If I Could Turn Back the Clock

I would give anything in the world to be able to turn back the clock and learn about the concerns and controversy surrounding Ezzo's methods before my dear daughter was born. I was not aware of any of the problems with his teachings; I had only heard positive things about his books and knew friends who were using or had used his books when I started following Babywise with my own daughter (when she was about 2 weeks old).

I am a very by-the-book, black-and-white type person. I'm also a firstborn, and have a tendency to strive for perfectionism (in my pre-mom life, I was an accountant). So when I found out that there was a book whose principles applied to every baby (or so I was led to believe), I thought I had found the greatest thing on earth.

On paper, when you are reading the book ten to twenty minutes of crying doesn't sound so bad, but I found out it is quite another thing when you are listening to your baby cry and it wrenches your heart out, but you hold back from going in to comfort her for fear that if you do, you will raise a spoiled brat.

Based on Gary Ezzo’s statements, I had conditioned myself to believe, “she’s crying because it’s naptime” or, “she’s crying because it’s late afternoon, and ALL babies cry in the late afternoon.”

Just before my daughter's two month birthday, I was looking for more information than was available in the Babywise book, so I searched on Yahoo for the word Babywise, hoping to find a website with more information. What I found stunned me. I stayed up literally all night, clicking on so many links to articles outlining the potential problems about the method.

I found out what lactation consultants and doctors had to say about scheduling and milk supply. I read of infants who were subjected to the Babywise methods who learned that they coudn't trust their mommies because their mommies didn't respond when they needed them (this hit a strong chord with me, as I never felt trusting of my own mother, as far back as I can remember, and I want so very much for things to be different between me and my own daughter). I read of the character concerns regarding Gary Ezzo. I read an interview with Gary Ezzo, where when he was asked to describe his relationship with his family, the first word out of his mouth was "cordial". I sure hope that when my daughter is grown up, our relationship is more than "cordial".

Once I started following the cues my baby was giving me and ignoring what the book said (which was not easy at first), I fed her a LOT more often, even though initially I kept thinking, “she CAN‘T be hungry, I just fed her an hour ago.”

And guess what? I found my baby to be MUCH happier, and she cried MUCH less than when I was following the principles outlined in Babywise. She is now a thriving, healthy six month old who has never been given a bottle and is very attached to both me and her father.

I wish I could turn back the clock and comfort and nurse my daughter for every time I left her crying alone in her crib because Babywise told me she was crying because she was tired and it was time for a nap. I wish I could undo all those times when I put my baby in the crib and jumped in the shower so I wouldn't have to hear her screams. I wish I could go back and feed her for all those late afternoons that she was crying because she was hungry and needed to cluster feed because my milk supply was at its lowest point, but I just thought it was her fussy time of day because of what Babywise said. I wish I could go back and undo all those nights when I trudged into her room, exhausted, to nurse in the middle of the night, and was wide awake at 2 in the morning, and instead just take her to bed with me to nurse, letting her bond with me and Daddy, and waking up refreshed and rested because I didn't need to fully wake up.

It is certainly ironic that when I was following Babywise, I got very little sleep and was exhausted most of the time. Now that I have my daughter sleep in our bed, I wake up rested and refreshed, because I just nurse her in my sleep and neither of us fully wakes up.

I have so many regrets from following Babywise. I stopped early enough that we haven't been able to detect any changes, but I would give anything to be able to turn the clock back and do things differently.

by A. L.

  • Professionals Say
  • Signs of Hunger
  • Recent Research
  • A Mom Says

Rosemary Shy, MD , FAAP
Director, Children's Choice of Michigan Ambulatory Pediatrics
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Wayne State University, Children's Hospital of Michigan, Detroit, Mich

"It is dangerous to do it the way he describes," Pediatrician Dr. Rosemary Shy says of Ezzo's technique. "It puts these babies at risk for jaundice, at risk for dehydration, and at risk for failing to thrive, all of which we’ve seen." -- Wilson, Steve, "Baby Care Controversy," WXYZ-Detroit, November 14, 2004


Arnold Tanis, MD, FAAP
1999 recipient, John H. Whitcomb Outstanding Pediatrician Award, presented by the Florida Pediatric Society and the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)

"There is no scientific basis whatsoever in their philosophy....It is contrary to what nature intended.

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Watch Your Baby's Signs of Hunger

Although Babywise says to feed a hungry baby, it usually instructs parents to observe a time interval between feedings, or a certain order of events, such as only feeding the baby after she wakes up. There's another way to tell that your baby is hungry. You can watch your baby for her own signs of hunger.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends watching for the following early signs or cues by which your baby lets you know when she's hungry.

  • Small movements as she starts to awaken
  • Whimpering or lip-smacking
  • Pulling up arms or legs toward her middle
  • Stretching or yawning
  • Waking and looking alert
  • Putting hands toward her mouth
  • Making sucking motions
  • Moving
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Maternal use of parent led routines associated with short breastfeeding duration.

Published Feb 12, 2014
Brown A, Arnott B (2014) Breastfeeding Duration and Early Parenting Behaviour: The Importance of an Infant-Led, Responsive Style. PLoS ONE 9(2): e83893. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0083893

"Results: Formula use at birth or short breastfeeding duration were significantly associated with low levels of nurturance, high levels of reported anxiety and increased maternal use of Parent-led routines . Conversely an infant-led approach characterised by responding to and following infant cues was associated with longer breastfeeding duration."

Raising Emotionally Healthy Children - 2014 Video

This KET Special Report looks at the importance of social and emotional development in the first years of life, featuring experts on infant and child development in Kentucky.

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Our first child was born in the summer of 09, and I promptly began trying to apply the Babywise method. The book had been highly recommended by a distant relative, and promised structure and sanity amidst the exhaustion and upheaval I felt as a new mother. However, our baby did not respond the way the book promised he would if we followed the schedule. All my attempts to adhere to the book led to deep frustration, arguments with my husband (who knew better than to let a book dictate our newborn's schedule), feeling like a failure, and the worst--resentment of my infant. Why couldn't he sleep and eat like the book said he should be doing? The Ezzos presented their arguments as infallible.
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Babywise and Preparation for Parenting

Free downloadable parent education brochure

research-based answers
print and share with your pediatrician
leave some with your health department
Give one to your pastor or Christian ed department

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Key Documentation

Excommunication Statement

Statement about Ezzo - Materials

Statement about Ezzo - Character

"The Cultic Characteristics of Growing Families International"
(originally titled "More than a Parenting Ministry")

(orginally titled "A Matter of Bias?")

Unprepared to Teach Parenting?

Babywise Publisher Plans Contract Cancellation

Media Alert