How To Be Flexible With Babywise

You can make your baby flexible even when using the Babywise method. You can be flexible with Babywise! Read how in this post.

Mom holding baby in the air

I am sure most of you see or hear someone say “I’m flexible” quite often when discussing schedules.

“I use a schedule for my baby, but I’m flexible!”

Many times, what people mean by this is that they are not a stickler for routine.

But is that true flexibility?

Page 110 of On Becoming Babywise says,

“And remember, true flexibility is not a lack of routine, but a temporary alternation of what you usually do.”

Clearly, Ezzo and Bucknam have a different meaning for flexible than many of us do when we say we are flexible. 

What Does Flexible Mean

I decided to look into the idea of true flexibility. I turned to my beloved Oxford American Dictionary and looked up “Flexibility.” Here are some definitions.

“Capable of bending easily without breaking.”

“Able to be easily modified to respond to altered circumstances and conditions.”

“Ready and able to change so as to adapt to different circumstances.”

From these definitions we can see that flexible does not mean a lack of a routine, but the ability to deviate from routine if and when needed.

As Ezzo and Bucknam point out, your aren’t being flexible if there is no where for you to return to. If you didn’t start from a solid foundation, it isn’t true flexibility.

Being Flexible with Babywise

I actually find the first definition quite comical when I consider it in the context of a parent with a child–especially a newborn baby (the kind of funny where you either laugh or cry).

“Capable of bending easily without breaking.”

Were you able to bend easily this past Christmas season? And if so, did you do so without coming to a breaking point? Was your child able to bend without coming to a breaking point?

If not, don’t worry. The day will come. Babies become more flexible as they get older. The younger they are, the harder disruptions are for them.

This is because as your baby gets older, there is a strong foundation to be flexible from. Younger babies are still building their foundation.

Understanding Flexibility

On Becoming Babywise has a section in the book aimed at helping you to understand how to apply flexibility to your daily life (starting on page 116). I remember when Brayden was a baby reading that section often.

The thing is, even with a careful reading (or twenty careful readings) and the ability to take lessons from the examples and apply them to a broad spectrum of situations, flexibility still is more of a “learned skill” — in that you learn it as you go. You can’t really learn it from a book.

I think of it like creativity. You can’t really learn creativity. You can be creatively inspired, but the more you practice at it, the more creative you get.

The same is true for flexibility.

The more you try out being flexible and observe the end results, the more you learn how to be flexible.

You learn when it is okay to be flexible and when it isn’t a good idea. You learn what the results might be and figure out if the consequences are worth it or not. You learn how to compensate for lost sleep and late meals. You learn to relax a bit.

Summer is a busy time and you might be concerned about how to be flexible without “ruining everything.” So if you are struggling with flexibility, read in Babywise, read posts on this blog, and practice.

But here is my ultimate secret to understanding flexibility. Strive to understand the base theory of Babywise principles.

This is the why vs. how.

This is far more effective than memorizing the rules taught in a few stories in the book or on this blog. The best thing to do is to know why you are doing what you do.

As you understand the theory behind what you are doing, you will be able to add flexibility to your life without thinking about it very hard.

How To Make Flexibility Easier

So how do you make flexibility easier to achieve?

First, plan it out! Have some sort of plan in your head for how to modify your typical routine in the best way to suit the circumstance.

As you get more experience in being flexible, you will be able to come up with solutions on the fly much easier, but in the beginning, having some sort of “game plan” will help you immensely.

For example, most babies will struggle if you choose to disrupt the first nap of the day, but can be quite flexible with the last nap of the day. If you can control where you ask your baby to stretch, you can plan things out so your baby handles it all much better.

Second, practice! Stretch those muscles. The more experience you have, the more successfully you can be flexible.

You can’t learn how flexible your baby can be, nor can you know how to best plan things out, if you have no experience in asking your baby to be flexible.

But remember to give yourself breaks. Don’t stretch so much that your muscles snap. It is totally fine and even good to have disruptions at times, but remember to come back to that foundation.

>>>Read: Why Disruptions to Routine Are Actually Good

Third, (and this should probably be first), have a solid foundation. You can’t “be flexible” if you have no starting point. Flexibility is ‘changing, bending, adapting…”

It isn’t flexibility if you have no starting point.

So can you have a schedule and be flexible? Yes! But you need to have a schedule first BEFORE you can have a schedule and be flexible.

>>>Read: Tricks for Getting Baby on a Consistent Schedule

Fourth, as I said above, give yourself time to recover. After a disruption, return to the schedule and let baby get back on track.

January is one of those recovery months of the year.

Between Halloween, Thanksgiving, and especially Christmas (followed closely by New Years), we need lots of flexibility. January is that month to get back on that solid foundation and let your sore muscles heal up. 


Always remember, your schedule is there to serve you, your baby, and your family. It is there to make life better for everyone.

You do not serve your schedule.

You can disrupt it when you need to! You can be flexible with Babywise.

I hope you are all able to get some recovery done now that things have calmed down with the holidays!


This post originally appeared on this blog January 2011

How to be flexible when using Babywise

8 thoughts on “How To Be Flexible With Babywise”

  1. Yay, you're back! Hope you and your family had a wonderful Christmas and New Year, and that you are well rested and excited to start this new chapter in your life! Thanks for your hard work!

  2. I have a 6 week old baby girl and I am struggling with her falling asleep and staying asleep for her daytime naps. She'll sleep for 5-10 minutes, wake up and need to be soothed back to sleep. I put her down calm and sleepy, don't pick her up when she's crying, and she's very easily calmed, but just won't stay sleeping. I am so tired as I have a 2 1/2 year old to be a mom to as well. I am using the soother as she seems to be a baby who needs to suck, but if it falls out, she gets upset. What can I do to help my baby sleep through her naps till her next feed? This is SO different from my first who would feed, be awake, sleep till his next feed, and repeat. Wow was I spoiled!! If only babies came with manuals…

  3. I completely agree, and I do find it amazing how fast they do become flexible as they get older. I remember when my daughter was 8 months old and we were on a strict "dinner at 5:00" rule with her. I wondered if there would ever come a day when we could go out to dinner without the old folks. Now we eat whenever we can all get together, usually at around the same time each day, but if we go out early or late it's really not a big deal. But I started with that foundation and it has worked well for us.

  4. Excellent post! I wholeheartedly agree! I love the part about January being time to get back into the routine because I have been finding it a little bit of a challenge since Christmas. 🙂

  5. Wenona, my first guess would be that waketime is too long. I suggest you see the label "optimal waketime length." If that doesn't work, let me know and we will brainstorm further.


Leave a Comment