Monday, April 19, 2010

On Becoming Babywise - Gary Ezzo & Robert Bucknam, M.D

Summary: Every mom and dad who have welcomed a child into the world understand the longing to find a way to teach their baby to sleep contentedly and continually, so both parents can enjoy quiet nights filled with peaceful sleep. Now moms and dads need to look no further than On Becoming Babywise: the exciting infant management plan that successfully and naturally trains children to sleep through the night before the age of eight weeks.

Find out what tens of thousands of grateful parents have already learned. Discover the positive prescription for curing sleepless nights and fussy babies--recommended by doctors across the country--in On Becoming Babywise. (Summary from book - Image from

My Review: When I was in my third trimester with my first child, I had this book literally thrust into my hands by a young mother who said “TAKE IT. IT WORKS!” I had no idea how to care for an infant, beyond diaper changing and the useful skill of not-dropping-them, and was grateful for any ideas that might tell me what the heck I should do. I devoured it and, when the baby was born, began dutifully implementing the steps that were suggested. I was a “single” mom at the time, since my husband was away for school, and so my daughter sleeping through the night was paramount to my sanity. Things pretty much went exactly as the book said they would. My daughter was sleeping through the night in no time and I was thanking my lucky stars for this book and the woman who had gave it to me.

On Becoming Babywise credits its success on the establishment of a flexible feed/wake/sleep routine that is supposed to help newborns distinguish between day and night, eat a full meal without “snacking” all day, and learn to fall asleep without the aid of breast, binky, or bouncing around the living room like a sleep-deprived maniac. This book does not advocate rigid scheduling but suggests approximate feeding/napping times without making things mandatory and always advocates feeding a baby when they are hungry regardless of the clock.

I particularly liked the section on common problems that a parent might encounter with napping/feeding/etc. It was nice to be able to read about the “45 minute intruder” before it sneaked into my daughters nap. Other tips about limiting “sleep props” like binkies, or letting your child cry briefly are a little bit more difficult to implement, so this plan is not without its hazards. Whenever I read this book (and we’re going on four times now) I usually take what I want from it and leave the rest behind. I suggest you do the same.

For some reason, books on child-rearing tend to polarize the masses to either love or loathe. No one likes being told how to take care of their child and NO ONE likes being told they are doing it wrong. On Becoming Babywise is quite self-aggrandizing about its alleged 97% success rate and fails to at least give credit to those parents and children who might be doing just fine with other feeding styles. The authors assert that the Babywise method is only way to have a happy, healthy child and predicts that all other attempts at child rearing will result in a self-centered, whiny, spoiled little infant (and later, adult) with impulse control issues and an inability to cope without instant gratification. I think both examples are far-fetched. I know many parents who have never heard of Babywise (or have, but choose other parenting philosophies) and who have happy, content children.

In spite of it’s occasional arrogance and stereotyping – Babywise has worked for all three of my children. I have found it invaluable in establishing a flexible, but predictable routine within the first few months and it has saved my sanity (and sleep) like few other books have. My children are healthy and well-adjusted and I am able to predict their needs with respectable accuracy – making me a much more sane, more together mom. I'm sure that others have had success without Babywise. Bottom line, we all do what works for us. This worked for me.

Sidenote: There are quite a few other books in this "series" -- Babywise II, Childwise, etc. None of them are anywhere near as useful as this one. I don't recommend them in the slightest.

My Rating: 5 Stars. I went lower at first because of all the horn-tooting that went on in this book, but decided to give it a 5 when I realized that having a baby that sleeps through the night is quite possibly the most important thing in the world (slight exaggeration).

Sum it up: If what you are doing isn't working (or you just have no clue what you are going to do when baby comes), then you might want to give this a try.


Ashley said...

I ran across your post from a google alert on Babywise. I am one of "those people" who thinks the book is evil (sorry to be blunt, but I do). The AAP DOES NOT support it and links it to failure to thrive ( ). Additionally, the authors of the book have no background in any field that remotely relates to child development, medicine, psychology or any field that would give them authority on child rearing. You might be interested to read more about the Ezzos on .

MindySue said...

I appreciate your opinion (no seriously, I do). Like I said, I don't necessarily buy into Ezzo's alleged 97% success rate or everything that he says. That having been said, my kids ARE thriving. Seriously, you should see the CHUNK that I have on my hands. A chunk who sleeps quite well and smiles, etc. She is doing fabulously and I'm NOT CRAZY from lack of sleep. Bottom line (again) if your child is failing to thrive STOP whatever the heck it is you are doing and try something else. I didn't research this book before I used it (silly college student) but I did see the results that I got from MY kids. For someone else it might be different and, as I said above, I did take what I wanted from the book and leave the rest. This is a book that people either LOVE or HATE. There is rarely middle ground. Maybe we'll agree on something how Breaking Dawn was just CRAP.

Chantelle said...

I'm another mom who was given Babywise at a baby shower, handed to me by a mom who swore by it.

I read, tried it for several months, and had a borderline failure-to-thrive baby. :( I remember crying and crying, and I couldn't figure out what was wrong with my baby, and why she wouldn't eat, play, nap, or whatever the order was supposed to be. Finally, my mother yelled at me to stop trying to listen to the stupid book, and listen to my baby. I stopped following Ezzo and my baby gained weight, slept, and was happy. And finally, so was I.

MindySue said...

Good. I'm glad you stopped if it wasn't working for you or for your baby. There are many moms out there (like me) who have had the opposite experience and, I'm sure, just as many who have had one similar to yours. I do take issue (as stated in the review) with the authors tendency to cite a 97% success rate and that their method was the only one that would produce a happy, healthy sleeping child. I realize that babies don't always do what we want them to do. That's why we need to do what works best for Mom and baby. For some it's Babywise, for others it's not. I am glad that your baby is doing well!

Rebecca Rose said...

Any type of parenting method can risk a failure to thrive baby. Intuition and common sense come before books. I, personally, like the Baby Whisperer method, it works great for us but I know a number of people who HATE it.

This books sounds interesting, I'll have to give it a look. Sapphira is an easy baby but I always like to read up on recommended parenting books for extra ideas.

Gerbera Daisy Diaries said...

I. Love. This. Book.
Would not have survived three infants without it. They are now 9, 6, & 4, and show no adverse affect from Babywise.

MindySue said...

So glad we finally agree on a rating!

Unknown said...

I used another book with my first two children and had great success as I learned to apply what the book said AND learn to listen to my children's own natural cues and signals and the needs of our family.

I have since read Childwise and found many inspiring and helpful ideas not just about parenting but about putting the marriage first etc.

I would LOVE to hear peoples actual opinions about WHY they HATE childwise. I hear lots of "hate" and not any reasons.

I am going to check it out before our 3rd baby comes in October.

Especially in self help books I always apply the following philosophy "Take what you like and leave the rest".

There is no perfect solution that fits everyone, unless you are a clone or a robot:)

Thanks for the great review.

MindySue said...

So glad you liked the review! I was trying to be fair. There were a lot of great things in this book and then others that I sort of rolled my eyes at. "Take what you want and leave the rest is a great" philosophy - especially in regards to parenting books.

Many of the people who hate (and I don't mean dislike, I mean HATE) Babywise, haven't actually read it or have read it with a closed mind. They disagree with the parenting philosophy in general and then buy in to all the over-the-top "WILL CAUSE YOUR CHILD TO DIE" hype out there on the internet (because you know everything on the internet is absolute fact).

There is a reason that a mom like me would risk being raked over the coals (internet-style) for this book. I am not knocking anyone else who wants to take a different path or doesn't like my own - but I know how much this book helped me and I would love to offer that to someone else if they are looking for another way.

Jillian said...

I just have to comment that I do HATE this book, and I didn't read it with a closed mind. I read it before I had any children, used it religiously with my first, and it was terrible. I can see why it is not endorsed by the medical professionals. If your children thrived, you didn't use it all--you took the good and left the bad, which is good, we should do that from all books, but to give it a five?

MindySue said...

Ah Jillian, I've been waiting for your comment. Not that I have a terrific response or anything. You are right, that comment wasn't entirely fair. It just seems that some of the people I've talked to haven't even read the book - they just hate it on principle or because someone else told them it was bad. You, obviously, do not fall into that category. I, in turn, take issue with the gross generalization that my children wouldn't have thrived if I'd used it all. I'd say I used about 95% of it and what I didn't use (I used a few sleep props initially) wouldn't have effected their health to the degree that they woudn't have thrived. My kids got plenty to eat with this method and plenty of sleep. It might not work for everyone (as I've stated a kazillion times in the above review and comments) but, because I'm reviewing it and it worked for me (on such a level that I went from crazy mom to sane mom) I chose to give it five stars. I tend to do that for books that pull me back from the brink.

Lahni said...

It's funny to me how emotional people get over other people's parenting decisions! Just recently a friend of mine and her cousin had a pretty unfriendly discussion on facebook (for everyone to read!) about this book.
I too was given this book at a baby shower for my first. It took my a while to read it (he was about 2 mos I think) and I found that I was pretty much already doing what the book said, on my own. I have since read parts of other parenting books (Baby Whisperer and The Happiest Baby on the Block) and I'm on my third baby and I've realized that I just need to go with my gut feelings. Each of these books has information/methods that work for some people and I think the most important thing for us to realize is that what works for me isn't necessarily going to work for the next person (and vice versa) which you've been pretty clear about in your review. I'm glad you posted this review - I have The Happiest Baby on the Block on my night stand and reading this review prompted me to grab my copy of Babywise so I can read them together and compare. (My baby, it seems, has finally figured things out though - hallelujah!!)

MindySue said...

Lahni, so glad you got what I was trying to say. Now if my daughter just had a ticker tape that told me what I could and couldn't eat when nursing, then we'd all be just fine.

MindySue said...

Cora Oja @ birth - 7 lbs 11oz
Cora Oja @ 8 Weeks - 11 lbs 14.5oz, in size 6 month clothes, and sleeping from around 11-7 most nights (gassy nights not included). She eats around 4-5 oz per feeding 6 or 7 times a day.

Nope, not thriving at all. Bad Babywise. BAD. Sure hate all that sleep I'm getting. It's awful.

Mad About Writing said...

Hi Mindy, I'm from another side of the world (Malaysia) and I stumbled upon your blog. I run a mama blog and at the moment, am writing up about a few sleep training methods including babywise. Your review is refreshingly non-intimidating and open. I'm including a link to your blog so other mamas can see two sides of a coin....and that there's no need to 'crucify' anyone else who chooses to adopt a different parenting method, right? We all have our children's best interest at heart, after all..

MindySue said...

Thank you. I'm so glad you found us. I am a firm believer in doing what works for YOU and if what works for ME works for someone else, great. If not, no big deal. I'd love to have the link to your blog so I can take a look!

I appreciate your open mind as well!

Mad About Writing said...

Hi again Mindy, I have yet to complete the post on Babywise, so far have put up Sears, The Baby Sleep Site and Ferberization. It's quite a juggle with visiting relatives this week. Anyway, my blog is called Carpe Diem Mamas at do have a look and join us! It's always nice to have diversity and to learn from other mamas! Have a nice day!

Emily said...

I can understand why Babywise supporters are so emphatic. With our first, we just "let the baby guide us." As a result, I mostly sat around all day, because I never knew when he would start crying and I would have to try to feed him again. He wasn't sleeping, and everyone just told us "don't worry--it'll happen eventually."

Finally, after waking up 1-2 times a night for 20 months (not including pregnancy wake-ups) we had to let him cry it out. (We followed advice in the book 'Sleeping Through the Night.') He cried for four hours before falling asleep.

With our second, we have used Babywise, and the difference has been night and day!! I actually think Babywise has helped me to better meet my baby's needs because I don't just go to feed her every time she cries. Because I have established a routine with her, I'm much better at guessing what's truly bothering her (diaper, sleepy, gas, etc).

Mindy -- I agree with you about giving it five stars. My only caution would be that you have to carefully read what it says. It's such a short book. So some of their warnings are only a line or two and could be overlooked. (For example, not ever letting your newborn sleep more than five hours or that could mess with your milk supply.)

MindySue said...

Emily, so glad you liked it the book and you make a great point! They also mention the "45 minute intruder" into your child's nap only a few times, and very briefly but BOY was I glad to be able to recognize it for what it was when it happened.

April Ann Roy said...

I know this is pretty old...but i just found it as I was typing on my own blog and LOVED it.

Before my son was born a friend had given me Babywise, I started to read it but because I was in the AP mindframe, I read the first few chapters and actually threw it away.

Well, fast forward to 3 months post birth...I was loosing too much weight, developed stressed related heart problems, sleep deprivation health issues and severe PPD. I was DESPERATE! That same friend gave me a few pointers to get me started on the basic Babywise routine and I went home that night and started it.

A week later he was sleeping 8 hours at at night. I began to get healthier. He's 20 months now, healthy, happy and bright! I am over my heart issues, the PPD is gone and I haven't been sleep deprived since that week I started. I did end up getting the book again and tweaked the stuff in it so that it worked best for us. Even though I am still "mostly" follow the AP style, I don't regret for a moment that I used Babywise...of course, some women I know want to stone me to death.

But hey, their 3 and 4 year olds are still waking up in the middle of the night and those mama's are tired and crabby. I'm not.

MindySue said...

Oh, I hear you! I had a friend that was very anti-this-book and she's complaining all the time about her kid never napping or sleeping for more than 15 minute stretches. I just bite my tongue. I'm not super AP, but people usually love or hate this book and are very vocal about their feelings either way. For me, it saved my sanity and my kids are healthy and sleep through the night. That's all I need to know. So far they haven't exhibited any serial killer tendecies, so I think we did okay. Glad you liked it! Glad you have a baby that sleeps through the night! Isn't that the best?!

Sweet Em said...

I figure this link is applicable in this discussion.
Too each her own. Cheers.

Sweet Em said...

Gonna try the link again.

Anonymous said...

I'm on the "dislike" side of Babywise and I have read the book (in several of its incarnations). One thing I noticed, Mindy Sue, when you posted in 2010 about your baby's progress and how you hate all the sleep you were getting (LOL! I know!) is that you knew how many ounces your baby was taking at each feeding. That's a different situation than with a breastfed baby where the mother cannot see how many ounces her baby is taking.

My main concerns with Babywise come into play when the baby is breastfeeding. Under that situation it is wisest for the mother to learn how to recognize her baby's hunger cues and respond to those. The baby will settle into a recognizable pattern in due time.

I appreciated the kind way you responded to everyone in this comment thread. It is a great thing when women can discuss parenting together, without unnecessarily dividing into camps.

MindySue said...

Thanks! The only reason I knew how many ounces my daughter was getting was that, for a short time, I had to pump exclusively to recover from some serious breastfeeding issues. I won't go into detail, but trust me. Not fun. Anyway, we went back to breastfeeding (as opposed to pumping) as soon as I was all healed up and I did have to rely on hunger cues and wet/poopy diapers to help me know what she was feeding. I don't think that is contrary to Babywise philosophy. I just tried to feed her as much as I could each time I sat down to nurse. If she seemed hungry afterwards, I increased my water intake A LOT and it usually solved the problem.

I just wanted to make it clear that my children are exclusively breastfed under normal circumstances.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for clarifying! As soon as I posted I realized that another explanation for knowing ounces would be a pumping situation. Good for you and I'm sorry for your difficulties! Glad you persevered and overcame! Way to go!

As far as responding to hunger cues being contrary to Babywise--that's true that it's not--in some paragraphs in the book.

Unfortunately, that's not the only message in Babywise on the subject. There are many competing messages. I could easily flip to another passage that told me to do almost the opposite of what I'd just read, and this occurred throughout the whole book.

Also I found underlying the whole thing a sense of urgency about getting control of the baby -- or else. Or else I'd be like one of "those" parents. Or else my child would be like one of "those" children.

And if you try to smoke out the answer to the question, what is it that puts you in that "one of those" category, the answer seems to be that readers are in danger of this when they fall on the wrong side of the dilemma of giving in to the baby OR being firm and authoritative. Considering the readers are parenting newborns, it seems to me to be inappropriate to stir up such anxiety about giving in to the baby.

That's my main concern with the book.

MindySue said...

Nail on the head. I think you are right. This book definitely gives off the "get control" of the situation vibe . Unfortunately, I'm a complete control that kind of appeals to me. I'm nursing my fourth daughter right now and basically I am using the full feeding, wake time, nap time aspect of the book. I try to nurse every 2.5 to 3.5 hours, depending on her hunger cues and naps, but since she's only one week old we're pretty much in the sleeps all the time phase of things. We have seen the doctor though and he says she's doing great. I think the danger in completely discarding the book is probably the same danger as completely committing to it. You have to do what works for you. If she were having problems, I'd do something else, but so far we are doing great!

Anonymous said...

So glad for you and congratulations on your baby!

Something to your advantage is that as a 4th-time mother, you probably know what trouble, or what something out of the ordinary looks like. You also aren't going to let some guy who writes a book boss you around. Unfortunately for first-time parents, they go to a book like Babywise because they feel insecure in their own ability to know or intuit what to do, and that's why I think people need to be cautious when recommending the book.

Anyways, congratulations on your fourth baby! Enjoy your babymoon!


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