The Babywise Method: How Not to Be Chained to the Schedule
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Using the Babywise method to sleep train my kids has been one of the best parenting decisions that I have ever made. However, there is the question of flexibility.
This is especially relevant as soon as you have more than one child.
This post talks more about how to balance a schedule when you have twins which is super helpful!
How on earth do you allow for the structure that your baby requires to establish good sleep habits and cater to the needs of your other children?
Not only that, but how do you as a mom have a life outside of being mom?
The truth is that the Babywise method was developed as a tool to help families, not to hinder them.
You can both follow the Babywise method and be flexible. This post will tell you how.
How to Use the Babywise Method but Still Be Flexible
Flexibility & the Babywise Method Criticism
One of the biggest criticisms of the Babywise method is that parents fail to meet the needs of their baby because they are so focused on the schedule.
Honestly, that criticism should be aimed towards the parents and not towards the method.
Babywise specifically recommends over and over again to address the needs of your baby first and foremost.
Babywise isn’t all rules and schedules. It is a method which allows for the
Related: How to Balance Multiple Schedules
So let me share the 7 tips I have for staying flexible while using Babywise:
Other Helpful Posts…
#1 Invest in Helpful Tools
There are a couple of baby products that we have used over and over again for our children to help them sleep when they’re not in their own beds.
My first recommendation is to invest in a portable white noise machine.
We have the Marpac Hushh and really love it.
This is particularly helpful if you decide to go out somewhere for the night and it is a bit noisy.
I have put my babies in a bassinet or crib and turned on the white noise. It helps to drown out their surroundings and allow them the opportunity to sleep.
This is also really good for when you’re in the car and there are noisy siblings!
My second recommendation is an infant capsule cover. (You can get one for FREE HERE! Just use the coupon code: CKCS50)
This helps to reduce distractions when you’re driving and allow your baby to go off to sleep. It also acts as a natural deterrent and keeps nosy parkers from waking your baby.
Finally, I highly recommend the SnoozeShade for pack n plays.
This is one of the best investments that we’ve ever made! I can put my baby down in a sunlit room and they’ll still nap happily.
It is also ideal for those times where you may have to share a room with your baby and they find your presence too distracting to sleep.
It is safe, breathable and lightweight to pack.
#2 Know When to Start Babywise
Depending on what your definition of sleep training is, some people may find these recommendations strange.
For instance, the question of when to start sleep training is often answered with “not till after 4 months”.
I think the issue is that many people equate cry-it-out with sleep training.
Personally, I believe that sleep training doesn’t have to include a lot of crying. It can simply be focusing on establishing healthy sleep habits like an eat wake sleep schedule.
You will find that in the Babywise book they recommend beginning the Babywise sleep method around 3 weeks of age.
The first two weeks are all about bonding, recovery and establishing breastfeeding.
You should be putting all of your attention on your baby and practically ignoring the clock altogether.
The exception would be that you don’t leave baby without a feed for too long, even if they haven’t woken for it.
Those first few weeks are just lovely and should be a time of lots of flexibility.
I always made sure to spend as much time resting and cuddling with my newborns as I could. They’re so super sleepy at that stage that having them sleep in your arms is not going to hurt a thing.
In truth, you can begin the Babywise method whenever you feel comfortable. Here’s the thing though, the sooner you start the earlier they establish independent sleep skills.
In my experience, it also means that any sleep training is usually a lot “gentler” as well as they don’t get the chance to develop any major sleep crutches.
#3 Be Consistent
The next step towards flexibility is to be consistent.
Having a consistent Babywise nap schedule will make it a lot easier to go off plan now and again.
You cannot expect your baby to feed and sleep well if they never have a consistent routine to begin with.
We have one day a week (sometimes 2) where all nap schedules go out the window. The children all usually deal with it just fine, but it is mainly because we are super consistent the rest of the week.
6/7 days they nap, feed and wake at the same time, so when there’s just one “off” day it doesn’t mess with them all that much.
Take the time to establish a consistent routine and you’ll find that the option of being flexible is actually a lot easier than if you hadn’t.
#4 Make a Plan
Are you a planner? I am.
I hate it when things come at me when I’m not expecting them. It is something that I’m forever working to embrace, but it is difficult.
When it comes to flexibility and baby sleep it is important to still have somewhat of a plan.
This will hopefully mean that things don’t totally turn to custard.
For instance, every Sunday we go to church with our three children. Our eldest is 4 and no longer needs a nap. Our eldest daughter is 2.5 and can skip her nap but does a whole lot better if she has one.
And our youngest is 6 months old. She definitely still needs to nap.
We are in the car and out and about a lot on a Sunday.
The children do get to nap, but they are usually shorter and not as wholesome.
My plan for Sundays is simply that the baby feeds as closely to her regular times as possible and if naps aren’t great then we factor in an early bed time.
This leads us onto the next point…
#5 Make Time to Recover
It is one thing to expect your baby to be flexible and another to have unrealistic expectations.
Your baby/toddler needs to sleep. It is an actual need.
Expecting them to have some flexibility is fine but you also need to make sure that you are filling their needs.
For us this means that Mondays are very low key. I don’t usually ever plan outings and I allow for extra long naps if necessary.
I’m also fully prepared for cranky kids (although they’re usually fine).
Go out, live life, be flexible, but also allow your child the time that they need to make up for the lack of sleep.
#6 Understand that it Gets Easier
In those early days when all you want is for your baby to sleep it can seem impossible to actually get out of the house.
Let me reassure you that it does get easier. I promise.
Before long your baby will have a
I know what it is like to have a 1-month old and just feel like the stage will never end. But I’m telling you that it will and it will happen quickly, even if you only see it in retrospect.
My children are 4, 2.5 and 6-months old. I have spent the last 4 + years catering to nap schedules and bedtime routines.
Yes, there is some sacrifice involved, but in my opinion it is completely worth it.
We still get out and about. The baby can stay awake for 2 + hours now so outings aren’t that big of a deal.
My 4-year old is a breeze because he doesn’t even need to nap at all. However, we are also reaping the benefits of having sleep trained him as he is in bed and out for the entire night from 7 PM.
#7 Remember Your Priorities
Whenever you’re feeling discouraged or frustrated it is very helpful to sit back and remember your priorities.
Your baby’s sleep is important.
The happiness of your family is important.
You, as the mom are also vitally important.
It isn’t easy to keep all of those things balanced but knowing your priorities can make it easier to decide when to be flexible and when you just need to stay home at let your baby sleep.