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An Honest Babywise Book Review. What is On Becoming Babywise all about, how does the Babywise method work, and why all the controversy.
On Becoming Babywise is a parenting method to help you get your baby sleeping well from an early age. Sleep is the main reason people seem to turn to Babywise. They want baby to take great naps and sleep through the night. Once you start to read the book, however, you realize the Babywise philosophy is so much more than just sleep. Sleep is great. Sleep is vital! But Babywise focuses on more than just sleep.
I used the Babywise method for all four of my children. All four were great sleepers as babies and are great sleepers today in the age ranges from child to teenager. Babywise is work, but it works.
How Does Babywise Work
On Becoming Babywise (affiliate) follows a basic eat/wake/sleep routine. Baby eats, then has awake time, then sleeps. This pattern is repeated all day long until bedtime happens. Baby typically eats every 2.5-3 hours initially until baby is older and eats every 4 hours.
A core to the Babywise program is that it is parent directed. That means that the parent decides what is best for baby. There are guidelines to follow in the book, but the parent always makes the final call on what is best.
As baby gets regular feedings each day and sleeps regularly, he will move toward sleeping through the night. Sleep begets sleep. The better rested the baby is over all, the more soundly baby will sleep.
As you put baby to sleep, you want baby to be able to fall asleep independently of you or outside forces. This means baby goes down for naps and bedtime drowsy but awake. While Babywise is a book aimed at getting great sleep, it is not a sleep training book. It helps get baby sleeping well, so in that respect, it is a sleep training book, but it doesn’t walk you through how to sleep train a baby. The parent is left to decide exactly how to go about training baby to sleep on her own. This is not a big problem in our modern day since the Internet offers so many resources, but this was a difficulty for many before the Internet filled that gap. Babywise is often equated with the Cry It Out method of sleep training, but there is no sleep training instruction in the book other than to say that baby might fuss a bit before naps if put down awake (see my post on 6 Rules for Using Cry It Out as a Baby Sleep Training Method for more on this method of sleep training).
The goal is that by 7-8 weeks old, baby will be sleeping 7-8 hours a night. Not all babies will do this at this age, but many will. Two of my four did (but I started Babywise at 9 weeks with my oldest, so he had no chance of meeting that milestone, and my second had reflux, so she was understandably delayed in her milestone achievements). Most babies are sleeping at least 7-8 hours by 12 weeks old. Then most move to 10-12 hours in the 4-6 month age range. This was true for all four of mine.
Go here a full overview of what to expect to happen during a Babywise baby’s first year. If you have more questions on what Babywise is all about, see my Babywise FAQs.
What Else Is In Babywise
When I first read On Becoming Babywise, I was struck by how much of it just felt like common sense. It was the type of thing where I kept thinking, “Duh. Why didn’t I think of that?” I was nodding and agreeing the whole way through. When I first read it, I was desperate for some sleep. My baby was not sleeping much and I could tell he was tired and I knew I was tired. I read it cover to cover in a couple of hours. It gave me direction in sleep but also in parenting in general.
I mentioned above that Babywise is about so much more than sleep. Babywise talks about family structure and how to make sure baby is a part of the family and not the center of the family. Babywise talks about feeding babies. Healthy sleep is directly impacted by feedings being adequate, so this topic needs to be covered.
There is information on structuring the day and baby’s routine. There is discussion on what to do when baby cries. There is help for the reflux baby and babies with colic. There is even help for moms with multiples!
There are sample scenarios to help you get the idea of how to problem solve when you face your own unique situations in parenting your baby. There are tips for monitoring growth and even growth charts so you can track baby’s growth and make sure it is on track.
What About the Babywise Controversy
I have been writing this blog since 2007. I started it to help people with their questions so they could find success with Babywise. Over the years of writing, I have of course encountered more than my share of comments on the controversy of Babywise. By and large, most of the people who come to me with Babywise controversy have not actually ever read even part of the book, much less the entire thing. They have heard from their cousin’s former roommate (or read in some Internet chat thread) that Babywise says “xyz”, and they are sure it says that because they heard it. But the book doesn’t say those things in reality.
There are some who have actually read it, tried it, and not liked it. That is fine! There is no such thing as one right way to parent. The Babywise method won’t be the favorite way of every person out there. Some take bits and pieces and some go in a fully different direction.
The most common controversy thrown at Babywise is that it causes babies to not grow well. Anyone who says their child had growth issues because of Babywise frankly didn’t read the book well, if at all. The book says at least 27 times to feed baby when baby is hungry, no matter what. It literally never says to to not feed your baby if your baby is hungry. Anyone who read the book and decided to not feed a hungry baby was not following Babywise. It was someone who read Babywise and tweaked it their own way to not feed a hungry baby.
It is unfair to blame the book for that tweak. It is fine for someone to say, “When I tried to follow Babywise, I had a hard time because I couldn’t figure out when my baby was really hungry. So it didn’t work for me because I was unable to adjust the typical schedule when needed.” It is unfair to say, “Babywise caused me to not feed my hungry baby.” There is a difference. Of course no parent wants to take the blame for their hungry baby not being fed; it is easier to say it is a book’s fault. It is simply mis-placed blame.
Read more on my takes on the Myths vs. Realities of Babywise here.
I can’t recommend Babywise and the other books in the series enough. I love Babywise! It worked wonders for all four of my children and I am not shy about saying Babywise saved my motherhood. Don’t just take my word for it, see what these other 58 moms had to say about Babywise. If you are wondering if you should give the Babywise method a try or not, read the book and see what you think. If you find yourself agreeing with it, give it a try and see how it goes. If you read it and it isn’t your thing, keep looking for the right method for you. If you need more information before deciding to take the time to read it, see my post The Gist of Babywise. It breaks down the book chapter by chapter.
If you decide to get started on Babywise, be sure to check out my tips on How to Do On Becoming Babywise and my Sample Babywise Schedules. If you are getting started late, see my guide on How to Start Babywise Late. Babywise makes you baby wise. Babywise is works, but it works, and it works wonders.
Find more Babywise Content on this Blog:
- Eat (all about the eat portion of the day)
- Wake (all about the playtime portion of the day)
- Sleep (all about naps and night sleep)