What's the Fuss All About?

It's no secret that we have been fans of the ever controversial book On Becoming Babywise:  Giving Your Infant the Gift of Nighttime Sleep.

Here's how it began for us...
When we were weekend house parents at a home for men with mental disabilities, we became really close with the live-in house parents.  They had just become parents of their own and were using Babywise (BW) methods with their newborn.  We were intrigued and decided to check it out when we had kids.  Fast forward 4 years and we were about to embark on the biggest task of our married life--parenthood.  We picked up our copy of BW and began to read, study, and plan.

This post is not about how wonderful BW is or how we have unlocked the key to perfect parenting--trust me, we haven't.  It's more about what BW is and is not and how the misconceptions, controversies, false-truths, and exaggerations paint parents that practice its principles as lunatics.  For the record, I just wanted to give our side of the story because #1) we have read the book and #2) we aren't crazies for practicing some of the principles found in BW.

What sparked this post...
A few weeks ago, I posted a pic of the cover of BW on Instagram with the hashtag #babywise.  I was instantly judged--instantly!  I received a comment about how BW is a terrible book, how the APA is speaking out against it, and I was given a link to a much better book to aid me in my parenting.   I thought about leaving well enough alone, but instead typed out a response.  I was careful with my words, but instead of turning a blind eye to the comment I decided to speak up about my convictions. Several weeks later I got another comment in the form of a link.  I clicked over and couldn't believe my eyes:  people burning copies of BW and calling parents that practice its principles "sociopaths that shouldn't be allowed to be parents".  This time I typed up my response, but because it was less than kind and pretty much accusatory, I deleted it before I sent it.  Hmm...can't say it didn't help me feel a little better though. 

What is Babywise?:
*It's mostly about giving your child full-feedings when it's time to eat instead of snacking and never having a full belly.  Full-feedings, especially when breastfeeding, are important because the good, fatty milk comes along after the less-filling milk produced at the beginning of each feeding.
*It's about parent-directed parenting--parents calling the shots instead of baby.

What Babywise is not:
*It's not a "cry it out" method.  Typically, I haven't had to let any of my babies "cry it out".  In fact, with full tummies, clean diapers, and adequate wake-time, they are pretty content when it's time for bed.  Are there exceptions?  You betcha
*It's not a strict-scheduling system.  If my baby is hungry, guess what?  I feed her.  I don't have to "watch the clock" to determine the next feeding time.  My babies have generally let me know when it was time to feed; however, with full-feedings at every feed time it does work out that baby is hungry (at least in the beginning) every 3 hours or so.
*It's not and unloving approach.  I would even go as far to say that it's an extremely loving approach. It takes the pressure off of the baby to tell the parent all of her needs and allows the baby to be the baby and the parent to be the parent.

There are so many other arguments for what BW is or isn't--whether the authors are doctors and Christians, etc.  Honestly, though we like books authored by Christians, this wasn't the reason we chose to read and practice BW.  Frankly, we just resonated with the material and wanted to give it a try.

AG began to sleep through the night (6-7 uninterrupted hours of sleep on a consistent basis) at 8 weeks and Edy at 7 weeks.  I do not believe that they would have done this on their own had I not tried so hard to give them full-feedings and adequate wake time. Some have suggested that I have "good babies"  and I'm sure that particular statement isn't meant as an insult; however, it was quite difficult in the beginning to keep baby awake to feed fully and keep awake for short periods without overstimulating.  It was a big chore, but I think it helped in the end.  Currently, we are in the middle of this hard process.  Making sure Joy has full-feedings and is getting a little (not a lot) of wake time has proved difficult once again.  She has fallen (with our help) into a pattern of feeding every three hours, but we have to work to keep her awake for limited periods throughout the day. It's not just that we have "good babies" (although I don't rule out temperament), we've parented them instead of letting them rule us. Although I've practiced BW methods with my first two children and so far with Joy, I know that every child and situation is different.  My expectations are realistic.

*I'm in no way suggesting that if one chooses not to use the principles laid out in BW that her child will not sleep through the night and will be a riot until turning five.  Pu-leez!  There are countless parents that have never even heard of BW and their children are great sleepers, eaters, etc.  Kudos to them.  I'm totally aware that this isn't the only model for forming healthy eating and sleeping patterns in infants. I'm also not suggesting that Graham and I have it nailed.  We don't!  We are just trying to do the best we can.  Is that so bad?

I'm confident that I'll have judgementors (not a word, but it works here) after this post.  I'm sure that there are many that support the APA's opinions that BW infants "fail to thrive", are "early-weaners", and cause "limited milk supply in mothers", but NONE of those accusations have proven true for our children or me. I'm not convinced.  I'm sticking to my methods and convictions (even apart from BW methods). 

We aren't "by the book" parents.  I repeat, "we aren't 'by the book' parents".  We are parents, though. And we choose to call the shots instead of the baby.  Isn't that how it's intended to work?  That means, we make the ultimate decisions. I can tell you for certain that my babies have never missed a meal, they have never gone hours with empty tummies because the clock says it's not time to eat, and they have never been forced (in early infancy) to "cry it out" because it is bedtime.

There you have it.  I've said my piece. I hope I shed a little light on what BW is and isn't and maybe even clarified a few things for some of those with doubts.


  1. Well said, my friend. I think where BW gets such a bad name is from the parents who are unable to step away from the book and evaluate their child's needs. I have friends who never deviate from the book. So, for example, when their child was going through a growth spurt because it wasn't his feeding "time," they made him cry it out. He didn't get fed despite, I'm sure, a growling belly. They did alter their methods with future children, learning a lesson because her milk dried up rather quickly and she had to bottle feed her first child. But even then, she couldn't remove herself from the book and see that she wasn't listening to her child.
    I've never understood the controversy with BW...but then, I'm a firm believer in paying CASH for things and not buying what you can't afford. Another controversy. But I digress.... {wink, wink} It's the way of the world. People are allowing their child to dictate what they need, instead of demonstrating/teaching self-control.
    To me, BW is practical, common sense. When I recommend it, I always say there's nothing extraordinary in it. It just makes sense. Well, at least to me....

    1. Amen and Amen! I just wanted to write this down--for the record. By the third child, I feel like I have a voice! HA! In fact, the other day, someone inadvertently chastized me about a choice I had made with Joy and I spoke my mind! In good Christian love, of course! Freeing!

  2. Why are moms so critical of each other!?! Moms, of all people, should know how hard our job is. And if you have more than one child, you realize real quick that all children are different....what works for one won't work for another. I was the best mom ever and had it all figured out....before I was a mom! Ha! Now I just do the best I can. :) Great post! And I'm glad you are standing up for what you believe.

  3. I'm not a mother... but I just love this post, your honestly, your opinion, and quite frankly - your great parenting skills! I'm definitely going to look into this book for when we do decide to have a child because I would love to learn more. Thank you for sharing!


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For our joy and His glory,