Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My best friend's Babywise story and why it worked for her...

If you are just now joining us for the Why I'm Not Babywise Series, Welcome! Please take some time to read the previous posts, especially my Intro/Disclaimer so you can read the rest of the posts in context. I am seeking to be very sensitive to my readers who may implement Babywise. I pray we can all show one another grace as we seek to parent all of our babies in the way God leads us. I invite considerate comments, whether you agree or disagree. 

As I have different moms share their stories about what did or did not work for them from Babywise please be considerate of their thoughts and feelings. This is my best friend's story. I refer to her a lot in my posts as "my best friend that uses Babywise". I wanted her to share her story because I wanted to show that it is possible to disagree about parenting methods and styles and still be the best of friends. You may agree or disagree with what she says, just as I do, but please be kind in your comments. I disagree with several things she says in her story, but it is her story and her thoughts so I am not editing anything out. Annie Leigh and I have the most important thing in common, which is Christ. We disagree about Babywise and eschatology and are still best friends, for which God gets all the glory. :) I know that she loves her kids and I think she is a wonderful mom and woman of God. Without further ado, here is her story:

 I don't think the title of this blog should be "Why Annie is Babywise".  I think a more suitable title would be "Why Annie likes to have her babies on a schedule".  I believe in many of the "ideas" that are addressed in babywise, however I do not agree with everything nor do I practice everythng Gary Ezzo teaches.   Gary Ezzo, in my opinio,n wrote a very helpful book for those who like to have their children on a schedule. He; however, like all of us, is a sinner and does not do everything perfectly (ie his time spent at Grace Community Church). I mean just think of some of the things Peter did in the bible...ummm denied Jesus like three times:)  I am not babywise, I am a Christian. One who is trying to figure out how in the heck to do this thing called life in a way that glorifies my God.  I would not address myself as babywise in the same way I would not address myself as a calvanist.  Do I believe in what John Calvin taught? Yes. But I am called a Christian.  In the same way, I agree with most of the teachings in babywise, but I do not hold to this title nor any other title other than Christian.  I would like to address why being" this" is really not a big deal and for those of you who are interesed, why I like scheduling.
The reason why the "heated" debate on whether one should or should not schedule there child's day is not a big deal is because the Bible does not say it is a big deal.  If scripture does not clearly speak to the issue, which I would argue it does not,  then one would be wrong or legalistic to enforce such regulation.  I am sad to hear that my friend Chalise has experienced ridicule or that others have made her feel like less of a mother for not scheduling her child. Who cares!  You know what the bible does care about....the Gospel!  God coming to earth in the form of a man, Jesus, living a sinless life and dying on the cross for my sin, being buried and rising from  he dead three days later, conquering sin, and now He is in heaven at the Father's right hand interceding for those who are called according to His name. (and praise Him for interceding for me because this life can be hard!!).  This is what the bible speaks the most about and this is what I want to spend the majority of my time with others discussing. ...not how long my child sleeps.  Now, although God does not address if we should schedule our children's sleeping, some have said that God is loving and would not restrict His children...REALLY?  Have ya read the bible? :) Start in Genesis where God places a restriction on Adam and Eve.  God is loving and gives grace to me all the time, but he also has planned out before the beginning of time every single second of my life (now that's some intense scheduling for ya) including when I rise, who I marry, when I die, etc.  To argue that scheduling is wrong because God our loving Father wouldn't schedule just does not make sense.   God is loving and God is structured, these characteristics are not at odds with each other, they perfectly compliment each other.I am so thankful that God in His great love for me, knowing what is best for me planned out every detail of my life.  He gave me a certain personality, dreams, etc that have all been used for His specific plan.  God is organized so It would not be wrong for me as a mother to want to organize my children's day for God's glory. 
As I write this blog I am a little tickled thinking back to how Chalise and I were in college.  I was a free spirited, fly by the seat of my pants type of girl, while Chalise (Chaliqua) was Type A all the way if ya know what I mean.  She scheduled brushing her teeth! j/k. However Chalise not only kept up with her schedule, she also knew my schedule and helped me on many occassion make it to class and make it to class on time.  Chalise is still very organized and scheduled but does not like to schedule "baby" things.  
 Anyways, I really like the book Babywise, and it has been very helpful to me.  When my first child was born, I had very bad post partum depression and I found that knowing what James was going to do helped me cope with what seemed chaotic.  All of my 3 children have slept through the night at 9 weeks and I really give God the glory for this.  I think that sleep is something that God thinks is important and I want my children to be able to sleep well.  I realize that every child is different and has different need,s but one need that they all have is the need for sleep.  Some have stated that Gary Ezzo suggests witholding feedings from babies.  This is not true. He states several times in his book, for parents to observe hunger signs and to  feed that sweet baby when he is hungry.  Some have also stated that Gary Ezzo is mean and cruel for letting babies cry it out.  I did not find this idea of crying it out to be that bad, and I really don't see what the big deal is.  He said to make sure the baby is not hungry, sick, wet, dirty, etc.  I do not see a huge problem with this as long as you are checking in on your child.  I did not have to do this with mine. I mean, if you have more than 5 kids someone is going to be crying all the time:) What do you do if you have triplets? Are these mothers going to mentally hurt there children because they cannot hold three at one time?  I just really do not see the big debate.  You cannot say that Babywise is sinful or dishonoring God.  I would not say that attacment parenting is sinful because the bible does not address this issue.   Now I would say that refusing to spank your child is sinful because I believe the bible clearly speaks to this issue ( I know, I just opened a entire can of worms). 
One more thing, I like that babywise teaches parents to think, and if that parents thinks they want to rock their baby to sleep then do it....I love rocking my babies and singing them to sleep.  Can you really say that you are never going to schedule your child?  So when your child is 8 years old, will he/she not have a bed time?  I love sleep and I am so thankful God uses it to restore our bodies.  I love sleep and I love to help my children sleep by scheduling their days.  I know in college when I did not keep a calendar of things to do, there was an unrest in my heart and mind.   When my discipleship leader introduced me to the gift of planning my day, things began to change.  I started making it to class, making better grades, etc.  There was a peace that came with knowing what was to come.  I feel there is a peace in our household when we follow a schedule for feeding, playing and sleeping.  


  1. Annie, I couldn't agree with your post more!

    I too read Babywise with Owen--as recommended by my Christian pediatrician. I had no clue Ezzo even had a religous background when I read the book. I love his ideas of raising your children to be family centered as opposed to child-centered. Owen was a well-fed, chunky infant that nursed every 2.5 hours, was rocked, and carried in a sling almost daily. Yet because he was on an eat, play, sleep schedule we all knew what to expect next---and we all slept. Owen slept in his crib from day 1 and slept through the night consistently around 12 weeks.

    When the twins come in about three months, I intend to schedule again---because I am only one woman, and simply cannot manage any other way! I fear the walls of our home might fall in if there isn't some structure with three boys under the age of three. It worked for our family the first time, and I pray it will work again :-)

  2. I think one thing to keep in mind about crying it out is that it doesn't always work with all babies. We did it with my second and he never fussed for more than a few minutes and slept through the night at 8 weeks. With the twins, one responded exactly like her brother while the other would cry for hours on end. Right or wrong, it flat out did not work for her. So we stopped and gave her the comfort she needed in order to sleep.
    Yes, we all do need sleep but we don't all need the same amount and we don't all sleep in the same way. My husband has a really hard time falling asleep alone (probably one reason why we're more tolerant of the same need in our children). My grandfather can't sleep past 3am. I need to read to fall asleep.
    Now, on the spanking issue: I'll just share this. One day my husband spanked my son for attacking his brother. In processing, I asked both of the children to describe to me exactly what happened. Here's what my three year old said: "First, I made a mistake because I wouldn't give Kai the ball when it was his turn. Then he made a mistake and hit me. Then daddy made a mistake and hit him." As far as I can tell, my kids really don't view our violence any differently than their violence and since I don't want them to wail on each other in order to force compliance I don't do it to them. I do, however, physically restrain them when necessary to prevent them from hurting each other.
    With four kids, I agree that schedules are important. However, I think that loose schedules work far better than strict ones. For one, we would miss a LOT of opportunities to engage in our community if we were stuck to an inflexible schedule. For another, given the space and time, it is truly awe-inspiring what kinds of ideas my kids can come up with and there are times where I believe, quite simply, that they just have better ideas than I do as to how to spend their time at the moment.

  3. Annie, I think you are a wonderful mother. You have wonderful children and you do a great job. I am so proud of you!! I should know as they are my grand kids. dad

  4. AMEN, sister!
    I too NEVER had a schedule before having a baby but it is SUPER important to me that my little one was on a schedule from very early on. It's strange, I FEEL SO much more freedom with her being on a schedule and then can use my day to focus on on the Lord and LOVING my child & husband.
    Ruby was sleeping through the night by 8 weeks and I felt like a NEW WOMAN! I feel as though it was perfectly healthy for her to "cry it out" for a few nights in order for her to learn how to sleep soundly and be able to fall asleep on her own. (And by "crying it out" I mean gently reassuring her but just not picking her up and using nursing as a fix-all. I didn't just leave her in her crib screaming).
    She now LOVES to sleep and loves her crib. She practically DIVES into it for naps and bedtime.
    All transitions are hard (i.e. giving up the bottle, paci, etc). Training your child to sleep is no exception.
    That being said I know this is different for everyone and that's OK! The Lord uses all of our personalities to bring him glory!

  5. Although I disagree, and our parenting philosophies widely differ, I appreciated reading this. I particularly appreciated reading the thoughts of someone who Babywise's but acknowledges that others can parent well with other philosophies. It's hard to find balanced perspectives on either side, and I do enjoy hearing non-emotional/reactive opinions of those who view things differently than me. :-)

    I was surprised, though, that you mentioned appreciating that Ezzo allows parents to think, because that was one thing I came away from the book feeling like he doesn't allow even in small doses. (I read it 8 or so months ago, to see what it was all about for myself, instead of going on hearsay) I think it's great that you feel like you can do Babywise and still rock your babies to sleep, but I felt like Ezzo does his absolute best to shame parents who use any sort of sleep prop, especially the "terrible three" (nursing, rocking....what was the last?) Or the way he tells you you might have to see a lactation consultant if you're having major issues- but to beware because most are essentially evil, and will tell you a bunch of "bunk" about wearing your baby, nursing often/on demand. His straw man argument also plays against being able to think for yourself....BW girl is like this, AP girl is a rotten child. Nevermind that everyone uses AP and other philosophies differently.

    I'm sure everyone does that to some degree with their philosophy...though I appreciate that, for someone sharing strong opinions on a heated topic, Dr. Sears is reasonably balanced. He does absolutely caution against CIO, having strong medical reasons for doing so, but a lot of his other preferences/beliefs he offers alternatives for, realizing that not everything works for every family.

    Anyway...all that to say....that just really surprised me, because it was one of the things I disliked the most as I was reading it. It felt like he has his own little "cult" or something, and as far as he's concerned, it's all or nothing....like you can't schedule, but then nurse your baby to sleep, for instance. But I'm glad you haven't personally been encumbered by that, and are able to implement what works well for you, and toss out the rest.

    Being more of an "APer", we don't schedule rigidly at all, but we do have orderly routines, especially the older my daughter gets. The first few months we didn't so much (since newborns tend to get sleep when they need it....and she had a lot of issues as a wee one), but once her body started falling into a rhythm, I got her into consistent sleep patterns, because she needed it...and (which I know Ezzo would be horrified at) we centered our life around those sleep times, because she couldn't sleep around others or in strange environments. Her routine has, naturally, changed A LOT over the past year, but we still have one that we hold to, because it makes for a happier baby. I don't schedule her feedings....she just tells me when she wants to nurse/eat. So, yeah- I agree that usually, and especially for older babies/toddlers/children, routine and some level of structure is a good thing!

  6. LOVE this post. First of all, thank you for expressing that the primary goal of any Christian parent should be to seek God's guidance for their life since He is the only One who has perfect wisdom and knows us and our children more than we can truly understand. He is our Creator and our children's Creator and He loves us and them and wants us all to have joy and return to His presence. What REALLY matters in this life is the Atonement of Jesus Christ, His gospel and our striving to overcome the natural man. What REALLY DOESN'T matter to our salvation is whether we feed on demand or have more structure, co-sleep or have separate rooms for our kids, etc. What DOES matter to our salvation when it comes to parenting is that we love our children as God loves them, that we serve them, teach them to serve others, to love God, to keep His commandments... etc.

    Secondly, while you didn't go in depth on struggling with postpartum after the birth of your first, I really appreciate that you brought this up. I too struggled after my first was born and really had a lot of shame because of it since I loved what I was doing as a mother but was so emotional, exhausted, forgetful, etc due to postpartum. Babywise principles really helped me when I was ready for structure and for my personality it helps to have a general flow and predictability to my day. I think I would have to say that the thing that helped me most of all as a new mother was prayer and the specific guidance I received from the Lord about my situation, my child and our family. I felt I was lead to books like "Happiest Baby on the Block" and "Babywise" not because they were written by perfect people nor because everything in them was right for me, but because they had ideas in them that I hadn't considered and that WORKED for my baby! The funny thing is that those two books are pretty much polar opposites but different strategies worked at different times and we all made it through happy and healthy. My little one is now 14 months old and the joy of my life! Thank you for sharing. So many parents are truly trying to do what is best and I feel we all need to be more loving and Christlike despite our differences of opinion.