On Becoming Baby Wise: Giving Your Infant the Gift of Nighttime Sleep by Gary Ezzo
This is an emotionally-charged topic. So I want to just pause and take a moment to take a bit of the pressure out of it.
1) We all want to be wonderful, godly parents, and parenting is probably the most difficult job on earth. Children become God-loving and God-serving adults only by the grace of God. We (and our techniques and methods) don’t get the glory from it, not even a drop. However, we do make choices which greatly effect our children. They are not all-powerful, all-determinative choices. But they are choices we will give account for personally and which will effect our day-to-day interaction with our kids.
2) Parenting choices should not cause divisions in the church. They should not cause attitudes of superiority or self-righteousness. Whatever our choices, may God give us Christlike humility and an absolute absence of boasting in ourselves. Whatever our parenting choices, they should move us into closer love relationships with others in God’s family, they should help us work together better as Christ’s body.
I will begin with full disclosure: I am strongly against Ezzo’s program for children. Several reasons:
- This teaching is inaccurate physiologically (for example, “metabolic chaos” is not a condition infants are susceptible to; also, mothers’ breasts make varying amounts of milk, so while most all can breastfeed their children sufficiently, the amount of milk a baby can get in a feeding varies from mom to mom–meaning, a mom who gives less milk at a feeding will need to feed more often).
- This teaching can be spiritually harmful for parents and their consciences. The strict command-form of instructions Ezzo gives as being “God’s way” really are Ezzo’s way. His teaching binds the consciences of parents in unscriptural ways–for example, thinking that there is spiritual value in not feeding a child when the child is hungry but only on schedule, or hardening parents’ hearts to ignore the cries of their children, saying that it is just manipulation.
- This teaching is ethically misleading. For example, Ezzo promotes his own way as the only way of keeping a strong marriage. He strongly condemns and misrepresents and caricaturizes attachment parenting in particular.
- Over the years, Ezzo’s own character, church, and family issues raise serious questions with his own integrity.
A page from ezzo.info website summarizes the concerns this way:
Biblical and Theological ConcernsChristian critics of Ezzo’s material span the spectrum of denominational backgrounds and parenting styles, but they present similar concerns.
Summary of Concerns
- exhibits/encourages tendency toward legalism (even while advising parents not to be legalistic)
- uses prooftexting and scripture twisting to give weight and urgency to ideas presented
- confuses biblical principle and application, so that the Ezzos’ favored applications are presented as moral standards in and of themselves.
- derides other parenting approaches as unbiblical or holding a lower moral standard.
- emphasis on the moralism of good behavior — often defined by cultural ideas of proper etiquette — rather than on hearts turned toward Jesus
Critics acknowledge that Growing Kids God’s Way and other material by Gary Ezzo contains some practical and biblical ideas. However, the presence of the above dynamics make it difficult for parents to freely glean the good, and may contribute to an overly eager or rigid way of applying the ideas.
If you are researching Babywise or other Ezzo methods, hear are other resources to consider:
1) A lot of in-depth information from various angles–feeding advice, child development, theology, testimonies: http://ezzo.info/
2) A pastor’s perspective for parents: