Wondering how to start the Babywise Sleep Schedule?
Are you wondering: “How do I sleep train my baby?” Looking for sample sleep schedules, or questioning when to start Babywise?
Then you’ve come to the right place. Here’s how to get started with Babywise Sleep Training in very simple steps, including a section on frequently asked questions about the Babywise Method at the end of the post!
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How to Start the Babywise Sleep Schedule: What You Need
Like all things in life, preparation is crucial when deciding to become a Babywise Mom and at the time you decide when to start Babywise.
You can shop the best sleep items for baby here:
What Age Should I Start a Babywise Sleep Schedule?
I have had several new mommy friends come to me recently asking how to actually get started with establishing a schedule with their newborns.
Babywise recommends feeding on demand until 2-3 weeks old.
I totally agree with this, but I also started from birth (yes, while at the hospital!) with introducing Babywise techniques with my newborn daughter.
Once the baby turns that magical 2-3 weeks old…then what? Want to know how to start baby wise with your baby? Keep reading!
The Importance of Wake Time: Pick a Start Time of the Day
It’s crucial to have a start time to each day.
This needs to be established when your baby is a two week old or three week old.
I like to go by the book so I chose 7 am for my children since it is what all the books on the Babywise methods use in the sample schedules.
It can be any time you choose, but your baby’s entire schedule revolves around this time.
If your baby wakes before the awake time then it is considered a “middle of the night” feeding.
Mine would often wake at 5:30. I’d feed, put back to bed, and re-wake at 7 to start my day.
Posts You Will Find Helpful:
Eat Wake: Wake Baby to Eat
It is okay to let the baby sleep an extra 15 min, when needed, but if it’s time to eat then you need to wake the baby!
I know how hard it is but it’s important in order to establish the routine.
Wake eat keeps with the super important wake eat sleep routine that Babywise complete revolves around.
This is also true about feeding early. It’s okay to feed early if you think your baby is hungry but then adjust your schedule accordingly.
I always tried to hold my babies off to eat until I was within the 15 min time window of their next scheduled feeding time.
Remember that with nursing you need to have 8-10 feedings a day when just starting out!
How to Start Babywise: Eat
Wake Sleep Cycle
When the baby wakes feed him or her then keep the baby awake for some awake time.
In the early days it can often be only just a few minutes but still have some awake time before putting them back to sleep.
The eat wake sleep routine is part of the babywise method basics. It is the KEY to starting babywise with a newborn or even when starting Babywise late.
The only time you don’t do this is in the middle of the night.
After the last scheduled feeding for the day then put the baby to bed for the night and cross fingers they let you sleep!
When the baby wakes for the night feeding keep it dark and quiet and try to keep them in sleepy mode as much as possible.
Don’t do any awake time before putting them back to their nighttime sleep!
Posts to Help with Wake Time and Eat Wake Sleep Routine:
How to Start Babywise: Continue to Focus on Full Feedings
During the first few weeks I always encourage new moms just to work hard to get the baby to take a full feeding.
It’s important to continue to do this once the schedule is in place. It will help make sure the baby will stay nice and full (and happy!) until the next feeding time!
By one month old most babies fall into a natural 2 1/2 – 3 hours between feedings (you calculate that time from the start of the first feeding to the start of the next one).
Babywise Method: Keep the Sleep Hierarchy in Mind
This is a big thing for me! Reading this post from Valerie’s blog was truly a life saver.
The most important goal is for the baby to SLEEP during sleep times.
Ideally, you want the baby to be in their crib to sleep but if you have to use the swing, help hold the baby to go back to sleep, etc then do it at this age in order to make sure sleep happens!
My goal was to always keep the baby in the crib if I could so if they woke early I’d go in and simply touch them or make a quiet sound (“shhh”).
If that didn’t work then I’d pick up and comfort and put back down once they stopped crying.
If that didn’t work then I’d try the baby swing. If that didn’t work then I’d try me holding them until they went to sleep.
I tried to “interfere” as little as possible but kept the ultimate goal of sleep in mind!
A common tool to help with sleep training and for early wakings is the pacifier. It’s important to be mindful when using the pacifier to not allow it to become a sleep prop.
Posts to Help:
Baby Wise: Know the “Sleepy Cues”
My daughter was a slow nurser and would, literally, only have a few brief minutes of awake time after nursing before she went back to sleep.
If your baby yawns, gets fussy, rubs eyes, etc then it means to get them to the bed and fast!
If you miss the sleepy window then you have a baby who is overtired and overstimulated and who probably won’t sleep.
It’s also important to look out for a babywise baby who falls asleep after feeding.
This most likely means you have a higher sleep needs baby and may need to adjust your schedule for shorter awake times.
Want More from a Keepin’ It Real Babywise Mama?
Beginning Babywise: Have a Good Sleep Environment
Make the place where the baby sleeps for naps as much like the night sleep conditions as you can. Get blackout curtains to keep the room dark.
Use a swaddle if you use one at night. Do the same routine before each nap (such as sing a short song, etc).
Have a form of white noise that you use every time the baby is sleeping.
By keeping the pre-sleep ritual consistent at all sleep times the baby will learn when they get swaddled and you start singing that song then it’s time for them to sleep!
Setting Baby Up For Success: Stay Home
I know for many people it’s a big sacrifice not to be out and about.
I tell family and friends to get their fill of our new babies during the first couple of weeks because once it’s time to set up the schedule, we get strict about it!
Just like with anything else in life, the more consistent you are with keeping the routine for your baby, the more successful you will be.
At this stage, the goal is sleeping through the night and it will happen sooner if you work hard these early days to get the schedule in place!
Having nap time at home in their crib will ensure the baby sleeps more soundly and will better help for you to get to know your baby and understand their individual sleep cycle.
You will have a hard time getting your baby to sleep solid in their beds if they don’t use their crib for sleep on a consistent basis!
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Starting Babywise: Don’t Cry It Out
I think often Babywise gets a bad wrap about cry it out but at this age it’s not something you need to be concerned with at all.
If your baby is crying at the start of nap then 90% of the time it’s probably because the baby is overtired/overstimulated.
Help the baby get to sleep (although it’s fine to let them fuss a bit and see if they will fall asleep on their own too!) and know that next nap to make sure to put them to bed earlier!
I like to write down when my baby shows sleep cues and try to actually start the bedtime routine process prior to the time when they start to show signs of being tired.
That way they are ready to get in the bed exactly at the right time! You also don’t need to do cry it out mid-nap yet. Again, the sleep hierarchy! If the baby wakes mid-nap then go in and soothe to get them back to sleep!
Want To Have More Valuable Sleep Resources? Here Are My Favorite Books on Sleep:
How to Start Babywise: Know the Wonder Weeks
If you’ve never heard of Wonder Weeks then you will be SO glad I just told you about them! It’s so, so accurate!
It is times when your baby is going through developmental leaps and knowing when they occur helps to know when your baby might struggle with sleep and be fussier than normal.
During Wonder Weeks I did a lot more comforting than usual and just helped my babies get through the stage, once it passed things went back to normal with no issues.
It’s important to know about the Wonder Weeks but
Posts to You’ll Find Helpful:
How to Start Babywise: Cluster and Dream Feed
I do a combo of Babywise sleep schedule along with the scheduling recommended in the book The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems. I have my feeding times in the evenings closer together.
This is typically a fussy time of the day anyway for little ones so why not just keep them happy and fed? Plus by “stocking up” on eating close to bedtime, it helps the baby stay full longer in the night.
The sample schedule in Babywise has a “late evening” feeding. This is also known as the “dream feed.” You wake the baby to eat, but you don’t have any awake time following this scheduled feeding.
While I do a dream feed when first starting to schedule, I do think at a certain point it can cause issues with solid sleep.
Both of my children, so far, slept through the night at 8-9 weeks old and it happened for the first time on nights I accidentally slept through the dream feed.
Therefore, I typically stop doing them around that age!
How to Start Babywise: Sample Schedule
Babywise Sleep Schedule:
- 7:00: start of the day, eat
- 8:00-8:30: awake time then down for nap
- 10:00: eat
- 11:00-11:30: awake time then down for nap
- 1:00: eat
- 2:00-2:30: awake time then down for nap
- 4:00: eat
- 5:00-5:30: awake time then down for nap
- 6:00: eat (this is a cluster feed, I would feed her close together in the evenings to help her load up on food and stay full for the night time. The evenings are also THE fussiest time of the day at this age so it makes sense to feed her and keep her happy!)
- 7:00-7:30: awake time then down for nap
- 8:00: do bedtime ritual (massage or bath) then eat. Put her straight to bed after this feeding
- 10:30: wake her up for her “dream feed” (this is one extra feeding before we go to bed to, again, help her stock up and hopefully sleep through the night).
- Feed whenever wakes during the night (typically around 3:30ish)
See My Sample Schedules For Help:
How to Start Babywise: Conclusion
The first month of Babywise will be very focused on keeping with the eat wake sleep routine and sticking to the sleep schedule you put in place with your baby.
Remaining consistent is key and allows for your baby to fall into that natural routine and sleep rhythm.
After a few weeks of following this advice, your baby will be sleeping more soundly at naptime and be that much closer to sleeping through the night!
Most Babywise babies sleep fully through the night somewhere between 6 weeks and 12 weeks of age. Commit to this process for three months and it will be WELL worth it!
The babywise method has been a true blessing to our family and has been successful for all FOUR of our children.
Implementing Babywise: Additional Resources
When I first started Babywise with my first baby I had such a hard time because I felt like the book didn’t go into enough detail.
I didn’t have a lot of people I knew personally who used Babywise principals to help me so I’m very thankful I found resources online.
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Want a Simple Printable Guide to Follow? Here is my Simple Newborn Sleep Guide:Buy my product
Here are some other blog posts that may also help you get started:
- Implementing Babywise From Birth
- Birth to Six Month Schedules
- Birth to 12 Month Schedules
- Dropping the Last MOTN Feeding
- Putting Baby First During the First Year
- Sleep Hierarchy for Newborn
- Newborn Summaries and Sleep Schedules: 0-3 Months
- Infant Summaries and Sleep Schedules: 3-6 Months
- Baby Summaries and Sleep Schedules: 6 Months to 9 Months
- Baby Summaries and Sleep Schedules: 9-12 Months
- Babywise Sample Schedules and Summaries for the First Year
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Babywise Sleep Training Method?
The Babywise Method is a sleep training technique explained in the book On Becoming Baby Wise by Robert Bucknam MD and Gary Ezzo. The book outlines a simple sleep method for helping babies to sleep through the night as well as to establish a structural daily routine throughout the day that helps to encourage nap sleeping as well as happy awake time too.
Why is there Babywise Controversy?
Like anything else these days Babywise has been met with controversy over the years. Typically the Babywise method is considered controversial because the method recommends the cry it out method to help baby sleep.
It is important to read the book (it is a very easy read) as cry it out (commonly referred to as Babywise CIO) is NOT recommended until baby is older, sleep is more established, and every other potential concern has been ruled out.
Can I Do Babywise and NOT Cry It Out?
Yes! As mentioned in the post above, cry it out isn’t NOT recommended when first starting with Babywise anyway. YOU are the parent. YOU choose if you ever want to use cry it out as part of your sleep training method.
Baby Wise clearly walks through how to cry it out and when it is appropriate and helpful in sleep training, but you can make adjustments to fit what works best for you and your baby.
For me personally, I had one of my babies who simply cried IN HER SLEEP. I tried EVERYTHING and in the end, I found if I just let her cry she would just fuss a few minutes and be back to quietly sleeping. When I went in and disturbed her I only disrupted her sleep further and letting her cry was the best thing for HER.
When To Start Babywise Sleep Training?
This is totally a personal decision! I personally believe in setting the stage for successful sleep habits from birth and start Babywise with my babies as newborns. However, all babies should feed on demand for the first two weeks of life so I don’t technically start implementing a true feeding schedule and Babywise sleep schedule until my babies are two weeks old.
Is it Too Late to Start Babywise?
No! It’s never too late to begin implementing Babywise techniques and strategies. Consistency is key and the younger you start the quicker you will see the positive results and the easier it will be to be consistent. But there is no age limit on when you can start using Babywise!
What is the recommended Babywise Bedtime Routine?
Having a set nightly routine really helps communicate to baby that it’s time for sleep! I personally recommend bath time (or a good wipe down) followed by a relaxing massage with some baby oil or baby lotion.
Then I like to have my babies sleep in a zip sleeper (makes the middle of the night diaper changes easier) and swaddle tightly. When they are very young I keep this routine super quick and will then hold baby upright on my shoulder and sing their special song before laying them down in a dark room with white noise.