My mother always says that when something seems too good to be true, it probably is!
So when a mom in the My Sleeping Baby Facebook community told me that she came across a book that claims to get her baby sleeping through the night by 12 weeks of age, I knew which book she was talking about.
The book “12 Hours by 12 Weeks” claims that if you follow their feeding and sleep schedule, your healthy 12-week old baby can learn to sleep 12 hours straight at night. Now, I really hate being the bearer of bad news, but I really don’t like this book. Most of the advice given over is, quite frankly, bad advice.
Have a listen as I explain WHY I don’t like the advice given in this book and what I recommend instead!
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Hey there, you’re listening to the, My Sleeping Baby podcast, which is all about baby and child sleep. I’m so excited to teach you how you can get your little ones sleeping so that you can sleep too and enjoy parenthood to its fullest. I’m Eva Klein, your resident’s sleep expert, mom of three, founder of the Sleep Bible online coaching program, and lover of all things sleep and motherhood. If you’re looking for tangible solutions for your little one sleep woes or you simply want to learn more, this podcast is for you. For more information, check out mysleepingbaby.com and you can follow me on Instagram and Facebook @mysleepingbaby.
Hi guys, all right. So I want to address a really common question that I’ve been getting from so many of my clients and my sleep Bible members, and that is my opinion on the book 12 hours by 12 weeks. So I don’t know if you guys have heard of this book. I’ve had a lot of people asking me about this or referencing the book when it comes to some of my recommendations saying, Oh, well, I read in the book 12 hours by 12 weeks that the author wants me to do XYZ. And so I just wanted, I took a look at the book and I researched it more. And I wanted to address, I guess, certain concerns that I have about this book and the recommendations in it, because don’t get me wrong. If we can get a baby sleeping 12 hours by 12 weeks of age consistently across the board.
I mean, gosh, that sounds fantastic. I mean, I, I would be the biggest cheerleader if that was actually possible. And I want to emphasize that sometimes with some babies, it is possible. I mean, I’m sure that some of you listening to this have had a baby or a little one that by two, three months of age, or maybe even by three and a half to four months of age, they were sleeping 12 hours straight consistently. It definitely happens. But I wanted to address two really big concerns that I have with regards to the books recommendations. Because if the goal is to be able to get your little one sleeping as much as he or she possibly can. I don’t think that these, that some of these recommendations are going to get you there. In fact, some of the books recommendations might actually backfire and get you worse off sleep than if you weren’t following these recommendations to begin with, which I know sounds a little bit shocking, but I want to delve into this so that you can understand where my concerns around this book are coming from.
So the very first thing that I want you to address is the author’s recommendation to space out your little babies feeds by four hours. And so that means that she wants you to feed your two to three month old baby four times a day, right? Because presumably your little one is waking up at, let’s say seven, eating at seven, eating again around 11, eating again around three, and then eating once more before going to bed around seven o’clock. So for daytime feeds, the reason why this author is recommending this is because she doesn’t want your baby snacking. She doesn’t want your baby taking down little, teeny tiny feeds, um, barely taking any calories down in each feed. She wants her baby to have spaced out feeds throughout the day so that when your little one eats, he can actually take down a full feed. And so I’ll tell you that, that philosophy, that reasoning, I do agree with we, if you want to be able to get your little one, to give you big stretches of sleep at night, then you want to make sure that she’s eating well during the day.
And if your little one is snacking eating every 60 to 90 minutes during daytime hours, then chances are, you’ve got a snacker on your hands. And she’s only going to be taking down small amounts of food during the day, which means that she’s going to be starving at nights. The problem with this particular recommendation of spreading feeds out by four hours is that it swings the pendulum too far to the other end of the spectrum. It’s just too extreme the other way. And as a result, it is likely going to backfire, feeding a baby every four hours during the day is something that might work for some bottle fed babies. So some bottle fed babies might not be hungry less than every four hours because when you’re feeding him a bottle and he’s taking down six to eight ounces of milk at one time, which is a really large amount of milk, then it’s only natural that he is not going to end up being hungry for another three and a half to four hours.
And that feeding schedule works beautifully. But what about the bottle fed baby? That doesn’t take down six to eight ounces at one time. What about that bottle fed baby that eats four ounces in a bottle three to five ounces at a time, and then is legitimately full. Guess what that baby is probably going to be hungry about three hours later and the whole notion of not feeding a legitimately hungry baby in the name of keeping him on this arbitrary schedule, that’s supposed to improve sleep. Just doesn’t sit well with me, right? I mean, if I’m hungry, I want to eat. If my baby is hungry, I’m going to feed my baby and feeding a bottle fed baby. Every three hours is just fine. It’s not going to get you a snacking problem. Like the book might, it might be employing the way that you could have a sacking problem if, say your baby was eating every 60 to 90 minutes.
So I think it’s just important to recognize that this type of suggestion for bottle fed babies is only going to work for the babies that are able to take down bigger bottles at one time and don’t get full on a smaller bottle. Now, when it comes to implementing this suggestion for breastfed babies, this is almost always going to be a disaster. And I mean this with no exaggeration and I’m almost positive that every single breastfeeding and lactation professional is going to agree with me on this one that feeding a three month old breastfed baby four times during the day is a recipe for a disaster because breastfed babies, usually 95% of the time, don’t have the ability to take down as many ounces in one feed. The way that a bottle fed baby can because eating from the breast is more work. And so it’s much more typical to see a breastfed baby, take down, say three to four ounces in a feed sometimes even a little bit less.
And so naturally that breastfed baby is going to likely be hungry two to three hours later. So just like what I was saying before, if that breastfed baby is hungry two to three hours later, it doesn’t mean that she wants to snack. It means that she wants another meal. And because these breastfed babies usually need to be eating more frequently. It’s only natural for her to be hungry at that point in time and stretching her out that four hour period is not going to allow her to take down more milk per feed because remember eating from the breast requires more energy. And usually no matter what the circumstances are, the breastfed babies, just not going to take down more than four to maybe, maybe maybe five ounces in a feed though, I’ll admit that that’s actually quite a lot. The average is probably more like three to four ounces.
And so with that recommendation for a breastfed baby, you know, what’s going to end up happening. You’re going to end up having a hungry baby at night, by the way, this applies to the bottle fed babies that need to be eating every three hours as well. You try stretching them out so that they eat only every four hours, but they only take down that three to four to five ounces of milk that they’re capable of taking down. They’re going to be hungrier at nighttime. And if you want your little one giving you the best stretch of sleep possible, then ensuring that they’re eating the most that they can be eating during the daytime is absolutely crucial on top of that with breastfed babies, this can really ends up backfiring because it can cause your supply to drop. Right? Remember that milk supply is based on a demand supply bought model, right?
So the more that your baby nurses, the more that you may be actively nurses for that matter, the better that your supply is going to be. And so when you’re only feeding a baby four times during the day, you have the potential for your supply to go down, which means that your baby’s going to end up getting less milk per feed during the day, causing her to be even hungrier at nighttime. And then it can end up really, really backfiring. So my suggestion, instead, if you want to be able to set your little baby up for the best wickedly, awesome sleep as possible, don’t follow these arbitrary feeding schedules. You want to be feeding your baby on demand. And what does that mean? Feeding your baby on demand does not mean that you’re letting him nurse or letting him snack on a bottle all day, every day.
That’s not what I mean when, I mean, is that when your baby needs to actively eat, because he’s hungry, you feed him. That’s really what it means. How often is that? Usually the case with a bottle fed baby every three to maybe four hours with a breastfed baby, every two to maybe three hours. Of course there are going to be exceptions to this, but remember that those are the exception, not the rule, not the vast majority that typically follow those patterns. So if you want your little one sleeping the best as he or she possibly can at nights, don’t stretch your little one’s feeds out to that four hour mark and less. You see that he is really legitimately not hungry. And I’m going to give my little one as a perfect example. I had my two month old baby sleeping, eight hours stretches of sleep.
By the time he was eight weeks old and he was exclusively breastfed at the time. Do you know how often he was nursing during the day? Every two to two and a half hours. And because I was nursing him every two to two and a half hours during the day, and I was giving him the opportunity to really chow down and take down as many calories as possible. It gave him the opportunity to be able to really sleep well for me at night. Of course, that was just one piece of the puzzle here. But if you’re wondering how an exclusively breastfed baby, isn’t going to be waking up hungry all night long at that age, that’s how now the second recommendation in this book that I want to discuss and ultimately debunk is the recommendation to have your three month old baby on a very strict set nap schedule.
Now, the reasoning behind this is because she wants your little one to nap well and not be overtired so that she can sleep better at night. And the philosophy behind it is actually correct, because I’ll tell you that over tiredness is a huge trigger, a huge cause of all kinds of unnecessary night wakings because you see when your little one doesn’t sleep well during the day and doesn’t sleep. When she needs to be sleeping, it causes cortisol to go up. Cortisol is a stress hormone that our bodies create when we become overtired. And so when we become overtired, our cortisol goes up and makes it much harder for us to fall asleep and stay asleep because we become wired. And so babies of all ages, especially the younger ones, tend to have really crummy, nighttime sleep when they’re just not sleeping enough during the day.
So daytime sleep is a huge piece of the puzzle. What I completely disagree with is her recommendations around what that daytime sleep should look like. She basically recommends ensuring that your three month old gives you a nice, beautiful two hour long nap in the morning, a nice longer nap in the afternoon. Maybe she gives you one more nap before bedtime. And then that’s what the day should look like. Here’s the reality. The reality is that most babies in that age range are not sleeping like that because they’re just not developmentally ready to be giving us these consistent monstrous two hour naps. I mean, gosh, I wish that was the case, but the reality is that 45 minute catnaps are often par for the course at this age. And my fear is that you’re going to read these recommendations in the book and make yourself crazy, trying to get your little baby to nap for that two hour period, and then ends up feeling like a failure when you’re following all of her recommendations to the T and only getting 45 minute catnaps.
I want to assure you that it’s not you. And it is just a reflection of your baby and your baby’s age and where she is at developmentally because catnaps are normal. And so what that means is that if your little one at three months is not giving you these monstrous two hour naps, then trying to get her through the day only napping twice or three times is going to get you an overtired baby. Because babies in this age range often can’t be up for very long before they need to go back to sleep. And especially if she’s only napping twice, I mean, I think the book says that that last third cat nap is optional. Then your baby’s going to be a wreck before bed. Some three month old babies need to nap up to five times a day because their naps are so short and unpredictable in order to ensure that they don’t get overtired.
So my recommendation, instead of making yourself absolutely nuts, trying to get your little one to sleep two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon, like a picture perfect schedule to make sure that you’re just putting your little one down when she needs to go down based on however long she can be up for also known as your little ones, wake windows or wake periods. If you are wondering how long your little one can be up for before she needs to go back to sleep because she got over tired. I I’ve got you covered here. I have a free download. That is basically my well-known sleep chart that has all my suggested, um, sleep totals and wake periods for babies of all ages. So it’ll really be able to guide you on approximately how long your little one can be up for before she needs to go back to sleep.
That should really be your main focus here. Don’t focus on getting your little young, teeny baby on a strict by the clock schedule that most babies under the age of five to six months are just not ready for at all. So to sum up, what are my feelings on the book 12 hours by 12 weeks? I’m sure you can tell that for the most part. I am just not a fan and it’s not because I am not a fan of getting babies sleeping 12 hours by 12 weeks. If that’s possible, I am all for it, but I am just not a fan of these recommendations because I don’t think that they work for the vast majority of babies. I think that for the vast majority, they actually ends up backfiring and causing sleep to be worse off. And I also think that that the reality is that most 12 week olds cannot get through the night sleeping, 12 hours straight, and that putting all this pressure on the readers, on these moms to be following through with all of these recommendations, only for it to end up backfiring for them to feel like a failure is just really a shame.
And so if you’ve read this book and you found that it did not work for your baby, recognize that that is normal, that it just means that your baby is a normal three month old baby. And that while the author may have had good reasoning behind her suggestions, that the suggestions in my opinion are just not the right ones to be following. So I hope that this was helpful, everyone. And once again, grab a free copy of my sleep chart that has all my suggested wake periods and sleep totals for babies of all ages, which is a much better way to guide you on your little one’s nap schedule and ultimately allowing you to maximize your little one’s sleep and maybe getting them sleeping 12 hours by 12 weeks. I hope you guys have a wonderful day. Take care.
Thank you so much for listening. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, leave a review and share this episode with a friend who can benefit from it. I also love hearing from my listeners. So feel free to DM me on Instagram @myseleepingbaby, or send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org until next time have a wonderful restful night.
Want to get your little one consistently sleeping 11-12 hours at night so you can be a functioning human?