Babywise Myths: Go 3 hours between feedings

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Combating Babywise Myths: Go 3 hours between feedings no matter what. What does On Becoming Babywise say about feeding intervals? Can you feed baby early if baby is hungry?

Combating Babywise Myths: Go 3 hours between feedings no matter what. What does On Becoming Babywise say about feeding intervals? Can you feed baby early if baby is hungry?

Story time.

When Brayden (now 2.5) was a baby, I had no help when it came to my questions about Babywise.

When Kaitlyn (now 9 months) was a newborn, I had a little help in one of my good friends who had a baby 9 months after Brayden was born. We would talk things over, but not every baby goes through every difficulty, and I wondered if there were moms out there who could help me. The Internet had become more of an interactive place, so I Googled “Babywise.” I was shocked at what I found.

I found site after site with negative comments about Babywise. Every negative comment I knew to be false because it wasn’t true with my children. The most frustrating part about these sites to me was that there was no way for a person to offer a differing viewpoint. I had no idea BW sparked so much controversy until I found those sites.

That is ultimately what led me to start this blog. I wanted to offer moms out there a positive resource when they searched for Babywise help.

Now I will start a series of posts combating common myths associated with Babywise. Honestly, most of these myths are easily disputed if you read the book, but I think a lot of the myth-starters either don’t read the book or try to implement BW and didn’t read it carefully and so ran into problems and blamed the system rather than themselves.

Myth #1: Feed Your Newborn on a 3 Hour Schedule No Matter What–Even if He is Hungry Sooner.

Truth: NO!!!!!! That is not correct. This is probably one of the number one misconceptions/rumors/etc. surrounding Babywise.

No, you don’t make him wait to eat if he is hungry. That is called hyper scheduling. Hyper scheduling is discussed in your On Becoming Babywise book. The Babywise system is a Parent Directed Feeding (PDF) system. You always feed your baby if he is hungry with BW. ALWAYS.

I have a friend who is a lactation consultant with the hospital and a member of La Leche League. She insists (as per the League’s policy) that you cannot successfully breastfeed on a schedule. Even when I tell her I did it with Brayden for a year and have done it with Kaitlyn thus far, she insists it isn’t possible. The reasoning she gives is that you then don’t get the stimulation needed during critical times to boost milk supply, both for growth spurts and general increase needs.

Combating Babywise Myths: Go 3 hours between feedings no matter what. What does On Becoming Babywise say about feeding intervals? Can you feed baby early if baby is hungry?

With PDF, that shouldn’t happen because you feed your baby when he is hungry. Even if he is hungry at 1.5 hours, you feed him. You then investigate the reason he was hungry at that short interval. Growth spurt? Did he not get a full feeding at the last one? Is there a milk supply issue? You get the picture. If the answer is growth spurt, you let it happen, feed your baby as necessary, and get back to normal after the necessary extra feedings are over. If the answer lies in a different problem, work to fix it. But don’t let baby be hungry.

The nature of a human body is that you will get hungry at a certain time if you eat at the same time every day. Do you remember your school days? You ate lunch at the same time, every day. Did you get hungry at that same time even on weekends? I know that was true for me. The same goes for sleep.

The beauty of PDF is that you, the parent, are in charge. You aren’t run by the clock telling you it isn’t time to eat yet. How silly is that? The clock has no brain to analyze the situation. You also don’t just let your child run the show. You child does have a brain, but is really working on figuring this whole life thing out. It is your job, right, and responsibility to teach your child how to do so. You are the parent for a reason. It is erroneous to expect a baby to know what is best for himself. If that is the case, your sole job for the next 18 years is to stand guard and make sure no one hurts him, while being sure to provide him with every desire he asks for. Do you think a 4 year old knows everything that is best for him? If he insists he needs to eat M&Ms all day, do you agree? How about a 10 year old? Even a 16 year old? Even I don’t know everything that is best for me. So why does a newborn? Yes, there are things he can cue you with, but you are the parent and you decide.

So rest easy in your Babywise routine. You will not do your baby any harm by taking charge of his life. You will actually do him many favors. And remember, feed your baby when he is hungry.

Get the Babywise series here

On Becoming Pottywise
On Becoming Teenwise
On Becoming Preteenwise
On Becoming Childwise
On Becoming Preschoolwise
On Becoming Toddlerwise
On Becoming Pre-Toddlerwise
On Becoming Babywise Book 2
On Becoming Babywise
On Becoming Pottywise
On Becoming Teenwise
On Becoming Preteenwise
On Becoming Childwise
On Becoming Preschoolwise
On Becoming Toddlerwise
On Becoming Pre-Toddlerwise
On Becoming Babywise Book 2
On Becoming Babywise

Related Babywise Posts On This Blog:

Reader Thank-Yous:

  • Krystal said…
    Thank you for your blog!! I did BW w/ my son, and it was the best thing ever! I have been doing it w/ my daughter, and since I have the internet now, I decided to check out what other people have to say about BW. I was shocked at what I found-everything is negative! There are so many things about failure to thrive, hospitalizations, etc. I started to doubt what I had been doing. But my son turned out just fine, so I had to conclude that it was all how you implement BW. It is a breath of fresh air to read your blog. Keep it up!
    January 23, 2008 7:43 AM
  • Amber said…
    Thank you, Thank You, THANK YOU! I get so frustrated by people that JUST listen to those so called ‘experts’ and never think for themselves.No one way it is right for everyone and they need to not condem others for doing what works great for their child and their family!
    January 23, 2008 9:00 AM
  • Plowmanators said…
    Thanks gals! It is frustrating to hear people bash on BW. I always find it odd because I personally have never heard a BW mom run around bashing on AP parenting, for example. It seems the only time a BW mom says anything about another parenting style is when her own is directly attacked and she feels the need to defend it. Now, there are all kinds of people out there, so I wouldn’t be shocked if a BW mom does do that, but my guess is the numbers are quite a bit smaller than those of other styles bashing BW.
    January 23, 2008 9:44 AM
  • AquaNet said…
    Hi there! Thanks for stepping out to write about this topic! I had the same encounter while searching on Google & found negative remarks which I felt were not justified because I had successfully implemented BW for my 10-month old baby. He slept 7-8 hours by week 8 and 10-11 hours by wk 12. While impkementing BW, I always referred to the book whenever I encountered problems to ensure that I followed the advice accordingly. Often times, I realised that I had not understood the system & once I set things right, the blessings usually follow. I have many friends whose babies are walking testimonies of the BW system. So to the BW parents out there, understanding the BW systems does pay off, and you will certainly see the fruit of your labour.Incidentally, I have recommended my friends who are also using BW to read your blog! Keep up the good work!
    January 23, 2008 11:26 PM
    Plowmanators said…
    Thanks for sharing your success. I have found that same thing to be true for me. Whenever something isn’t going right with either my toddler or my baby, a review of the book (whichever one I am in at the time) will often tell me that there is something I am doing that is contributing to the problem–most times causing the problem. A quick fix in myself easily fixes the “issues” with the child.
    January 24, 2008 10:28 AM
  • Nanny4Two said…
    great blog, it disturbs me how there is no help on the net for the questions i have.
    January 25, 2008 6:25 AM
  • artsychic76 said…
    Thanks for this post!! I have a book called Baby 411 and I really dislike the viewpoints of the Pediatrician who wrote it. I finally tossed the book when she bashed Babywise and said that it says to put your newborn on a 3 hr schedule, which we all know is WRONG. She obviously didn’t do her research. She also made me feel guilty that I couldn’t breastfeed for long; something my OWN pediatrician does not do, she supports my decision to formula feed and we love her for it! Our baby is healthy, smart, happy and thriving AND sleeping well, thanks to BW.Thanks for all you do, Val. Its much appreciated!!
    February 6, 2008 6:01 PM

Reader Questions:

  • Nanny4Two said…
    are any of the rest of you Growing Kids alumni??!?
    January 25, 2008 6:26 AM
    Plowmanators said…
    I am not.
    January 25, 2008 3:41 PM

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Valerie, also known as The Babywise Mom, is the mother to four children. She has been blogging on Babywise and general parenting since 2007. She has a degree in technical writing and loves using those skills to help parents be the best parents they can be! Read her book, The Babywise Mom Nap Guide, to get help on sleep from birth through the preschool years. You can also find her writing at, Today Parenting, and Her View From Home. Read more about Valerie and her family on the About page. Follow her on FacebookPinterest, and Instagram for more tips and helps.

Find me on: Web | Twitter | Facebook


  1. Amy
    March 6, 2010 / 12:54 AM

    We've been doing BW for 12 weeks and are doing ok with it. I admit that I don't do it perfectly, but it works for us. Recently, my husband saw a show that debated BW and said that it can cause reflux because you're making the baby eat before it's hungry. I'm not saying I believe this to be a cause, but I do question sometimes if our LO has reflux because she spits up a lot and sometimes arches her back when I'm feeding her. If she doesn't want to eat, I don't MAKE her, but it makes me wonder. Have you ever heard this and/or talked to anyone else about it?

  2. Plowmanators
    March 6, 2010 / 5:48 AM

    Amy, Wow. I thought I had heard it all. No, I honestly have never heard that Babywise causes reflux…very strange. I am good at debate and can usually think up logical arguments the other side would pose…but I just can't see how that can be logically argued at all.Everything you read on reflux (including in Babywise) says to feed a reflux baby more often than you would a "normal" baby. So it isn't that Babywise alone is saying it. That is advice across the board. I have NEVER read anything anywhere about reflux that is contrary to that. So to say BW causes reflux because you are feeding too often is just bizarre.If your baby has reflux, she is going to spit up a lot and arch her back while eating no matter what parenting method you use. Also, my first daughter had reflux and they diagnosed it while she was in the hospital, before we did anything "babywise" with her. And, 1 of my 3 kids have had reflux, so if BW causes it, it is pretty bad at doing so.I don't know. I find it hard to argue the point because it just has nothing solid to stand on. Reflux is caused by an underdeveloped muscle…not by eating too often.

  3. Amy
    March 6, 2010 / 3:05 PM

    That makes me feel better about it. Not that I'm glad your daughter had reflux, but I'm glad you can speak from experience. 🙂 By the way, what did you do for her reflux? Did she have to take medicine?

  4. Plowmanators
    March 19, 2010 / 11:14 PM

    She did take meds. See the blog label "reflux" for all of the info on it 🙂

  5. Anna
    February 4, 2011 / 12:56 AM

    I have a 4 almost 5 month old. She was born a month early, so I don't know if that matters. I beleive she is cutting her first tooth. During the day she is fine and happy then for her 4 o'clock nap and into her 7 I swear she grows horns. It doesn't seem to be a hunger issue but I just can not get her to sleep! She was sleeping through the night but does not do so any more either. I am exhausted and so is my husband. Please, help!

  6. Plowmanators
    February 15, 2011 / 8:59 PM

    Anna, I suggest you see the posts under "4 month sleep problems" and "wonder weeks" as well as the post on "5-8 month sleep disruptions" Good luck!

  7. TammyIsBlessed
    July 27, 2012 / 7:58 PM

    Thank you for this! I used Babywise for all 4 kids and was as shocked as you when I discovered all the negativity surrounding it. As I no longer have babies, I won't be regularly following your blog, so if you do address it, could you possibly email me a link? I'd so appreciate it! tammyisblessed at gmail dot com

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