“Baby Wise”

Recently, I made a comment about not liking the “Baby Wise”,  and one of my readers asked me why.

I’ve not read the books, although I have read excerpts of the book that people have put online, and I’ve seen it in action with several of my friends and acquaintances. It just seems to be completely unnatural, and it is antithetical to attachment parenting which is what I favor.

I’ve heard many women say that they had to supplement with formula, because they didn’t make enough milk. Well, breastfeeding is about supply and demand; and if the baby doesn’t “demand” enough — isn’t eating enough — the mother won’t produce enough milk, which is why supplementing with formula frequently leads to complete cessation of b/f-ing the baby ends up nursing less and less, instead of more and more. Also, physical contact between mother and baby helps improve milk supply; and the BW program dictates that children never nurse to sleep (one friend said she “had to” wake up her children when they fell asleep nursing, so that they could learn to fall asleep on their own – why?), and also has set times when children — infants — are to “play” or be on their own, alone in their cribs – why? So they can become accustomed to amusing themselves and not bothering mommy, I suppose. The reality is, that infants do best when they are with their mothers and with their family basically as much as possible – they learn more by observation, they feel comforted and cuddled when held, etc.

The female body is designed to nurture her babies, to give comfort and sustenance — the maternal hormones dictate it, for one thing. Labor is started and helped on by oxytocin coursing through the mother’s body — oxytocin is also the hormone that is released during breastfeeding, as well as during orgasm. It is a bonding hormone. Nursing our babies makes us feel bonded to them; natural labor (and particularly a vaginal birth) floods women with oxytocin, which is one of the reasons why women have such a strong maternal response immediately after birth, and just want to hold their babies for hours. When a baby cries, nursing mothers experience milk let-down. (Some are worse than others – I recently read a humorous story about a woman running to the store for something and leaving her baby at home, and a baby in the store cried, or she called home and heard her baby crying in the background, and *whoosh* she started leaking.) That is the normal, natural response. It is an artificial response for a mother to hear a baby cry and look at her watch and see how many hours and minutes have passed since the last time the baby ate, to see if the baby might be hungry.

Sometimes babies just get hungry or thirsty oftener than every three hours. Don’t adults frequently want snacks or a little something to drink? It is not physiologically normal for a newborn to sleep through the night, yet that is one of the big benefits pushed by the proponents of BW. An alternative is to have the baby with you in or near your bed, so that when the baby wakes up for nourishment, you can get him without having to get up, and you can basically “sleep-nurse” — with neither you nor the baby fully waking up. Studies have shown that both mothers and babies get more total sleep and mothers wake up more refreshed when they have their babies sleeping close by, rather than having to get out of bed, go down the hall, nurse the baby back to sleep, and walk back up the hall, and back to bed.

Another “selling point” of BW is that babies are learning to be disciplined, and scheduled — specifically so mothers can plan their days around their babies scheduled naps, instead of having uncertainty. Well, this much I can tell you — with children, there *will* be uncertainty! 🙂 Many children self-regulate or self-schedule — you can practically set your watch on their sleep-wake schedule (even without BW); but there will always be *something* that could disrupt your plans. Even the most scheduled child will have days that are “off schedule” — something will happen that will wake them up early, they’ll go through a growth spurt, have an earache, be teething, whatever, and it will throw everybody for a loop.

Frankly, aside from sleeping through the night at an abnormally early age, I don’t see any of the supposed benefits of BW, in any of my nieces and nephews. Disciplined? Scheduled? No more than anyone else. I think that the way you raise your children in the toddler years have a lot more to do with how they act in life, than how much they are scheduled as infants. It’s the “daily grind” of child training — teaching children to be polite, not interrupt, etc., that has more to do with how children act than whether or not they were schedule-fed as infants. I know lots of kids whose parents followed BW, and lots of kids whose parents did not follow BW, and lots of kids that I don’t know, and I can’t tell a difference with any of them.

Several years ago, I read a description of a study scientists did, in which they took a dog, and put it in a large box, that was rigged so that it would give an electric shock on one side of the box or the other. Whichever side of the box the dog was on, the researcher would shock; of course, the dog would jump over to the other side of the box… then the researcher would shock *that* side, and the dog would jump back. The dog would do this for some time, until it finally figured out that it was useless to try to avoid the shock, and finally it just laid down on the box, and let himself be shocked repeatedly. Psychologists call it “learned helplessness.” That, to me, is what BabyWise is. Somehow, I think that when children learn that they are helpless, that’s not a good thing; but when they learn that their mothers love them and care about them (which infants learn from being held, cuddled, loved, nursed, having their needs tended to), they build self-esteem, and feel valued.

Granted, some people let their children walk all over them, which is probably one thing that helps to swell the ranks of the BW contingent. I’m not necessarily advocating that women drop everything at the first hint of a whimper from their three-year-old to tend to his every whim! But it’s not like you have to choose between being ultra-strict and ultra-indulgent — there is a lot of middle ground, and plenty of room to find the right balance of tenderness and strictness.

Another reason why I don’t like it, is that in the earlier edition(s) at least, the author claims to get his authority for his ideas from the Bible. [I think the newer versions are much less “Scriptural”, thankfully!] I’ve read excerpts that make my skin crawl. He seems to have a myopic view of God and the Bible, and, I would say, he wrests the Scripture to fit his predetermined views. The worst thing, which literally made my jaw drop the first time I read it, was when he based his view that children should be left to cry on their own, on Jesus’ saying on the cross, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” I forget exactly what Ezzo said, but it was something along the lines of, God didn’t respond to Jesus’ cries, so parents shouldn’t respond to their children, either. In trying to find the exact quote (it was some time ago that I read it, and I’m thinking it was a comment on some blog post or article that I read a few years ago), I found this pdf file which mentioned it, in the context of a critique of the book or system, or whatever you want to call it. I’m going to be saving the pdf file to my bookmarks (I haven’t read the whole thing yet; but what I have read, I agree with), so I can have it on hand to share with Christians who might be persuaded into thinking that Baby Wise is founded on clear Scriptural principles.

Concerning Scripture twisting, GFI faults us for quoting a public statement from Focus on the Family that noted that the Ezzos have “repeatedly cited Matthew 27:46— ‘…My God, my God, why have you forsaken me’—in support of their teaching that mothers should refuse to attend crying infants who have already been fed, changed, and had their basic needs met”. GFI says they are concerned with our use of Focus’s statement because “when Focus on the Family was informed they were misquoting the Ezzos on this point, they dropped it from their correspondence.” Focus’s current statement, however, once again expresses concern with GFI’s misuse of Matthew 27. In addition, Focus Vice President Hetrick states, “Focus did not misquote the Ezzos; we quoted their materials accurately.”

In defense, GFI’s critique states, “The Ezzos don’t for one minute believe or teach that Jesus hung on a cross to teach us that mothers should refuse to attend crying infants.” Rather, the “Father’s nonintervention in the suffering of His Son is the ultimate example that speaks against the fraudulent notion that love always requires immediate intervention.” To employ this idea in the context of a discussion of how mothers should respond to their crying infants, however, is to use Christ’s suffering to justify a practice of letting a baby cry. Since Christ’s suffering on the cross for our sins was a unique event for a very specific purpose, it should not be used even indirectly to justify letting infants cry. Furthermore, God did answer Jesus’ cry on the cross (Ps. 22:24).

Updated to add… I’ve read through the whole pdf, and would recommend it for anyone to read. If you’re not a Christian, parts of it won’t be applicable to you; but there are many sections that deal with non-religious concerns about the Ezzos’ program (not solely “Baby Wise” but the whole program, although they bring up multiple concerns about things like breastfeeding, failure to thrive, etc.), that would be beneficial for anyone to read. Also, the parent website that the pdf was on has multiple sections with in-depth bulleted “Summary of Concerns.” For instance, in the “infant feeding” section, it says:

  • Lack of expertise and credentials. The primary authors of the material, Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo, are self-proclaimed experts. Gary Ezzo has no background or expertise in child development, psychology, breastfeeding, or pediatric medicine, and holds neither an associate’s nor a bachelor’s degree from any college; his master of arts degree in Christian ministry was granted through a program that awarded credit for life experience in lieu of an undergraduate degree. Anne Marie Ezzo worked only briefly as an R.N. decades ago. It is unclear what, if anything, Babywise co-author Dr. Robert Bucknam contributed to that book, since the earlier religious versions are essentially the same with additional material and do not have his name on the cover.
  • Risks for breastfeeding mothers and babies. Breastfeeding on a parent-determined schedule (including a “flexible routine” as it is called in Babywise) may reduce a mother’s milk supply and contradicts the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which has stated, “The best feeding schedules are the ones babies design themselves. Scheduled feedings designed by parents may put babies at risk for poor weight gain and dehydration.”
  • Poor breastfeeding information. Although it is presented as authoritative, the breastfeeding information presented in Babywise is inaccurate and substandard (compare with the AAP Breastfeeding recommendations from the 2005 AAP Policy Statement on Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk).
  • One Size Doesn’t Fit All. All babies and mothers are treated alike without any respect given for individual differences in breastmilk storage capacity, rate of milk synthesis, rate of infant metabolism or stomach capacity.   In actuality, the number of feedings one mother’s body requires in order to supply her baby with plenty of milk each day will be quite different from other mothers around her. Similarly, breastfed babies need varying amounts milk in varying numbers and sizes of feedings, and they do not feed exactly the same way from one feeding to the next in any case. Ezzo seemingly expects all babies to respond in an identical manner.  This is no more realistic than expecting adults to consume the same amounts of food on the same schedule and grow (or lose weight!) at the same rate.
  • A high-pressure presentation impacts parents’ perception of what is at stake:
    • Pressure to maintain the regimen. The rules for sleep, feedings and wake time are portrayed as critical to follow in order to achieve a healthy outcome, while health and behavior problems for the baby, and sleepless nights for the parents, are predicted if the program is not followed. (Flexibility is praised but is described as small, short-term adjustments to the prescribed regimen. Parents are warned against making open-ended adaptations.)
    • Misplaced moral dilemmas. How well the parents and the baby adhere to the program is framed as a moral or biblical issue (e.g. permissiveness on the part of parents, uncooperativeness on the part of the baby).
    • Parents are reluctant to give up on the method. Health care professionals have observed that even when their babies were doing poorly on the program, parents often wanted to stick with it.

That alone is enough to bolster my opinion of this program’s faults and potential hazards. Furthermore, the pdf noted a serious discrepancy between what the Ezzos claimed, and what they could prove, as far as the number of pediatricians who recommend their program:

In the same context, we also noted that the Ezzos “have claimed to have a ‘network’ of ‘hundreds of pediatricians’ who provide them with ‘expert medical advice,’ but they have refused to provide the list when asked.”

GFI responded by noting that they have just started printing a list of their “medical advisory board” in the latest editions of PFP and BABYWISE. This is not the list of “hundreds of pediatricians” the Ezzos have claimed to receive advice from, however, but includes only 32 M.D.s, not all pediatricians, whose familiarity with and input to the GFI materials has been questioned.”

And, the Ezzos disparage feeding on demand (obviously! they’re huge proponents of scheduled feeding!), to the point that they will (apparently) not accept criticism from anyone who supports feeding on demand, saying they are all biased. However, as the pdf pointed out, “To require that a critic of the Ezzos not support demand feeding would be to effectively eliminate all challenges based on standard medical advice.” Yet, one of the ex-BabyWise mothers said that while the book said to “feed your child when he’s hungry,” other parts of the book said that if you feed your child more than every three hours, then the baby’s schedule will be disrupted, and it could cause problems. So which is it? Feeding your child when he’s hungry is feeding on demand.

Doing this research has strengthened my dislike for this program. The pdf has made me aware of issues that I had not known before about the Ezzos (particularly, their apparent divisiveness and near cultish behavior as regards this program.  It does not make me think any the worse of anyone who has used this program, but this confirmed my initial thoughts, from the first time I’d ever heard of scheduled feedings (back when I was a teenager), all the way up through now.


22 Responses

  1. I am so not into that type of mothering, for me or my kids… I have a friend who nursed twins for about 14 months (go her, huh?!) and she said, looking back, this book was really not helpful, esp re: nursing and that she realized sometimes the boys were just *hungry*.

  2. Your poll did not ask
    “heard of it –think it is bad for babies, breastfeeding and creating a strong mother-infant bond, should be outlawed”
    I would of picked that one.


  3. I think that book promotes abuse and neglect. It’s also big on shaming and blaming parents.

    I’m not one for banning books, so I won’t say it should be banned, but I WILL say that it is beyond irresponsible for publishers to print it and for stores to have it in stock.

    Any book or parenting system that has the AMA issue a formal statement about it putting an infants health and emotional development at risk must be pretty nasty, all around!

    • In looking around more on the website I mentioned in my update, I found this page, under the “character counts” point. While all of the allegations are troubling, under “lack of academic ethics” it notes that the book is self-published, which means “there is no editorial or publishing accountability to help correct these issues” — the issues being at least one instance of proven plagiarism, and citing studies as saying one thing when they actually say something else (ignoring context).

      What is more troubling is that, while he preaches that by following his method, you’ll have happy, well-adjusted children, the Ezzos adult children are estranged from them. Sad.

  4. Thank you for the detailed response!! I don’t currently have the original BW in my possession (have book 2, which I believe is 6 months – 1 year out from the library) but when I do get ahold of the early infancy book I will definitely be reading it with a critical eye.

    One thing from your anecdotes of your nephews that struck me as contrary to what I’ve been reading in the books is the extreme legalism in the scheduling. The author was very clear in the first chapter that children need to learn flexibility, BOTH from delayed gratification/self control learning, and from being able to adapt when schedules go haywire. That was principle 3 (avoiding extremism in parenting). The first was the idea that children thrive with a strong and healthy marriage between their parents, which should not be allowed to fall by the wayside when the baby comes, which I completely agree with, and the second was recognizing the danger of child-centered parenting. That one seems to be the most ambiguous, and I can certainly see how if it were misapplied that it could be very harmful to kids. However, I don’t disagree with the idea that children are capable of much more than we give them credit for at an early age, and learning self-control and a sense of morality is something that should not be delayed. I’ve babysat enough kids (BW-reared and otherwise) to realize that children are NOT innocent. 🙂 They aren’t little devils to be boxed in and harshly disciplined either (seems like a tendency with BW parents).

    I think both extremes of the spectrum, the one end being legalistic, schedule driven parenting, and the other being a completely child-led, disciplineless parenting, should be avoided. I need to look more into attachment parenting… I know right off the bat some of it won’t necessarily fit into our lifestyle, but I’m up for cherrypicking the best bits of both AP and BW and creating a parenting model that works for me and my kids.

    Thanks for the info!

    • You’re welcome!

      I think from reading other people’s comments on this in the past, is that the Ezzos have moderated their stance on the strictness of the scheduling from earlier editions — I believe that was one of the changes made in the later editions. However, in reading the pdf, one part was disturbing to me — and this is something I *never* picked up on from my SILs or anybody else I personally know who did the BabyWise thing, perhaps because they just read the book, and didn’t do the whole child training program — was the cultish tendencies of the Ezzo followers. In the subsection on isolationism, the pdf says, “Cult researchers are well aware that contradictory messages are a common practice in cultic movements. Leaders often state an acceptable principle but encourage different, less-acceptable behavior in a variety of ways—and followers respond to the ‘unspoken rules,’ often without even realizing it. When challenged, leaders as well as followers simply point to the explicit directives, but more objective observers see the dichotomy.” So, it may be that they have changed their minds (publicly anyway, particularly in response to some scathing reviews by medical bodies like the AAP), but it might be that they just toned down the rhetoric in one way, but are still encouraging it in other ways, perhaps the “full” program, or in one version, or something. Hard to say. That nephew is now 8 y/o, so the book was obviously an older edition. Another BW-following SIL (with younger kids, so probably newer edition) did have more flexibility with hers (like 15 minutes or perhaps up to 30 minutes early), but it was still scheduled as opposed to demand feeding; and still not feeding them at night.

      I agree with the “strong and healthy marriage” statement; and that there can be overkill in “child-centered parenting”; and that children are capable of more than we sometimes give them credit for, and that it’s good to learn self-control and a sense of morality. But I disagree that scheduled breastfeeding is a necessary part of any of those concepts, and strongly disagree that scheduled feeding (especially starting as a newborn, or even at any time during infancy) is a good way to learn self-control and also that scheduled feedings have any part to play in developing a sense of morality. Ditto sleeping through the night by 6-8 weeks of age. And I believe that I and my family are living proof of this. I could not look at any children that I know were raised with BW and perceive any greater self-control or any higher sense or morality, compared to children that I know were raised nursing on demand. And the differences that I can see in the children (both positive and negative), I would more attribute to parenting styles post-infancy (i.e., after the first full year of life, and more particularly, the parenting style and quality of the last few months or perhaps years, depending on the age of the child) than to a parenting style in the first year of life. There are some BW parents who have let their children pretty much run wild in later childhood, and all their strictness of the first year or so hasn’t seemed to be beneficial; and some AP-leaning parents who are fairly strict with their children post-babyhood, and the tenderness that was lavished on the children in their early months has not seemed to spoil them. And I know BW parents who have continued to be strict (not using that in a negative way – I would consider myself to be somewhat strict with my children in many areas, and consider some measure of strictness to be not just beneficial but necessary), and some AP parents who have continued to be lenient (and perhaps overly so), and their children show the positive or negative effects.

      I definitely lean towards the AP side of things, but it’s been quite some time since I’ve read what all constitutes AP. I know that Dr. Sears is a proponent of it, and it seems like he has “7 B’s” for parenting, including breastfeeding, bed-sharing, and baby-wearing, but I forget the rest. Anyway, I have done some of those, but I doubt I’ve done them all. In one email some years ago, I remember saying something along those lines — that perhaps I wasn’t “AP” because I didn’t totally toe the line, and someone responded that the biggest part of attachment parenting, is to recognize the needs of yourself and your child, and to fill those needs, and it’s *not* about following somebody else’s rules. So, she considered it to be “AP” to choose what works best for you, and to discard the rest.

    • One thing from your anecdotes of your nephews that struck me as contrary to what I’ve been reading in the books is the extreme legalism in the scheduling. The author was very clear in the first chapter that children need to learn flexibility, BOTH from delayed gratification/self control learning, and from being able to adapt when schedules go haywire

      From the above-mentioned site, this time from the “voices of experience” page [former BW parents’ and teachers’ stories], with a baby born in 2003, this mother writes, “Though the book does contain cautions to feed a baby when hungry, Ezzo undermines the thought of feeding the baby off schedule by pointing out that going off the schedule will cause fussiness and that feeding too often can cause ‘colic-like symptoms.'” This sort of advice is conflicting, and many parents — including this couple — followed the part of the advice that “undermines” demand feeding, and schedule-fed their child.

      So, if the Ezzos are ever confronted by people who say that their child nearly died from not being fed enough due to strictly following the schedule, they can merely point to other parts of the book and say, “Well, we did say to feed your baby if he’s hungry!” As long as you say two opposing things at once, you can always point to one of them as proof of being correct. :-/

  5. Personally, I am not a big fan of any parenting philosophy that comes with a “name brand” because I have seen too many parents get caught up with slavishly “following the brand” rather than “following what actually works for our family” (for example an acquaintance who was an ardent advocate of attachment parenting and therefore militantly anti any form of daycare… and who admitted to sometimes hitting her children because she got so frustrated being with them 24 hours a day).

    The BabyWise philosophy seems to be an outgrowth of our entire society’s orientation towards scheduling and “getting things done.” It optimizes baby care towards a discipline to the schedule (just like adults are disciplined to have a particular length/time workday and are supposed to ignore their own needs at work… something which is historically relatively new).

    Having said that, we need to be very careful about assuming that particular kinds of parenting are more “natural.” I spent some time recently living in a traditional community where lifestyles hadn’t changed a great deal in several hundred years. In such communities, mothers have a great deal of work to do to keep the family housed, clean, and fed. And they are not oriented to the US attitude that parents have a pervasive responsibility to optimize their child’s happiness, intelligence, education, and future earning potential (the focus rather is on survival for the kid and for the family). For that reason…

    1) They do not engage in the kind of “intensive parenting” that is de rigeur for middle-to-upper-class families in the US (e.g., playing with your kids to stimulate them). Young kids spend a lot of time in playpens or the equivalent, where they will be safe. Mom will talk to them as they work but won’t race over to help whenever they need or want something.
    2) Later children are taken care of primarily by earlier children, not by the mother.
    3) Children have household chores which start in toddlerhood and by age 6 can include things like baking bread – from scratch – by themselves.

    In these families, kids learn a LOT from being involved in everyday work activities (with both mom and dad). They become self-sufficient quite early and are able to start their own household in their teenage years (another thing that would be scandalous in the US context). But I doubt that they would feel that their needs were tended to continuously in early childhood… the other things that the mom is doing – including maintaining social ties to other families in the community that provide support when times are bad – are too important to the survival of the family to allow for such pervasive tending.

    My conclusion after observing all this is that “attachment parenting” (at least extreme versions of it which require moms to be in constant interaction with their kids) is just as ‘unnatural’ as BabyWise. That doesn’t make it “bad”, necessarily, but it is also a response to particular cultural conditions, specifically the trends in the US since the 1920s or so which make the mother uniquely morally responsible for the emotional and moral development of their kids and which have required an intensification of parenting. This makes parenting more difficult to juggle with other outside responsibilities (including the management of the home and tending to the social place of the family in the community). So it is kind of understandable that programs like BabyWise would spring up that try to address that problem – even if we don’t think they are a particularly good idea.

    Gee, I guess I should have made this a blog post instead…

  6. ACtually, if I ever met the authors, I would have to kick the sh1t out of them. I hate the book. I think it is dangerous and mean. And I am all for mainstream parenting and ferberizing if you need to but this babywise shit is exactly that SHIT. Again, if I ever see the Enzo’s I think I would have to physically assault them. I think God would want me to.

  7. Yes, I am so shy and reserved. I will work that out with my therapist.

  8. I did read and implement a good bit of BW’s advice after the birth of my third child, largely because I had crashed and burned out so hard on dogmatic AP mothering during the infancies of my older two kids.

    I knew what I was doing was not working, but nobody I knew in the “natural mothering” circles had much helpful practical advice that worked in my situation. I was was completely exhausted and demoralized.

    Commiseration is nice and all, but I had to change something before I torched the house to the ground with my family inside. 😉

    The BW stuff helped me restore a lot of sanity to my life and my family’s life, and I plan to do some variation on it after the upcoming birth of my fourth child.

    My third, “Babywised” child is affectionate, charming, and very well-attached, just like his elder siblings.

    I know it should go without saying, but a woman does not have to breastfeed every thirty minutes for 18 months to make that happen. 🙂 And he did nurse till he was a year old, but I didn’t feel like a trapped rat while doing it.

    After trying to so hard to parent the “Natural” way, the Ezzos seemed like they were offering me an alternative that allowed me to still be a human being with needs and desires of my own. Like regular sleep, and sex in my own bed, and even the occasional evening out before the kid turns two. lol.

    Nishkanu points out that there isn’t anything especially “natural” about the kind of intensive mothering the middle-class denizens of AP message boards endorse, and at this point, I agree.

    Now, I can easily see having come from the other direction; say a woman had belonged to a big church where the peer pressure was all Ezzo, all the time; she might read Dr. Sears, say, and feel a great sense of relief that it is really okay not to have the Perfect Ezzo Baby and thus forever after associate the Ezzo program with desperate entrapment and unreasonable expectations and pointless bickering over dogmatic minutiae.

    But for me, the BW thing was a breath of fresh air!

  9. I just wanted to say thank you for taking the time you did to write this out. I personally am not at all a BW fan for many reasons. We’re not totally “AP” either (though, we swing more to that side). I am working on a blog post (have been for some time) re: BW & my feelings towards it, but you pretty much said all I wanted to 🙂

  10. This God as a male paradigm is offensive.The ultimate expression of the male parenting style is the idea that it’s OK or even good to let your children learn through pain, or to quote Catherine Skol’s OB, that “Pain is the best teacher.” Only a man would come up with that. And to use religion as a base for child neglect or government totalitarianism would be the ultimate sin. What crap. But good religious women don’t question the status quo Kathy, so I guess Santa will be passing by your house this year. LOL

  11. PS to the attachment parenting is unnatural commenter:

    Have you ever observed, in Nature, what happens when a New Dominant Male enters a region with baby mammals or birds? The NDM systematically kills the offspring of the old lead male. This is also true for humans with genocide, child predators, and junky babysitters on the list of top kid killers,right beside household accidents.

    The hard truth is is that the Mother is usually the most careful protector of her little ones. Heck, mothers are even more protective of others’ little ones. So bottom line, don’t let some NDM who’s not even in your family tell you how it’s good for you to neglect your own baby. Sucker. You lost out on so many smiles!

    • I’m not sure if Evie is referring to me or to “small heresies” but this comment pretty much encapsulates what I hate about branded parenting philosophies.

  12. I mentioned this issue to my father-in-law, who is a licensed counselor, and he said that from what he has seen on the Ezzo’s work (mostly the Growing Kids God’s Way system) that he believes it borders on child abuse, due to labeling any unwanted behavior as sin and punishing it as such without understanding levels of understanding and ability in children which turns throwing food off the highchair from “defiance” to the child’s first experiments with how gravity works. The cult-like stance and wacky theological viewpoints mentioned in that PDF are pretty condemning as well. Thank you so much for making that first comment that prevented me from swallowing this hook, line and sinker!

    And to those commenters who seem to be equating the bad system with the fact that Ezzo is a man… how ridiculous. His system is flawed because he is an authoritarian, self-proclaimed expert without medical or psychological training, NOT simply because he is a man. I expect to be getting a lot of good, wise parenting advice and support from my father-in-law, my father, my husband, and other male figures in my life. Sorry, man-bashing is my least favorite part of the NCB/AP world and I just can’t stand the fact that women would discredit their viewpoint by ad hominem man-bashing rather than concentrating on the actual misdoings of the man in question.

  13. My issue with Babywise was the extreme arrogance of the author.


  14. Kathy, great post! I’m going to post about BW soon myself (“soon” as in “within the next five years”). Anyhow, what made me first start questioning BW was the fact that the author had been excommunicated from two churches, one of which was John MacArthur’s church. I mean, come on! It’s hard enough to get excommunicated from one church! And he managed two???? That was a serious warning signal to me. Also, I agree with Heather – the author is arrogant. Kind of “if you’re a good Christian, you will be a BW parent.” Not good. And his science is questionable at best. Anyhow, I’ll write more later – but thanks for the great article!

  15. I ran a Google search on Babywise and stumbled across your post. I read “Childwise” several years back, which I know is another sortof controversial one, but it really helped me out with my older son. So, when a friend recommended that I read Babywise, I said, “Sure, why not?” Like most books, there are things in it that I think might be helpful but also parenting tips I will probably discard. And that’s pretty much my opinion on the attachment parenting theories. There are things that I agree with and things that I don’t.

    I think the problem with a lot of these books and theories is that so many mom’s take them so seriously and follow them SO rigidly. I know all of these methods (BW, AP and otherwise) are designed by so-called experts, but babies do not come from cookie cutters, and there has to be an element of common sense used when you take up any theory! Each child is so different, and each mom is so different, and what works for one is probably not going to work 100% for another, so I hate to see mothers getting so hostile to other mothers when they make different choices, not to mention the hostility towards whatever child-raising method they might be choosing to follow. I wish the whole mother-culture would just take a step back and quit being so judgemental about everything.

    Anyway, it’s nice to find a post that has some rational thought behind it for a change, rather than the raging diatribe you see about this book in so many other places on the internet.

  16. Babywise distroyed our family

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