Monday, April 30, 2012

Confessions of a Former Babywise Advocate


 A few years ago I had a mom in class that asked a lot of questions about Baby Wise vs. Attachment Parenting and it spurred me to write a blog post on the topic.  Fast forward 2 1/2 years and this same mom wants to become a Birth Boot Camp Instructor.  I knew she had "done" Baby Wise with her baby and that is not what Birth Boot Camp teaches.  She came clean and told me her story of scheduling her 1st baby and practicing Attachment Parenting with baby #2.   Thank you, Rachel, for sharing your story here.


"I am writing this post in hopes that I can encourage mothers in the art of mothering. I prepared for my first birth like many moms. Regular prenatal care, vitamin supplementation, proper protein, reading birth books, taking natural childbirth classes, and making a birth plan were all a part of the wonderful anticipation of being a mother for the first time.

We all receive tons of unsolicited advice when expecting, don't we? It may come from family and friends, but some times complete strangers at the check out, checking you out, nodding their head) saying, "So.... when are you due; pretty soon, huh?" I first heard of "Baby Wise" in line at a check out, then from a friend who it to me. I put it on my list to read along with all the other books Donna had us reading for class. 

One thing about me is, my personality lends itself to a schedule.  I like having a game plan and being in control. My mother always motivated me with check lists and it actually worked. I used to put things on the list I had already done, just so I could check them off and see the accomplishments. Yes, I am one of those "A-type" people. This may have been because I was a first born, or because of the influence of my mother who was a first born, or just because that's my God given organized personality. Any how, when seeking a plan for my firstborn, I went ahead and read "Baby Wise" because I had heard a baby needed to be on a schedule.

Our first born daughter was born at home! So, we got the unmedicated, natural birth we had planned for and loved the experience. I remember saying to my husband, directly after birth, "If that is how birth is, than we can have lots more kids!" I had my husband, midwives, their assistants, my doula, and our new baby all in my master bathroom at the time of her birth. I believe there were nine in all.

She latched on to nurse like a pro just after birth. She loved her sling, "The Over the Shoulder Baby Holder". After much research, we decided not to vaccinate at all. My two main goals were to exclusively breastfeed our baby for the first year and to have her sleeping through the night by at least 10 weeks. What was I thinking!!! What I did not know at first was that my two goals were diametrically opposed. I went on believing that if I scheduled her and followed the eat, wake, sleep pattern like what the "Baby Wise" book said, I could have the best of both worlds. "Baby Wise" made us think that if I we were going to be wise parents, we would follow a written schedule.

I live my born-again life with integrity towards God. 1 Corinthians 15:3b-4 "Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures." I believe a life worth living is found only in knowing and serving Jesus Christ. I love my husband and we both wanted to give our daughter the very best. Unfortunately, we were misinformed. 

It is true that a baby can sleep through the night at 8 weeks, can move to a crib in his/her own room at 6 weeks, can be a happy baby, and can nurse well for a while. I know because mine did. If there was ever a "just like the book baby" it was Alayna. Her patterns of eat/wake/sleep were exactly as the book said they would be. When she went "off her schedule," this is what we call now going through growth spurts, teething, or crying. Sadly, we looked in the book to see what to do for her, as if it were an all purpose magical baby users manuel. I hate to say it, but it's true. People stopped me all the time to tell me what a sweet, happy baby she was. They told me she was an easy baby and I was "lucky" to have her sleeping through the night so soon. She was very contented and seemed to be thriving in every way we knew of at that time until she was 7 months old.

I began seeing her demand for more milk and I was not producing enough to satisfy her. Up till then, nursing had been wonderful for us, but I soon realized that her metabolism was geared for large amounts of food at set intervals and that my milk supply was hindered by scheduling. It made my body so rhythmic that it would not let down until a certain time had lapsed. Unlike demand feeding, where a child communicates hunger and mother's milk is always there ready to flow! We were both getting so frustrated. She was hungry and unhappy and I was worried my dreams were vanishing. I went out and bought the best pump I could find. I had never tried a pump before until she was 8 months old. While this did help my supply a little, it turned out to be a big pain. I was nursing my daughter on schedule and tied down to a pump the rest of the time. I began realizing that my 2 goals were not compatible. I wish I had known that exclusive demand feedings at the breast were the most healthy and natural way to go. Sure I was told, but I had not experienced the freedom from a schedule yet.

I shared my frustrations with a close friend who recommended us visit her "Natural Doctor" in Houston, TX. My husband and I prayed about it and decided to get some professional help. We had never been to a Wellness Doctor before. Dr. Hopkins at CWA taught us many things about wellness, healthy eating, nursing, and how our bodies work best eating foods designed for us specifically. I was given whole food supplements to strengthen and richen my milk supply. He taught us and challenged us not to schedule our daughter anymore. In time a demand nursed baby will find his/her own routine that promotes his/her individual health. We prayed some more and chose to put a fresh priority on our baby's optimum health. We quit "Baby Wise" thinking and stepped out in faith to the unknown world of possibilities available through what the book calls, "Attachment Parenting!" My husband and I tried to un-schedule our 10 month old. The most surprising thing happened. I could not, try as I might, to un-schedule her. It was the hardest thing in the world, but I was able to get off the breast pump and go back to just nursing her for another 4 months. Proverbs 13:20 "He that walketh with wise men shall be wise:" I am so thankful for the true wisdom of our Christian Doctor.

It was so impossible to unschedule our scheduled baby. For 8 months out of 10, that schedule had become such a part of her we could not separate the two. I am sad to say, she only knew life through the "glasses" of a schedule. She was quite addicted to it. I mean, if she did not have meals at set times her sugar levels would plummet. With it, came crashing down tears and unrest. If we were away from home during "nap time" she would have a melt down. She seemed to "need" her schedule for weeks and months after we took it away. The regular ups and downs of daily living without a schedule were hard on her at first. It was not until she weaned herself at 14 months (too early for me) that we really saw full improvement in her ability to enjoy life to it's fullest. Who knows how long she may have nursed if we had never introduced a schedule?  Her mood swings went away and her over all health improved by 94% from her first check up with Dr. Hopkins at 10 months old.

I always felt very attached to my baby, but compared to my second born, she was actually too independent.  I would even say, she was unattached emotionally and we didn't even know what we were missing.  I am grateful our 3-year-old has recovered, but we will never have those early years to do over again.

After our second home birth, we talked about how, in some ways, it would be like parenting for the first time all over again. I was looking forward to guilt-free co-sleeping! I loved it and we got better rest than we did following "Baby Wise".  My husband cherished more time with our baby in our bed than I had ever dreamed possible. And because we were doing many things more naturally like demand-feeding, it was easy to go on dates. We were not on a time schedule dependent on when the baby would need to be in bed . 

Hannah nursed exclusively for 12 months and 1 week. Around 13 months we bought a king size bed to accommodate for needed space. I did not want space to be the reason to move her out of our bed before she was ready. She still nurses on demand and loves snuggling in her sling at 18 months old. I had never allowed myself the privilege of napping with my first baby in my bed, so I made up for it with our second. She stayed in our bed at night for over a year and then occasionally on an as-needed basis. She was still in our room in a pack-and-play until one particular night when she motioned "up, up" to the old out-of-use crib in her sister's room. Now that Hannah is 18 months old she sleeps in her own bed in her big sister's room because she wants to do things just liked Alayna. If she is sick and needs to nurse more frequently she knows she is always welcome back with us.

Recognizing that God has called me to function as His agent defines my task as a mother. I believe our culture and "Baby Wise" have reduced parenting to providing care. Parents often see the task in these narrow terms. The child must have food, clothes, a bed and some quality time. In sharp contrast to such a weak view, God has called me to a more profound task than being a care-provider.

Mothering is a pervasive task. It does not end even when we are sleeping. In our homes we need to parent our children in God's behalf. Whether waking, walking, talking, singing, resting, or nursing, I must be involved in helping my children to understand life, herself and her needs from a biblical perspective. The best advice I can leave with you for mothering comes from Deuteronomy 6:5-7 "And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up." 

The task God has given me is NOT one that can be conveniently SCHEDULED."

46 comments:

Alli said...

I simply have to speak up about BabyWise because some parents talk about it and I wonder if we read the same book. Babywise advocates a pattern to your day, not a tick-tock, by the clock schedule. If we aren't home for my son's general naptime, he takes a snooze in the car to wherever we're going. If he's going through a growth spurt, he does eat more often - the book says if your kid is hungry, feed him! Don't let him starve because the clock isn't right. (Btw, I also get blood sugar drops if I don't eat soon enough.)
There is a reason children like shows (if you allow tv time for the older ones) like Sesame Street and Blues Clues - there is a predictable pattern to them. Kids don't have any sense of the time of day unless they know what's coming next. But again - it's a pattern, not a to-the-second schedule.
We have many things like this - we have a getting-ready-for bed schedule: bath time, lotion, massage time, story time, bed time. But, if it doesn't happen one night, big deal, we go back to it the next night.

Kim said...

I agree with Alli. I think many people misread BabyWise. It is about a pattern for the day, not a regimented schedule. They do give examples of what a day might look like with times stated, but is an example meant to help new parents better understand how the pattern works. The author is adamant that you don't JUST follow the clock. It is a balance of following your child's cues and following a predictable pattern on most days. Almost all adults have a pattern to our day (wake up, eat breakfast, get dressed, go to work or housework, eat lunch...) so I think it is perfectly reasonable that many babies prefer this model and predictability in their lives. I also think that natural-born personality plays a role in what method works best for each child. My first would have been a wreck on a free-for-all schedule. My second was premature, suffered from colic for several months, and is a more adventurous personality- he has never been as regimented, but now that he's older (15 mo) he does thrive in a predictable pattern.

Also, I considered co-sleeping with my second and still wish I had tried for longer. However, I just cannot sleep with a little one in the bed. My baby might have liked it, but I would have been one grouchy momma if I never got any sleep.

Whatever end of the spectrum a parent finds himself/herself on, I think it is only right and fair to not judge the other side. Within a family, it is very possible that what works for one child doesn't work for another. There are many factors that play a role in determining what method works best, such as the child's and parents' personalities, the parents' daily schedules (work inside or outside the home & the time of work shifts), other siblings' needs, other conditions the baby may have (such as prematurity, difficulty gaining weight, chronic illness). Each family has to decide what works best for them and their children. Then, do your best not to judge others. :)

Regina said...

I agree with the previous poster Alli. I have never read baby wise or any attachment parenting book, but if I had to pick one it WOULDN'T be attachment parenting! Kids, toddlers, even babies NEED a general guideline for things. At least mine do. And of course your baby has a melt down if you are out and about and it is their nap time! They are tired! EVERYONE (even grown adults) get grumpy when they are over tired!

Babies need sleep. I HATE it when people say, "He'll sleep when he's tired." Ummm, no he won't. He will stay awake and be grumpy and fussy and cry. And then, because he lacks sleep from the night before, he will do it all again the next day.

I certainly don't have a set "time" for things. I can't say "My baby will nap from 1-2:30." But I can say "My baby usually gets tired about an hour after lunch and will sleep for about 2.5 hours" It is a routine. And it works. Every one of my babies have slept through the night (and by that I mean 10-12 hours....not 5) by 8-9 weeks. Even my exclusively breast fed baby. And none have ever been made to cry it out.

With breastfeeding, we also have a routine. He eats usually 5 times a day. Usually just from one side, sometimes both. Very rarely, but sometimes he will cry when we put him to bed for the night (like last night)so I pick him up and feed him some more and then he goes to bed.

The author of this post talks about parenting being more than a schedule and how being a mom doesn't end at night. Well, It doesn't end for ANY mom. Even the ones who take their babies to their crib to sleep through the night.

As the parent, as the ADULT, it is our job to make sure our kids needs are met. ALL needs and I'm sorry to say that eating and sleeping are a BIG part of what a baby needs. So while all of the other fluffy lovey dovey stuff is great, I care more that my baby has a good nap than I do about being able to be out and about on a whim.

Regina said...

I re-read my comment and hopefully my use of exclamation points and capital letters don't make me come across rude! Donna, you know I love you. You also know I disagree with you on attachment parenting and the use of nursing covers. But again, nothin' but LOVE!! :)

Kaitlin @ More Like Mary said...

I'm surprised by these comments! I thought this was a great reflection of what worked for this family. And a great comparison of two different ideas of mothering.

Thanks for sharing it!

momto5 said...

interesting. i think people don't get attachment parenting at all. it is about being attached to your child, filling their needs, especially when they are a wee tiny babe. what they need is milk, and to be close to their mother. a baby will fall into a pattern, BUT they find that pattern. it isn't up to the parent to say when they are hungry or tired, they know it themselves. having AP'd with 6 children (the first two without even knowing it was an actual thing with a title) they have all fallen in to a pattern. just like myself. no one demands i eat at a certain time or sleep at this time. i eat when i am hungry and sleep when i am tired. and just like myself, my kids love to sleep with someone instead of alone in a crib down the hall. carrying them around is just easier (at least for me). i don't feel it is spoiling or impeding me, it is keeping someone who is unable to care for themselves, super close. like how we all would like to be if we were in a similar state.
and your days do naturally fall into a nice ebb and flow. we get up close to the same time, go about our day and than at night we all fall into bed around the same time. it feels pretty natural to me.

Kim said...

I fall in the middle between attachment and rigidity. I think both are good. They look different from family to family. If you think non-AP parents are forcing their children to eat and sleep at certain times, you are misinformed. Can anyone really force a baby to eat or sleep when they're not hungry or sleepy- it is quite impossible! The BabyWise method is about balancing the baby's needs with a predictable routine. It is actually very similar to AP, because both have the baby's needs as the first priority.

I think both methods have a lot of great wisdom, and I used some of each for both my children. With my first baby, I used a sling (which by the way, was not comfortable, so it didn't last long). With my second, I discovered the Sleepy Wrap and loved it!

The ebb and flow you talk about is exactly what BabyWise is about. The book even says most babies begin to fall into the rhythm on their own. Some, however, need help. One of my friends had a baby that was very colicky, and the baby had a very erratic pattern to her day. After a few days of following BabyWise, they helped her into a more predictable routine, and the colic instantly went away.

My colicky baby was developing a routine on his own, so I didn't assist him in it. Unfortunately, routine was not the solution for him, so I put him in the Sleepy Wrap and walked around the house with him for hours every night until he would eventually fall asleep. This sounds exactly like AP.

The only thing that I know of that AP advocates that didn't work for me was co-sleeping. I couldn't get a wink of sleep with my baby in bed with me. My hubby and I are heavy sleepers and I didn't trust either of us to notice if we rolled onto the baby, and the little bed inserts they make would take up too much space in our queen bed. Also, our second was a preemie and our pediatrician was adamant that he sleep on his back and in a separate from us until he was a few months old and his lungs more mature. (I know pediatricians have their own views of parenting that don't always align with our own, but sometimes it is wise to listen to their advice.) We put our baby in a bassinet right next to the bed when he was an infant, then moved him further away as he got older (because it was hard for me to get in and out of bed with the bassinet right there!). By 6 months, he wasn't sleeping well in the room with us so we moved him to his own room and into a crib where he began to sleep better again.

Both methods of parenting have more similarities that most people will acknowledge. I used the best of both, and it worked for us!

momto5 said...

true you can't force a baby to eat, but you can easily deny them food because it isn't "time or them to eat" their schedule says 10 am and it is only 9:30 am. and although you may not be able to force them to sleep you can easily put them in a crib at a certain time and let them cry themselves to sleep.
i liken the care i give my children to the care i would also give to a quadriplegic. someone who is unable to care for themselves. i would never in 100 years leave an adult who couldn't even scratch their nose alone all night to cry themselves to sleep because i decided that 9 pm was lights out and i was done with them. or if they said to me "hey, i'm hungry" i would never say "sorry lunch isn't until noon, so you must wait". i would never ignore their needs and wants just because it wasn't time for them to need or want them. or even if all they want is to have me sit by their bed and talk to them, just because it wasn't time for that it wouldn't matter. peoples needs are constantly changing and evolving, especially a small child's. just because at 10 weeks they did "A" doesn't mean that is how it will always be. when we stick to a schedule over actually listening and paying attention to the person we miss so many ques. when a baby gets to the crying stage of hunger... we missed the subtle ques. sometimes after the diaper is changed, the baby is fed and you clothing is check.. what they baby may need is just to be with you, up against you, maybe even rocked to sleep. babies and mamas were meant to be attached to each other. we may no longer live in tribes in 1st world countries or in caves like cavemen, but a baby doesn't know that. a baby has very basic needs, food, warmth, and being next to it's mother.
it is one thing to have a plan to your day for yourself or even your young child, but to schedule a baby seems well honestly... not right. BUT if it works for you, than hey who am i to say not to do it. i couldn't do it, it didn't seem right to me.

Mellanie said...

Beautifully written Rachel. I read the Baby Wise book with my first as well with my first. Ezzo plays heavily on fear - the stories of the "attachment" parented child found throughout are meant to make a parent fear attachment parenting, implying that it produces spoiled, demanding children that will grow up to be delinquents. Ezzo's teachings also set up an adversarial relationship between parent and child. He also misses the point that nursing is NOT just about food. It is comfort, it is love, it is a relationship. I could go on and on, but I won't. I will end by saying that, as a lactation consultant, I have talked to many, many moms who tell your story. Restricting feedings to a schedule, or even just restricting nursing to just feeding, often doesn't give enough stimulation in the early days to sustain milk production long-term. Frequent nursing in the early weeks keeps prolactin levels high, which creates more prolactin receptors in the breast, which is what sets a good foundation for milk production after hormone levels drop around the four month mark.

Mama Birth said...

Very interesting comments-

It is true that in Baby Wise, he, (Ezzo) says to feed the baby when it is hungry and to be flexible. He also warns parents of failure to thrive and what not. BUT THEN- (as Melanie stated) he goes on and on about how awful and evil your kid will turn out if you give in to their "wants" and he goes on and on about how awful AP is and has a very strict schedule written out in the book. When I read it I felt like he was almost covering his own butt- It didn't even make sense. He would contradict himself by saying one thing and then stating the opposite.

Babies will make their own pattern. It is our job as MOTHERS to find this pattern. It is our job to listen to our God given instincts and use them to raise our children with love, kindness and yes, WISDOM.

I did not find a whole lot of wisdom in Baby Wise, though there was abundant fear, stories, and schedules. Not only that- the schedules were not imposed by a mother, but by a man, who has never been a mother and who has never met your child.

I find it shocking that this person could claim to be a Christian, believe in divine design, and yet think he can tell all women everywhere exactly how to raise their child AND mock instincts (not just AP.)

I think that most women in real life, find some kind of balance between AP and needed boundaries (which really ARE part of AP but which some forget about).

It seems to confuse people to that a newborn is NOT a toddler. Yes of course a toddler likes routine (it feels safe to people) but a newborn is not a toddler. A newborn needs to eat. It needs to grow. God has given us a miraculous ability to do this with our own bodies and he created a system that thrives on need and use increasing that which is needed. It is called cue nursing.

What is really tragic is that we need books to raise our children. Or we think we do.

And thank you for sharing your story-

Kathy said...

Thanks for sharing your story and I am so glad you found your way to a more natural way of understanding your OWN baby's rhythms. As you discovered, Babywise's recommendations don't support breastfeeding in the long term--a fact which Babywise obliquely acknowledges.

Mothers and fathers don't need to choose between Babywise and anarchy. Unfortunately, Babywise promotes that misunderstanding and that fearful vision of a "free-for-all" helps keep readers on the reservation, I guess.

The fact is that babies who are fed according to their feeding cues (as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics) settle into a rhythm of feedings and naps that supports their own unique growth curve and responds to their mother's unique milk storage capacity and milk supply mechanics.

In fact, individual mother's and baby's bodies work in tandem to satisfy this particular baby's hunger from this particular momma's milk supply/milk storage capacity.

Unfortunately Babywise's bias towards achieving longer spacing between feedings as early as possible can undermine the physiology that regulates and supports the mother's ability to produce a full and abundant milk supply in the later months.

This is why mothers initially believe Babywise implementation is going well only to discover in later months that their milk supply is sketchy and doesn't respond well to efforts to increase it.

Often an aggressive approach to adding solids makes up for that loss, but it is sad that many mothers using Babywise wind up being unable to breastfeed as long as they would have liked to and come to rely heavily on the less nutritious solid food instead of on the breastmilk that is biologically tailored for babies that age.

Thank you again for sharing your story! I hope it encourages many mothers to lay down the book and trust themselves to be able to understand and meet the needs of their own individual children.

Susan Skok Martin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Susan Skok Martin said...

Sorry, I had to delete my comment to correct glaring grammatical errors that were really bugging me! Here it is revised:


I didn't read "Babywise" until I had an eighteen-month-old and a five-year-old. The book showed up as a donation in a garage sale fundraiser I was doing for LLL. I promptly pulled it out (because it was not going to go in a League garage sale) and read it because I was curious.

That book was filled with so much fear mongering and misinformation that I literally highlighted it all over the place with the parts that were in direct conflict with current knowledge about normal infant sleep, maintaining a good milk supply and normal human infant behavior, physiology and development.

I found the book to be deeply disturbing as source of information for new parents. Human infants need their mothers to help regulate them - they are unable to regulate themselves. Babies need us to help them figure out what they need by responding to them. When a mother pre-determines a schedule is she really listening to what her baby is trying to communicate? A baby will stop trying to communicate when he is repeatedly not listened to and not know his own needs like the blog author's first child. (And I have to say it takes a brave mama to learn from her experience, move forward and also be willing to share it - thank you!)

My personal experience is like some of the other responses that by simply following my babies cues and responding to them that eventually they fell into a rhythm. Children also completely and naturally wean on their own even if you breastfeed them to sleep for years. Here's my story: http://www.thesacredmother.blogspot.com/2011/12/sharing-sleep-bad-habit.html

Mothers may not want to nurse their children to sleep for years for personal reasons (I totally get it!) but I think it's important to know that fear-mongering that implies your child will never learn good sleep habits unless forced to do so is not supported in any scientific way. Our country has a very high incidence of sleep problems in adults, the majority of whom (I am pretty darn sure) experienced something akin to this Babywise philosophy since it has been pervasive in our society for a long time. So obviously it does not prevent sleep problems.

Jules said...

I love the biblical perspective the author gives. I believe motherhood is a tool the Lord can use to teach us one of the basic principles he teaches over and over- selflessness. When we experience the overwhelming love a mother naturally has for her child, we have an opportunity to give of ourselves more than we can for any other person. We can have a better understanding of how God wants to give all that His children need and ask for (Matt 7:11). Regardless of your position on AP or Babywise, we can all ask ourselves to examine our motives and keep our hearts in the right place- love and selflessness. :)

Tereza Crump aka MyTreasuredCreations said...

I remember being very upset when my first baby would wake up in the middle of the night. I had high expectations that my baby (like everyone else's) should be sleeping by 8 weeks old. Not so!! When she was 2 years old still waking up in the middle of the night playfully calling out my name, I was still mad!

I think it finally hit me by my second baby, who slept through the night by 4 months old, that all babies are different. Motherhood is about developing an unique relationship with each of your children.

What doctor, friend or relative can tell you about your baby?? You are the closest one to him, other than the Lord.

I think AP is about developing that relationship, getting to know each other, not living by rules imposed by someone else.

Alli said...

It's me again. I just have some thoughts about some of the comments.
One, it truly is about knowing your child. For me, that is the ultimate parenting style. BabyWise practices don't work for every child, and Attachment Parenting practices don't work for every child. No matter which style you chose, you have to know when to put it into practice and when to throw the rules (all styles have rules) out the window. I know when my son's cry is out of pain/need vs just needing 10 minutes to cry. I also observed a mother who didn't know when to leave her 2 year old and "couldn't" be gone from her longer than an hour (she AP's.) So, it's all about balance whichever way you chose.
Two, I believe that the fear card is dealt from both sides, if you chose to view it that way. Dr. Sears says that if you let your child cry, you are causing neurological damage, that if they're not in the bed with you you're causing psychological damage. (Sorry, I just don't buy it.)
Three, based on the topic of this blog and the general population that reads it, I am assuming that we - the people reading this - are ok making our own decisions rather than letting someone tell us how we should play by the rules. That is why we even chose natural birth in the first place. Yes, I know the medical view of labor, and I chose what is best for me and am not guilted into anything different. It's the same with Babywise for me. Some babies sleep through the night at 8 weeks. My son at 15 months still isn't. It doesn't prove or disprove anything - that I did it wrong, that I am not parenting well, none of that. I am frustrated, but not because of any book I read. I'd just like to get some sleep. (And, no, co-sleeping doesn't work. None of us get any more sleep.)
So, make your choice for your family and for the individual you have been blessed to raise. But, balance, understanding, and grace are all key when interacting with other parents.

Alli said...

One last thought. I guess I just took what I needed from Babywise and left the rest. I did find that there was a book that I liked better as I found it was the balance - Secrets of a Baby Whisperer by Tracy Hogg.

Deb said...

I found Babywise to be guilt-inducing. It also gave bad advice (counter to what pediatricians and lactation experts say) about nursing. I would not encourage anyone to use this book. EVER. It is the only parenting book I know of which has a strong cautionary statement against it by pediatricians. That says something. Why bother? There are better books. What Ezzo does is undermine the natural parent/baby connection (notice I said PARENT - moms and dads) by making it a rule-based instead of love-based relationship.

William Sears is a good place to start, but Ezzoites have been warned about his stuff. So -- my suggestion is this - If you want a gentle, middle-of-the-road book, try Families Where Grace Is the Place by Jeff VanVonderen. It is thoughtful, helpful and supportive. There is no laws or rules. Just love and common sense.

I nursed one child 14 months, the other 35 months. They are bright, strong, caring and focused young people, now in college and high school. And no, they don't sleep with us any more LOL.

Deb said...

I found Babywise to be guilt-inducing. It also gave bad advice (counter to what pediatricians and lactation experts say) about nursing. I would not encourage anyone to use this book. EVER. It is the only parenting book I know of which has a strong cautionary statement against it by pediatricians. That says something. Why bother? There are better books. What Ezzo does is undermine the natural parent/baby connection (notice I said PARENT - moms and dads) by making it a rule-based instead of love-based relationship.

William Sears is a good place to start, but Ezzoites have been warned about his stuff. So -- my suggestion is this - If you want a gentle, middle-of-the-road book, try Families Where Grace Is the Place by Jeff VanVonderen. It is thoughtful, helpful and supportive. There is no laws or rules. Just love and common sense.

I nursed one child 14 months, the other 35 months. They are bright, strong, caring and focused young people, now in college and high school. And no, they don't sleep with us any more LOL.

Deb said...

I found Babywise to be guilt-inducing. It also gave bad advice (counter to what pediatricians and lactation experts say) about nursing. I would not encourage anyone to use this book. EVER. It is the only parenting book I know of which has a strong cautionary statement against it by pediatricians. That says something. Why bother? There are better books. What Ezzo does is undermine the natural parent/baby connection (notice I said PARENT - moms and dads) by making it a rule-based instead of love-based relationship.

William Sears is a good place to start, but Ezzoites have been warned about his stuff. So -- my suggestion is this - If you want a gentle, middle-of-the-road book, try Families Where Grace Is the Place by Jeff VanVonderen. It is thoughtful, helpful and supportive. There is no laws or rules. Just love and common sense.

I nursed one child 14 months, the other 35 months. They are bright, strong, caring and focused young people, now in college and high school. And no, they don't sleep with us any more LOL.

mtbikemom said...

I ditto Kim in post #7. Why not an individual blending of both styles to fit individual circumstances? Different kids tend respond better to different parenting styles, imho, and it is sometimes a mistake to put any kid in a preconceived box just because this or that worked or didn't work previously.

My two non-colicky kids were entirely unique and my two (dynamic) colicky ones needed a different approach. Trial and error are O.K. and discussion is important when it comes to parenting. The bottom line is that each parent that reads a blog like this cares enough to give of themselves unselfishly, to one degree or another, and that is a miracle in every case. I say: move with the groove and stay flexible. Do not get caught up in useless judgement, for by the same measure you will be judged! (Matt. 7:2)

Valerie W said...

This "confession" is great. There is great confusion when it comes to ideas such as independence, attachment, "demand", structure, discipline, and predictability. Much real "wisdom" lies in the idea of age appropriateness. In all of life there is a natural progression from utter dependance to eventual independence. Think of the kind of dependency and literal attachment that exists in utero. Think of the kind of independence and individualization 16 year olds demand. There is a gradual progression between the two.

How often is heard the mantra, "if he doesn't learn it now he never will." This is not a workable principle. My children will need to pay taxes eventually but I don't expect them to do it now. When the time comes (knowing when takes real "wisdom') they will learn how to face that reality. We treat babies this way because we are afraid to walk through the transitions. To take the time to rethink things as they change and present different needs for instruction.

Infants, babies, and toddlers, need to be responded to and attached in order to develop a foundation of security on which to build independence. This is not a parenting fad. It's a well studied psychological reality.

The author is a Christian and so am I. I see this principle of age appropriate transition from dependance to independence evident in our faith as well as in nature. When we come to God we are helpless and 100% in need, as our ignorance disappears He expects more of and "His discipline is His love."

VJCarleton said...

Lucky for me I didn't read BabyWise until long after my children were born. The one point that stood out for me was that this approach is proven wrong by many culture's baby nurturing practices around the world.
Infants in many cultures are raised by attachment parenting and grow to be responsible adults. If BabyWise was a universally true parenting method we would see it succeed in other settings.

Knitted_in_the_Womb said...

I think there are some important things to understand in this debate.

First: "Babywise" has changed a LOT from when it was first introduced. The original edition of Babywise recommended a 4 hr schedule from birth, and recommended having a baby down to 4 feeds per day by something like 6 weeks of age. It gave all sorts of dire predictions about what would happen if the parents did not hold to the schedule, spacing out feedings. Some of why people who read current editions of Babywise follow it ridgidly is because they are being mentored & encouraged by people who used these earlier materials.

Second, the "Eat/Wake/Sleep" pattern is specifically designed to MASK a baby's early hunger cues--and Ezzo acknowledged that once in a verbal interview...laughing about how a baby who is asleep will not notice that he is hungry. (my babies tended to fall into an "eat/wake/eat/sleep" routine--but Ezzo specifically warn NOT to feed the baby right before sleep is scheduled). Up until the 2001 edition of Babywise, there were instructions about the "45 minute nap monster" that instructed mothers to let their babies cry until it was time for the nap to be over if they woke 45 minutes into the nap. It was only in the 2001 edition that a *grudging* suggestion was made that maybe the baby was hungry and should be fed early--ahead of schedule. This kind of teaching is part of what leads to the rigid time schedule.

My first child was born in 1998--at the peak of the Babywise boom. The young mothers in my church were quite into Ezzo, making me the "odd mom out." There was a mother (probably the biggest Ezzo advocate) who would insist that her child be left in a crib to cry for 20 minutes to fall asleep for a nap in the church nursery (she said this was what her daughter ALWAYS had to do)...which was SO not workable, as it would get all of the babies in the nursery crying. We ended up having to make a rule that babies were only allowed to cry "alone" for 5 minutes, then a nursery worker was supposed to spend 5 minutes trying to soothe the baby before getting a parent. This mother was always SO angry when we'd get her. This baby was born 2 months before my first daughter was born...and she was something like 6 lbs 11 oz at birth while my daughter was 7 lbs 1 oz. By the time my daughter was 2 months old she was BIGGER than this baby who was 2 months older than her, and my daughter stayed on her growth curve, she wasn't moving up through the percentiles. I dealt a lot with babies who were lethargic...who would lay or sit on the floor and not do anything. Many babies that rarely smiled. One mother admitted to me--saddly--that her daughter would not cuddle and be rocked to sleep, which the mom felt was because she very strictly stuck to never allowing the baby to EVER fall asleep in someone's arms when she was a newborn--because Ezzo warned against developing negative sleep associations. We eventually left this church because of the negative parenting teachings.

Oh...and The Baby Whisperer...oye vey! It gives lots of incorrect breastfeeding advice as well...and I can't say as I have a lot of respect for the parenting advice of a woman who leaves her elementary school aged kids in England and comes to America to serve as a nanny to the rich & famous.

Knitted_in_the_Womb said...

Alli...a question...

Can you point to where "Dr. Sears says that if you let your child cry, you are causing neurological damage, that if they're not in the bed with you you're causing psychological damage?"

I've read several of his books, and never got that message at all. Looking at his website (www.askdrsears.com), this is some of what I see:

Crying (http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/fussy-baby/7-things-parents-should-know-about-babys-cries): Though he has articles about dangers of excessive crying, his message is different about "normal" crying: There may be times when baby simply needs to cry, and you needn't feel desperate to make him stop after trying all the usual things.

Cosleeping (http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/sleep-problems/co-sleeping-yes-no-sometimes): Says that he *didn't* cosleep with his first 3, and really wrestled with the choice when his 4th child was high needs. He never seems to indicate that his first 3 children are somehow psychologically scarred. Further, he says "there are many nighttime parenting styles, and parents need to be sensible and use whatever arrangement gets all family members the best night's sleep."

Leesa Briones said...

Many parents have posted that Babywise is not about a schedule, however all the parents that have told me they want to follow 'Babywise' have all talked first thing about the ... schedule. That is the thing that seems to appeal and stand out - your baby will conveniently fit into a schedule.
There is good information in the books, but this information can be found elsewhere, in more medically sound books, written by those qualified in childcare.

The distinctive information is the thing that I believe

1) can steal parents' quality time with their precious babies that grow so quickly

and

2) make parents feel so guilty and obligated to follow all the books' advice because if they don't it is implied that they are not good Christians and the child will become ADHD, less intelligent, rebellious, etc ...

I tried having regular feeding times (not exactly a schedule) waking up my daughter for a feed every 2 1/2 hours to try and get her to behave better in the evening, but this made her terribly grumpy. I decided to let her sleep, wake and feed whenever she wanted, and suprise! She ended up making her own somewhat regular schedule and she did sleep through the night by about three months.

Like the author of this article says, we are not just carers of a baby. The thing newborn babies need is not schedule and discipline. They need to know that they are LOVED! They grow so quickly that you will regret it if you don't take every chance to hold and love them as much as possible.

I have read some very sad testimonials of misguided parents following Babywise, etc ... and the sad thing is that apparently some course instructors tell parents not to tell anyone they are taking these courses. This isolates parents from seeking others' opinions, and some have even been reluctant to tell their doctor, and the doctor wonders why the baby is underweight and dehydrated.

When a baby is newborn their only method of communicating their needs is to cry. They don't know how to manipulate. This is a very important thing that my maternity nurse told me.

Why take unqualified advice from a man who doesn't even mention his children on his own website and has to self-publish his book because his publisher dropped it?

Valerie W said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nichola said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nichola said...

I am a former Babywise mom and could have almost written the article above. Except I stuck it out for 3 children...modifying it a bit with the last 2 but still teaching them to sleep on their own, learning to ignore my baby when he/she cried and exulting in my 'easy' babies and self-soothers.
I came to the end of 5 years as a babywise mom only to realize that I had missed out. I missed out on the cuddles, the sweet times of rocking my baby to sleep, of getting to snuggle at naptime, and the worst of all, of being the one they needed for nurture and meeting their needs. The need for mommy was replaced by their snuggies, and as I would lay them down for a nap with hands free to go wash dishes, etc, I knew something was missing, and finally came to realize it was my children's need for me that was missing. Emotionally we had not grown close the way I knew we should have.
I mourned over the state of my family, and when I became pregnant with my 4th baby, I knew that I was no doing Babywise. Esp after finally researching Mr. Ezzo and realizing that I def didn't want my family to turn out like his...the man didn't/doesn't have a clue about raising kids and was ashamed I had been stupid for so long. (btw, I haven't seen it mentioned, but Growing Kid's God's Way is the Christian version of Babywise and just as destructive, maybe more so...)
My 4th baby was a very healing baby for all of us. My older children were still little enough that as I met the needs of the baby as he needed me, it met their needs as well. They were healed in the process of watching/helping me take care of this new baby. And our relationships were healed as well. Then I had my 5th baby and our family hasn't seemed to even feel the effects of the Babywise parenting anymore.
I do not view myself as an AP parent, although I do hold with some of the AP parenting style. I view myself as a natural parent, looking to the natural order of how God created us as mothers/fathers and doing my best to go with His creation and order, not against it. I now co-sleep, breastfeed when the baby needs it for whatever reason, wear my baby to sleep, and respond to my baby's cries. It is glorious, and my husband and children are all more at peace than they ever were on Babywise.And as I now expecting my 6th baby, I am more firmly convinced than ever that natural parenting God's way is the wisest way to parent my children, and the most rewarding.

kysyra said...

Thank you, Mama Birth, for your statement.

The thing that struck me the most was, that Ezzo DOES of course say "If he's hungry, feed him" ONCE. At a point in the book going on about responding differently to different reasons for crying.
Not at a section about "what do I do if my baby is hungry and it isn't feeding time yet?"
However, when it comes to reading your baby's cues, he actually claims that typical hunger signs are NOT hunger signs (I think he claims the are signs of sleepiness).
Also, he keeps claiming, that if you use the schedule, you don't need to guess as to why your baby cries. If it is time for feeding and he cries, he's hungry. which obviously implies that, if it is not time for feeding, and he cries, he cannot be hungry...
And of course, as already stated, deviating from the schedule, picking your child up "too much", holding it "too much", feeding on demand and co-sleeping are spoken of in a derisive way, time and again, and the terrible results of such behaviour are stressed all the time!

hollymariesweet said...

Kysyra, no where does it say that holding your baby too much is bad. Have you read Babywise? Also, I have attached a link to a blog that lists out every time Babywise says to feed your baby when they are hungry...

http://www.babywisemom.com/2010/02/feed-baby-when-hungry.html

She counted 27 times.. and she may have missed some. I am not sure why you think it says to feed your baby when it is hungry just once?

Alli said...

@Knitted_in_the_Womb,
He states it explicitly. I've read it different places but it's also here on his website:
http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/fussy-baby/science-says-excessive-crying-could-be-harmful

I think this article sums up the flaws in some of his logic well: http://ideas.time.com/2012/05/10/the-science-behind-dr-sears-does-it-stand-up/

Greg and Jenn said...

I did a modified version of babywise and my son did very well with it. We had to work closely with lactation because he never nursed well and my supply was never great. I know this is due to my own hormonal imbalances and not a schedule issue because I have PCOS. My son sleeps great in his own bed since 6 weeks old. I would not change this. I do however hold him for 1 nap a day. I enjoy this cuddle time. I however will never cosleep with him. I am a former ER nurse and have seen MANY babies come in who have died in the bed with their parents. There is a reason the American Academy of Pediatrics says babies under 12 months old should sleep seperately. Please find a different way to cuddle with your sweet babies.

Kelly J. Gastley said...

I agree with Alli - I have no idea what BabyWise book some of these commenters have read. BabyWise is abundantly clear that a parent is supposed to take their child's cues and not follow a rigid schedule down to the minute. The schedule just gives a framework to the day. I followed BabyWise's principles and breastfed my daughter (while being a working mom) until 12 months with no problems. She slept in her own room from the first night she was home, slept through the night at 8 weeks, and gained weight incredibly well. She is now a very well-adjusted toddler who loves to cuddle and show affection. She has also continued to be an amazing sleeper.

I can already tell that her brother, a newborn, is not going to sleep through the night as early as she did, and that is fine - he was born smaller and needs more time to have a full belly. But he, too, has gained weight incredibly well and is doing great.

BabyWise is about general routine and helping your child have good sleep habits. It may not be the only way to do that, but it can work beautifully when it's digested properly and not as a mandate to adhere to a rigid schedule (which it clearly is not). BabyWise's biggest take-home lesson for me was the importance of FULL feedings, not snacks every 30 or 60 minutes. Yes, there are times when I offer a feeding shortly after one just occurred, because my baby seems hungry - BabyWise does NOT tell you to wait another 2-3 hours to offer a feeding in such a circumstance. But by focusing on full feedings from Day 1, I have allowed my children to get the nourishment they need from both foremilk and hindmilk and have children who are very happy and sleep well.

Call it coincidence, but if you actually read BabyWise's words (not the interpretations that some have posted here), I think you'll see that it can really work and allow everyone some peace. If you want to use Attachment Parenting, that is your choice, and I'm confident your baby will grow up fine and you will have a wonderful family. I may not agree to your approach, but I’m not going to say that you are a bad parent or harming your child for using it. Please do the same for others and stop making BabyWise out to be something it most plainly is not, whatever your reasons.

Kelly J. Gastley said...

One more comment - nowhere does BabyWise tell you not to hug or cuddle or rock your child. In fact, it suggests rocking your child to help them to get sleepy and then allowing them to complete the process of falling asleep on their own. I rocked my toddler to sleep every night when she was a baby and am doing the same with my newborn. I also cuddle with my toddler in her bed when I am reading her a story before bedtime. We also cuddle after she wakes up from naps and any other time of the day when we need it. I don't feel like I've missed out on any love and affection because of this book. I feel bad that some read it to mean that cuddling and rocking is bad, but it does not. It's just a guideline for setting a routine - you, as a parent, do the rest. And I must ask - why would you ever attempt to follow something that tells you not to cuddle or rock your child? BabyWise is about using your head and not just feeding your baby every time they cry or get upset. Feeding is primarily about nourishment - occasionally about comfort, but not primarily. The rest of parenting is about comfort and showing your child they are loved, and you can do that even if your child sleeps in their own bed and has a nice daily routine.

Julie Cornewell said...

I've noticed as well that what people say BabyWise is about and what the book actually says are two different things. However, the edition that I read was 2009. It's certainly possible that the recommendations were far more strict in the earlier editions or perhaps worded less clear? Regardless, I like The Baby Whisperer much better. I think the routine of eating, playing, and sleep is explained much better with Hogg's idea of E.A.S.Y. (eat, activity, sleep, you). I also think Hogg emphasizes treating a baby like a human being much better. I don't just follow The Baby Whisperer. I also do some attachment parenting. I wear my baby in a sling for a few hours everyday and sometimes cosleep. I follow Sears for AP not some of the more "crunchy" extremists that have their own ideas about AP. However, I may be a bit extreme when it comes to crying it out. I am adamantly opposed to the idea. Also when I read BabyWise I kept wondering what all the talk was about "the fourth trimester" and then by accident I came across The book The Happiest Baby on the Block which talks about the idea that babies are so helpless because ideally they would spend another 3 months in the womb if they could. They aren't little machines that need scheduled but need help adapting to life outside the womb. Overall I have found useful information in all of these books. I've taken what works for me and what doesn't. All of them have pros and cons.

Hanna said...

My first two children were demand fed, didn't sleep through until 2 1/2 and 6 years respectively. Both are now married and are wonderful young people. My third, I shedule fed after reading Baby Wise. She slept through at 4 months, was a really happy baby, breast-fed for 3 1/2 years! (not exclusively of course!) and is an awesome young lady. Funnily enough, she is my pickiest eater! Number four was delivered at 35 weeks weighing only 2lb 6 oz and has Down syndrome. I would get him sleeping through the night only to have our routine broken or he would get sick and we would be back to square one again. He still does not sleep all night consistently at age 10. I guess the point I am trying to make is that every mother and every child is different and you have to be prepared to be flexible in your parenting style. Give something a go, if it's not working then change it! You'll do more harm sticking rigidly to an ideal that is not working for your child than making a change. Love has more to do with how your child turns out than whether you did AP or routine feeding, breast or bottle fed, fabric diapered or used disposables.

Heidi said...

I don't understand why you were so upset that your child enjoyed a schedule and was naturally independent. If AP is about the needs of the child why wouldn't you cater to her need for a schedule and independence? Those are specific personality traits. Didn't you say you liked schedules as well? Your daughter could've inherited that from you. I don't understand the need to "fix" a naturally independent kid? That is what seems disturbing to me about this article. As if something was wrong with her daughter because she did well on Babywise. I read Babywise and used some things that were helpful and forgot the rest!Basically I liked the eat play sleep routine because I finally got a few minutes with a happy baby. She was full and rested at the same time and I got a few smiles! yay:) Because of that routine we didn't have any nursing to sleep and comfort nursing which I liked. Sorry if that makes me less of a mother to some of you!

michael said...

PLEASE VACCINATE YOUR BABY. We are having measles and mumps outbreak because of parents not vaccinating their babies. These are preventable morbidity and mortality. It's the same reason we put babies in car seat. And no, vaccines don't cause autism.

Mckayla said...

I read a book called "The Power of Positive Parenting" basically, it states that if your baby is crying you should attend to his/her needs (Feed them and change them). If you r baby's needs have been met, and your baby is still crying he/she should be put down until he/she stops crying for 45seconds. Once the crying stops the baby should be coddled and loved. This positively reinforces good behavior, and the baby is now only crying when he/she is tired or hungry. I haven't tried it, but I think it might be a good mix of the two?

MaryMcDoula said...

I read the first few blog posts... er, I mean comments after your article. You know, the ones defending BabyWise. That's great that some parents like that way of parenting. It's also great that some parents prefer attachment parenting. Your article was perfect in conveying what worked for your family. I'm not quite sure how people misunderstand your experience to mean that one way is better than the other for every family. I hope that people could unwrap their heads from thinking there is only one RIGHT way to do things.

Knitted_in_the_Womb said...

Mckayla, the problem with what you are describing is that it doesn't seem to allow that a real "need" the baby may have is for emotional attachment, and it is teaching the baby that negative emotions need to be stuffed down because they are unacceptable.

Alli said...

Knitted_in_the_Womb, Mckayla clearly writes that parents need to cuddle and love and snuggle their children. That is a wonderful emotional attachment. What is so wrong with teaching our children how to communicate their needs in an appropriate manner, to use self control? Negative emotions don't need to be stuffed, but not all emotions need to be allowed to run rampant. This obviously looks different in parenting an infant vs a toddler and even into childhood and teenage years. But to claim that anything other than attachment parenting is neglectful is a bit shortsighted.

Dina and Ricky said...

I did baby wise with my 3 kids, a boy first, then twin girls. I loved it. I didn't get so caught up in the "guilt-inducing" (??) details. I loved that my kids could be put to bed easily and could put themselves to sleep (still works at 4 and 22months). I loved the flexible schedule and predictability. As a delirious new mom it took the guess work out and made it easy to know when my baby was hungry (when he woke up) or sleepy (after he has eaten and played for a while and gets fussy). As far as causing milk supply to decrease, I think every mom is different. I joked that with my first baby I had enough milk for twins. I stayed engorged constantly and milk squirted in my little guy's face all the time. Then I had twins and nursed them on a flexible baby wise schedule for 13 months. I had a ton of milk with them too. I find that all of parenting is trial and error. You ave to find what works for you, your child, and your family. For me, it was baby wise. I loved it and highly recommend it. It helped me maintain my sanity.

Chantell Loftus said...

Babies do have their own schedule but you are there to guide them and help them find a balance that's the best for the both of you~ My Grandmother said to me before my first son was bon that "That he is coming to live with you not you going to live with him." What I got from that was I am the mom I do what is best for him. I am the boss not him . My first son his first night home slept a straight full 8 hours and fully every night his whole life even now at 13,he didn't starve and his healthy and happy. Also I stopped giving them naps around two years of age because they wouldn't take a nap until 3p.m. and then not go to bed until 10p.m.,so I dealt with the crankiness in the afternoon got used to it and they went to bed a 7p.m. and slept until 7a.m.. I have 4 children(raised all the same way) and they are all healthy and happy. I think parents need other help from parents when asked not told what they "should" or "should not" be doing every child and every family is different.

Sannetta Marsh said...

So I tried cosleeping with our 7mos oldbc he was not gaining well. He gained great bc he had open access all night. I however could not relax or rest with him in our bed. I woke tired grouchy and exhausted. I cant go against my gut whuch says cosleeping us not safe for us. Yet it feels natural in some ways. He also became soooo attached that week, I could not even sit him down to pee without him screaming. So is that a healthy attachment? If so, then tell me and I am.being sincere here...how do u manage to do anything. Laundry cooking? I know u will say a sling but that only last so long. I dont feel safe using the stove a knife with him in asling either. How do u ap's do it? How do they nap? When do u shower? I could not seem to accomplish the basics. Any ideas?