All right. I finally did it. I read Babywise. So many of y'all recommended it this week as I was struggling with Jamie's sleepless night, that I decided to give it another shot. I'd read bits and pieces of it over the years, larger chunks and maybe even most of the book when Sofi was a baby. I never really liked it much and it didn't seem to fit for us.
As I re-visited it this time around, my view of the book congealed a little more and I think I can share my thoughts fairly articulately now. At least, as articulately as you can expect on five hours of sleep.
First of all, the pros. I really appreciate his take on the effect of a healthy marriage on a child's well-being and his advocacy of family-centered parenting, as opposed to child centered parenting. I heartily agree with most of what he says in that chapter and have found it to be very effective and an important concept I need reminding of again and again. Good chapter.
His concept of watching your child and interpreting his/her cries, looking for hunger cues and in general tuning in and establishing some sort of schedule based on your child's needs and cycles is great. It sounds pretty much like what we've practiced with all three kids, with increasing degrees of skill and success. Scheduling, of the mild, and baby-needs-initiated variety that we practice and Ezzo seems to advocate, can be a life-saver.
I actually found, as I read, that our own parenting practices mirror Ezzo's advice very closely, with one primary difference being the timing of nursing. I still nurse James both on waking and at naptime-- a two or three hour schedule, instead of the recommended four hour schedule for his age. Ezzo states that this extended feeding schedule ensures that the infant will receive adequate hindmilk at each feeding, since a "snacking" pattern (shorter, more frequent feedings) would give him/her only the thinner foremilk. I found this a little irritating-- it's bad science. The fact is, a woman's body will adjust to fit the demands her infant puts on it, whether that is for larger quantities of milk at long intervals, or smaller quantities at shorter intervals. There's not a set, inflexible level of foremillk that must be disposed of before the hindmilk is accessed. It's flexible. It changes. Your body will adapt to your baby's feeding habits.
The only time you might have a problem with not accessing the hindmilk would be while still establishing those breastfeeding habits in early infancy. This can be easily addressed by simply offering your "snacker" the same breast each time over, say, an hour or two, until it appears to be empty. Then switch to the other side. As a healthy breastfeeding relationship is established, your body and your baby will get into sync with one another.
(Some articles discussing milk composition and production. One states that an extended, or elongated nursing schedule may actually contribute to HIGHER levels of foremilk in a baby's diet...)
The next point on which our custom differs from Ezzo's recommendations is the eat-play-nap sequence. Although I am always sure to put Jamie into the crib awake, rather than let him fall asleep at the breast (something I learned from Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, a book quoted in Babywise), I do nurse him both before and after every nap. Or at least, I offer the breast. He rarely is interested in nursing when he first wakes-- he's been asleep for two hours and he's got other things on his agenda than snuggling quietly and nursing. He's got things to do and places to go!
Ezzo doesn't say specifically WHY (that I could find) he recommends the eat-play-nap sequence, other than to simply state that it's better than play-eat-nap. He actually goes so far as to say that this ensures an early establishment of nighttime sleep, but I can't fathom why. Since James has never really had consistent day-time sleep problems, I'm willing to give Ezzo's ideas a try, but I'm not sold on the idea. It doesn't make sense to me to work against the natural relaxing effects of milk and the action of nursing. I mean, if God puts stuff in the milk to make 'em sleepy, it stands to reason you'd want to take advantage of that, no?
I have to state for the record that all the crazy, rabid, "the man's a Baby Killer!!" stuff I've read about Babywise on various blogs and whatnot is totally uncalled for. I mean, really. The worst thing I could see happening is over-tired moms getting frustrated with babies who don't want to nurse the way they're "supposed" to and quitting. He's not what I would consider a rabid supporter of breast-is-best and the book treats bottle-feeding as an almost-equivalent to breast. He seems to advocate the feeding schedule above the actual feeding method.
BUT. Anyone who reads this book and then starves their kid to death in order to Observe The Schedule To Keep It Holy ought to get their head checked. Seriously. It's the same kind of thing that people like the Pearls ("To Train Up a Child") get reamed for-- for NO REASON. People do stupid, even criminally stupid, stuff all the time and there's no point in starting a witch hunt for the author they were currently reading at the time they did what they did.
OK. So that's the (mostly) positive stuff. I'm really not sure if I want to get into the stuff I dislike about this book. I have a post already written, but I have to wait and let it gel a bit first. I know I have quite a few friends and readers who really love this book and I'm not sure I want to go there. Speak up in the comments if you care and/or want to hear :)