We used the Babywise method in establishing a routine for all three of our babies. I always say that within the first 6 weeks of our babies lives, this book is my baby bible! We found it so beneficial for our babies – and us too. I believe that babies/children thrive when they know what to expect from us, from their surroundings, and from their daily schedules. Here is how we implemented baby wise in our home, with our babies!
Hayden, Skylar and Sam all at just a few days old!
Babywise consists of a few main ideas:
1. Implementing PDF (parent directed feedings). The balance between hyper scheduling at one extreme and feeding on demand at the other.
2. Establishing a routine of feed/awake/sleep.
3. Putting baby to bed while they’re still awake, and dare I say it..crying it out.
4. Consistent bedtime routine (this isn’t babywise – just one of my favorite tips)
First, before I go into detail I want to say that I know (from experience) that this can be a touchy topic. Every baby is different, and every mama is different! This worked wonders with my three babies, however I know that what worked for us may not work for everybody. Some of my friends are so happy and content nursing whenever baby wants it – through the night, during dinner, in the middle of grocery shopping etc. and rocking baby to sleep. If you feel that is best for you and baby, go for it! But we find that our family thrives best with consistency in our routine.
We followed the baby wise method with all of our babies, and they all were on a consistent routine during the day, and sleeping through the night 7:00pm to 7:00am by 7 weeks old. We both (parents and baby) knew what to expect each day – I knew when would be a good time to run to the grocery store and baby knew when they were put into their crib it was time to sleep. There are so many more little components that go into this but I found that these four pillars really make up the bulk of what we did. Babywise has been a life saver for us!
⇒PDF (parent directed feedings)
Full feedings – Starting from the time they are born through the first and second week of life there was one thing we focused on. Making sure baby gets FULL feedings, and if breastfeeding – making sure both breasts are emptied at each feeding. This will help to establish your milk supply. This means starting in the hospital offer one breast to baby for 10 minutes, burp and switch to the other side for 10-15 minutes (or as long as baby is actively sucking and swallowing). If you do this you can be sure that your baby has gotten a full feeding – and won’t be hungry in 30 minutes.
As you strive for full feedings within the first 2 weeks the HARDEST thing to do is keep baby awake at the breast, babies are so groggy and sleepy within the first few weeks/months. It can seem impossible and be so frustrating at times but do what you need to do to keep baby awake! I would tickle feet, wipe their faces with wet cloths, sing to them, blow in there face, you name it!
As you continue to give baby full feedings, baby will naturally fall into a 2.5-3.5 hour feeding schedule. I always felt a little bit more secure knowing that if baby ate a full feeding at 1:00 – I can feel confident at 2:15 if they are crying and fussy that they are not hungry. It makes life a bit less stressful trying to figure it all out!
⇒Feed / awake / sleep
The second pillar of establishing a routine is striving for a feed/awake/sleep rotation. Key word in the first few weeks is strive! As I said before keeping baby awake is challenging at first, but over time they will become more alert! After their feeding (which may be anywhere from 15-30 minutes) they need to have some wake time. At first the wake time may be a whole 45 minutes including the time they are nursing and then back to sleep they will go. But this will help them develop a healthy sleep pattern.
A typical schedule for our 2 month old babies would be;
7:00am feed, awake
10:00am feed, awake
1:00pm feed, awake
4:00pm feed, awake
6:45pm tub/bedtime routine
7:00pm feed and put to bed
This is a general example, it may vary within 30 minutes or so.
⇒Putting baby to bed while they are still awake / Crying it out
Putting baby to bed while they are still awake helps them to self-soothe and learn to put themselves to sleep without nursing to sleep, rocking, a swing etc. Even though it can be challenging in the moment, we have really seen the benefits of this with all three of our babies. Of course sometimes we would snuggle them to sleep but the vast majority of the time they were awake when placed in their bassinet or crib. I have often peeked in at my babies laying in their beds at around a year old, just relaxing looking around waiting to fall asleep. And each time I thought to myself “Thank you baby wise!”
Let me just say – letting babies “cry it out” is not for the faint-hearted. It can be hard, tiring, painful, and exhausting. In fact I think it should have a different name, my heart hurts even saying it! But we found it SO beneficial in the long run and the hard part really only lasts a couple weeks, which is the bright side! Of course throughout their entire babyhood’s (is that a word?) they had times where they just did not want to nap and we had to let them cry – even Skylar at three years old still will protest naps every now and then. But the initial training took our babies a couple weeks.
During this time period I always had to remind myself that this is for their best interest. A baby/toddler/child who cannot soothe themselves and always needs something or someone to soothe them is not what I wanted for my babies, or kids!
With Hayden I delayed this until about 4ish weeks old, and with Skylar and Sam I had learned my lesson and started from day one. Putting them down while they were awake and letting them babble or cry a bit until they fell asleep. I found it much easier for Skylar and Sam – because that was all they knew. With Hayden, even though it had only been a few weeks she had already gotten used to being held or rocked to sleep.
Setting a timer worked really well for us. I would put baby down when it was time for nap – and usually it would take a couple minutes (or seconds) before they started to whine or cry and I would leave the room and set a timer for 10 minutes. I knew in ten minutes my baby wasn’t going to suffer any harm – and they would be ok when I came back! After 10 minutes if they were still crying I would go in – pop their binky back in and rub their belly or cup my hand over their cheeks to soothe them. I would leave and set another timer. 10 minutes later I would go back in and soothe again. If I had to go back in a third time I might pick them up for a minute, make sure their diaper was clean and soothe them. and then start over. This was the first of many tests of my endurance as a mom! It took what seemed like the longest week or two of my life but quickly the babies caught on to the feed/awake/sleep schedule and knew that when they were put into bed it was time to sleep.
⇒Consistent bedtime routine
So this isn’t from baby wise but this is one thing that I just think really helped my babies transition into sleeping mode and helped them know what to expect. Regardless of what your bedtime routine is – let it be the same thing every night before you put them to bed. It is amazing how quickly babies catch onto things and are able to start to put things into sequencing order in their little brains. With our babies we always did a tub (on most nights) and lotion, pjs, breast feed, and then two of the same songs before putting them in bed.
I highly encourage you if this sounds like something you would like to implement with your baby to read the book! They go in to such greater detail and it is so helpful! Hopefully this will help someone who has a baby or is expecting one soon! And if not – I will look back on this post with my next baby to remind myself of Babywise’s magical powers!