Articles

Alternatives to Ezzo Parenting Programs

Please keep in mind that this is not a list of recommendations, but alternatives you or your church may want to explore.

A variety of perspectives on parenting are offered here, and both religious and secular materials are listed since books from GFI reach both markets. We are sure there are other helpful resources available as well. (Have we omitted something that should be on the list?  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

What this list intends to convey is there are many well-regarded alternatives available which don't come front-loaded with this level of controversy, and whose authors have obvious qualifications for giving parenting advice. In some cases, if you happen to purchase a book through the link provided here, it helps support this site.

Classes:

Books:

Index of Articles

Medical, Feeding & Babywise Critiques

AAP Media Alert | PDF Version
American Academy of Pediatrics Statement on Parent Directed Feeding Schedules

AAP News July 1998
"stands by its latest policy statement"--Joe M. Sanders, MD, Executive Director, AAP

Health Care Providers & Others Sign Letter of Concern to AAP (PDF)

"Babywise Advice Linked to Dehydration, Failure to Thrive" | PDF Version
by Dr. Matthew Aney, reprinted from the AAP News

Dr. T. Berry Brazelton Statement (PDF file)
Response given to question during interview with Cincinnati Enquirer

Preparation for Parenting/Babywise tri-fold brochure
PDF format with permission granted to print and share

A Group of Case Studies
by Laurie Moody, lactation counselor and former GFI "Contact Mom"

Another Group of Examples of Parents Attempting to Follow the Method
More examples can be found on the Voices of Experience page

Analysis of GFI's Babywise/AAP Comparison Chart
A pediatrician evaluates GFI's comparison chart

"Examining the Evidence for Cue Feeding"
by Jan Barger, RN, MS, IBCLS and Lisa Marasco, MA, IBCLC
Explains the physiological basis for cue feeding recommendations

"How Does Milk Production Work?"
by Kelly Bonyata, BS, IBCLC, owner of Kellymom.com

"Conflicting Messages--A Review of Babywise 2001"
by Kathy Thile

"What to Make of Babywise" -- (PDF file)
Childbirth Instructor Journal, Nov/Dec 1999, Patty Donohue-Carey, BS, LCCE, CLE

"Problems with the 45-minute intruder portions of the 2001 Babywise"
by Laurie Moody, lactation counselor and former GFI contact mom

"Breastfeeding Frequency: The AAP vs. Babywise & Baby Whisperer"
comparison chart by Dr. Anh Gordon, et al

AAP Baby Whisperer Review
Young Physicians' Newsletter, Winter 2002, notes that scheduled feeding recommendations in Secrets of the Baby Whisperer run counter to AAP and other specialists' recommendations. Since the recommendations are the same and the two programs very similar, this warning would apply to Babywise as well.

Scheduled Feedings
Diane Wiessinger, MS, IBCLC, explains how babies' feedings fit into real life

"Baby Care Book Could be Dangerous" (PDF version)
Drs. Barry and Pamela Zuckerman, CHILD Magazine, Pediatric News opinion piece

Sheila Kitzinger's Letter from Europe: Boot Camps for Babies
BIRTH: Issues in Perinatal Care, March 2006

Letter of Concern
to their Church by Steve and Kateri Rein

"Strict Parenting Schedules"
from the Couple to Couple league

"Parenting Experiment"
by Mary Ann Griffin, RN, CNM and Jan Barger, RN, MA, IBCLC

"Religious Parenting Programs: Their Relationship to Child Abuse Prevention"
The Child Abuse Prevention Council of Orange County
Parenting Program Committee Report, Preparation for Parenting portion, May 14 1996

"Babywise--Not So Wise" | PDF (large file)
by Moire Porter, article first appeared in The Early Childhood Educator, Winter 2001

"Analysis of GFI's information on co-sleeping and SIDS"
from 1997, an analysis of a then-current GFI article may still be useful

Thirty-five unsubstantiated and/or false medical statements in Babywise '95
by Dr. Matt Aney (newer editions may have inherited some of these statements)

AllExperts: Pediatrics
David Olsen, MD, responds to a parent's question about Babywise

Child Development Critiques

Focus on the Family statement

Dr. James Dobson--transcript of brief remarks

Religious Parenting Programs: Their Relationship to Child Abuse Prevention
The Child Abuse Prevention Council of Orange County Parenting Program Committee Report May 14 1996

"Designed for Relationship: Infants' Brain Structures and Chemicals Respond to Nurture and Stress"
by Nancy Williams, MA, MFT, CCE, IBCLC (2006)

"How Ezzo's Child-Rearing Philosophy Impacts Psychosocial and Physical Development"
by Cheryl Tyler, M.Ed., Special Education

"BabyWise? BeWary! Who is Gary Ezzo and why..."
by Cindy Webb, Tulsa Kids, part one

"BabyWise? BeWary --What Ezzo Doesn't Know About Child Development..."
by Cindy Webb, Tulsa Kids, part two

"Children Need Touching and Attention, Harvard Researchers Say"
by Alvin Powell, Harvard Research Gazette

"Controlled Crying"
Australian Association of Infant Mental Health position paper

"A Critique of GKGW" | PDF version
by Dr. Barbara Francis, Christian psychologist

"Growing Families International: An Extreme Response to Attachment Parenting"
by Dr. Barbara Francis, CAPS West Newsletter [Christian Association for Psychological Studies]

"The Anti-Spock: Confronting the Horrors Wrought by 'Child-Centered' Parenting"
by Polly Morrice, a Houston-based writer on education and parenting, published by beliefnet.

"GKGW: Myths and Misconceptions"
A former GFI "Contact Mom" shares from her heart

"What's Wrong with Growing Kids God's Way?"
by Ken McDuff in Group Magazine

"Growing Kids the Ezzo Way"
by Dr. Philip Ryken, 10th Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia

"On Becoming Childwise: A Critique"
by Laurie Moody, mother and educator

"How Ezzo's Child-Rearing Philosophy Impacts Psychosocial and Physical Development"
by Cheryl Tyler, M.Ed., Special Education

"Religious Parenting Programs: Their Relationship to Child Abuse Prevention"
Report on Ezzo programs from the religious task force appointed by a Child Abuse Prevention Council in Orange County CA.

"A Critique of GKGW" | PDF version
by Dr. Kent McClain

"The Cultic Characteristics of Growing Families International: More than a Parenting Ministry" | PDF version
by Kathleen Terner and Elliott Miller, Christian Research Journal

"A Matter of Bias?" | PDF version
by Kathleen Terner and Elliott Miller, Christian Research Journal

Character and Ministry Controversy

An Open Letter About the Ezzotruth Site

Timeline of Ezzo Controversy
Documentation linked to a timeline

 

STATEMENTS

 

Living Hope Excommunication Statement | PDF version
LHEF is the church which excommunicated him in 2000

Grace Community Church statement of non-affiliation
GCC withdraws their endorsement

2002--Grace Community Church Board of Elders Statement

Dr. John MacArthur statement PDF version
Dr. MacArthur is Ezzo's former pastor at Grace Community Church

A note from Phil Johnson
Phil Johnson was the elder at GCC who drafted the statement of non-endorsement

A Statement from the Abels
former friends and co-founders of GFI

Open Letter to Pastors from Frank York
Frank York is the former editorial director at GFI

Open letter from Frank York
Frank York is the former editorial director at GFI.

Does Public Criticism of Gary Ezzo Violate Matthew 18
Should critics approach Ezzo privately?

Character and Ministry Controversy

RESPONSES FROM THOSE ATTACKED BY EZZO

A Personal Encounter with Gary Ezzo
Ezzo attacks a questioner at a GFI Q & A session

Response from Frank York to a privately circulated GFI document
Ezzo attacked GFI "whistle-blower" who spoke to Christianity Today

A response from Roy Maynard  (internet archive link)
Ezzo attacked a World Magazine journalist following publication of article labeling the method controversial.

Joel and Kathryn Kuhlmann respond to GFI
Ezzo attacked this couple whose pastor had told them to send their questions about the ministry directly to GFI.

In response by Rebecca Prewett
Ezzo attacked a mother whose review of his material appeared in a homeschooling journal.

Biblical & Theological Issues

"The Ethics of Ezzo"
by Tony Payne, The Briefing, Matthias Media. Critique of Ezzo's use of the Bible in his teachings.

"Growing Kids the Ezzo Way"
by Dr. Philip Ryken, 10th Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia

"Preparation for Behavioral Pediatrics"
by Rebecca Prewett

"A Critique of GKGW"
by Dr. Kent McClain, contains a list of out of context or misapplied Scriptures

Focus on the Family statement
touches briefly on misapplication of Scripture

"A Critique of Growing Kids God's Way"
from Biblical Discernment Ministries

Information about the Growing Kids God's Way Movement
by Northwest Bible Church, Oklahoma City, OK

"The Faulty Theology of the Ezzos"
by Mary Walker

Orange County Child Abuse Council's Religious Task Force report
contains some biblical analysis from the family life pastors on the committee.

Dr. Ed Coates' analysis of Reflections of Moral Innocence
an analysis of the Ezzos' sex education curriculum

Unto the Least of These: Godly Parenting of Your Baby

by Rebecca Lewis, a booklet that contains some biblical analysis of the issues
William Carey Library, P. O. Box 40129, Pasadena, CA 91114 (626) 798-0819 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

"On Becoming Childwise: A Critique"
by Laurie Moody, mother of 4 with 20 years of teaching and childcare experience

"There is No Place Like Home"
by Ellen Hrebeniuk, The Briefing, Matthias Media

"Neo-Evangelizing the Catholic Family with an Alien Gospel"
by Dr. Thomas and Jacintha Mezzetti

"Woman to Woman"
by Helen Aardsma, The Mother's Companion, Vol 4, No. 2

On Growing Kids the Ezzo Way (also, "Whose Way, After All?")
by Barbara Curtis, author. Visit her on the web at MommyLife.net

"Mothering in the Shadow of the Cross"  (internet archive link)
by Rebecca Prewett

"And the Bible Sayeth, Train up a Child in the Way He Should Go"
by Dr. William Sears, Christian pediatrician and father of 8

"Home Run"
by Nancy Wilson, Credenda Agenda, Volume 8, Issue 3, reprinted by the Orthodox Presbyterian Church

"More than a Parenting Ministry"
by Kathleen Terner and Elliot Miller, Christian Research Journal, Christian Research Institute

"Growing Kids God's Way -- Not Ezzo's"
"Clarifications"
"On the Cultic Mindset, Ezzoism, and Sleeping Through the Night"
by Dr. Bob Bixby, Morningstar Baptist Church

Preparation for Parenting Class
Steve Rein's letter to his church after attending this class

"Scheduling, Routine, Flexibility, and Responsiveness: Muddling through the Maze of Conflicting Baby Advice"
by Rebecca Prewett

"Some Concerns about the Ezzo Method"
by Rebecca Prewett

"In Response"
by Rebecca Prewett (responds to Ezzo's rebuttal of above article--unfortunately no longer available on-line)

"Strict Parenting Schedules"
from the Couple to Couple league

"A Church Reviews Their Use of Materials From GFI"
A review process with a peaceful resolution

CONCERNS VOICED BY CHRISTIAN LEADERS

Christian Leaders & Organizations Voice Concerns
a partial list

Focus on the Family statement

Ted Tripp's comment

News and Media Reports

"Getting Wise to Babywise" | PDF version
Salon Magazine, Katie Allison Granju

Critics Question Wisdom of 'Babywise' Parenting
by Hanna Rosin, Washington Post; as reprinted by the Seattle Times

    (This reference originally was: "A Tough Plan for Raising Children Draws Fire:
    Babywise Books Worry Pediatricians and Others", Washington Post.)

"Ezzos Dispense Strict Advice But Experts Are Crying Foul" (internet archive link)
by Barbara Carton, WALL STREET JOURNAL, Feb 17 1998

"BabyWise? BeWary! Who is Gary Ezzo and why..." (PDF file)
Tulsa Kids, part one, by Cindy Webb, B.S.

"BabyWise? BeWary! What Ezzo Doesn't Know About Child Development..." (PDF file)
Tulsa Kids, part two, by Cindy Webb, B.S.

"What's the Fuss over Babywise and Preparation for Parenting?" (PDF file)
by Tyler Horner, Ph. D.

"In God's Hands: Christian-Based Parenting May Endanger Some Infants"
by Kelly Griffith for the Bradenton Herald (Bradenton, FL)-- Reprinted by permission at ParentsPlace under the title:"Ezzo Parenting: A Threat to Baby's Health?"

    "Q and A with Gary Ezzo"
     by Kelly Griffith, a sidebar to the above article html version
    "Raising Babies by the Book"
    by Kelly Griffith, a sidebar to the above article comparing Ezzo's recommendations to those of the AAP

"Growing Criticism: Groups back away from Preparation for Parenting"
by Randy Frame in Christianity Today

"Is the Babywise Method Right For You?" (internet archive link)
by Cindy Webb, Tulsa Kids, 2003 Gold Medal Winning Article

Ezzo-fied!  (internet archive link)
by Katie Allison Granju

When to Let Your Baby Cry
by Barbara Meltz, Boston Globe, June 3, 2004

Babywise--Fox-TV St. LouisTranscript
Report of the basic controversy, May 2, 2005

Babywise report--WXYZ Detroit [Video]
by Steve Wilson, Nov 2004 Part 1 of investigative report

Babywise--KAKE Wichita, KS
Report, Nov 2004

"Babies in Danger?" (PDF file)
by Jenny Deam, Ladies Home Journal, April 1999

BBC Newsnight (PDF file)
transcript of 1999 report and in-studio interview

"Wise Advice for Babies?"
by Eric Patterson, Boulder Weekly


"The Ezzos Know Best"
by Roy Maynard, WORLD Magazine 1996

"Warning: Babywise Isn't"
by Annie Chickering

"Raising Children "God's Way?"--Oh Baby!" (PDF file)
by Dr. Brian Donnelly (pediatrician), Catholic Parent

"The Brave New Baby"
by Thomas S. Giles, Christianity Today 1993

"Are the Ezzos Culturally Insensitive?"
by Thomas S. Giles, Christianity Today 1993

Religion: A Year in Review:
Comings and Goings: Dumped--Gary Ezzo

WORLD Magazine, December 2001

Babywise--Not So Wise
by Moire Porter, The Early Childhood Educator, Winter 2001

"More than a Parenting Ministry"
by Kathleen Terner and Elliott Miller, Christian Research Journal

"A Matter of Bias?"
by Kathleen Terner and Elliott Miller, Christian Research Journal

"Babywise Publisher Plans Contract Cancellation"
by Corrie Cutrer, Christianity Today, March 2001

"Unprepared to Teach Parenting?"
by Kathleen Terner, Christianity Today [also listed under Character Concerns]

"Babywise Almost Dropped"
by Corrie Cutrer, Christianity Today, June 2001

 "On the Record: Gary Ezzo: The controversial creator of Babywise speaks to Christianity Today"
by Timothy Morgan, Christianity Today 

"New Challenges Facing Gary Ezzo and Growing Families International"
by Kathleen Terner, Christian Research Institute

"Adventures in Ezzoland"
by Frank York, MCO Journal, Spring/Summer 2002, Midwest Christian Outreach
a writer describes his experiences working at GFI

"Gary Ezzo Creates A Self-Publishing Venture"
by Frank York, former GFI editorial director

"Ezzo Sues Australian Psychologist in Free Speech Dispute"
Press Release

Links to Web Discussion Forums

FREEfromEzzo Yahoo Group
Support for former Ezzo method users

Ezzo Debate Board at Parents Place
Archives only

Fox-TV in St. Louis airs Babywise story

--Transcript of story aired May 2, 2005--

BABYWISE
The popular parenting book 'Babywise' claims parents need to take control of an infant's feeding schedule and stop jumping every time a baby cries. The author calls that emotional mothering and likens it to child abuse. But some doctors say the book could lead you to starve your baby. In the Fox Files, both sides of the 'Babywise' debate.

"When I first read it, I thought wow, I'd never read anything like this." Jen Nolen read the book 'Babywise' when she was pregnant with Luke. It gives the impression that babies will sleep through the night through a feeding schedule set by the parent not a baby's cries. "It really kind of stuck with me." The book, based on Christian principles, says parents must control an infant's schedule to develop order. When Luke wouldn't sleep through the night at 8 weeks, she worried she was losing control. "Every time he would cry I would think, should I really pick him up, why is he crying again, is he trying to manipulate me?" Then she hit a breaking point. "According to this book, he should be sleeping all through the night and we're just exhausted and we're gonna do this. And so, we put him in the crib and he cried and cried and cried and I just laid on the floor with him and just cried along with him. It was horrible."

'Babywise' is written by pastor Gary Ezzo, who heads the religious group Growing Families International. The book is the secular version of his teachings. "Hello. I'm Gary Ezzo and I'm Ann Marie Ezzo." Ezzo uses a videotape and book series to teach parents that they should bring order to their families to raise godly children. He advocates a routine of feeding, playtime and naptime. Critics call it too rigid.

But Carol Walker is not a critic. She raised 7 children with 'Babywise.' "Everything just made sense." She says the concepts of routine and order, worked. "A well fed baby is gonna sleep good. A well rested baby's gonna eat well. And so I wanted to establish that order." Carol says her commitment to 'Babywise' got all 7 babies on the schedule, including one born with a life threatening condition. "When it got difficult, I would just keep in view that they're going to be on a schedule. Maybe today, it's totally chaotic but that's fine. All I can say is it's worked for our family."

But Ezzo's teachings have caused a firestorm. Quotes lifted from his book have sparked heated debate. The book reads: "If you want a fussy baby, never let him cry, and hold him, rock him and feed him as soon as he starts to fuss." And, "emotional mothering can set the stage for child abuse." Dr. Greg Finn, Mercy Medical Group, "This is in fact for some babies a very dangerous choice and for almost all babies, a risky choice." The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a media alert saying "The best feeding schedules are ones babies design for themselves. Scheduled feedings designed by parents may put babies at risk for poor weight gain and dehydration." Dr. Finn, "Some babies have higher feeding demands and those demands need to be met if they're to grow adequately."

An internet campaign against Ezzo cites critical articles and opinions from medical, religious and secular publications. The original publisher of 'Babywise' dropped the book. Ezzo now publishes it himself. One California church distanced itself from Ezzo's teachings, another says it excommunicated him. Ezzo denies that. He has no medical background. But the book keeps selling. Carol is among what Ezzo calls ten million happy parents. "I found it had so much flexibility for our family." Gary Ezzo refused an on camera interview but talked with us by phone. "The book is loaded with common sense. It's extremely clear; our message is very clear." Ezzo says there are no new ideas in his books. "Our grandmothers came up with these. What we're doing is basically reintroducing what Dr. Spock introduced: flexible routine." He says all the criticism is blown out of proportion. "I think those are scare tactics."

"Some moms will love this book and I'm convinced that Mr. Ezzo's method will work for some babies." But Dr. Finn says that doesn't mean it's safe. "If I decided that car seats were unnecessary and I placed my baby on the dash board to drive around, just because they lived through it doesn't make it a good idea. It just means they lived through it."

For more information on the 'Babywise' controversy, visit www.ezzo.info or www.gfi.org.