Friday, March 04, 2011

Review of the Babywise system

Today I thought I’d tackle a more serious topic on the subject of the Babywise book (latest edition now called ‘Preparation for Parenting’) which many of our circle of friends here in Perth would be familiar with.

Prior to conceiving, we attended a preparation for parenting course hosted by our church. It was a close-knit group of other fellow young adults who were thinking of becoming or about to become parents. We had a great time as every session was packed with jokes and laughter as we discussed various topics and asked all the burning questions on our mind about what to expect when the baby arrives.

We went home armed with methods and systems and high ideals. Sure there would be challenges, but as long as we are disciplined and stick to the book, we will be fine.

Then baby arrived on the scene and all the information on the great systems and methods we had pieced together started getting stretched at the seams (note that I didn’t say it fell apart, but it sure did stretch us).

So what are my honest thoughts about the book?

1. I was appalled to discover the numerous critiques against the book and the authors’ credentials. Just googling ’Ezzo’ returned so many negative feedback results.

2. I realise that although the information and guidelines provided in the book were true, there were not actually groundbreaking. Many other websites and articles I came across advocate similar concepts and guidelines.

3. The book set us up to form expectations and assumptions on how baby should behave if you follow the system, which led to a tremendous guilt trip when things don’t turn out as expected due to different situations and circumstances.

4. The book provides rather limited guidance with troubleshooting problems. Babies are not robots, often they will not go by the book, they don’t even know much less care about the book. So when something unexpected happens, the book offers little help.

On the various key points made by the authors in the book:

1. The eat, wake, sleep routine – this was a big deal in the book, however even the midwives at the hospital were guiding me along these similar lines as well as various parenting websites… all common sense really, when baby wakes up they’ll be hungry, feed them, then let them play or interact with them, after playing they’ll be tired so it's sleep time

2. Keeping baby awake to take a full feed – again even at the hospital, the midwives were advising me to keep him awake during nursing, in fact they were more specific in their tips on what exactly I can do to keep baby awake

3. Feeding baby every 3 hours on average – also a well accepted principle in the medical field. All the nurses, articles and books were saying the exact same thing… i.e. feed them every 2-4 hours, don’t let baby sleep too long, don’t be afraid to wake baby to nurse etc… no contradiction whatsoever

The book suggests that following the above principles will help baby sleep through the night by by Week 9 onwards, but then caveat it saying that not all babies will be the same and some will not sleep through the night until weeks down the track… what the? So it seems following the system is no guarantee for baby the sleeping through the night after all. Actually other articles I read say the same thing – that baby may start sleeping through the night around 2-3 months, but even if they don’t it’s okay, just persevere with a good daily routine and they’ll get there eventually. Same thing right?

So what’s the conclusion?

Despite the above points, as a new parent it definitely still served as a helpful general guideline to provide a rough direction of where to head toward. However I would not to take it as the gospel truth for parenting. There are many quirks and situations which is impossible for one book to cover. As I said before, the information in the book is not groundbreaking and there are heaps of other resources which follow similar principles and even provide more detailed tips into the specific areas covered in the book.

By all means, if you’re a new parent don’t dismiss the book as it is still a valuable guideline. But be prepared that facing the reality will be quite different. The book serves as a sort of general compass, but it doesn’t always help you with navigating and circumventing through the rough and rocky road of parenting. If you’re like me, go ahead and delve into other resources for further help. Some resources I found really helpful include:

1. babycentre.com.au

2. whattoexpect.com

3. babywisemom.com

4. askdrsears.com

5. mamapedia.com

6. Facebook/talking to friends

If you have read the book, no need to throw it away, but just bear in mind that you will probably need to do further supplementary reading along the way to troubleshoot those unexpected situations.

If you haven't read the book and have never really established any form of routine or structure with your baby, you might find this book helpful. I certainly did, which is why I am able to sit here and blog about this while my baby sleeps peacefully on his own in the other room.

Next: Further thoughts on Babywise

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