Make Like a Zombie and Sleep Train the Baby

Today on the blog – in conjunction with Touro Infirmary – we are absolutely thrilled to be opening a dialog about sleep through our “Rest Assured: You Are Not Alone” series. As moms we are all often sleep deprived, and we struggle with making decisions around our children’s sleep habits as well. Should we use a crib or a bassinet? Is co-sleeping safe or not? Should we sleep train? And who IS the expert on sleep training anyway? Will the baby ever sleep more than 2 hours at a time? Why does my toddler have night terrors? When do I move the toddler to a “big kid” bed and oh my word why won’t they stay in the darn thing? Our goal through this series is to create a safe place for all of us to open up about the sleep issues that trouble us and to acknowledge that no matter our struggles or choices, we are never ever alone.

Make Like a Zombie and Sleep Train the Baby

When Jude was born, I was blissfully clueless.  It was nice, but there’s a bunch of sh*t someone should have told me. I knew lack of sleep was on the horizon, but I had no idea how little sleep we would actually get. I heard how much newborns sleep, so I figured I could get in some shut eye when he did. The motto “sleep when the baby sleeps” did not always pan out for me. I always felt like I had so much to do by the time he napped and when I did try to nap it was restless. I sought out advice from friends and settled on two books: Happiest Baby on the Block and On Becoming Baby Wise. I read both and adapted methods from each book to keep Jude happy and work towards a full night’s rest. Both methods are routine-oriented, so they worked well together.


After a rushed but relatively easy delivery, I prepared for the road ahead. Like many newborns, he was gassy and cranky early on. On top of having to watch what I ate, including cutting out dairy, nursing was a rough road too. To preserve my sanity, we tried the Five S’s System described in Happiest Baby. These are shushing, swaying, swaddling, side lying and sucking. This method was a God send for Jude. The idea behind Happiest Baby is that you try to create a ‘4th trimester.’ The environment babies are born into is vastly different from the womb and takes some adjusting. I’d hoped to have a baby who was easy and just slept but that was not the case. We used a sleep sheep and an oscillating fan from the beginning, as the world can be a very quiet place for newborns (compared to the womb) and therefore difficult to sleep. If he was nursing, he was generally happy. When he wasn’t nursing, he was tightly swaddled thanks to a great lesson from my sister in law, a NICU nurse. When holding him, we would ‘shush’ very loudly if he was fussy. It seems excessive at first but it really helps. At the same time, we would position him on his side, sway and give him a pacifier. Used as a complete system, it really calmed him down. The Parenting Center at Children’s Hospital has classes available on Happiest Baby.

Jude swaddled on sideWe also followed Baby Wise with Jude, implementing the ‘eat, wake, sleep’ routine and feeding every 3 hours. The basic idea is that you ensure the baby stays awake during feedings, not only to get a full feeding but also so they do not become dependent on feeding to go to sleep. After feeding would be ‘wake’ time, talking and playing with him. Then we would wind down in a dark room (also suggested in Happiest Baby) and lay him down drowsy, but awake. It took some time, but after a month or so he had a good pattern. We hoped he would naturally fall into a sleep pattern where he slept for longer stretches, but alas, he did not. At 12 weeks, we decided to sleep train, also known as cry it out. My husband was the enforcer on this one, as I cried along with Jude. We would go to him every 15 minutes and reassure him but not pick him up. After three nights, he was sleeping all night. He’s been sleeping 8 pm-7:30 am ever since. This saved my sanity and restored me from my zombie like state. recently moved him to a ‘big boy bed’ with rails and he did GREAT. Never gets out, always calls for us first, and still sleeps all night.

We found that combining elements of these methods worked best for us, and I plan to use them again for baby number two, expected to make his debut April 26. If you’re searching for something to try, I would recommend these two books. Ultimately, you make the decision that’s best for you and your baby.

Did any of you use these methods with success? Or find that they didn’t work for your family?


  1. Angelina, I love that we both did the same thing. It will work for # 2! Those two books saved our sanity and I want all new moms to read them! Great post!

  2. The AAP specifically recommends not using Babywise, since the methods it teaches have been associated with failure to thrive. I will find it hard to recommend NOMB to new moms if you are going to stand behind using methods that are expressly warned against by the AAP.

    • While I am not the author of the above post, thank you for your comment. We are aware of the “failure to thrive” concerns published in 1998 ( re: Babywise and we appreciate your comment. Please know that this series is a set of perspectives that our writers bravely shared, and we will always recommend that every mom does what she believes best for her family or baby. The concerns from the AAP – to our understanding after talking with different pediatricians – are around nourishment/feeding (i.e. not feeding a hungry baby which leads to dehydration), not sleep. In the above piece, we don’t see anywhere that Angelina suggests anything that would be harmful as it relates to feeding. This series was meant for each writer to share their own unique perspective on what worked for their family as it relates to sleep specifically, and Angelina’s family chose to blend Happiest Baby with Babywise and modify those approaches into what worked for them. We respect her choices, as we respect the choices of all moms, and we always welcome comments that are different from what our writers may choose to pursue (i.e. some moms vaccinate, some don’t, some EBF and some use formula, some co-sleep, some babywear, etc and there are always multiple perspectives on what is best and/or medically advisable). We agree that baby safety is paramount, and we have an entire category dedicated to it for that reason, which we hope shows our ultimate goal of balancing a variety of viewpoints and perspectives with what the average person would consider safe:

  3. Thanks for your response. While she only mentioned feeding in a cursory manner, Babywise teaches a system in which each component is necessary for the whole to work. If the sleep part worked, the feeding part was very likely in full effect as well. Even if it wasn’t that way, a new mom doesn’t know the difference and takes this as endorsed by NOMB. I appreciate your openness to all moms, but some approaches are simply dangerous. You have a lot of power with this blog and new moms especially look to you for advice and ideas about how to navigate this crazy job of motherhood. If you advocate for a system like Babywise, new moms might see that and think that it is safe, assuming that you would never support something the AAP so soundly denounced. I think you need to take a stand and say that even though you may not judge Angelina for her parenting decisions, you won’t publish them and mislead others.

    • We totally respect where you are coming from. At the same time, we are 16 moms plus guest bloggers (we actually invite guest bloggers all the time – if you’d like to submit a post re: “the case against Babywise,” we’d gladly accept it and review it for publication). It is a super slippery slope to say that we, collectively as a whole, advocate for any one thing when it comes to parenting. Rather, we are a place for moms to express a variety of viewpoints and approaches. If one mom writes about nursing her toddler and another writes about strongly disliking breastfeeding (both of which have appeared here), that isn’t to say that we specifically advocate for either. It just means we’ve created a place for both perspectives to be voiced and published. Angelina even specifically says, “Ultimately, you make the decision that’s best for you and your baby” which sums it up the best. We’d really encourage you to submit a piece to us, as publishing another perspective would ultimately be way more powerful than us deleting a post, for example.

  4. I just reread the post, and she does mention scheduling feeds for her newborn. This is exactly what leads to failure to thrive. This is dangerous. It is widely accepted that we should feed our newborns on demand. To support what Angelina is describing in this blog piece flies in the face of your purported interest in the safety of babies. Secondly, sleep training is not recommended until 4 months at the earliest. Here is another example where I implore you to not advocate Angelina’s approach. While I am absolutely sure that Angelina meant no harm, she was clearly not educated on the risks associated with her choices. But, you as a group, are aware of these risks but continue to leave this post up to mislead trusting moms who look to you for advice.

    • We mean it sincerely when we say that we would gladly consider a piece voicing your concerns. If you’d like to write it, please submit to to elizabeth at neworleansmomsblog dot com and we would be honored to review it.

      Please understand that there are a million “hot topics” out there; another one might be vaccinations. Some moms vaccinate, some moms choose not to, and others implement a delayed schedule. In that situation, who is “right?” We welcome opinions, stories and perspectives from ALL of those moms even though any one mom’s decision might go against what any one of us individually would do. Again, we’d love to turn your thoughts into a post, if you would like. That is the most powerful platform we can provide you for your concerns.

  5. I sent my last message before I saw your response.
    I appreciate the challenge you face. I will argue that telling the story of success with a method denounced by the AAP is different than a parent choosing between extended breastfeeding or weaning. I didn’t want to make this extreme comparison, but here goes: if a mom wrote a post about starving or beating her child and then wanted to share what she considered a good outcome, would you publish that? I know the answer has to be no. Or if a mom put her child in a dark room and never let the child out? That’s not a viable choice, even if a mom who took the time to write a post about using that method. Now, I am not saying that this is what Angelina did, but this is where the slippery slope is, not where you suggest it is. If you use “things the AAP says are acceptable vs those they denounce” as your baseline for what to allow posts about, things are pretty black and white.

  6. Last thing (I keep posting at the same time you are): I feel like the whole anti-Babywise post is, “Babywise was denounced by the AAP.” Who wants to read that? And despite this string of posts, I really didn’t mean to do a point by point rebuttal of Angelina’s methods. I’m sure she wanted to do what was best for her family. I just don’t think NOMB should advocate it.

    • Amanda captured my thoughts exactly with her response. I would also be interested to see what AAP states now, as the book has been revised since 1998. As Ashley explained, NOMB does not advocate any specific method. We were asked to share our stories, so I did. I blended Baby wise with Happiest Baby and at no point did I not feed Jude when hungry. I breastfed the first hour of life, I nursed as the lactation consultant recommended and he had all the wet and stool diapers as expected (which was the same as Baby wise as Amanda noted). My pediatrician was on board with our method as well as our decision to sleep train at 12 weeks. We used this more as a schedule and a guideline, not a stringent rule. I was as first time mom; however, I was not uneducated as suggested. My sister in law is a NICU nurse, my husband is an anesthesia nurse and a friend of ours is a pediatrician. They were consulted as well as my child’s pediatrician. I am aware of the concerns with Baby Wise and I nor NOMB is advocating that parents follow this method. We simply share our stories. I would encourage you to submit a guest post for review if you feel this strongly about it.

  7. I have read the comments and have the following to add to this discussion:
    First, it is not entirely accurate to describe this post as scheduled feedings. In reality, Angelina only said that “We also followed Baby Wise with Jude, implementing the ‘eat, wake, sleep’ routine and feeding every 3 hours.” I am going to assume that is the “schedule” referred to above. Such a statement assumes that the 3 hour feedings were done by some deliberate act on the part of Angelina and/or her husband. Angelina did not once say she withheld nutrition from her baby until the clock indicated 3 hours had lapsed. A lot of babies fall into a natural schedule on their own when you follow the eat, wake sleep pattern through no intervention of the parents. I think to label this post as dangerous really overlooks the post and interjects the commenters own personal beliefs into the article.

    It is not widely accepted to feed all babies on demand past a certain point. Babywise encourages mothers for the first few weeks of life to do just that, but there comes a point when offering milk at every whimper is not the solution for every child. There are very few absolutes in parenting.

    Second, I would be interested to know if the author of this comment has actually read babywise? I have. I also would like to know if the AAP has since commented on the book after their 1998 stance re: On Becoming Babywise? If so, please forward me their opinion because I know the book has been edited several times to comply with AAP guidelines.

    I read the book and used it and the principles from “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding” for both of my babies. I EBF my first child for over a year and am currently EBF my second child who is almost 10 months old. They both slept through the night before 3 months of age. I give lots of credit to the tips in Babywise for that.

    AAP Recommends: breastfeeding within first hour or so after delivery (
    Babywise Recommends: SAME (Page 88, 4th Edition)

    AAP Recommends: Baby will pass his first stool usually within 24 hours of life, meconium. By the fourth or fifth day, baby should have 3-5 soft or liquid yellow stools which is a healthy sign that baby is getting enough nutrition. (
    Babywise: SAME (Page 89, 4th edition)

    AAP: baby should nurse minimum of 8 times per 24 hours (
    Babywise: SAME (page 89, 4th Edition)

    There are many more. The point is that the book uses the same healthy growth indicators as the AAP. I know of so many people who have used the principles of this book and do not have children with failure to thrive, dehydration etc. The principles, when applied as laid out in the book, will not result in that. As the parent, it is your job to constantly monitor your child’s growth and health and if you are ignoring all the signs pointed out as warning signs by the book, well I am not sure that anyone but the parent is to blame for that. My children did well with the routine and were both in the 90th percentiles until they began to move. I am very proud to be a part of this group of mothers who have all elected different paths of parenting with one ultimate goal: doing what is best for our families.

  8. The thing about loving and rearing a child is that we all find our own way.. Nice to see such support from this blog in support of their bloggers… We all have opinions… Just need to be mindful of comments… Enjoy reading


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