The ladies at the BFBN have spent the last week debunking some of Babywise’s biggest myths – that it causes “failure to thrive”, that it requires the parent to use “cry it out”, or that it discourages feeding a hungry baby, among other criticisms.
One interesting aspect to the large majority of Babywise misconceptions I’ve heard are that they almost always have to do with feeding or sleeping babies. The objections to the method are typically centered around the idea of putting a newborn on a schedule.
The fact is, though, On Becoming Babywise is only the first book in an entire series on “wise” parenting. Originally called Growing Kids God’s Way, the Ezzo’s method was a practical system for raising children biblically. The -wise series starts with eating and sleeping because that’s all a newborn does, but in later books (Babywise II, Pre-Toddlerwise, Toddlerwise, Pre-schoolwise, Childwise, and Teenwise), sleep occupies a much smaller portion.
The purpose of the -wise series isn’t to get your kids sleeping through the night as quickly as possible (although, BONUS!). The purpose is to teach new parents how to be good stewards of their children. The objective is a parent who is in control of their children and their family – one who can make the distinction between what is best for a child’s development and what the child wants in the moment.
On Becoming Babywise provides a practical system for creating order in the household. It establishes God and the marriage at the center of the family – NOT the children. It encourages a traditional parenting style that focuses on raising responsible adults. The fact that the first book covers infant sleep is circumstantial – it’s because that’s the first stage of a child’s life – but the overarching precepts are carried out through each of the next seven books. The vast majority of the series is spent on aspects other than sleep – like physical, mental, and emotional development, learning, obedience, respect, correction, authority, character, and responsibility.
In terms of just sleep, it won’t make a difference whether your child slept through the night in their own bed by 4 months or whether they co-slept in the family bed until they were 4 years old. What matters is that you preserve your marriage. If you fail to set a boundary between your spousal relationship and your children, over time your marriage will erode. In terms of just sleep, it won’t make a difference whether your child napped three hours a day until they were 5 or never napped at all. What matters is that your daily routine and the way your household runs isn’t chaotic and haphazard but organized and intentional.
The decisions we make as parents of infants are small potatoes. What matters is the precedence that is set. Ezzo uses infant scheduling as a way to lay the foundation for what is to come.
Do as you mean to go on.
The fact that most people’s objections to Babywise are contained to the subject of sleeping and eating expose the reality that they have completely missed the big picture. My suggestion would be to read the series, take a step back, and look at the method as a whole. Stop hyper-analyzing the schedule and instead start focusing on the long term parenting decisions that will reach the heart and the character of the child.
This week everyone at the BFBN has been posting about Babywise myths. Check them all out at the links below.