Aisha's Reviews > On Becoming Baby Wise: Giving Your Infant the Gift of Nighttime Sleep

On Becoming Baby Wise by Gary Ezzo
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's review
Feb 19, 2012

really liked it
Read 4 times. Last read February 17, 2012.

I honestly wonder if we are reading different books! Mine is a newer version and I am actually surprised by such controversy about a book as middle-of-the-road as this. This is the 2nd time I've read it and wonder what is creating the hoopla!
Why I believe this book is for natural parenting and helpful:
- The parent decides when to feed the baby based upon the baby's need. IF feeding on demand, the baby could actually not demand enough food in the early weeks and this can contribute to failure to thrive. This is proven by studies mentioned in the book. Some sick, small or sleepy babies can actually need YOU to be the parent and feed them every 2-3 hours as opposed to them "demanding" every 4 or so hours. The authors state that babies need to be fed AT LEAST 8 times in a 24 hour period - more like 10 in the first several weeks. (this is every 2-3 hours)
--The authors suggest you work on feeding until the baby is FULL. This was most helpful with my first son. He regulated himself on a regular routine in the first few weeks because he ate until he was full. I never had to let him cry to sleep or any of the other ridiculous things people talk about. Very helpful to just concentrate on full feeding. Then the baby gets both the foremilk and the rich hindmilk. Studies show (cited in this material) if babies snack hourly they never receive the rich hindmilk and can also be termed "failure to thrive" babies. My son was also sleeping through the night at 4 1/2 months. Quite the reasonable amount of time for his age and weight according to the authors.
-- There are studies showing how important sleep is to development and they go over the different types of sleep. If a child is not receiving restful sleep - then they are less alert and it can contribute to life-long poor sleep habits. It is beneficial not just for us to facilitate an environment where children can sleep well, but also is a gift we give our kids that they can take into adulthood.
-- The book eludes several times to "flexible routine" and how children thrive in routine. They know what to expect, are more secure and happy. I have seen this with our preschooler. We had no basic routine and he was very unhappy. We wondered why and then we read On Becoming Preschoolwise. He became a happier child nearly overnight from having a basic flexible structure.
-- The book is not a proponent of hyperscheduling. It is in the middle between no-routine with everyone being unhappy and exhausted and the baby crying all the time because they don't know what to expect, and hyperscheduling where there is no flexibility for looking at your baby to assess their (and your) physical needs.
--The authors state several times that they are assuming you are holding and nurturing them and giving them LOTS of love. There is even a section about how not only you should be holding and loving your baby lots, but that grandparents, siblings and dad should be loving the baby. This is against every review that talks about how the book is against holding, loving and being responsive to the baby. The premise of PDF (parent directed feeding) - is that you are feeing the baby enough, and feeding them until they are full.
--Again, I will reiterate that several times in Chapters 1-6 it addresses that baby needs to be fed at night (this would be why you are feeding every approx 2 1/2-3hrs). Whoever read that your baby should sleep throughout the night right away without a feeding is incorrect. It is logical that early in their life babies need food at regular intervals why they are so tiny and growing.
-- The book states - which most logical people would agree - that there are going to be times when your child is sick,going through a growth spurt, etc and will need more food. If you add a feeding to that 24 hour period - and if you are the flexible parent - you will easily be able to adjust to identifiying this need for an increase in caloric intake. My son went through several very identifiable spurts - and it was clear he needed more milk! The book also talks about this and how if you add another feeding then your milk supply will go up (conversely - if you offer the breast too often - your milk supply can decline).
-- Studies show that women who say they are demand feeding their infants - or where the infants have no routine and are "snacking" - stop exclusively breastfeeding months ahead of those who have a basic routine. I think our bodies adjust if we have a routine and plus 2-3 hours - 4 when they are older - gives your body time to produce rich healthy milk for your baby!

Give this book a chance, you might really enjoy the studies mentioned and the common sense approach.
I will also say that we co-slept with our son until he was sleeping through the night. We were both working full-time and if we didn't - then neither of us would have slept well. When he would awake for his 2 feedings through that night - I could sleep while he nursed. My son was 10 lbs. I would be more concerned of co-sleeping with a smaller baby, as I've since personally heard of a woman who suffocated her child. After our son was sleeping through the night - it was easy to put him in his crib and we both got a better night sleep at that point. I appreciated the approach of this book and that while suggesting many many things not mentioned in this review, it encourages you to discover what works for you and your baby so that everyone is happy & rested.
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February 19, 2012 – Shelved

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Jenai Goss - Most doctors, nurses, and baby books already recommend *intelligently* responding to babies needs and in a way that fits in with the family. Hardly anyone advocates you respond to every baby cue indiscriminately. PDF is hardly something 'new' and 'innovative' in that regard. It tricks readers into thinking so because it only compares PDF with extreme authoritarian schedules or extreme on-demand feeding - and not with the many methods in between that most moms use. Also, newborns need to eat at least every two hours, with only a couple longer stretches of three hours. PDF does not provide this.
- Most doctors and lactation consultants already teach mothers to try and get the baby to feed until he/she is full, and not to constantly snack feed. By comparing PDF to the extreme (feeding every half an hour to hour) the authors try to make it sound 'reasonable' - when actually it allows for only about 6 feedings a day, far less than what young infants need.
- Yes, good sleep is important. My baby has been sleeping through the night since three and a half weeks. Does that give me the right to call other mothers selfish, bad parents, baby-centric, or any of the other negatives this book throws at people who don't embrace the system?
- 'Flexible Routine' is a vague nothing, a buzz word. Almost every baby book out there will teach a mix of structure and flexibility, and routine is not the same thing as structure. The only other feeding theories the book contrasts PDF with though are the extremes (complete authoritarian and complete permissive.)

The book recommends in various parts feeding eight times, feeding seven times, feeding six times, and even feeding only five times. The most common recommendation (2.5-3 hours) only leads to about six feedings for a child that sleeps through the night. And six feedings, no matter how much the baby gets each feeding, is not enough for breastfeeding a young infant. (It might be OK for forumla)
- While the book mentions lots of cuddling, it doesn't give much time for it. It only has a little time for cuddle or play, few feed times, and threatens that the mom is teaching 'immediate gratification' when responding to the baby too son. [Yet its understanding of this is flawed. A baby under four months does not have the brain connections to connect actions with results very well, so there is no danger of meeting too many of their needs! Using studies from older children to apply to newborns is disingenuous.]
- If baby is feeding at night, then baby is not sleeping at night, and the whole premise of the book is moot. A baby over three weeks will wake if hungry, and there is no reason to wake them at night to feed if they are thriving. My baby slept 6 hours strait by three and a half weeks, and is up to ten hours strait by nine weeks. She is thriving and growing so fast that she can only wear 6-9 month clothing!
- The book does not clearly outline how to distinguish when a baby is having a growth spurt vs. just wanting to snack. If one is actually following PDF vs. just taking what they want and using their instincts, then it is unlikely they would put in an extra four feedings on a day when baby needed it.
- I feed my baby frequently during the day, about 10 times on average but it varies from 8-14 depending time of week and growth spurts. I'll feed as close together as one hour (if morning), or as far apart as four (if she is taking an extra long nap). My milk supply is over-abundant (enough I have been storing extra to donate later), and rich in quality according to nurses and lactation consultants. Again, the book is comparing their method to an extreme (complete on-demand, snacking all the time) that few mothers actually follow. They never compare their method to the many, many middle of the road, flexible but structured, parenting practices out there.

It's a common logical fallacy, but often used in scam marketing, to present a prop argument/strawman to contrast your own 'reasonable proposal' with. In this case, PDF is contrasted most often with extreme on demand parenting. The book even admits it is the extreme version they are arguing against, and that there is no tangible or practical difference between PDF and reasonable on demand parenting.
- The book only lets parents figure out what works for them in very narrow confines. (You might have to once in a while feed every two hours, oooh! Or feed before someone comes over or after!) Considering most moms already work their schedules around, most of this is common sense - yet PDF is too restrictive in how much freedom it allows a mom. That is one reason it gets so much flak - it is far closer to the authoritarian spectrum than it will admit. Nor does it allow mothers to explore other parenting methods or theories - everyone not following PDF gets branded a bad mother.

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