My Babies Slept with the Help of Babywise

There is a reason On Becoming Baby Wise: Giving Your Infant the Gift of Nighttime Sleep is my favorite gift to give new parents; it is the number one parenting book in my own collection. Authors Gary Ezzo and Dr. Robert Bucknam not only offer advice on how to get infants to sleep through the night, but they also cover a wide range of issues from how to raise multiples to what to do about colicky and reflux babies to fitting baby in with an older sibling or siblings to which baby products to buy and beyond.

I was very skeptical when a family member recommended Babywise, but she swore that it was the main reason all of her babies slept through the night by eight weeks. I had many other books in my maternity collection, but even the book that was specifically about breastfeeding didn’t give me nearly as helpful advice as Babywise did about the pros and cons of breast versus bottle, when to feed, and most importantly, why to feed (or not feed) at certain times.

Both of my sons had colic and reflux. Not only is there a chapter dedicated to these specific issues, but it also encourages parents like me to stay on the Babywise plan, with necessary modifications. Instead of giving up because my children had a few early problems, sticking with it helped them regulate and sleep through the night at seven and eight weeks, respectively.

So what is it that Babywise recommends? It’s called parent-directed feeding (PDF). Someone asked me, “Is it one of those books where it tells you not to feed your baby?” Absolutely not! Rather, it teaches parents how to recognize when the baby actually needs nourishment versus a diaper change or some other form of care. Just because the baby cries doesn’t mean he needs the breast or bottle, in other words. Many people of the attachment persuasion are opposed to this method, but think of it this way: You wouldn’t eat when you had a stomach ache or just needed to get some rest, so why would you put food in your baby’s upset tummy or try to pacify him by nursing when what he really needs is a nap?

Ezzo and Bucknam explore the history of parenting theories and explain the extremes of hyperscheduling (the baby must eat every X hours—no flexibility!) to no schedule at all. PDF is a happy medium, creating a predictable, flexible routine, which babies and children crave. They will be happy, well-rested, self-assured babies with equally well-rested and satisfied parents.