Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Baby Wise (1)

Once I read 'Happiest Baby on the Block', and loved it so much I confess my baby book reading slowed to a crawl. I felt content to take the information in that book and just run with it, but recently the copy of Baby Wise (Gary Ezzo, M.A. and Robert Bucknam, M.D.) which has been sitting lonely on my night stand began to once again spike my curiosity. I had heard from friends that because I loved 'Happiest Baby', I would hate 'Baby Wise' but I do love me a schedule so I wondered if I would find some useful tips, and honestly the polarizing effect of this book on mothers in my social circle made me very curious.

I had to take the bus yesterday and took that opportunity to make some headway into Baby Wise. I was fully expecting to dislike it. And even from the little I have read I strongly doubt it will be a method I can ever fully buy into but I feel as though a lot of the bad rap this book and method has received is from people who haven't read it. I say this because the methods (as far as I have read) are no way near as controversial as I had imagined.

I am about halfway through the book, so there will be probably be more posts as I get deeper into the methods, but I wanted to share thoughts so far. After only a few pages I sent a text to my friend telling her I already had ideas for multiple blogs from what I was reading and it was true. Lots of really great insight and reasoning behind the ideas. I suppose there are foundations for most parents as they think ahead to why they make certain decisions about how they parent, and I related to the ones mentioned.

The thing I really loved is the foundational principle that your baby joins your family. This sounds simple, but the author compares it to families who welcome the baby in and allow the family to change to make life revolve around them. This is something I know I personally have to be aware of as we welcome our little man. We have waited so long, I feel as though he has been consuming my thoughts already and yet I want to be sure that he does not begin to feel as though this is how relationships with peers and others will play out. I want to prepare him fully for the world. This example is used in the book to illustrate child-centered parenting is what I am truly hoping to avoid by making other choices in how we parent. It sounds extreme but I think it could be so easy to fall into this pattern in life and I know it would be easier to make the tough choices at the outset rather than backtracking once life patterns become established.

"Marisa's parents have adopted the child-centered approach. As a result, Marisa will never have to wait for anything. If she wants something, it is given to her on demand. Baby-sitters? They make Marisa uneasy. So an evening out alone together simply isn't an option. Either her parents will take her everywhere they go, or they will miss a function due to Marisa's inability to take part. As for eating, if Marisa suddenly rejects her bananas she'll be offered a variety of options until her particular preference is revealed. Then mom will stock the shelves full of Marisa's delight, only to learn days later that the child's pleasure is back to bananas. Welcome to the circus." "Sadly, Marisa's parents are not aware of the disabling impact their attitude has on their daughter. Instead of building Marisa into a self-assured adult, they are fostering the emotionally crippling attitude of me-ism"(23)
Who wants to be around those children? Not me. And I would like people to enjoy my child so I want to give him the tools necessary to get along in the world by making sure he understands that he is fully loved, and oh so valuable, but also that the world does not revolve around him :)

Of course a baby takes time and attention, and rightly so, but this book makes the point that the best thing parents can be for their children is strong example of love. Parents must chose to parent in a way that continues to give their marriage the attention it needs and deserves."Too often, parents lose sight of this fact, getting lost in a parenting wonderland of photos, footsteps, and first words. Baby becomes central to their existence. Yet the greatest overall influence you will have on your children will not come in your role as an individual parent, but in your joint role as husband and wife"(20)

That means making your marriage relationship a priority; continuing (or starting) date nights, making time together at home to connect each day where children can see this priority, as well as just the simple interactions of love such as hugs, kisses, and playful words. This feels like as easy piece of the parenting puzzle to misplace in the wake of lack of sleep, new routines, and generally becoming parents! I hope that speaking our intention to make marriage a priority will help us transition well into this area of parenthood. We want our son to feel confident in our marriage, and safe and secure in the home we provide for him and we understand that it will take intention and work. I believe the truth that, "A healthy husband-wife relationship is essential to the emotional health of children in the home. When there is harmony in the marriage, there is an infused stability within the family" (20)

Ok, so we're off to a good start Baby wise and I. We are totally on the same page about bringing a baby into a family and having it join our team, giving them a "we-ism" foundation. And also as we continue to make our marriage a priority in our home. We seem to both believe that these are motivations for making the parenting choices which will form the structure of of family...now let's see if our methods match up?!


  1. ok ok, i confess, i'm a "haven't read it but hate it" mentality!! but you have my curiousity piqued. perhaps there could be more to the book then the rep it has about breastfeeding on a schedule! i will always 100% be against that for biological reasons. if that isn't what the book is about, then well, i can open my mind and get some fresh ideas to stir up the parenting pot a little. oh, and do you want to babysit so we can have a date night? hehe.

  2. I havent read this book, but I agree with the points trying to be made. However I think every little child thinks the world revolves around them and that when they want something they want it right then. It is our job to teach them patience and respect. It is learned from birth that if they need something to cry, scream etc so as toddler they do this too, but this is where we as parents teach them. I agree that keeping a solid relationship with your partner is SO important. Many women let baby take over. After we had ds however I found that dh and I were closer than ever. So it wasnt a big challenge for us luckily.

    Just my input:)

  3. I follow a child-centred approach which in my view is best - but it doesn't mean that my children "never have to wait for anything" or my husband and I never get "our" time because our children are uneasy about babysitters. I would not call a child-centred approach "a circus" either. Have you read any books about child development and mental/emotional development? I would also suggest that the author in this particular paragraph is suggesting that children (even babies) are manipulative I would argue that they are not and need love and attention and need their parents to help make them feel secure. Please take a look at this website - http://www.zerotothree.org/ Between the time babies are born and when they turn 3 sets the foundation for the rest of their lives. This is based on sound research all over the world, not just in the United States and each in each Western English-speaking country (and probably many others)there are NGOs committed to spreading the word about this. Breastfeeding on demand is best - not on a schedule, and please when your baby is born and you see him understand that everything is new to him and he is not manipulative in a negative way at all. Of course you will have to do this in your own time and in your own way. Just imagine if your baby was hungry after 2 hours because he had spilled milk upon you burping him after his last feed - are you really going to show him you don't care by waiting to feed him for 2 more hours to on track with a schedule? And are you going to listen to him scream his little lungs out for all that time, wishing he would just be quiet and "learn"? Or are you going to show him that he is loved and give him what he needs - some of mum's milk - when he needs it? These books really irritate me. I wonder if these people have had children themselves sometimes and if they took their own advice.

    1. Thanks for your comment. Firstly, I would ask that you read a little more of my blog, especially in regards to the other books I have read and mentioned on the subject of parenting as well as general thoughts. Clearly this is something my husband and I are in the process of trying to figure out as we wait for our little guy to arrive. I think you would find many of the questions you asked, and the comments you made have already been answered.

      I also have a background in Early Years Care and Education so while I may not have my own children yet, I have a vast experience of different parenting styles and the way they impact children socially/educationally. So I am not writing from a place of ignorance.

      To clarify, I am ONLY agreeing with the initial chapters and issues in this book not the whole approach so please don't pass judgement on something I haven't even said yet. There is more coming tomorrow and in the days ahead :)

      This blog is my own thoughts an opinions and I welcome comment from others but I am not seeking anyone's approval. I am not judging the decisions of others, if it came across that way I apologize. I am glad that the approach you have chosen works for your family but it doesn't mean that by making a different choice either of us would be wrong.

      You didn't leave your name or contact information so I can't get in touch directly but I hope you read this.

      Chrissie x

  4. Chrissie,
    I know this makes me something of a contradicton in "Mommy-land", but I love BOTH BabyWise and "Happiest Baby". Maybe we're crazy, but somehow we found a balance. I love a schedule and I feel like many of the BabyWise ideas are what helped our little guy be such a great sleeper, but I'm never going to starve him so I can stick to my schedule. Speaking as someone who's read the whole book (several times), your anonmymous poster clearly hasn't read the book, and I wouldn't worry about what they think. You'll figure it out. As firmly as all Mamas seem to hold to their different ideas, I think they're probably all right, in their own ways.

  5. Hi Chrissie... I just have to say that before I had Hunter I read Gina Ford's Contented Little Baby and I thought it made complete sense and a friend of mine had just had a baby and she was telling me how she was getting little sleep and her baby cried all the time and I thought to myself... well I won't be parenting like you, thank Goodness... and after I had Hunter, Gina Ford's Contented Little Baby went straight out the window as I learned well actually... my baby is an individual and he needs love and a nurturing parent who will attend to his needs. I still need to remember that my children are dependent on me and Fred to meet all their needs and I need reminding on a regular basis. I hope you find your way, Chrissie. I know you will love your baby and make sure all his needs are met. Looking forward to reading more of your blogs... Sarah Mc X

  6. I read it. I loved it, and we used it with Addie very strictly. This time around we are loosely using the methods in the book (I am not being as rigid). It is wonderful and it does have a lot of good information in it. It does require a lot of proactiveness on the part of parents, and the "haters" prefer that their baby leads the way.

  7. I agree that all the controversy surrounding the book seems to come from people who HAVEN'T read it ... I've actually not met someone who hates it that HAS read it. I think people (understandably) hate what they think it means: that you only feed your baby when you want to and let him/her starve and cry the rest of the time. Who would go for that?! I think the book puts extreme emphasis on feeding your baby when he/she is hungry, but also gives some useful information about how a loose schedule can help you both.

    I had lots and lots of feeding issues with my first, so I've done extensive research about breastfeeding, lactation, a baby's feeding needs, etc. All of that research really helped me to understand the benefit of a schedule. For example, knowing that my baby needed 9-12 feedings a day in the early days often led me to wake her during a long sleep stretch during the day to nurse, because I knew she wouldn't be getting enough feedings in if I didn't. My research also strongly supports the idea of helping your baby get a full feeding. If a baby only has short feeds every hour or so, he/she won't get the high fat/nutrition hind milk that comes at the end of a longer feeding (like 15-20 minutes into the feed), which can result in too much lactose and a gassy tummy. And since it takes breast milk 90 minutes to digest, if your baby had a nice, long feed less than 90 minutes ago, you can start to realize that his crying is about something else (gas, tiredness, etc.) rather than always assuming it's hunger. I think that loosely following a schedule allowed me to be much more in tune with my babies needs, like realizing he/she was actually overtired when well-meaning family members around me assumed a crying baby HAD to mean hunger every time.

    I think there is a LOT to be said for helping a baby organize his/her sleep. I woke to nurse frequently during the day but not at night, and it didn't take long before both of my children got the idea that the daytime was the primary time to consume calories and nighttime was the best for sleeping longer stretches (though, of course, I fed whenever they woke at night). A book you might enjoy is The Baby Whisperer series. She has some similiar ideas to Baby Wise in terms of feeding/sleeping organization, is less controversial, and she's also a Brit. :) I don't agree with all of her ideas, but I think she has some good insights.

  8. Oh controversy! I am glad you are reading lots of different books, because no ONE book has it right. I always cling to Ecclesiastes 7:18
    "It is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other. The man who fears God will avoid all extremes."
    I might be taking it out of context but it's good sound advice that's helped me feel more confident in decisions I make! People like to get passionate about things and go to the extreme of one viewpoint or the other. Read any comment section in any parenting blog and you will quickly see that the "attachment parenting" people are just as vicious as the "scheduled" parents. It's nuts. I like your insights and the way you express your opinion and I think you are so wise to look at all sides of the coin! You are a great mommy!



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