Babywise and a Working Mama

Today my sweet friend Kelly from Built Ford Tough is guest posting! She is one of my very closest friends and one of the most “hardcore” Babywise moms I know!

She is also a mother who works outside of the home so I asked her to write a post about how she makes Babywise work for her family. I know I have had many people tell me they think they can’t do Babywise with their children because they work outside the home and I hope this post is encouraging and a good reminder that it IS possible!!!

Babywise as a Working Mom

Being a working mom and implementing Babywise can be difficult. Let’s face it, most of us who would identify ourselves as “babywise mom’s” are mostly control freaks to some extent.

The typical BW mom finds comfort in knowing what her kid should be doing at what time of day and it makes our lives easier knowing that our children will generally be content with or without us because of the consistency of that schedule.

But what do you do when you want to implement BW but will be returning to work? I have a few suggestions that hopefully you will find helpful!

  1. Work HARD in those first weeks while you are on maternity leave to push through CIO and really establish a routine. In the first ~6 months of a baby’s life, they really don’t settle into a “schedule” that sticks around for very long which is why I call it a routine. You want to soak them up, yes. I do NOT mean that you should stress out over it, but just consistently do your best, knowing it will make life easier for all involved…
  2. Establish the morning wake time that will work for you when you go back to work, not the time that you desire in those weeks that you have off. Yes, I know this is hard! We want to sleep in. And it’s ok to have an “off” day when you need to… but try to be consistent with that morning wake time as this will help you to establish baby’s metabolism and set them up for success with sleeping through the night! THIS is every mama’s dream! And it all begins with a morning wake time…
  3. Pray over the decision on who should take care of your child during your pregnancy. Ask God for provision for someone/someplace that will be supportive and understanding of your goals with your child.
  4. Research daycares/at home nanny’s/etc… Call first to discuss with a daycare their policies for implementing a schedule for a child and then if you feel comfortable from that conversation, ask if you can come observe your child’s potential room to see how they have things set up.  As best as you are able, make a decision while you are still sane (meaning NOT post-partum and hormonal) on where your child should stay while you are working.
  5. If your child will need to stay in a daycare, he will need to learn to sleep with background noise. This is a learned skill and not one he is likely to gain in the first few weeks of life. Yes, a newborn will sleep through anything in the first couple of weeks, but after that all noises are fair game to wake a baby. Now, this is a decision you need to make as a parent and one that there is no “Right or Wrong” answer for… do you want to work on your child learning to sleep through noises while you’re home with him or just be concerned with establishing a good routine and good sleeping patterns and not disrupt his sleep till he gets to daycare… again, something each parent must decide for your baby.
  6. As the time approaches for you to start back to work, ask the daycare/nanny if you can do a couple of trial runs with your baby. Lots of daycares will allow a parent to come for a few days to transition… stay with baby for 30 min the first day, stay 30 min and leave for 30 min the 2nd day, etc…  Allowing you to see baby in his environment that he will be in while you work will give you peace of mind and help you be able to visualize him happy in that environment as you are working and undoubtedly worrying.
  7. Send a typed up schedule with baby on his first day, but remember that a baby schedule for a baby in a new environment with new caregivers is like a birth plan that you give to the hospital… the caregivers will do their best but at some point you have to trust that they will take care of your baby as best they can and that you, too, needed time to get to know your child. Give them the same leniency that you allowed yourself for those first couple of weeks. Mistakes will be made. Sleepy cues will be missed. But in time they will learn your little one almost as well as you do!
  8. BE CONSISTENT on your days off. This is hard, I know. Ideally the consistency would come during the week and the weekends could be more relaxed, but especially in the beginning while they are transitioning, they need all the consistency they can get with mom and dad to make them feel safe and have something in life that they understand and can trust.

My personal situation is that I work 3 days a week. I am a dental hygienist. And I’ll admit, I have a pretty ideal situation! My cousin, who has two older children of her own, is my children’s caregiver on the days that I work. She had never heard of or read BW when her children were little, but amazingly did the eat, play, sleep routine anyways because she felt it made sense.  Brilliant, that woman is! So she has loved that we have done BW and loves the schedule and even said she wishes she would have known about it with hers! She keeps my children in her home along with 2 other kids who are also BW kids (heaven!). She is supportive and consistent and very honest about what she feels we need to work on at home. She’s a pro at CIO and I simply thank God for her daily.

But there was a while leading up to the birth of my oldest that we didn’t know WHAT we were going to do. My mother was slated to keep my kids but that ended up not working out and honestly, the thought of daycare made me want to cry. Not because they are horrible places! But because when you go from the thought of “family will keep my kid” to “strangers will keep my kid”… well, it was about more than a 9 month preggo mama could take. Again, part of why I say to make the decision early if possible! LOTS of stresses associated with waiting. But I learned a lot during that time and my niece, who is also a BW baby, has transitioned into daycare at 9mo from an in home nanny and done really, really well! So I’ve learned a lot from my family, as well.

Bottom line is this… regardless of whether your child is at home with you every day, in daycare or with a private nanny, implementing BW successfully IS possible. I’ll defend my point with an example from my cousins in home daycare:

Tracy has been keeping a little boy 2 days a week now for about 8 months. When the baby started coming to her home, he had NO schedule what so ever. Mom and Dad rock him to sleep and he frequently is up 1-2 or even 3 times a night even now at a year old. Mom and Dad say that he won’t nap and that sometimes he goes to bed at 8, sometimes at 11pm. Morning wake time is sometimes 7am, sometimes 10am. And Mom and Dad complain that he doesn’t eat well. There’s nothing “Scheduled” about him. Tracy was VERY concerned in the beginning because she had never kept a baby who was not on a schedule. But she decided that she would do the best she could and see how it went. 

Literally, in about a month of keeping him ONLY two days a week, he no longer cried when she lay him down awake to go to sleep! He had to get up by 8am on those mornings regardless of his bedtime the night before so she just did the schedule she thought was appropriate and sure enough, mom and dad said that he started waking up pretty much every day at 8am. Why? Because Tracy feeds him as soon as he gets to her house those days. She helped his little body establish a metabolism!  And every day at her house (now at 1year old) he eats lunch at 12, goes down for a nap at 1 and sleeps 3 hours. DAILY. Mom and dad swear that he never sleeps for more than 45 min a day for them.

So why does this baby behave so differently for Tracy than for mom and dad? Because he knows what is expected at tracy’s house. He knows he will not get rocked to sleep. He knows if we wakes up crying, she will not get him up and he will go back to sleep till he wakes happy. He knows if he doesn’t eat breakfast at breakfast time, theres nothing else to eat till. Tracy is consistent so baby is consistent.

If she can accomplish that in 2 days a week at her home, we can do it in our homes for whatever time our children can be home with us, regardless of what happens on the days that we work. We do our best to find caregivers who are supportive of BW, but in the end, we can only really control what happens in our home. So do your best, ignore the guilty feelings when your kid has a rough day (remember, its likely he would have had a rough day even if you didnt work and were home 24/7) and reap the benefits!


  1. Gisela
    March 10, 2014 / 1:04 pm

    We are BW fans, and our 5 month old sleeps from 7:30 PM until 6:30 AM that is when I wake her up to feed her and get her ready to daycare, my question is, Do I have to wake her up at 6:30 during the weekend too? Help thank you!!!

  2. Sarah Burke Paradis
    March 26, 2014 / 5:06 pm

    Yes, you have to wake her up at 6:30. You need to be consistent with wake times, they say not to go more than 20 minutes in flexibility, especially with the morning feed. That is the most important feeding of the day, but if you do let her sleep later keep the schedule the same for the rest of the day, that's what she wants. But if she is 5 months old and going to sleep at 7:30 she should be waking up at that time on her own everyday happy in her crib and quietly babbling.

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