help, they should get that help and their parents should not feel guilty or ashamed because over those 8 years and all the years to come they do what is best for their babies. Do I think either methods are wrong? No. It really depends on the kid and the parents. For me, the bottom line is that my baby needs to sleep--for her sake and mine. She is a happy baby when she gets sleep and she is not a happy baby when she does not get sleep. That is the bottom line for me. I hold her, I play with her, I even "wear" her at times. But, when it is time for sleep, she needs to do so. If I catch the signs in time then she goes in her bed and is usually done fussing before I leave the room. If I do not catch the signs then as a parent I take responsibility and "parent" her to sleep so she gets the rest she needs. Do I sometimes overstimulate my baby--yes. Do I sometimes make her "CIO" and then realize I probably didn't need to do that--yes. Do I sometimes hold on to her too long so that when she does go down it is harder for her--yes. See, it is all situational. This is, of course, my opinion. In our home there is a place for babywise and a place for AP, and a place for "momma/daddy says this is how it's gonna be" and all work hand in hand to create the environment of our home. Bottom line, whatever method you use, you strive to create a loving environment where everyone gets their needs met. I am sure there are times throughout any family's life together that some members have issues and if this is the case with your niece at this point in her life, I am sorry to hear that. I hope that with time and love and boundaries she grows to be a healthy independent and strong young woman.

Anonymous said...

I am a first-time mom, so I've wondered sometimes if it is Babywise that got me where I am now with my 10-month old son, or if it is just my child's personality or character. But having read these comments, especially the woman with 7 "babywised" children who were good sleepers, I now know that Babywise is the reason. He sleeps about 11-12 hours at night, naps well, goes in his crip for naps/bedtime completely awake and doesn't fuss much about it before putting himself to sleep within 10-30 minutes. Yes, you follow a routine and stick to the schedule but, of course, you must be flexible at times to accomodate growth spurts, etc. But I firmly believe babies don't just know how to sleep without guidance. You must teach them how to sleep and that comes through training their metabolism by scheduled feedings and naps, and staying away from snacking, and all the other principles enforced by the Babywise authors. I am a nurse, and from a physiological standpoint, this makes alot of sense. I will Babywise my next child(ren) without a doubt. And when people say how "lucky" I am that I have a child who has slept through the night starting at about 9-10 weeks old, I proudly correct them - No, it's not luck! I take full credit! I taught him how to sleep through the night. :)

Anonymous said...

Hi!I am a first time Mom trying to implement Babywise but I am having some trouble...I am trying to get my son on a "schedule" but for example today he ate at 9:00pm last night then 2:53am, 6:00am, 9:20am, 12:20pm and 3:30pm. I am trying to do every 3 hours but sometimes he gets hungry before which I don;t have a problem feeding him of course but how do I get back on schedule? Also, since he is so young he falls asleep most of the time when he eats and if he doesn't it is mostly at night between 6-10 maybe that he could stay awake? Are there better "wake" times than others and hoe long do I need to try and wake him after each feeding??? Should I wake him if he falls asleep eating, won't that possibly overstimultae him and then we miss the boat on his nap?? Oh My!!! Please help~

Anonymous said...

I just posted right before this and forgot to mention my son is 3weeks and 4 days old.

Anonymous said...

Babywise is not written by doctors. Gary Ezzo has claimed to be a doctor at times yet he has no medical or child development training. Dr. Bucknam attached his name to the book in order to give it credibility. The current text is still extremely similar to those version written by Ezzo before Dr. Bucknam attached his name. So in fact Babywise was written by a man who has no credentials at all to be writing parenting books. This is why he has to self-publish his books. His former publisher dropped the book for fear of lawsuits due to the number of sad and poor outcomes many children experienced being raised by this method. Personally I had two friends who used Babywise, both personally experienced many of the problems associated with this book. Watching them and their children go through so much stress and difficulty is what alerted me to research this book myself. Neither blamed the book for their problems, but instead blamed their children. These are both intelligent, well meaning, Christian mothers who just got caught up in a system they could not step back from and really evaluate truthfully for themselves.
The other fact I'd like to add here that really spoke to me is that the Ezzo's own children have publicly severed all ties with them. For me this is more than enough proof that there are some inherent flaws with the Babywise method.
While I recognize that some children appear to do well with Babywise I worry for them and their families. Many former users have since reported problems as a result. I myself practiced a middle of the road parenting style with my first child and attachment parenting with my second. I can tell you that AP was hard and it was tiring and that it also felt absoutely wonderful. I am so deeply bonded to the AP child. She is more secure, more confident and more loving. She is better able to create more meaningful relationhips with others and she is extremely advanced developmentally. People who meet her frequently comment on these attributes. She is everything AP experts said she would be. I regret very much not doing more AP with my first and am still working on improving my bond with her each day. It is harder now that she is older. Overall what I am trying to say is that Babywise has been shown time and again not to be all it is cracked up to be. If your heart tells you something is not right then I encourage you to listen or even branch out and try something new. Let yourself hold her, play with her, love her, feed her, and even sleep with her if it feels natural and good to you both. You will not get this time back and it is brief.