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There are so many misconceptions about Babywise. It makes me nervous to say that we have used it to some extent with all three of our children.
I’m bracing myself for the barrage of negative comments that could potentially arrive in my inbox. You could be completely oblivious to the controversy surrounding the Babywise series, or you could be well informed on the topic.
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When one of my best friends recommended the book to me, it was with the warning that there was a lot of negativity online about it, but that most of it came from people who had never even opened the book.
She wasn’t wrong.
With that said, let me preface this post by saying that negative comments will not be tolerated.
My blog is a place where safe conversations are able to take place. I have zero time for negativity and bullying. I don’t mind at all if you disagree with how I parent, but I do think people should be adult enough to disagree in a way that is mature and respectful.
Okay, the mean-mama-bear voice is now gone. Onto the task at hand…to dispell all these crazy myths out there about Babywise.
If you’re not entirely sure what I’m referring to, it’s the book down below. You can click on it for its description. 🙂 It is essentially a sleep training book.
I have the 2012 edition, but the first version I read was quite a lot older than that. I can’t remember off the top of my head…but it was old. Ha!
I’ve read both versions several times, so I think I’m qualified to comment on the contents of the book. Let’s jump into what it does and does not say.
7 Misconceptions About Babywise:
1) Babywise Advocates Starving Your Baby
This is one of the most common misconceptions about Babywise that I have seen.
And let me tell you that it couldn’t be further from the truth.
Nowhere in the book does it ever say to deny your child food. It just doesn’t.
Anyone who says otherwise, either hasn’t read the book, or they’re twisting something that the book says. In actual fact, the 2012 edition of the book actually states several times to feed your baby if they are hungry.
It never advocates leaving a baby to scream for hours and deprive them of food.
One of the most basic principles of Baby Wise is the EWS (Eat, Wake, Sleep) cycle.
Once you get into a rhythm with that, you get to know approximately when your child is hungry, when they want/need to sleep, and when they might be bored and in need of entertainment.
While Baby Wise never advocates starving your child, it does encourage you to pause and think about what your baby actually might be needing/wanting before automatically responding with food.
Food isn’t the answer to every cry a baby makes.
2) Babywise Advocates Rigid Scheduling
This is also false.
I think that there are a lot of misconceptions about Babywise and many other parenting books that encourage you to get your baby into a routine.
Babywise absolutely pushes for a schedule, but it is by no means rigid.
What Babywise does advocate is for the parent to really pay attention to their baby’s cues for hunger and sleep. It advocates getting to know your child, and follow their natural rhythm.
Once you understand that, then you can gently try to guide them into a routine, but by following their principles, the routine kind of happens on its own.
Something that Babywise does mention, is that the schedule is there to serve the family/child, NOT the other way around.
If the schedule/routine is stressing you or your child out, then it’s time to look at an alternative.
3) Babywise Advocates Leaving Your Baby To Cry For Hours
No. Just no.
This is one of the common misconceptions about Babywise. People think that it is a cry-it-out method of sleep training.
Nowhere in the book does it advise you to leave your baby to cry for hours. Babywise actually barely addresses that aspect of sleep training at all.
It does say that leaving a baby to cry for 15 minutes is not going to lead to long-term deficits, but it does not say that it is something that you have to do.
It does say to check on your child regularly if you are letting them cry a bit as they try to fall asleep.
If you’re looking for a sleep-training book that advocates hard-core CIO (cry-it-out), Babywise just isn’t it.
4) You Cannot Breastfeed And Follow Babywise
While I can see why some women may struggle with breastfeeding a baby on a routine, I can assure you that I personally have successfully breastfed my child while still following the principles of Babywise.
Not only have I been successful, but I know of literally thousands of woman who have also done so.
It is undeniable that breastfeeding is a supply and demand business. For that reason, Babywise often mentions being mindful of your supply.
The misconceptions people have about Babywise often stem from parents who don’t fully read or understand the method.
In the book they often suggests adding in an extra feeding or pumping session if you are becoming concerned about your milk supply. Take this quote for instance:
The breastfeeding mom however, must stay mindful of her milk production. Allowing a baby to sleep longer than 10 hours at night may not provide enough stimulation in a 24-hour period to maintain an adequate supply.
It is true that Babywise recommends parent-led-feeding, however, parent-led-feeding should, in turn, mean that the parent knows their baby, and does not ignore hunger cues.
5) Babywise Is For Selfish Mothers
There are misconceptions about Babywise and sleep training methods in general that only selfish mothers choose to implement them.
I guess this one is up to interpretation.
It’s all got to do with what you think being a good mother is.
I’m going to say that the vast majority of mothers (and fathers!) that have implemented the principles of Babywise have done so with their child’s best interests at heart.
I think those who think Babywise is for selfish parents, also think that said parents only want their child on a schedule so that they can sleep, and have downtime.
There may be some that are that way inclined, but I wouldn’t think the majority are.
I know that for me personally, I want my children to be content, well-rested, and well-fed. I also want them to grow to be independent and healthy children. The principles of Babywise work towards all of those things.
Yes, having them in a predictable routine (well, somewhat anyway!) means that I get more sleep, and downtime. Is that such a bad thing? It means I’m a well-rested mama. That in turn, means that I can parent better than I could if I was sleep deprived.
If you’re just as awesome of a mama when you’re low on sleep, then when you’re fully rested, then kudos to you!
Honestly, I wish I could do that, but I can’t. I have more patience, I am healthier, and I am WAAAAAY more of a fun mama when I have had a decent amount of sleep at night.
Does that make me selfish?
I think it makes me sensible for taking care of myself so that my children get the best of me.
6) Babywise Causes Failure To Thrive
I’ve talked about some of the big myths that are out there. I’m sure there are more, but those are the biggies that I’ve heard.
There’s one thing that I have yet to address, and that is that Babywise has been linked with ‘failure to thrive‘.
In order to properly address the whispered associated with that statement, I’m going to send you to –> THIS POST that clearly outlines all the why’s and how’s.
7) The AAP Advises Against Using Babywise
I’ve actually seen an infographic that someone put together to get this point across.
This is in fact, one of the biggest misconceptions about Babywise.
This is an argument that I see all of the time. I can understand where it comes from, but the simple fact is that it is a false statement.
In truth, the AAP does not have an official stance on Babywise.
I can bet you that if Babywise was linked with failure to thrive they would have a very clear stance on it. Where the confusion comes from is an opinion piece that was published by a paediatrician several years ago.
It was one man’s opinion, and he even admits to not having read the book.
With that said, before I end this post, I want to be clear about something. If you are on the complete opposite side of the principles of Babywise, then I hold no judgement or hard feelings towards you.
The way you choose to parent your children is absolutely none of my business. I honestly don’t care.
You’re the parent, and you have to make the best decisions for your family, just as I have to for mine.
I have many friends that are of much more of an Attachment Parenting mindset, and you know what? They’re my friends! I don’t judge them for the decisions that they make because I think they’re doing what works for them.
We do use Babywise, but we’ve tweaked it and added other strategies in to suit our family and the needs of our children.
Along my parenting journey, I’ve also implemented strategies from:
If you’re interested in the Babywise method but are not sure where to start, then check out –> THIS POST.
I don’t believe there is a one-size-fits-all, and I don’t think that Babywise will work for every family, but I do think it has some awesome principles that lead to healthy sleep habits and an all-around happy family.
That’s it, folks. If you’ve got any questions for me, please leave them in the comments, and I will do my utmost to reply.
Also, I don’t mind if you disagree with me, but please do so in a respectful and mature way, otherwise I will not hesitate to remove your comment. 🙂
Tell me, have you used Babywise? Have you heard any other misconceptions about Babywise?
Until next time!
Hi! I’m Christine. I am a former registered nurse, turned stay-at-home mom, turned work-at-home mom!
Motherhood has always been my passion and blogging has only added to that and given me a creative outlet to share about the things I love.
As my blog has grown, my desire to share the knowledge of what makes my life less stressful, simplified, and more fulfilled has become one of my driving forces.
I have a heart for mothers that feel as though they are just existing from day to day and are longing for more. You can find out more about me and my family over on my ‘About Me‘ page.
As well as the abundance of posts you’ll find on my blog, you can also find me over at Today Parenting.