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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Book Review #1 - On Becoming Babywise

Before I get started, I want to say that I know there is a lot of controversy out there on this book as well as its author. However, most of the sites that I've read regarding "the controversy" are regurgitation's of each other. On top of the fact that they are assuming it is the only information your going to read or consult about caring for your baby. As with anything in life you must read and use the information that works for your particular situation. Also, think about why the doctors, lactation consultants, and churches might have reasons to try to sabotage. I'm not saying that they're incorrect because I don't know, but I am saying there are always two sides to every story and the controversy websites are very one sided.

Title: On Becoming Babywise: How 100,000 new parents trained their babies to sleep through the night the natural way
Authors: Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam M.D.
Review by: Kayla Dionyssiou

Basic Information

  • Copyright date: 1995 (I did not review the newest version)
  • Book type/genre: Parenting
  • This books general subject matter is on caring for a baby from birth to 12 months.
  • Special features: Questions for Review at the end of each chapter, Healthy Baby Growth Chart, Sample Schedules, Subject Index, Notes Pages.
  • Price: $10.04
  • ISBN: 0-88070-909-X

Doctor Robert Bucknam through his own personal experience has come to trust the techniques provided in Babywise. He has observed during his practice in pediatrics "that parents equipped with the right information do make a difference." Dr. Bucknam uses the principles of Babywise as a part of his regular care. "When parents come in looking exhausted and discouraged and tell me their woeful stories of sleepless nights and fussy babies, I can give them a positive prescription that cures the problem---I hand them a copy of Babywise." (pg. 15)

Gary Ezzo provides techniques, perspectives and concepts to help you in your new position as a parent. He states, "What you do in the first days, weeks, and months of your baby's life will impact all the rest of your parenting years." He explains that this book is not just about getting your baby to sleep through the night but about setting up solid foundations for training and later on relationship building. "Babywise is more than an infant-management concept; it is a strategy for responsible parenthood." (pg. 17) Most importantly the book is designed with the family as a whole in mind, so everyone is happy, healthy, and cared for.

Here is an overview of the chapters:

Chapter 1: Baby Needs a Family cover two main points "the significance of the husband- wife relationship... and... the danger of child-centered parenting." (pg. 19) That is not to say that if you are a single parent that this book is not for you, it is! The information provided will still be useful. The couples, however, will need to use the strategies to create a strong home environment. This chapter offers two mini-stories that allow you to peek at the outcomes of children in the different styles conveyed here. This chapter is not to be skipped!

Chapter 2: Feeding Philosophies defines terms used by the author's as well as by the rest of the baby care world (i.e. doctors & midwives, lactation consultants, other parents and grandparents, etc.). It offers historical and psychological perspectives of the past & present. The major philosophy used in this chapter is called Parent-directed Feeding (PDF). "Parent-directed feeding is an infant management strategy designed to meet the nutritional, physical, and emotional needs of the baby, as well as the needs of the entire family." (pg. 38)

Chapter 3: The Benefits of Order reviews the child's need for structure and routine, as well as the negative connotations these words have come to have. It goes over parent-directed feeding again include its advantages for the child, mother and father. This chapter also continues the mini-stories from chapter 1.

Chapter 4: Hunger and Sleep Cycles connects how the parent-directed feeding program influences nighttime sleep. It explains hunger patterns and sleep/wake cycles and routines. It touches on sleep deprivation and sleep props. "One of the most obvious benefits of parent-directed feeding is the establishment of stable nighttime sleep patterns. That means your baby sleeps all night, along with the rest of the family." (pg. 51)

Chapter 5: Facts on Feeding emphasizes that the method of feeding "is not as important as the gentle and tender cuddling you give him during feeding." (pg. 63) It reviews both breast and bottle feeding. Breast feeding topics include: Milk Production, The Let-down Reflex, Breast milk and Baby's Digestion, Nursing Your Baby - positioning and nursing periods. Bottle feeding topics include: Formula and Burping Your Baby. "If you choose not to nurse, or can't nurse, or if you decide to discontinue nursing within the first twelve months, that in no way reflects badly upon you as a mother. Just as breast feeding doesn't make you a good mother, bottle feeding doesn't make you a bad one." (pg. 77) I personally loved this statement! It seems to me that society has a double standard here. There is significant pressure to breastfeed to be a "good mother" but if you are seen in public breastfeeding you are given looks of disgust.

Chapter 6: Monitoring Your Baby's Growth covers all the things you need to know to feel content your baby is eating well and what to do if he/she is not. Topics include: Signs of Adequate Nutrition, Weight-Gain Concerns, Babies Who Fail to Thrive, Insufficient Milk Production, and If You Question Your Milk Supply as well as a Healthy Baby Growth Chart for tracking diapers and feedings.

Chapter 7: Establishing Your Baby's Routine goes over how to include feedings, wake and sleep times into a routine that integrates the baby into the families routine. Topics include: Your Lifestyle and Your Baby, Your Baby's First Year - Phases 1-4, General Guidelines, Feeding at Intervals less than Two and One-half Hours, Sample Schedule, and How to Drop a Feeding. "During these moments of nurturing, you are doing more than just filling up a little tummy; you are integrating life into your child and your child into life." (pg. 97)

Chapter 8: Waketime and Naptime covers the other two major activities of your baby's day. It explains the importance of the order of the activities being feeding, waketime, naptime. Waketime can be with family members and include activities such as: feeding, singing, reading, bathing, walking, and playing. Waketime activities for the baby to do alone (or independently alongside others): Pictures, Mobiles, Gym, Swing, Infant Seat, and Playpen. Other topics include: Sleep Patterns and Waking Up Happy. "When your baby gets enough sleep you will notice a happy disposition; the baby will make happy cooing sounds, letting you know it's time to get him or her up." (pg.122)

Chapter 9: When Your Baby Cries discusses the various reasons babies cry and how the cries are often misinterpreted. "There are many reasons babies cry, but hunger often is the only reason people consider." (pg. 125)

Chapter 10: Multiple Birth: The Endless Party discusses various topics such as: Bringing Them Home, Cribs, Diapers, You Need Help, Let's Talk About Sleep, Let's Talk About Feeding, Routine for Multiples, Waketime, and A Word to Husbands. "When you bring home a multiple birth, you really have to think and plan, because when the unexpected happens, it happens in multiples." (pg. 141)

Chapter 11: Parenting Potpourri: Topics of Interest to New Parents might be the chapter to read first. It covers topics such as: Achievement Levels, Baby Blues, Baby Equipment (Baby Monitor, Car Seat, Crib, Infant Seat, Infant Sling, Playpen), Bathing Your Baby, Bonding with Your Baby, Cesarean Birth, Church Nurseries and Baby-Sitters, Circumcision, Crib Death, Diapers, Diaper Rash, Grandparents, Growth Spurts, Immunizations, Jaundice in Newborns, The Microwave and The Bottle, Nursing Twins, Pacifiers and Thumb-sucking, Sleeping with Your Baby, Spitting Up, Starting Solid Foods, Teething, Weaning Your Baby (from Breast & Bottle). By reading this chapter first I expect readers would get answers to their burning questions and be better able to focus on the rest of the material the book has to offer.

Chapter 12: Newborn Q&A is a compilation of what we commonly call frequently asked questions (FAQs). Eleven questions and answers total asked by mothers like you.

Chapter 13: Principles for Starting Late offers general rules and guidelines for getting your baby on track. "Retraining is always more difficult than training correctly from the start, but it needs to be done." (pg. 187)

Chapter 14: Next Stop: Babywise II: Parenting Your Pretoddler, 5 to 15 months discusses patterns of learning and development so parents can determine age appropriate activities, learning and behaviors.

Overall, I feel that Babywise is a quick, easy read that can be completed in a few sittings, while highlighting or tagging pages to bring easy reference to points you want to review. I have used some of the concepts in this book and will do so right from the start with all my future children. I have already recommended it to friends and it will be something I keep in mind for a gift at Baby Showers.

If my review has inspired you to read Babywise for yourself, you can purchase from Amazon here.

Copyright 2010 Kayla Dionyssiou

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