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On Becoming Babywise: Giving Your Infant the Gift of Nighttime Sleep

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Distinguished pediatrician Dr Robert Bucknam, M.D. and co-author Gary Ezzo are two of the world's leading experts on baby sleep and feeding patterns. Millions of new mothers across the globe are coming toward this new brand at an increasing pace as they find and share the life changing success they are achieving with their newborns. This updated Anniversary edition celebrates 25 years with Bucknam and Ezzo's groundbreaking approach which has found favor with over six million parents in all 50 states and has been translated into 20 languages around the world.
For 25 years, On Becoming Babywise has been the de facto newborn parenting manual for naturally synchronizing your baby's feeding time, waketime and nighttime sleep cycles, so the whole family can sleep through the night.
In his 28th year as a licensed Pediatrician, Dr. Robert Bucknam, M.D. along with co-author Gary Ezzo, demonstrate how order and stability are mutual allies of every newborn's metabolism.

223 pages, Hardcover

Published September 15, 2017

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 98 reviews
Profile Image for Annie Chen.
29 reviews9 followers
August 11, 2018
This book needs a good editor. It may have five-star content (won’t know till I try it), but I’d give it one star for the organization (hence the average 3 stars I’m listing). I don’t understand the raving reviews and frequent suggestions. I have a hard time understanding this book because the ordering of topics seems super scatterbrained. For example, a few chapters in, even after reading about all the supposed benefits of Parent-Directed Feeding, I still had no idea what that term entails. Also, I wasn’t sure whether many things (such as the merges) they describe are to be expected to take place naturally, or as a result of some proactive move. And when the baby cries, do I pick him up or not? The book seems to offer inconsistent advice on this and much more. It wasn’t till toward the end that I read you’re not supposed to do “sleep training” in the first four weeks. Wait, then what were the earlier chapters all about? Maybe this book will make more sense when I start putting it to practice, and maybe I would update my review then, but for now it has honestly confused more than prepared me as a mom-to-be...
Profile Image for Taylor.
121 reviews13 followers
October 25, 2021
This was probably my 5th time reading Babywise in the past two years. There's such an abundance of information about caring for infants that when I had my first baby, I appreciated the clear directions and boundaries presented in this material and the clear path forward it made for me. The parent-focused philosophies, while uncomfortable for some, are a great fit for my family and have saved me a lot of sanity. We are lucky to attend Dr. Bucknam's pediatric practice and I have a lot of respect for him and his heart for families.

I'm writing this review after a long night with my 2 week old, so sorry not sorry for the terrible grammar 😂
Profile Image for Michelle Martineau .
140 reviews1 follower
August 10, 2020
Wanted to like it because Dr. Bucknam was my pediatrician! Good general information about scheduling your day, feedings, etc. But I feel like there are a lot of flaws in the ideas-what if my baby didn’t feed in that prescribed manner due to nursing struggles? What do you do when baby has short naps and you can’t follow the perfect “wake-feed-play-sleep” pattern (which doesn’t quite make sense since you won’t be doing that overnight). They make it sound like babies so easily merge their feedings, which has not happened for me despite my work to schedule his feedings. He eats every 3 hours like clockwork unless he randomly sleeps a longer stretch. No info or tips telling how to help your baby merge, just the vague message that the baby will magically do it. Possibly a good book if your baby can robotically catch on and follow these ideas from birth, but a lot that didn’t work for me getting a baby to do PDF a few months “late.” And for being a sleep book, it didn’t help my baby’s sleep. Just because the baby’s feeding at regular times does not mean sleep is suddenly solved.
Profile Image for Faye Zheng.
144 reviews8 followers
August 7, 2020
Too structured for me to want to try. It’s mostly a matter of philosophy. I’d rather err more on following baby’s cues. One good tip I will follow is to make every feed a full feed, instead of snacking - doing this has already promoted longer, more restorative naps.
Profile Image for Valen Warner.
77 reviews1 follower
December 31, 2022
The sleep training methods described here seem helpful and balanced. Many parents I know swear by them. Now to wait and see if they actually work! 😅
68 reviews
March 16, 2023
Concise, many tips on lots of different baby-related issues from sleep schedules to common causes of pain. Seems logical in its advice. I'll see in a few weeks whether it is as helpful as it seems.
Profile Image for Ayat Al Bloushi.
32 reviews11 followers
March 9, 2018
I can't evaluate it, unless I set it into practice. But, overall, it was a useful reading.
Profile Image for Hannah Jayne.
168 reviews6 followers
May 25, 2021
nothing about the plan seemed rigid and exact, it sounded like “here’s a basic guideline, here’s a lot of ways things can fluctuate, try your best it’s okay”

which makes sense to me. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

they specifically started out saying, the babywise philosophy of feeding/sleeping/scheduling is contrary to both a strict-clocked-schedule and immediately-cater-to-any-and-all-of-your-child’s-cues. babywise’s parent-directed-feeding is instead, this is the general optimal schedule for growth, be flexible and use your discernment on when you should deviate from it. (and here’s like, a hundred different contexts to help you choose what to do should something seem wrong.)

as someone without a child yet, some form of structure and general guide as to what is expected of a baby and normative growth and behavior is nice to know. different issues and different ways to handle them and knowing better when to seek professional help or advice is nice to know too.

the very first chapter’s advice of maintaining a good relationship with your spouse will set you up to be better parents was unexpected but also sounds true and important to me. a good reminder.

seemed like a decent book. informational, probably helpful when you have a baby, logical sounding life-advice, very self-promotional and insistent of how well their methodology works.
Profile Image for Amanda.
158 reviews1 follower
April 18, 2023
While this may have been a better book to read as a first time parent, skimming chapter and reading others was a good reminder this time around. I appreciated that the author took the whole first chapter to discuss the importance of marriage and the husband and wife relationship before even getting to baby care. The parent directed feeding method makes sense, but could be presented clearer with more than just facts about why it works, but how to make it work for your baby. I found the chapter in actually implementing it and the schedules not easy to think about applying in real life. A lot of the information in this book is circulated for free on Instagram sleep accounts, mom Facebook groups, and YouTube. However it was nice to read it all presented together and theories behind it.
Profile Image for Mackenzie Hulsey.
52 reviews48 followers
February 28, 2023
I think this book has really great information. I feel like it was a little redundant but at the same time had so much info that I need to reread it so I can take better notes in the margins to know what I’m looking for and where to find it. We’ll see if we can figure it out once baby comes and hopefully we’ll all be sleeping a lot better/sooner than we did with our first baby.
19 reviews
February 10, 2021
I found the PDF approach to be very middle of the road between two more extreme parenting philosophies. I really appreciate the moderation and science behind this approach. I also really enjoyed the historical contexts provided.
302 reviews8 followers
May 25, 2021
Was curious how this book compared to advice on takingcarababies and a couple other books. Very similar. This book recommends crying out a bit earlier than takingcarababies. It’s all good information.
Profile Image for Santi Ruiz.
47 reviews30 followers
May 27, 2023
All of these books have roughly the same advice, but that doesn't make them bad. The basic idea is that falling asleep by yourself is a skill babies have to learn, and that you have to teach. So:

- no feeding to sleep (don't teach them that they need to eat in order to fall asleep)
- put them to bed sleepy but don't let them fall asleep in your arms regularly
- give them a chance to self-soothe/put themselves back to sleep
- when comforting them at night, don't pick them up unless absolutely necessary

etc etc. All very practically helpful, if not revolutionary. I guess it would be weird if it was revolutionary.
Profile Image for Jonathan.
146 reviews
August 19, 2020
A Google search returns a bunch of blanket dismissals of this, but it just seems like a collection of generic childcare advice with some eyebrow raising extreme sleep schedules that can be ignored.
Profile Image for Becca Garber.
363 reviews24 followers
July 19, 2021
Made a lot more sense and was less terrifying than I thought. I’d recommend it for any new parent, and even seasoned ones will find a lot of wisdom in it to understand their baby better. I was surprised to learn that at least 1/2 of it is just general baby advice (nursing, troubleshooting, colic, etc), and the sections about encouraging a 3-hour schedule are only part of the whole book.

Now trying to put some of its wise principles into practice! Wish us luck…
Profile Image for Marjorie.
43 reviews
November 21, 2020
The early chapters feel limited to traditional mother-father families, but I thought this was really helpful in getting into the right mindset. I quickly suggested my husband also read it so that we could be on the same page with the baby’s schedule, etc.
Profile Image for Mondakranta.
12 reviews16 followers
March 15, 2023
I feel compelled to write about my experience with this book.
Because after all, I am enjoying a much better parenting experience after using some of the techniques (will go in-depth on which ones).

The key to using this book is to take what you want and discard what isn’t you. Just like any self-help book, of which I read many, not every piece of advice is sound/practical/scientific/etc. You’ll have to discern for yourself for your own unique baby. I know - if only there was an end to this guessing game.

Anyway, this is what I followed that worked for me:

1. Feed-Wake-Sleep cycle: I just followed this sequence at best as I could. No adherence to the clock. Just feed the baby, do a waketime activity of choice, and try to soothe them to sleep.

This opened up a whole new world of waketime activities I was missing. It was so heartwarming to see my baby lift his tiny hand to play with his play gym toys or when he first kicked a dangling ball or when he enjoyed all the sights and sounds of a walk.

Personally, the most tricky part was the sleep portion. I don’t believe in letting my baby soothe themselves to sleep as I feel they’re much too young. I have the time and help to help my baby go to sleep. So I opted to soothe him every time. The tricky part was that often he’d wake up after being put down for a nap in 20-30 mins - much too short. I got really anxious the first few days because I assumed that something is wrong with my baby. I thought that every baby will sleep as per the defined cycle in the book. I couldn’t be more wrong. 
What I followed for some peace of mind here: Put baby to nap in my cloth carrier (neck stability needed here). Or put him down in the crib after he’s asleep. If he wakes up, do a mild activity like a slow walk ie not too stimulating. Till he asks for his next feed or it’s time.

2. Not jumping to rescue at each night movement: This was life changing. Babies have light sleep with lots of movements and even sleep talk/cry. Just wait a bit to see if they’re really awake. I’ve found that most times he was just dreaming.

3. Tracking his feed times: I didn’t wait for the time elapsed to be exactly 2.5 to 3 hours (for my 2-3 month-old baby). If he’s asking for his feed before, he’ll get it. What helped me was tracking when he was feeding and for how long. Sometimes if it’s just 1 hour since he last fed, I’ll also try holding him or checking his diaper first. Slowly this helped me in understanding his different cries (combined with some palm gestures). 
I’ve also learned that if he’s fed for a lesser duration say 15 mins in my case then it is v likely that he’ll be hungry sooner. I used the free features of this app called huckleberry to track.

4. Following a consistent routine: I’ve kept the wake-time activities pretty standard. So it’s a walk after the first feed, play gym after the second, and so on. I really believe we’re creatures of habit and crave routine. After following a consistent routine, I feel more sorted every day. I don’t have to think up new activities on the spot after every feed. And It’s been miraculous to see my baby also adapt gradually to this routine and ultimately sleep longer stretches at night.

1. My baby hasn’t slept through the night but sleeps 4-7 hours - every night varies. This in itself is a big change for me personally.
2. He is less fussy as we’re able to identify his cries better.
3. He is getting a variety of wake-time activities to help him develop.
4. I am able to predict when he’ll feed next (am exclusively breastfeeding). This helps me plan my day better.
5. I’ve learned that my baby loves being held and will sleep readily when done so. That’s become my personal sleep hack that I’ve only discovered after being involved with him in the way I am now.

Hope this helps you.
Profile Image for Skye Staker.
236 reviews24 followers
August 16, 2021
Things I liked:

-at the beginning, this book teaches that lot of your child’s sense of security will come from your marriage and watching you have a positive relationship with your spouse. Also said to continue spending time with your spouse and have date nights etc. I agree with this and liked the emphasis on how important a healthy marriage is to a developing child within the family.

-it talked about how sleep is very important for children and that helping them get good sleep is a gift you can give to your child, which I agree with.

-they laid out a specific schedule for what your baby’s naps and feedings should look like and how spread apart they should be. While I don’t know how necessary it is to really keep a newborn on such a tight schedule, it was still helpful to know what this author’s sample schedule looked like because it gives a good baseline of how many feedings and your child will typically have in a day. Also, it was interesting to me because my newborn naturally is already pretty much doing this schedule on her own without me forcing it on her—particularly the late nighttime feeding and the middle of the night feeding are pretty much in sync surf the sample schedule the author lays out.

What I didn’t like:

-it doesn’t really tell you HOW to get your baby to fall asleep. It mostly just tells you how not to. Says to not nurse your baby to sleep, and to not use sleep props like rocking, songs or a stuffed animal etc. While the author claims to not be fully on board with the “cry it out method” he did talk about crying and how babies are going to be okay to cry up to like 1/2 hour. I didn’t find this super helpful and I didn’t really agree because I have found it really easy to nurse my newborn to sleep and don’t mind doing it. In fact, I enjoy these special times with her. Because the book didn’t really give ways to easily put your child to sleep or tips as to how to do so and basically says to just put the baby in the crib and walk away, letting her cry for quite a while if necessary.

(I’m not naive in thinking that babies should never ever cry, or that it’s even a possibility for babies to never cry at all—however, I’m not on board with leaving my newborn alone to cry it out and would prefer to minimize her discomfort by establishing a good bedtime routine with her which will probably include nursing, rocking, and snuggles that makes her happy/comfortable to go to sleep.)

-I also didn’t like that it kind of smack talked attachment parenting because I have decided that I am much more in line with that. (Attachment parenting (AP) is a parenting philosophy that proposes methods aiming to promote the attachment of parent and infant not only by maximal parental empathy and responsiveness but also by continuous bodily closeness and touch.)

-I didn’t like that it says not to nurse your baby on demand, or that it tried to claim that this was not good for babies.

Overall—this book had some good things about it and some good tips and ideas that I am happy to have learned. However, I don’t think that “sleep training” or the more rigid scheduling is right for me or my baby personally.
Profile Image for Nicole Corwin.
153 reviews
September 10, 2020
Great advice, poor organization. I’ve tried to go back and reference things but the book is difficult to navigate when you’re in a pinch. Also, while the majority of the Babywise method works for my family, I can see how some of this information could be controversial or come across as “mom-shaming”.
Profile Image for Dan Coats.
15 reviews5 followers
April 28, 2018
Reasonable parenting philosophy. Who is in charge? Who is leading who? Parent directing feeding/day management to give your child the gift of night time sleep. This was helpful for us.
Profile Image for Melissa Daly.
17 reviews7 followers
January 10, 2022
This book is so confusing, but maybe it’s because my baby isn’t born yet. Could also do with a language update to accommodate same-sex couples.
Profile Image for Alyssa.
37 reviews
July 22, 2022
"Eat, play, sleep" did not work for our baby or for our family. Our baby was fussy to begin with, and not feeding her to sleep made it unnecessarily difficult to put our baby down for naps. And I do fear that trying to get her to sleep instead of eat when she may have been hungry teaches her not to listen to her body's hunger cues.

Feeding to sleep is completely natural. If you are a breastfeeding mom, you probably know how relaxing it is to settle in bed with your little one when you're tired. Breastfeeding hormones help ME get back to sleep in the middle of the night, so I can easily understand why nursing makes babies sleepy too. When you feed upon waking and then make your baby stay awake after feeding, they learn to fight sleep.

When people say nursing to sleep is a bad habit, I think they mean if your baby has never fallen asleep any other way besides nursing. The more important skill, I think, is to teach your baby to fall asleep with a bottle and rocking from dad, not to prevent them from ever falling asleep nursing.

It is valuable to have books like this so that parents can understand the merits of different approaches to baby sleep and figure out what works for them. I just think it's important not to take any one book as gospel and make sure to read books at the other end of the spectrum. What did work for our family is the Possums approach. (The Discontented Little Baby Book).
Profile Image for Zack McCullough.
62 reviews2 followers
May 9, 2023
Great book for first time parents, but also for those who are having another child and want things to go smoother. The book answers a lot of questions that parents will have, but at the heart of the book is the schedule for feeding, waketime, and sleeping. The key to good sleep is good feeding. And with good sleep for baby, you have good sleep for parents, which leads to better interaction with baby. The schedule is modified every few weeks or so, with the ultimate goal of getting your child to sleep through the night as quickly as is possible for them to do so, while still getting the nutrients they need. According to the book, a baby can usually do this by about ten weeks old.
The book does get repetitive when reading it all the way through, but I imagine this is because the authors assumed most would not read it through, but jump around to different sections as issues arose. The book could also have more discussion of how premature birth affects the scheduling. There is one very brief mention of adding the number of weeks early to time estimations, but it is unclear if this applies to all time estimations or not. Considering the number of premature births, you would think there would be a section on this in the book.
Profile Image for Brittany.
9 reviews1 follower
September 6, 2022
After reading we noticed a handful of reviews arguing how “controversial” some of the content was. In our experience, it sounded as though those readers did not actually read the more current version(s) published — or — took the advice literally and did not adjust for their families needs alongside the recommendation of their own pediatrician.

Again, a fairly easy read…we picked it up during the first two weeks of life — desperate for guidance. Any / every book on babes & parenting should have a clear and distinct disclaimer “first 2-4 weeks: good luck! Lean on friends, family, the kindness of neighbors—this is hard, this phase will pass, there is nothing to do but hold on and keep your pediatrician’s office on speed dial”.

The book offered us context for care and how to think about a day’s schedule and the evolution of how that could progress (dropping a feeding, consolidating sleep). While a great intro for some concepts we did not follow this long-term.
Profile Image for Cherrie.
396 reviews1 follower
April 4, 2020
Writing tone is a little pretentious, especially the first couple chapters. Info is useful for first-time parents who are sleep-deprived and looking for answers. Some of the tips/info provided were quite vague - e.g. abnormal vs normal crying behavior. Spouse and I both read this book (rather quickly out of desperation) and decided we would adapt certain aspects of the sleep schedule that would work for our baby - authors should emphasize more that the schedule should be customized to each baby. The chapter on infant gear was absolutely not necessary and a bit outdated but I could see it’s use for first-time parents. Some of the tips in this books oscillated between addressing already-parents and to-be parents — somebody should re-edit this book to fix that and have a clear audience in mind.
Profile Image for Emily.
190 reviews3 followers
September 2, 2022
I feel like its a good reference for first-time parents like myself and getting your infant twins on a schedule sounds like the only way to hold onto any type of predictability and sanity throughout the day. It is hard to hear that you must adjust for gestational age when thinking about sleep milestones (aka: sleeping 7-8 hours during the night by weeks 7-10 means sleeping 7-8 hours during the night by weeks 13-16 when I take into account my 6-weeks-premature-twins)....like do I really have to go through 6 more weeks of this sleep deprivation, when other parents & babies are already sleeping great at night now? I digress... In addition to schedule and sleep info, the book covers a wide range of topics from baby gear, awake time activities, basic baby care, and more, and includes an index at the end to look up certain topics. Good reference to keep on hand.
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