Posts Tagged demand feeding

Beware of Babywise

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Babywise is the popular name for the book On Becoming Babywise, which is a parenting regime authored by Gary Ezzo that teaches parents to “guide their baby’s day rather than be guided or enslaved to the infant’s unknown needs.” The book was self-published in 1993, as the secular counterpart to Ezzo’s religious materials for infants, Preparation for Parenting. Babywise was picked up by Multnomah Publishing in the mid-1990s, but then dropped in 2001, after publishers investigated medical issues related to the book and character concerns about Ezzo. Babywise is the first parenting guide that the American Academy of Pediatrics has publicly recommended against.

So yes, there is a lot to be concerned about. Let’s start with the author. Gary Ezzo has no medical background. He has no professional training in child development, medicine, or breastfeeding support. Ezzo, Growing Families International (of whom he is the executive director) and his publisher have attributed to him three different academic degrees that he does not have. Ezzo even stated in writing that he had an associate’s degree in business from Mohawk Community College in Utica, New York, even specifying a major and a grade-point average. He never graduated from that school, officials say (source).

Questions about Ezzo’s qualifications are relevant for two reasons. First, his lack of integrity should be a huge concern for the Christian community. 1 Timothy 4:16 says, “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” Proverbs 10:9 says, “He who walks in integrity walks securely, but he who perverts his ways will be found out.” David said in 1 Chronicles 29:17, “I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity.” And Proverbs 11:3 says, “The integrity of the upright will guide them, but the falseness of the treacherous will destroy them.” As Christians, we must be committed to integrity!

Second, Ezzo’s infant feeding advice is inconsistent with standard medical recommendations. Both Babywise and Preparation for Parenting tell parents that not following his principles is a potential health concern and that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) supports Ezzo’s recommended number of feeding times. On the contrary, the AAP does not support scheduled feedings and has issued an AAP Media Alert about the poor weight gain and dehydration that may result. The AAP stated that Ezzo’s program “outlines an infant feeding schedule inconsistent with AAP recommendations.”

What about the co-author Dr. Bucknam, you might ask. Well, Babywise is the secularized version of Ezzo’s Christian Preparation for Parenting material (now retitled Along the Infant Way). This was in its third edition before the first edition of Babywise was published and the medical content is the same. So, it seems as though Dr. Bucknam was simply added to give credibility to the program.

In addition to a lack of credentials, John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church, where the programs got their start, affirms in a public statement that the Ezzos’ teachings demonstrate “a lack of clarity on certain fundamental doctrinal issues,” “confusion between biblical standards and matters of personal preference,” and “insufficient attention to the child’s need for regeneration,” as well as a “tendency to isolationism.” Numerous Christian groups have expressed concern over Babywise and the Ezzos in particular because they consistently exhibited a pattern of cultic behavior, including Scripture twisting, authoritarianism, isolationism, and physical and emotional endangerment (source).

Aside from a lack of credentials and integrity, Ezzo’s materials are dangerous for babies. The following is from an AAP News article in 1998:

“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. And on Feb. 8, AAP District IV passed a resolution asking the Academy to investigate “Babywise,” determine the extent of its effects on infant health and alert its members, other organizations and parents of its findings.”

There are so many resources out there on Babywise and the Ezzos. A few are included as links within the text and here are a few more:

Christianity Today article

Christian Research Institute article

Evaluating Ezzo Programs — extremely helpful site with tons of info including theological concerns of Babywise, statements by organizations such as AAP and Focus on the Family, as well as alternatives to Babywise; great resource!

Blog of former Ezzo Contact Mom

New Challenges Facing Gary Ezzo…

In conclusion, I found the summarizing thoughts made by the Christian Research Institute perfectly stated, “parents and church leaders…need to be aware of the risks associated with a teaching environment where Scripture is used out of context, questioning is actively discouraged, rules and schedules become part of one’s ‘testimony,’ even other Christians are considered ‘humanistic,’ division results, and the leaders do not seem to be receptive to constructive criticism.” Beware parents!

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