Starting Babywise Late Guide

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The steps you need to take to get started with the Babywise method and get baby on a great schedule. You can start late and still have great success!

Sleeping baby

Hi there. You are new to On Becoming Baby Wise. For whatever reason, you haven’t used any of the principles yet and you want to now. You are ready for great night sleep, daytime naps, and a predictable daily schedule.

But you don’t know where to start.

I was there once. Despite the fact that a friend told me all about Babywise when I was pregnant with Brayden, my oldest child, and it sounded like a good idea to me, we hadn’t even read the book when he was born. We figured our natural instincts of parenting would kick in and everything would be peachy.

But they weren’t!

And so after a month of Brayden’s life (which seemed like an eternity to me), we decided to go buy the book.

I read the entire book in one evening and started slowly implementing different principles. We saw immediate improvement. We fumbled our way into figuring things out and continued to see improvement for several months.

Eventually, Brayden was a textbook Babywise baby.

I started late, and you can too. I know that no matter the age of your child, you are going to be worried you are too late to use Babywise successfully.

No matter the age, you are not too late! Your baby (or child) is not too old. Let’s get you started.

Starting Babywise Late Guide. The steps you need to take to get started with the Babywise method and get baby on a great schedule. You can start late and have success!

Steps to Starting Babywise Late

So how do you get started? I think that there is no one right way to go about it, but here is my way. Read through it and see how that works with your personality and adapt it as necessary to make your own way.


Starting a schedule with an older child? Be sure to also check out my post 5 Steps To Get Your Child on a Schedule


Step One: Do the Reading

You can’t implement something if you don’t know what you are implementing. Read through Babywise and read what you can here so you can know what it is you are trying to accomplish and how you will try to accomplish it. I know you have a little one who is not sleeping, so this might seem really difficult. I read On Becoming Babywise in 1-2 hours my first time through–you can read it quite quickly.

I know I have a TON of posts here. I have been writing this blog since 2007. I am sure it is incredibly overwhelming to come here and have all of this information before you. Let’s get you started with the basics.

I have a post with all of the basics you need to know to do Babywise successfully. This post links to other helpful posts for implementing On Becoming Babywise. Read: How To Successfully Do “On Becoming Babywise”

If you have a young baby (or are pregnant), see this post: Must-Read Posts to Prep for Baby

Utilize the Blog Index and the Index By Age. Those will help you find posts relevant to what you are trying to find out about. There is also a  search function at the top left of any page.

If you have an older baby, do still look through information for younger babies. The ideas of Babywie build on each other.

Don’t start with your 7 month old baby and expect to jump in where the average 7 month old Babywise baby is. You will need to start at the basics, get those down, and then work toward the other things. I have a post that can help you with the basic idea: The Gist of Babywise.

Get your Babywise books 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

Step Two: Make a Plan

As you read the material, decide on a plan of implementation. Start with basics. The basics are eating, sleeping, and playing. The most basic things to worry about are eating and sleeping. Write down the goals you have for your baby and figure out ways you can meet those goals.

It is helpful to look at how other people structured their day. See my sample schedules post for the first month of life. From there, you can link to detailed posts for every month of the first year of life for baby.


Read: Must-Follow Tip for Starting a Routine Late


Step Three: Follow the Pattern

When I started late, I started with the pattern of eat, play, sleep. Eat, play, sleep. That was my first area of focus. This is what I suggest to anyone I advise who is starting late. Don’t worry about how or where baby is sleeping, just get the pattern down. Baby eats. Then baby plays. Then baby takes a nap. Then baby eats. Then baby plays. Then baby takes a nap.


Read: Why An Eat/Wake/Sleep Cycle Works to Get Baby Sleeping


Now, older babies won’t follow this pattern exactly. As babies get older, they drop naps, so not every feeding follows sleep. Here is a basic age break down. They can vary, but this will give you a good idea of where you should be.

0-4 Months Old:

  • Baby will take 4 naps a day
  • Baby will go to bed around 7-8 PM
  • Baby will benefit from a dreamfeed
  • Baby might wake in the night
  • Get baby up in the morning around 7-8 AM to start the day
  • Baby will be able to be awake anywhere from 30 minutes to 1.5 hours during this time period before needing another nap (this includes feeding time)

4-6 Months Old

  • Baby will take 3 naps a day
  • Baby will go to bed around 7-8 PM
  • Baby may or may not have a dreamfeed
  • Baby might wake in the night (and if you are just starting out, there is a good chance baby will be)
  • Get baby up in the morning around 7-8 AM to start the day
  • Baby will be able to be awake anywhere from 1-2 hours at a time before needing a nap during this time period (this includes feeding time)

6-8 Months Old

  • Baby will take 2-3 naps a day
  • Baby will go to bed around 7-8 PM
  • Baby may or may not have a dreamfeed–most drop the dreamfeed in this time period if they still have it
  • Baby might wake in the night (and if you are just starting out, there is a good chance baby will be)
  • Get baby up in the morning around 7-8 AM to start the day
  • Baby will be able to be awake anywhere from 1-2 hours at a time before needing a nap during this time period (this includes feeding time). Most babies will be able to be at 1.5-2 hours

9-12 Months Old

  • Baby will take 2-3 naps a day–most take 2
  • Baby will go to bed around 7-8 PM
  • Baby can soon stop waking in the night (if you are just starting out, there is a good chance baby will be waking in the night still)
  • Get baby up in the morning around 7-8 AM to start the day
  • Baby will be able to be awake anywhere from 1.5-2 hours at a time before needing a nap during this time period (this includes feeding time). Most babies will be up for two hours, down for two hours, etc.

13-15 Months Old

  • Baby will take 2 naps a day
  • Baby will go to bed around 7-8 PM
  • Baby is old enough to soon stop waking in the night (if you are just starting out, there is a good chance baby will be waking in the night still)
  • Get baby up in the morning around 7-8 AM to start the day
  • Baby will be able to be awake anywhere from for about 2 hours at a time before needing a nap during this time period (this includes feeding time). Most babies will be up for two hours, down for two hours, etc.

15-18 Months Old

  • Baby will take 1-2 naps a day–most drop the morning nap in this period
  • Baby will go to bed around 7-8 PM
  • Baby is old enough to soon stop waking in the night (if you are just starting out, there is a good chance baby will be waking in the night still)
  • Get baby up in the morning around 7-8 AM to start the day
Babywise Late Guide Pinnable Image

Step Four: Write Things Down

Keep track of what times baby ate, how long baby was awake, what baby did to play, and how baby slept. This will help you see patterns and help you problem solve. Do not overlook the importance of this step! I did this with all four of my babies and it helped immensely.

You can create your own logs, or you can purchase mine here.

Step Five: Start Having Naps in the Right Place

Once you have your pattern down, it is time to start thinking about where you want baby sleeping. In Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, Weissbluth states that the most restorative sleep is sleep that is in a stationary place, like a crib. That is my recommendation.

Put baby down for naps and night in the crib.

Your baby will likely wake up after a short nap. You want naps to be anywhere from 1.5-2.5 hours long (except for the last nap of the day if baby still has 3-4 naps; the last nap of the day is often 30-60 minutes).

.

If baby wakes early and is not hungry, have a plan for what to do. I recommend holding, rocking, the swing, etc. As your baby learns to sleep independently, she will not easily fall back asleep on her own when she wakes early. That day will come, but she needs to have the tools to fall asleep first. So for now, help her fall back asleep. You are taking baby steps here.

Your baby will sleep the longest for the nap if the nap starts at the best time. That means baby is awake for the right amount of time. I call this “optimal waketime.” See this post for more: Optimal Waketime Lengths


Read: My Sleep Hierarchy for Newborns


Step Six: Have Patience

This is not going to be a simple, quick fix. You need to have patience through the process. Ages for abilities are averages and what is most frequent–they are not absolutes. Your baby is a human and will have variations.

Step Seven: Dedicate Some Time

Once you start napping in the crib, dedicate some time to the process. It is wise to just stay home for 1-2 weeks while you get this nailed down. You will be able to have flexibility at some point, but your baby cannot be flexible if there is no starting point and no point to return to after a disruption. See this post: Establishing Consistency–Make Sacrifices and this post: Getting a Consistent Schedule and Understanding Flexibility.

Do always remember: Let Your Schedule Serve You: You Don’t Serve Your Schedule (Don’t Stress)–but you first need to establish the norm.


Read: The Key Element to Starting a Baby Routine


Start Babywise with Older Baby Pinnable Image

Step Eight: Decide On Sleep Goals

Decide what your sleep goals are. Do you want baby to fall asleep on her own? If so, how are you going to meet that goal?

There are many roads to get there. You will need some form of sleep training. You can do cry it out, you can follow advice from The Baby Whisperer, or you can try The No-Cry Sleep Solution. See my sleep training resources for help.

If you don’t mind helping your baby to fall asleep, go ahead and do that–just move baby to the crib once she is asleep. Personally, my preference is for baby to fall asleep on her own in her crib. Once you know your goals, make a plan and implement them.


Read: Sleep Training According to Babywise


Step Nine: Be Ready for Curve Balls

Things will come up that you weren’t planning on. Know that and expect it. Address them as they come up. Search for a solution and problem solve. See this: Just When You Got It, Everything Changes.

Step Ten: Expect Baby To Be Behind “Schedule”

With Babywise, there is a list of milestones of when your baby will likely achieve certain goals (like sleeping through the night). If you start late, know your baby will likely take some time to catch up to those goals. Some take to it faster than others. We started Brayden full on at 9 weeks and he wasn’t fully caught up in milestones until he was 6.5 months old.

In other words, you need patience. Celebrate the improvements and victories.

Conclusion

No matter how you go about it, break down your goals into manageable steps. Add one thing at a time to make it easiest on you and your baby. Best of luck to you!

Sleeping baby

Starting Babywise Late Guide

Prep Time: 3 hours
Additional Time: 1 month 25 days 14 hours
Total Time: 1 month 25 days 17 hours

The steps you need to take to get started with the Babywise method and get baby on a great schedule. You can start late and still have great success!

Instructions

  1. Read the book and www.BabyWiseMom.com
  2. Make a plan
  3. Follow eat/wake/sleep pattern
  4. Write things down
  5. Start having naps in the right place
  6. Have patience
  7. Dedicate some time to the process
  8. Decide on sleep goals
  9. Be ready for curveballs
  10. Expect baby to be behind the normal milestones

Notes

You should see improvement immediately. Expect 8 weeks for things to really be amazing.

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Frequently Asked Questions for Starting Babywise

  • bwidgie: HI! I have an 8 week old, and we just started babywise this week. Although we have not adjusted totally to our new schedule, I find that he is sleeping a lot! A lot more than he used too, but I am wondering if it is too much? Each of his naps is about 1:45-2 hours long, on a 3 hour cycle. Does this seem to be consistent with others his same age?

    Plowmanators: Yes, that sounds perfect! Just enjoy it and know that the napping is what is best for his little brain and body right now.
  • NMH: I just started my 9 week old today and it was awful. First nap she was so tired (not a morning person)so she barely fussed. Second nap she cried for 30 mins and then only slept for 40 mins. Third nap she cried for 50 mins and slept for 30. For the next two naps she didn’t sleep at all and cried the entire time. I check on her and pat her and kiss her every 20 mins. I kept her wake time at 30 mins bc she would start getting fussy. We are doing a feeding every 2 1/2 hours. She was used to breastfeeding to sleep and feeding on demand so maybe shes just pissed shes not getting those things anymore. But I’m in tears and exhausted. Any advice? NMH: I meant her playtime was 30 min. So hour of wake time total. 🙂

    Plowmanators: NMH, that sounds pretty normal for a baby who is used to things one way and gets things switched up–even the short naps. Read over the CIO bootcamp post for lots of guidance on going through it. Things should improve rather quickly.
  • Alicia Michelle D’Altilio said: I have a 7 month old and I would like to start using babywise, do you have any suggestions? I Have always followed the eat-wake-sleep pattern. We also put her down for naps and let her CIO. She started sleeping through the nights at 2 months but then stopped at 6 months. She now has awakes 1 or 2 times a night. Now she is also not interested in morning naps… I lay her down and she plays for 30-45 mins. DO you think this has to do with her being extra tired from not sleeping through the night? I look forward to your response.
    Babywise Mom said: Alicia,Be sure to read the book. At that age, I would read BW one and BW two. It sounds like your daughter is ready for longer waketime before her first nap. Try adding 5 minutes. It that doesn’t work, another 5, etc. When they do that, it often is because they need a longer waketime, and 5 minutes can make a huge difference.So read the books and be sure to check out the index on this blog. There are tons of posts here–plenty of reading for you 😉
  • MiracleBaby said:

My question about my little guy: He’s 8 weeks old today and we started BW when he was 4 weeks thanks to a dear friend who told me about it. He’s had a lot of breast feeding trouble and then we found out I had an oversupply & foremilk/hindmilk imbalance and we are taking care of that by doing one-sided feedings. About 2 weeks ago he started experiencing terrible gas (maybe silent reflux???). He spits up alot and then swallows it (we use a paci). He was doing great on a 3 hour E/W/S cycle and started sleeping about 7 hours a night and worked his way up to 9 hours (9pm-6am).

For the last 3 day/nights, he been WAY off of his normal schedule and I can’t figure out why. His total wake time is generally 1.25 hours with 1.75 hours nap time and then a 9 hour sleeping night. Because he’s had so much gas, he’s refusing to eat more than 5-10 minutes and I’m having a foremilk/hindmilk imbalance again which is perpetuating the problem. His wake time has gone from 1.25 hours to less then 40 minutes every time. He still sleeps to complete a 3 hour cycle during the day, but is no longer sleeping through the night. I now have a wide awake baby at midnight and he’s waking up at 5am! Any suggestions? I know it’s a lot of information on him, but it seems like so many factors play into it.

We’re being proactive as far as the gas (cutting certain gassy foods out of my diet, elevated mattress for him, colic tabs, gripe water, Mylicon, etc…) but nothing seems to be helping! Help! How do I get my precious LO who was E/W/S so peacefully and sleeping through the night back to the way he was?? Thanks!!

PS. I forgot to ask: Could this be day time/night time confussion? I have to wake him from every nap and he ALWAYS doses during his feedings, no matter what I try to do to keep him awake…

Babywise Mom said:

You would want to look at what has changed for him. You say his waketime is shorter, but his naps are still long. That could be the reason for being more awake at night.

He could also just be unable to soothe himself since you use a pacifier and is waking more often at night now. Many babies go through this, though usually closer to 3 months old.

So look to what is different about now and back when it was good and see what has changed.

  • Judy said: My baby will be 19 weeks in 2 days. She started sleeping through the night (9 hours) on her own at 9 weeks. At about 12 weeks she would sleep between 10 and 11 hours continually. But the past month or so she’s only sleeping 9-9.5 hours at night at the most. She goes to bed between 8:30 and 9pm and wakes up between 5:30 and 6. If i put her to bed any earlier in the evening, she’s just up earlier. When she wakes up at 5:30/6 she’s not hungry but won’t go back to sleep on her own, so I put her in bed with me and she goes back to sleep until 7:30, when our day starts. I’ve tried CIO when she wakes up at 6 and only once has she gone back to sleep on her own until 7:30. She has 2 long naps and one (sometimes two) short naps during the day. They say she should be sleeping about 12 hours at night by now? I should mention as well that in the last couple weeks she has woken up two nights in the middle of the night (I know that’s not alot but she hasn’t woken up in the night for months!), but I have attributed that to 4 month sleep issues.

    Babywise Mom said: Judy,I would rock her to sleep and then put her in her bed rather than your bed. She is at an age when babies will wake and talk to themselves; it sounds like she is crying instead of just talking.

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