25. The problem with the Eat, Play, Sleep routine - Why the Babywise sleep schedule doesn't work
Did you read the Babywise book? Have you tried the Eat, Play, Sleep routine hoping it would be the holy grail of baby sleep routines but it failed miserably? You’re not alone.
Lots of moms have experienced this same frustration because the strict Babywise sleep schedule just doesn’t work for most babies.
In this episode, I’ll break down the reasons why the Babywise routine fails and how you can modify the routine to make it work for you and your baby – because you CAN have a predictable routine, just not in the way you might’ve thought.
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FULL EPISODE TRANSCRIPTION:
Let’s talk about the problem with putting your baby on a strict schedule. Hey there friends. Welcome to the better postpartum podcast. I’m your host, Angel Swan, crunchy mom, coffee addict and postpartum doula turned new mom, coach,
this podcast is your audio guide to not just surviving, but thriving during those early newborn days. If you want to care for yourself, your household and your baby with confidence, grab your earbuds because this is the only podcast that you need. So what do you say? Should we get started with today’s episode? Let’s do this. Okay, so you’ve probably heard me talk about the eat play sleep schedule, or my modified version, the eat play snack asleep schedule, there is so much conflicting information out there about whether or not it’s healthy to put your baby on a strict schedule. So I wanted to touch on it today to help you figure out what might be best for your baby and your lifestyle. So first, the place sleeps routine, as outlined in baby wise, baby wise is a book about basically just getting your baby on a schedule. And it’s I found it to be very helpful. But I also read, like 10 other books. So what I have done is compiled all of my knowledge from all the books. And then I kind of made my own routine from there, but we’ll get into that later. So the theory behind the babywise routine that eat play sleep routine, is that when your baby wakes up, you give them a full feeding, they’ll have some awake time and then you do their bedtime routine and put them to bed when their wake window is over. Wake window is just the time that they’re awake literally when they wake up to when you put them down. That is their wake window. So that is inclusive of their feeding and their playtime. Oh, my hair dog in the background. Sorry, I’m not editing that out. Anyway, this babywise routine might work a little better for older babies, but in reality, it is a little bit flawed. So think about it. Have you ever gone to sleep on an empty stomach? It is so hard. Now we are adults, right? And we can kind of force ourselves to go to sleep on an empty stomach. But it really does take some effort like I don’t know about you. But if I’m hungry, and I’m going to sleep, I really have to like think about something else. I’ll usually like put a podcast into my ear and fall asleep do a podcast or something. But think about your baby. Have you tried to put them down when they’re a little bit hungry. All they know is that they’re hungry and you’re not feeding them, period. That’s all that they’re thinking. So while the eat play sleep routine is great. In theory, it just doesn’t work for most babies, especially breastfed babies. Since a breast milk is more quickly and easily digested than formula formula kind of sits in there Tell me a little bit longer. But even still, this doesn’t really work for most babies in general. Now, when my daughter was a baby, I read all books, including baby wise. And I was really drawn to baby wise like the simple, straightforward and predictable routine of eat play. Sleep was so appealing to me. So I tried really hard to get my daughter to do it. I was so exhausted from her just eating whenever with no predictability to it. I basically had her on my boob every like 30 to 60 minutes, and it was just too much for me. So enter the eat play sleep routine. I put on my big girl pants, and I followed the books instructions to a tee. But still, our bedtime routine was an absolute nightmare. While I did the sequence of events like the same sequence of events, every single time I put her down to sleep, she would not go down without eating. I would fight it and fight it sometimes for hours at a time just trying to get her to go to sleep without eating again. And guess what?
Can you guess? Can you guess what I’m about to say? She wouldn’t go down without that top off. She needed a little snack in her belly to go to sleep. And like eventually Something happened in my brain. I don’t know like a light bulb went off. Maybe a rock hit me over the head, I’m not sure. But I realized that putting her down for a nap was infinitely easier when I let her fill up her belly before bedtime. So now fast forward to me working as a postpartum doula. I have had many, many clients who want their babies on a schedule and most of them were familiar with the baby rise babywise routine. And I would explain to them the benefits and the downfalls of their routine. But you know, ultimately, I have to respect my clients wishes. I’m not here to judge anybody. I’m here to do what you want to do what you think is best for families. So I’m going to follow whatever routine, my clients are trying to put their baby on, and help. Just like my daughter, most of these babies wouldn’t go down to sleep without having a little snack. First, they would fight me and fight me. And after a super valiant effort on my part, I should say, I would eventually cave and I’d give them some food and then boom, surprise, they would go down to sleep. Now, the only babies I’ve been able to get on the baby wise routine, like a strict routine were formula fed babies. And even still, sometimes they would want like an ounce or two before they would actually fall asleep for me. So what I’ve learned as a mom, and postpartum doula is that the baby wise routine is a little bit flawed, but we can modify it to work in to work in our favor, and get that predictable routine that we are all craving as moms. So my modified routine is the eat play snack asleep routine. This is what’s most natural for your baby. And I promise you, your bedtime routine will go a lot smoother. If you let your baby have a quick top off of milk before you put them to bed. So with this eat, play sleep snack routine. It’s kind of a mouthful, but trust me, you’re going to give your baby like five to 10 minutes to fully wake up from their nap. And you’re going to let them feel the hunger for a minute. Now, if your baby wakes up, and they are like ready to eat, don’t wait. But if they’re just kind of looking around, they’re still waking up. Let them have that five to 10 minutes to really wake up and realize that they’re hungry and be ready for a feeding. And then comes the main feeding. So try your best to make sure that your baby eats to like full satisfaction we want their belly to really be full, so that they can have a nice week window and not be like on you every 15 minutes and off and on. And yeah, so this means if your baby is like a lazy sucker or falls asleep on the job, you need to encourage them to eat by doing things like tickling under their chin to keep them sucking. keep them awake by like tickling their back, you can talk to them you can stroke their face or stroke the bottoms of their feet. I mean, you can even strip them down to their diaper if you need to. My baby was almost always naked when I was feeding her. After your baby eats comes playtime. So to get the most out of your baby’s awake window, which, again, the week window is literally just the time that they’re awake in between their naps. You’ll want them to get in a bit of a workout. So do your best to stimulate your baby while they’re up. read to them. Give them some time to wiggle or roll around on a blanket or play mat. If you have like a baby gym, stick them under there and let them kick and bat the stuff. If your baby’s a little bit older, you can stick them in like a little playpen contained area that’s baby proven, just let them have fun in there. If you can give them time to move without being strapped into something that’s going to restrict their movement like a walker or a bouncer, then they’re going to get a better workout. And they’re going to become stronger faster, which aids in their development. If your baby doesn’t want to be left alone, like having a particularly fussy day, or whatever the case, they want you to hold them, you can always pop them in a babywearing carrier so that you can get some things done while they’re stimulated by your voice. And by watching you move around the house. While it does restrict their movement a little bit it is much better than you having to just sit there and hold them and get nothing done because your hands are full literally. Now whenever you baby where I want you to narrate whatever you’re doing to your baby. So this helps them learn about their environment, they’re going to gain some language skills or gain some head control some neck control, because they’re going to be looking around the room because babies have serious FOMO and they want to know what is going on at all times.
Now, after you feel like you’ve had a little bit of a wake window or even still always, always be watching for your baby sleep cues. If your baby keeps like putting their mouth until like an O shape, or they’re literally yawning or maybe they seem a little bit fussy, even though their basic needs are met. Typically they’re they’re just getting like overstimulated because they’re tired. This means that it’s time to get them settled down for a nap. When you put them down for a nap, do the exact same thing every single time. And this is your bedtime routine is going to signal to your baby, that this sequence of events means that we are going to go to sleep and so it’s a routine right? It’s not strict, but routines are a good way to foster your baby’s development and especially a sleep routine a bedtime routine. It’s just establishing healthy sleep habits early on, which is what we this is what we want, right. So I’ll give you an example of a great bed. Time your team. First, tell your baby that it is time for a nap. I am a huge advocate for narrating whatever you’re doing with your baby. I always talk to babies like they understand exactly what I’m saying. They are so much smarter than you might think. And they really do pick up on things that we say very quickly. So while they can’t talk back to you, they might start to understand that the things that you say or if they recognize that you’re saying the same things over and over again, during specific events, they can make those connections. Next, make the room dark and turn on some white noise. Yes, it is okay to darken the room for daytime naps. Doing this is not going to make us mix up your babies days and nights. It’s just going to help them sleep better. Okay, so save yourself some stress and make it dark. Don’t try and buy them to hell when it’s bright. Can you go to sleep when it’s bright? No, at least make it a little bit darker. Doesn’t have to be blackout curtains. If your baby likes blackout curtains, get them but just make it a little bit darker. Next, give your baby a little snack. So if you’re nursing, pop them on the boob. If you’re bottle feeding, prepare a little less than you normally would for like a full feeding. You can always add more milk to the bottle if they’re especially hungry before their nap. After they’re fed, you burp them. And this is an important step do not skip it, you must burp them, or they’re gonna wake up in a few minutes crying because they have gas pains. Next, change their diaper. Before you change their diaper, you might want to do like a quick little belly massage and some bicycle kicks to make sure that they’re really all cleared out before you put the fresh diaper on because nobody likes to get your baby all changed and dressed and swaddled only for them to immediately poop after you’ve got them all cozy and snug. It’s really not fun. It’s quite annoying, especially when you’re tired. Or you have other things to do. You’re just like, Oh, I don’t have time for this right now. So try and get them to poop before he put the diaper on. Or even just get some gas out whatever. Next, you can apply some lavender scented lotion, and that’s going to help them associate that scent with bedtime and lavender is is really relaxing. Anyways, I really love the Burt’s Bees nighttime lotion, it always helps call my daughter down and my clients have really loved it to dress your baby backup and their outfit. It might be a good idea to like put some socks on them to make sure that they’re nice and warm. Once they’re dressed, put them in their swaddle. And if they didn’t give you a good birth before, this is your final chance to try it again. Now it’s time to soothe your baby. So you can rock your baby sway with them until they fall asleep. And if your baby does take a pacifier and prefers to have it to go to sleep, then let them have it. I like to take the path of least resistance because that is the path of least stress, right? If your baby needs to be rocked with the passive AR in their mouth to be most comfortable, than that is exactly what I would do. Watch your baby to see when they’re fully asleep. I always wait until their eyes close. Then I wait again until I hear them do like a big sigh. That sigh is a pretty good indicator that they’re out. It’s kind of like a I hope you could hear that. Now, once you think that your baby is fully asleep, give them another minute or two before you transition them from your arms to their bed. Trust me, you want to make sure that they are really out before you do this transition. Or you’ll have the hardest time because you have to just sue them all over again and start the process over again.
If you have one of those unicorn babies that can actually go to sleep by themselves. Put them down when they’re drowsy, but not awake or fully asleep. That is a whole other thing that maybe we’ll talk about another day. But typically I get babies to take great naps by getting them to sleep. Let them sleep for a minute or two and then I gently transition them to their bed. Now when you transition them into the bed, go really, really slowly. I mean, imagine that your body is a big pile of goo and ooze as you put them down. It sounds weird, but it works. If they’re upright, slowly reclined them onto their back and then ooze them on to their bed. As you lay them down, put one hand on their chest to prevent them from stirring. So you’ll probably have like, you have a hand under their butt and hand under their head, put their butt down first take your hand out. You still have a hand under their head, right? Take your hand out from under their butt and put that hand on to their chest. Then you lay down their head, take that hand out and now you have one hand on their chest. And slowly lift up one finger at a time, until you can gently just remove the palm of your hand from their chest, and voila, your baby should be fast asleep. When they wake up, you just start the routine over again, eat play snack sleep, it’s really easy once you get the hang of it. Now, if you’re like me, and you’re obsessed with tracking your baby’s habits, there are a few really great apps that you can use for this. So the first one that I really like, is wonder weeks. This app is awesome, because it tells you when your baby is going through a mental leap. And it tells you what kinds of behaviors to expect from your baby and how to handle them. It really saved my sanity many, many times. Next is baby tracker. This app lets you log everything from feedings, diapers to sleep, it is so great, because you can sync it across multiple devices. So all your baby’s caretakers can contribute and be in the loop. I like to use this to get an idea of your baby’s natural patterns. And then I go in and I make adjustments and tweak the routine based on the data that is logged in the app. And then the last app that I’ll recommend is called playfully, if you’re ever unsure of what to do with your baby during their awake time, this app is full of age appropriate activity ideas that will help you. It’ll help your baby reach their milestones. So it’s always based on whatever skills your babies probably like working on. Based on their age. It’s so great. Plus, you can track their milestones in that app. And it’s it’s just so much fun. I will link to those apps in the show notes so that you can get them on Google Play or Android. Yeah, hopefully remember to do that. If I don’t, you can just look them up. Anyways, that is all that I have for you guys today. I hope this was helpful. And if you have any questions or you want to reach out, let me know how great this worked for you. Send me a DM on Instagram. At Angel dot Swan SW o n. And yeah, that’s it you guys. I’ll see you next week. Bye. Bye. Thank you so much for listening to the better postpartum podcast. Here’s what I want you to do next. If you loved what you heard today, Would you do me a giant favor and leave me a written five star review. Those little love notes that you leave are the perfect way to thank me for putting out these episodes just for you. Seriously, it would mean the world to me. Next, take a screenshot of the episode you’re listening to right now and share it on your Instagram stories and make sure you tag me at Angel dot swan. That’s SW o n so that more moms can find this podcast and hopefully get the advice and encouragement they need to truly thrive with their babies. And don’t forget to come back every single week for more nuggets of wisdom and truth bombs about the early motherhood journey. I’ll talk to you next time. Bye bye