Alright mamas, if there’s one thing you should know about us – it’s that we’re huge proponents of the Babywise Schedule & Sleep Training Method. And if there’s one resource we could recommend for you to LIVE BY in your journey into new mommy-hood it would be the book On Becoming Babywise. Because nothing steals your sanity (and everything else you have in you) like sleep deprivation and being at the beck and call of a 10-pound extra appendage. And who could argue with every super mom I know raving about getting their infants to sleep through the night by 8 weeks old, some even 6! YES PLEASE! So when we talk about THE schedule, we’re talking the BABYWISE schedule.
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The Babywise Method – A Summary
To give you a SUPER brief rundown of what the Babywise schedule is here are some bullet points. If you are familiar with and understand the importance of the Babywise method, you can skip to the next section.
1. Babywise is centered around developing a good routine (aka feeding and sleeping habits) for your child. This is primarily done through a methodology called Parent-Directed Feeding (PDF). PDF is the midpoint between hyper-scheduling where time is the only factor (aka we only eat at this time regardless of whether you’re hungry or not, because you need to be a freaking schedule dang it!) and the “I meet your needs whenever you tell me you need them” approach (aka the just born infant knows best what he or she needs and mom has no ability or ground to use her input and keenly developed/designed intuition in caring for her child). To put it simply, PDF takes into account both the mother’s ability to manage, care for and properly guide her child into a schedule that is best to provide as much sleep as baby needs AND the growing, evolving and ever-changing needs of said infant which may vary in different daily circumstances and general stages of life.
2. The general structure for the Babywise schedule is FEED-WAKE-SLEEP. The baby eats, has a period of wake time and then naps. This is extremely important because it ensures the baby does not get in the habit of being fed to sleep, only to wake very soon after because not enough time was spent being stimulated. It also allows the baby to learn to fall asleep on her own, with minimal intervention from the parents. In essence, the point of FEED-WAKE-SLEEP schedule is to ensure the baby gets a full feed at the scheduled time, spend a sufficient amount of time awake/being stimulated, and gets a full nap/night-time sleep as often as possible. Having a structure like this allows the parent to effectively rule out any factors that may be causing baby not to get a full nap/night-time sleep. Without a structure like this, mom would just be guessing.
3. This FEED-WAKE-SLEEP schedule is modified as baby grows to allow for decreased number of feedings/nap times and longer wake times. It also paves way for babies to sleep through the night fully by the time they’re 7-8 weeks old. It allows hunger and sleep patterns to stabilize, as guided by the well-equipped parent.
But What About My Newborn?
Now, there is some controversy about whether this is safe, wise, or even possible to do with your newborn. And the answer is yes and no. The schedule is a target and it is totally safe to go for it – so long as you’re making sure your newborn is getting a full feed every 2 ½ to 3 hours. You’ll actually find that once you get the hang of making sure this full feed happens, your baby’s hunger and sleep patterns will stabilize all on their own to fall somewhere within the 2 ½ to 3 hour cycle. (Check out this post to read about the importance of ensuring your baby gets a full feed) And as you get closer and closer to the 7 or 8 week mark, Baby will begin to sleep longer and longer throughout the night so long as mom continues and sticks to the designated schedule during the day.
This is probably why when I started Babywise sleep training with my first at 5-6 weeks (because I didn’t know about it before then), it only took 48 hours for him to snap into the schedule. Read more about my experience here in this post.
Subscribe to the Newlymoms and get a FREE Printable Babywise Schedule HERE!
And if you’re breastfeeding, Staying close to this 2 ½ – 3 hour target range also ensures moms milk supply is sufficiently stimulated for optimal production. If you’re already in the throws of this and feel totally exhausted, thinking you might have low milk supply – read some more on this HERE.
Helpful note: this recommended window is measured from start of feeding to start of feeding. So you’re 2 ½ to 3 hour window starts when you start feeding your baby and takes you through wake time, sleep time and up until you start feeding baby again in the subsequent cycle.
Should I Really Wake A Sleeping Baby To Eat?
This is a common question. Especially when you’re an exhausted new parent, waking a sleeping baby to keep on schedule can seem like a giant pain in the butt. And if you wait until the moment to make the decision – take it from us – you’re going to choose in favor of convenience and some extra relaxation time. But the reality of the situation is this: you’re only doing yourselves a disservice in the long run. Trying to establish a routine as early as possible is going to be your lifesaver later on. Here are some specifics from our baby schedule Bible:
“When should you wake a sleeping newborn and when should you let him sleep? If you need to awaken your baby during the day to prevent him from sleeping longer than the three-hour cycle, do so. Such parental intervention is necessary to help stabilize the baby’s digestive metabolism and help him organize his sleep patterns into a predictable routine. The one exception to waking a sleeping baby comes with the late-evening and middle-of-the-night feedings. During the first month a baby may give Mom and Dad a 4-hour stretch at night, but do not let the baby sleep longer than 4 hours. Wake your baby, feed him and put him right back down to sleep. An infant under four weeks of age is too young to go much longer without food.”On Becoming Babywise
Don’t forget to subscribe to the Newlymoms and get your FREE Babywise Printable Schedule HERE
What Sets Babywise Apart
You see, the thing that makes Babywise different from most schedules is that you’re never ignoring the needs of the baby, you’re just monitoring and addressing them. This is done with the ultimate intent of synchronizing baby’s needs into daily rhythms. In other words, you always feed a hungry baby. BUT if baby is showing signs of hunger outside of the set schedule (which is set based on baby’s needs at every stage of newborn life), it’s your job to figure out the missing link(s) and address them so baby can get back to the routine. And specifically for hunger cues being shown too early within the recommended 2 ½ to 3 hour window for newborns, this is typically because of baby not getting full feedings, not getting full naps (which can be a result of insufficient stimulation during wake times), or growth spurts where baby will want to eat what seems like incessantly regardless of any of the aforementioned items.
The requirement that you always feed a hungry baby is especially important with your newborn. This is why Babywise directs you to worry more about full feedings in the first few weeks rather than the time or the cycles (as baby will naturally organize his rhythms into cycles with the incorporation of full feedings). Nutrition and sleep are of primary importance in these days and the schedule is just a target to help mom and baby work towards a common goal.
“While 2 ½-3 hour feeding cycles provide a healthy average, there will be occasions when a feeding comes sooner, but this should be the exception, not the rule. One of the first breastfeeding challenges is falling into the habit of feeding too often, such as 1 ½ to 2-hour intervals, or letting the baby go too long, such as more than 3 ½ hours. Feeding a baby too often can wear a mother down, reducing her physical ability to produce a sufficient quantity and quality of milk. When you add postpartum hormones to that mix, is it any wonder many women simply throw in the towel when it comes to breastfeeding? In contrast, not offering enough feedings during the day because baby’s hunger cycles are going longer than 3 ½ hours fails to provide sufficient stimulation to produce a lasting milk supply. Staying close to the 2 ½ to 3-hour range in the first few weeks will serve Mom’s lactation and Baby’s nutritional needs.”On Becoming Babywise
Don’t forget to subscribe for your FREE Printable Babywise Schedule!
Check out these related posts on baby schedules and breastfeeding:
- These 3 Things Got My Baby On A Schedule in 48 Hours
- 5 Things The Books Don’t Tell You About Breastfeeding
- My Baby Wouldn’t Stay Latched For A Full Feed Until I Tried This
- The Main Reason Mothers Give Up On Breastfeeding (And How To Avoid It)
- 10 Things You Need In Order To Thrive In Your First Year Of Breastfeeding
- 3-Step Routine That Tripled My Milk Supply
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