On Becoming Baby Wise - Criticism

Criticism

Baby Wise has been criticized by mainstream health care professionals for giving dangerously wrong information regarding infant growth, feeding, sleep and development. Critics include, for example, Dr. T. Berry Brazelton, MD, FAAP, Professor Emeritas, Harvard Medical School, developer of the Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale; and Arnold Tanis, MD, FAAP, Past President, Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. The Baby Wise program has been associated with infantile failure to thrive, dehydration, malnutrition, problems with milk supply in breastfeeding mothers, and involuntary early weaning.

Ferber method founder Richard Ferber, MD, Director of the Center for Pediatric Sleep Disorders at Children's Hospital Boston, concurs with Baby Wise regarding some of its sleep advice, but he warns against expecting too much. Baby Wise predicts that the 8-week-old child will be sleeping 7 to 8 hours in a row at night, and the 13-week-old child increasing the nighttime sleep period to as much as 11 hours. Ferber said, "Parents shouldn't expect babies to sleep that long that early, although a very few will on their own". Ferber says that the book may frustrate parents of babies that are not sleeping so much; the parents may wonder what is wrong with the infant. Ferber says that if a baby sleeps through the night, the parents may actually need to wake it for feeding.

In 1998, "Dr. Bill" Sears, evangelical author, pediatrician, and clinical assistant professor of pediatrics at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, best known as the foremost proponent of attachment parenting, said of the Baby Wise book, "People began calling me about the stuff in this book several years ago, but I basically ignored it, thinking that it was so far out that it would just die out." Sears regretted not speaking out earlier against Baby Wise. He said about the book that it was "probably the most dangerous program of teaching about babies and children that I have seen in my 25 years of being a pediatrician."

After noticing the controversy surrounding the book and investigating complaints about the medical advice it gives to new parents, Multnomah Books stopped publishing the text in September 2001. They returned the book rights to GFI. Subsequent printings have been produced by Parent-Wise Solutions, an imprint formed by the Ezzos to publish their books.

Many of Ezzo's former Christian allies turned into detractors of Baby Wise. Others hold different positions. Evangelical Christian author James Dobson, founder of the Focus on the Family ministry, commented on the controversial book, saying "I've never attacked it, but I don't endorse it ... I'm not out campaigning against the Ezzos; I'm just not their greatest fan."

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