There’s Nothing Wise About Baby Wise

July 10, 2010 at 02:25 4 comments

If an adult were in a relationship with someone who told them when and how long to sleep, when and how much to eat, when and how to play with no regard for that persons own autonomy in those matters, it would be considered an abusive relationship.

In general, our society is pretty firm in its belief that no one person should have total control over another sovereign being. wars have been fought about it, and  charters and bills have been written and codified to protect an individuals right to be just that, an individual.

So imagine my utter shock and outrage when I stumbled upon an infant care ‘resource’ called “On Becoming Babywise”. A system of ‘training’ in which parents are urged to rigidly schedule every part of their infants day from the age of 3 weeks on up in an effort to produce behaviours well beyond the physical ability of an infant to comply with.

Never mind all of the medical reasons that an infant shouldn’t be so rigidly scheduled. Never mind that the book heavily relies on the ‘cry it out’ method of ‘sleep training’ which I have already stated my feelings about.

My concern with this system is exactly what I stated above. If being under that much rigid control as an adult is at the very least an extremely unhealthy and abusive relationship, and at the most extreme a violation of a persons rights as an individual, why on earth would anyone think that it’s alright to treat a child that way?

Before the comments start rolling in let me clarify. Most children love routine, some, if left to their own devices, will even put themselves on a fairly predictable schedule. Routine can be comforting to children as it gives them the certainty and stability of knowing what comes next. There is absolutely nothing wrong with falling into, or even putting together a loose routine.

Here at the Pocket.Buddha home we have a pretty reliable morning routine, a fairly predictable preamble to bedtime, and most days involve long and short nursing sessions, a nap or 3, breakfast, lunch and dinner, a few chores around the house, a walk to the store to get fresh ingredients for supper and a bit of a play at the park, though not always, and in varying orders.

What I take issues with are statements that completely disregard the needs of the infant for the convenience of the parent. “The mother decides when nap time should start and when it should end”

Statements like this one are offered up in this book with little to no talk about reading your baby’s ques to know when they are tired, when they are hungry, or when they are feeling anything. As best I can tell (full disclosure I could not stomach to read the whole thing so I could be wrong) the author of this book doesn’t seem to take into account that an infant FEELS anything.

So here’s the really burning question. If a child is told when to sleep and when to eat, and when to play; and when their own wants and needs in any given moment are put off or outright ignored for the convenience of others from day 1 (sorry, week 3) and on through potty training, toddler-hood and childhood. What are they being taught about their own self-worth? And even more disturbing, what kind of relationships (with friends, employers, lovers/spouses ect) will they have in the future with this as their model? Is Babywise really a healthy baseline for our children to compare all future interpersonal encounters with?

Books like this and the theories that they are based in bother me to no end because they seem to forget one very important fact.

Our children are human beings, they are not dolls that can be played with only when YOU want to, or pets that need to be trained, most importantly, they are not inconveniences to be managed.

For more information about gentle more baby friendly alternatives to the babywise program and other systems like it you can visit the following sites:

API: Attachment Parenting International

Elizabeth Pantley’s No-Cry Series

Ask Dr. Sears

If you have any gentle parenting resources that have worked for you please share them in the comments section. I would love to add to my link and reading lists.

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Entry filed under: attachment parenting, Books, breastfeeding, infant sleep, motherhood, no-cry, Parenting. Tags: , , , .

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Bloomy Mommy  |  July 10, 2010 at 22:45

    I have not read Baby Wise but did read Ferber’s book. The problem I have with the sleep training programs (besides the ones you already listed) is they come from the idea that “I am the boss, and you will do as I say from ___ (3 weeks, 6 months, etc.)” I am a firm believer that children need parents not more friends. So I appreciate limit setting, predictable routines, and respecting authority. However, within any relationship there needs to flexibility for individuals to grow. These programs don’t allow parents to become in tune with their babies (to grow as parents), and they don’t allow the baby to develop a language with their parents so they feel their needs are being met and their personality can develop more securely naturally (to grow as little humans). To me, being a parent means giving up a little bit of control and that’s okay by me.

    Reply
  • 2. pocketbuddha  |  July 11, 2010 at 07:07

    I agree that setting reasonable limits and providing stability (sometimes that means routine) are a part of parenting. check out my post about sovereignty for more about my thoughts on that!

    https://thepocketbuddha.wordpress.com/2010/01/11/sovereignty/

    I have, and will set reasonable AGE APPROPRIATE expectations for Oliver, it is part of loving him. But I try to do so with him and his needs in mind.

    I do not want to set these expectations arbitrarily based on what is convenient for me. or what someone else thinks my expectations should be.

    Reply
  • 3. Veronica  |  July 12, 2010 at 00:57

    I cannot think about this book too much or I just want to lose it. I cannot for the life of me understand why people that buy into such s*it even bother having kids. Why not get a pet? Wait they are an inconvenience too. Just be alone damn it. Do the world a favor and do not procreate.

    Reply
  • 4. pocketbuddha  |  July 12, 2010 at 06:03

    @ Veronica I know what you mean, And while I try my best to think that “babywise” parents must love their children very much and honestly think that they are doing what is best for them, I in many ways agree, why even have children if they are such an inconvenience?

    I think part of the problem could be that a lot of people either

    A) expect or assume that a baby is just a miniature version of themselves or a blank slate that they can ‘Mold’ into whatever they want. (Which is true to some extent but the fact remains that children are individuals with their own personalities)

    B) attribute malicious adult motivations to innocent and completely normal infant behaviours. (i.e crying to be held = spoiled and manipulative)

    when these things turn out to be untrue, or fail to be helpful they reach for books like baby wise as a quick fix and continue a cycle of working in direct contradiction with the nature of their children.

    if some people find a way to live harmoniously this way then to each their own I guess. But I find it hard to believe that anyone really does.

    Reply

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