“There is no finer investment for any community than putting milk into babies.” Winston Churchill
See Important note on upcoming information at the end of this post
Today we continue to delve into the controversial book On Becoming Babywise.
Before reviewing the rest of the book, we believe it is extremely important to point out that the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a warning about Ezzo’s methods as far back as 1998. Dr. Matthew Aney’s article “‘Babywise’ advice linked to dehydration, failure to thrive”, alerted parents about the risks associated with Ezzo’s methods. Dr. Aney explained:
"Expectant parents often fear the changes a new baby will bring, especially sleepless nights. What new parent wouldn't want a how-to book that promises their baby will be sleeping through the night by three to eight weeks?
"One such book, On Becoming Babywise, has raised concern among pediatricians because it outlines an infant feeding program that has been associated with failure to thrive (FTT), poor milk supply failure, and involuntary early weaning. A Forsyth Medical Hospital Review Committee, in Winston-Salem N.C., has listed 11 areas in which the program is inadequately supported by conventional medical practice. The Child Abuse Prevention Council of Orange County, Calif., stated its concern after physicians called them with reports of dehydration, slow growth and development, and FTT associated with the program.”
You can read the entire article here.
3/9/11-TWW hastens to add that there have been NO documented cases of infant death due to using this method. In an article, link here, one can read the following statement:
Cheryl A. Tyler
Master of Education in Special Education
George Peabody College of Vanderbilt University
"For example bonding is a physical attachment as well as mental. Ezzo's methods in these critical first months of a baby's life have implications for life-long physical and mental disorders, and potentially could even lead to death. "
Babywise outlines three different feeding philosophies – child-led feeding, clock feeding, and parent-directed feeding (PDF) – and then lauds PDF as the far superior method.
Here’s how Ezzo cleverly sells PDF:
“Surely you desire what’s best for your baby. Every good parent does. As a mother, you also need what’s best for you. A fatigued and weary mom simply cannot effectively meet her baby’s needs or anyone else’s, for that matter. Babies do not connect well with burned-out mothers. Parent-directed feeding (PDF) can prevent that.” (p. 41)
What is PDF? It is a round the clock strategy that involves three basic activities: feeding, being awake, and napping, which are repeated over and over and over again. Ezzo believes that such a routine will lead to consistency, which in turn will result in the infant being able to sleep through the night. These activities are done in that exact order: feeding, staying awake/playing, and finally napping. Much of the book is devoted to explaining this technique in detail.
Remember Marisa and Chelsea, the imaginary infants described in yesterday’s post? Here’s how PDF is far superior to demand feeding, according to Babywise:
“Chelsea, our PDF baby, will establish healthy and continuous nighttime sleep sometime between the seventh and ninth week. She will probably be sleeping ten hours a night by week twelve. Her cousin Marisa, on the other hand, will still be waking two or three times a night to snack.”
Of course, this is music to any parent’s ears…
Here’s our concern about this scenario. Is it possible for a mom to go TEN HOURS without breastfeeding her infant night after night? Those of us who have nursed our babies know that the more often you breastfeed the more milk you produce. That’s a no-brainer. Can a mother who does not nurse at all during the night produce sufficient milk to continue breastfeeding?
As I reflect back to my own experience with demand feeding, I didn’t find it that inconvenient. My husband and I had a cradle at the foot of our bed where our baby slept for the first few months. When she would wake up once or twice during the night, I would pick her up and nurse her (either lying down in bed or sitting in a rocking chair) and then put her back in her cradle. It was so natural and comforting to my baby. Extended crying sessions were a fairly rare occurrence, except when she was teething. When she napped during the day, I would often lie down with her to get some rest during one of her nap times. When my second child came along, I would try and get my older daughter to take a nap with the baby and me. Those were precious times, and I didn’t experience the exhaustion described ad nauseam in Babywise. It’s just another scare tactic used to coerce parents of newborns to buy into the Babywise system.
As the AAP article explains, some infants have become malnourished and seriously dehydrated because their parents chose to use the Babywise approach to feeding. There have even been reports of babies dying. Why? Because PDF is a regimented feeding schedule that is "parent directed", not "child directed". Instead of the infant signaling what he/she needs, the parent decides. This is so unnatural.
What disturbs us even more are the scare tactics Ezzo uses to manipulate parents into embracing his Babywise method. It is truly shameful!
First, Ezzo explains that when a mom offers to nurse every time her baby cries, she is teaching him or her that food, not the mom, is a source of comfort. So a tiny infant can understand the difference? What kind of psychobabble is that? Then Ezzo goes on to theorize that such behavior on the mother’s part may explain why there is such a problem with obesity. Here are his exact words:
“A mom who picks up her baby and offers the breast each time her baby cries is teaching baby that food is the source of comfort, not mom…. It may also help explain the obesity problem of our nation’s youth and why so many adults turn to food for stress relief. They have been trained that way from the beginning.” (p. 140)
Secondly, Ezzo falsely claims in Babywise that holding a baby too much can have "negative propensities". He pontificates:
“Yes, you can harm a baby by picking him or her up too much. Not in that single act, but in the collective nature of such a response. Over time this parenting attitude creates negative propensities. These inevitably spill over into pretoddler and toddler development.” (p. 141)
What are these “negative propensities”? The Babywise authors write:
“Research has clearly demonstrated that immediate-gratification training negatively impacts a child’s ability to learn, affecting the skills of sitting, focusing, and concentrating. All are prerequisites for academic advancement. These are facts”. (p. 141)
Earlier in the book, Ezzo asks and then answers the following question: “What role does healthy sleep play in the developmental process? Are you ready for this? Night sleepers make smarter children.” (p. 53) A few paragraphs later he states that studies have shown that “children with healthy sleep patterns clearly had higher IQs than children who did not sleep well.” (p. 53)
Why is Ezzo talking about sleep patterns of children? He clearly stated at the beginning of the book that Babywise was written for infants.
Here is how I believe Ezzo is trying to intimidate parents. He is not so subtly conveying the following message – if you choose any feeding method other than “Parent Directed Feeding (PDF)”, then your cute little baby will grow up to be fat and dumb! Talk about intimidation!!!
And if that’s not enough to coerce you into using Babywise, then the following strategy is bound to convince you.
Under the section “What Should I Do When My Baby Cries”, Ezzo explains that when Marissa cries, her mom “simply reacts to her feelings when she hears her baby cry.” (p. 150) She will instinctively pick up Marissa and comfort her. A condescending Ezzo explains that such a reaction is absolutely wrong because one’s feelings should never be substituted for sound decision-making. He explains that “crying is a mechanism given by the Creator.” (p. 150) According to Ezzo, parents should not "react" to a crying baby but instead "assess" the situation before taking action. Here’s just how low Ezzo stoops to sell his feeding technique. He explains:
"Mother’s decisions without assessment can be dangerous. To deny the importance of careful assessment is to deny parents their role as leaders. Leaders must be clear-headed and ready to make decisions. They should not be driven by emotions. In practice, emotional mothering can set the stage for child abuse.” (p. 151)
In other words, if a mother instinctively picks up her crying baby without first listening for the type of cry and using sound decision making to assess that cry, her child may become a victim of CHILD ABUSE. This kind of manipulation is absolutely horrible!
What’s worse, Ezzo offers a plethora of resources on page 244 of On Becoming Babywise. Given what I have read in this volume, I cringe to think what kind of dogmatic instruction Ezzo provides in the following "self-published" books:
On Becoming Birthwise, On Becoming Babywise II, On Becoming Pottywise for Toddlers, Potty Training 1-2-3, On Becoming Childwise, On Becoming Preschoolwise, On Becoming Preteenwise, and On Becoming Teenwise.
There are some RED FLAGS in Babywise for the discerning reader. On pages 99-100 Ezzo warns parents who may consult a lactation specialist that "the lactation industry is heavily biased in favor of attachment parenting theories" and that "PDF is a major paradigm shift for the industry…do not be surprised if the concept of putting a nursing infant on a 'flexible routine' is questioned." Then Ezzo has the audacity to say:
"Be prudent and cautious in your search for a lactation consultant. Being "Board Certified" does not guarantee the information you receive is the best for you or your baby or necessarily medically correct. Too often a consultant's personal parenting views are substituted for sound medical advice." (p. 101)
Here is another RED FLAG. On page 218 Ezzo strongly suggests that the infant's parents buy extra copies of On Becoming Babywise to give to the grandparents so they will understand the PDF method. More book sales..
Here is the bottom line. The Ezzos are making bank through their FOR PROFIT business that they have cleverly disguised as a ministry. Furthermore, we believe they are creating a dependency through their Babywise approach to infant feeding. Unsuspecting parents who embrace the extremely unnatural PDF method begin to place their trust in Ezzo, rather than trusting their God-given parental instincts. Dear readers, Dee and I have done something that Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam will NEVER be able to do — breastfeed a baby!!! We know from experience exactly what's involved with breastfeeding because we have done it successfully.
How many more lives will be adversely affected by the Ezzos?
When it comes to the bizarre teachings promoted in Babywise, here is our wisest motherly advice: USE AT YOUR OWN RISK!
Today, TWW obtained information regarding Gary Ezzo and the Talbot School of Theology. We will confirm our source and report this information on Friday.
Secondly, on Thursday TWW will post a personal testimony about what happened when one woman dared to approach her SGM leaders regarding the problems with Ezzo. Her story has been confirmed by other sources. We will be surprised if our readers do not find this post deeply disturbing.
Finally, tomorrow TWW will post a special article written by the head of a Christian cruise company that provides mission opportunities. We believe our readers will find his perspective thoughtful.
Lydia's Corner: Deuteronomy 4:1-49 Luke 6:39-7:10 Psalm 68:1-18 Proverbs 11:28