On Becoming Babywise is a parenting book designed to get your baby on a sleep and feed schedule and sleeping through the night. Learn more about the Babywise method, including the pros and cons, and if it’s a good approach for your family.

Babywise baby sleeping

Before I was even pregnant, I had heard so many horror stories about babies’ sleep (or lack thereof) and the constant sleep deprivation that new parents faced.

I figured it was just a part of being a new parent.

And then I talked to my sister in law. She had two kids under the age of two and they were the best sleepers I knew. Her kids slept 7 pm–7 am every night and had little or no sleep associations.

Whenever I babysat her boys, they went to sleep easy and stayed asleep. I was intrigued about what magical voodoo she had done to her kids so they slept through the night and went down easy.

She told me she followed the Babywise method, based on the popular book. So when I got pregnant with Evelyn, I got the Babywise book and quickly started reading.

To help you better, start by downloading my free baby sleep calculator to see when nap time and bed time should be based on your baby’s age. Click here to grab that, it’ll be super helpful.

What is the Babywise Method?

The premise of Babywise is fairly simple and includes a few main components. Here’s a super brief summary of the Babywise book:

Eat Wake Sleep

You follow an Eat play sleep cycle with your baby.

After your baby learns her days from nights and wakes up a little, you work on putting baby down awake so they learn to put themselves to sleep.

Full Feeds

You work really hard to keep your baby awake while they feed and ensure they take a full feed. The goal is to avoid snacking throughout the day.

The idea is that since your baby isn’t falling asleep at the breast or bottle, she fills her belly, allowing her to sleep longer stretches.

Wake Windows

Parents pay attention to baby’s sleep cues and wake windows and prioritize getting baby down for sleep within that time.

This keeps your baby from getting overstimulated and ensures they’ll sleep better.

Baby Eats Every 2–3 Hours

You might need to wake your baby from a nap to feed them.

Babywise parents throw the term never wake a sleeping baby out the window and often wake their baby to feed.

There’s two reasons for this:

  1. You want your baby to get enough feeds during the day so they sleep longer at night.
  2. You want to give your baby the appropriate amount of daytime sleep so they are still tired at night.

Twin moms are really good at doing this to keep babies on the same schedule.

Following these patterns and schedules can lead to babies taking better naps, sleeping longer stretches at night, and having a predictable routine for the whole family to follow.

What is the Babywise Schedule?

Babywise follows an eat / play / sleep schedule.

The Babywise schedule means that your baby is awake for the wake window that is appropriate for their age, they eat at the beginning of their wake window, and then they sleep for a nap.

This eat / wake / sleep cycle repeats over and over throughout the day.

One criticism of Babywise is that the schedules are too rigid. Babies can be unpredictable and trying to keep them on a very specific schedule can be nearly impossible.

What Age Can I Start Babywise?

There’s no hard and fast rule for when to start implementing the concepts of Babywise.

Newborns are so sleepy in the beginning, so it’s hard to start Babywise until they start to wake up more.

Babywise recommends ignoring the clock completely and feeding on demand for the first two to three weeks.

After that, you can start whenever you feel ready. Don’t feel rushed to start too early. You can start to implement the eat / wake / sleep cycles and add wake times and nap time from there.

How Do I Start Babywise with my Newborn?

In those newborn days, don’t stress too much about sleep. The best things to do with a newborn to establish good sleep is:

Try to Avoid An Overtired Baby

Newborn wake windows are super short. Your newborn can only stay awake for about 45–60 minutes before they need sleep again.

Watch the clock and get your baby to sleep within that time frame so you avoid an overtired baby.

Focus on Full Feeds

Try to keep your baby awake while they eat. This will be tough!

You can gently rub their feet or tickle their toes if you want to wake them up a bit.

The idea is to let them get their fill and start to separate feeding from sleep if only for a few minutes.

Learn How to Thrive in the Newborn Stage

Newborn Sleep Survival Guide

Learn how to survive sleep in the newborn stage with the Newborn Sleep Survival Guide. This 33-page PDF walks you through the basics of newborn sleep that you can start on Day one, without any sleep training involved. Learn more here.

Pros & Cons of the Babywise Method

I had a love/hate relationship with the Babywise method.

The concepts seemed so simple and I wanted it to work SO BADLY. But the way that the book is written makes it seem like if you follow the book, then sleep will come easy.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that babies have their own opinions and don’t always follow a formula.

I feel like the book should have a caveat that says: “Babies are not robots. This book is a guide but remember that each baby is going to be a little bit different.”

As a new mom, I needed a little more reassurance that things wouldn’t be so cut and dry with my baby’s sleeping routines.

Here are the main pros and cons that I found while following Babywise.

Pro: Learn Good Sleep Habits

Following the Babywise methods really can lead to your baby sleeping longer stretches at night.

In general, sleep begets sleep and babies who are well rested will generally eat better and be less fussy throughout the day.

Evelyn slept about 8 hours a night at 11 weeks and 12 hours around 14 weeks. This means I was well rested and able to be a better mom and human overall.

Pro: No Sleep Props

Babies learn to fall asleep independently and stay asleep. If they happen to wake up in the middle of the night after a certain age, they can put themselves back to sleep.

I can count on one hand how many times Evelyn woke up crying in the middle of the night once she started to sleep through the night.

Pro: Predictable Routines

Parents have a predictable routine so they can make plans around their baby’s sleep schedule. There’s no guessing when your baby might or might not go to sleep (for the most part).

Leaving your baby with a sitter or other caregiver can be fairly easy because they will know when to put them down for a nap, feed them, etc. My dad started watching Evelyn when she was 14 weeks old and he was amazed how she would go to sleep in her crib at the nap times I had laid out for him.

Pro: Avoid Sleep Training and Sleep Regressions

We set up healthy sleep habits early on. This meant we never had to sleep train her!

Sleep regressions were also pretty minimal (though they did still pop up.)

Cons: Hard Work

Implementing Babywise is a lot of work. The book makes it seem like it will be really easy, but it isn’t!

You have to help establish healthy sleeping patterns in the beginning. Sometimes this means helping your baby fall asleep and sometimes it means changing their schedule so it works for them.

There is a lot of troubleshooting and experimenting with wake windows that goes into it. (But that’s true of good sleep).

Con: Baby’s Schedule is Priority

If you want to commit to having a predictable routine, then you revolve your day around your baby’s schedule.

Evelyn napped at nearly the same time every day since she was three months old. So if people made plans around that time, I usually wouldn’t go. I protected those good naps, because I knew it meant a happier baby who would sleep better at night.

Con: Too Vague

I felt like the book was way too vague. It laid out this great idea and a really basic plan of how to achieve it. But I needed more specifics.

I had to read several other sleep books and piece things together on my own to really figure out how to go about implementing a schedule that worked for us.

This could just be me, but when I read a book and it claims certain things can happen, then I expect those things to happen!

Babywise says some babies can sleep 12 hours in 12 weeks, so when we weren’t there at 13 weeks, I felt like I was doing something wrong.

Now as a sleep consultant, I know that is not the norm!

Does Babywsie Use Cry It Out?

Babywise does have a couple pages in the book that say something to the effect of, some babies will cry a little before settling down to sleep.

It’s not the bulk of the book and you can still follow Babywise without ever doing cry it out, but I think parents get the message that Babywise is all about crying it out.

We never left Evelyn to cry and still implemented Babywise. I think the book is trying to say, listen to your baby’s cries and determine if they are actually hungry, or if they are just really tired and fighting sleep.

There are plenty of gentle sleep training methods you could do if you want to minimize crying when teaching your baby independent sleep.

Babywise Controversy

I feel like I should address the controversy around the book and my two cents on it.

When I casually mentioned Babywise to friends, you would have thought I decided to put my baby in a corner and ignore her for all of time.

That was my first clue that there are a lot of opinions on parenting and sometimes it’s just better to keep quiet on the methods you choose.

There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding the Babywise book. I think it’s controversial for a two reasons.

Strict Schedules

Putting baby on a feeding schedule can be rigid. Sometimes babies are hungry outside of that feeding time.

As a new parent, some people may take these schedules too religiously and have a hard time following their baby’s clues.

My advice is to keep feeds 30 minutes away from sleep and try to get in full feeds. Don’t worry as much about the time on the clock when it comes to feeds.


As I mentioned earlier, Babywise does discuss babies crying for a few minutes before sleep.

Each parent should do what they’re comfortable with when it comes to crying. You can definitely follow other parts of Babywise and still not do cry it out.

Let me know if you do Baby wise or plan to do it with your baby!

It is a lot of work but I think it’s worth it! Evelyn’s been sleeping 10 to 12 hours since she was 14 weeks old, which means we are all well rested and able to tackle the day.

If you have any questions about the Babywise method, leave them in the comments below and we’ll help you troubleshoot.

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  1. Hi! Thanks for sharing yours experience. I have a 7 week old and I have been following the baby wise method. I only pump and give him the bottle. He’s sleeping well from 12 am to 630 am but not exactly as the book says. He wakes up around 4 am to eat then wakes up again around 630. My challenge is my body naturally wakes up every 3 hrs and I need to pump. If I don’t pump by 4 hrs I will be in pain and get blocked ducts. Did you experience this as well? This is difficult because I can’t get a good night sleep.



    1. Hi Faye,

      I’m sorry, I didn’t experience that. I wasn’t able to breastfeed my daughter once she started sleeping longer stretches so never had to wake to pump.


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