Don't Retract Pack

Pediatric Nurse and Former Ezzo Parent

By Nicole S.
posted with permission

My husband and I faithfully read this book and the full Growing Kids God's Way curriculum. We were excited to be presented with seemingly sound advice and felt prepared to face every part of parenting.

We followed the advice on feeding and sleep schedules very closely, until my 5 week old son began failing to gain weight. Fortunately I am a pediatric nurse and noticed the early signs before his health was severely affected. I visited a lactation consultant and learned that my milk supply was almost gone (pumping only produced less than half and ounce from each side). We formulated a plan to help him catch up and to get my milk supply back to normal. This involved: a supplemental breast feeding system, renting a scale (my idea), medication, and routinely pumping after each feeding. After 7 days my son had regained his weight and then some, but it took 6-8 weeks before my milk supply was restored.

I dismissed the idea that his feeding problems could be related to the Babywise program (I don't know what I was thinking!) and continued with the program. As time passed and I began to really process some of the Ezzo's ideas, I began to have some questions. My husband did too. We studied and prayed, consulted a Christian psychologist, and read other Christian parenting books. Eventually we decided we could no longer follow the program.

Five years have passed and I am now horrified at the very program I once followed. After reading article after article that gave stories of feeding problems nearly identical to mine, I now have no doubt that following the feeding schedule presented in this book led to our breastfeeding difficulties.

I also take issue with many of the parenting techniques presented. However, I find the most damaging result of this program is the divided feelings among Christians, and the elitist attitude of "Ezzo parents" towards those who use other parenting advice. I am worried about the circular reasoning that the book presents:

1. This method will work.
2. If it is not working, it is because you are not applying the method correctly.

This "logic" traps many young parents into three categories:

1. Those who succeed and view anyone who fails or chooses not to follow the Ezzos' teaching as inferior,
2. Those who fail but keep trying the method feel despair and guilt, and
3. Those who fail and choose to look elsewhere for advice and are ostracized by other Ezzo devotees.

You can see the divisive possibilities in churches who use this program.

I would urge parents to read other authors (Sears, for example), pray, and consult trusted mentors; and formulate their own parenting style. God gave each person a loving heart and a beautiful mind, we are given the job of raising our children with love. We should think very carefully before we let any one person dictate our course. If God trusts you with His children, shouldn't you trust His choice?


For more on Babywise, the Ezzos and Growing Kids God's Way methods see:

American Academy of Pediatrics Statement about Babywise

Dr. William Sears on Growing Kids God's Way/Babywise

Confessions of a Failed Babywiser

Adventures in Ezzoland

Ezzo Information Website

Parents Against Babywise Facebook Page

Become Wise to Babywise

The Case for Cue Feeding (rather than PDF - "parent directed feeding")

Taking Down Babywise: A Hero

List of Resources on Baby Sleep

List of Resources on Sleep Training, CIO, controlled crying

List of Resources for Breastfeeding Mothers

List of Resources on Babywearing


  1. I think that the last paragraph is quite possibly the best advice I have ever heard. :) It is exactly how I feel, but I could never quite find those words.

    Thank you for your article!

  2. Thank you for sharing your experience! I always thought I'd be a very organized and scheduled mom, but I couldn't stand to hear my baby cry. So instead of ignoring her, I listened to her and our ability to communicate with each other has totally amazed me. Truly bonding with my daughter is more rewarding than any schedule could ever be!

  3. One of my four children ONLY nursed well without severe reflux from 10 PM until 6-7 am. If I had followed the Ezzo advice, she would not have done well at all.

    Plus, my husband said he didn't want anyone putting him or any of our babies on a rigid schedule.

    All four of our children nursed well into toddlerhood and I had plenty of milk, because breastmilk is produced by supply and demand and I nursed them often and round the clock.

    They all weaned in late toddlerhood and were happy children who did not suck their thumbs. I think it is because I let them get enough sucking while nursing.

    One thing I noticed about some of my friends who did the Ezzo method is that ALL their children were clingy, small and sucked their thumbs.

    I miss the days when I nursed my babies and I am glad that I did it in a relaxed and loving way, not a hurried and begrudging way.

  4. Great post, great links.

    May I point out, for any other concerned readers, that how much a mom is able to pump is in no way indicative of how much she is producing?

    The amount of milk that you can pump is not an accurate measure of your milk supply. A baby with a healthy suck milks your breast much more efficiently than any pump. Also, pumping is an acquired skill (different than nursing), and can be very dependent on the type of pump. Some women who have abundant milk supplies are unable to get any milk when they pump. In addition, it is very common and normal for pumping output to decrease over time.

  5. About breastpumps - They just don't evoke the same emotional response as a babe in the arms, thus they don't get the same results as the baby at the breasts.

  6. Thank you for this. My husband & I took the babywise preperation for parenting & preperation for the toddler years classes when my now 14 year old was born. I never knew why I was not very sucsessful with breastfeeding, and attributed it to having to go back to work as an ER nurse. Now, we recently had baby #4 (12 years after our last one!), and I'm finally putting 2 and 2 together. I feel bad, because we recommended the program to others & my husband even lent our books to other couples. Thanks for posting.

  7. I came on here to research the method because I'm so firmly against it (our old small group at one point wanted to use Gary Ezzo's "Growing Kid's God's Way" as a Bible Study. YIKES!)

    I've seen the effect of CIO, both my nephews are not normal. The oldest responded to it by becoming a people pleaser, closer with a stranger than his own family. He values things above people and is incredibly sneaky and manipulative. My younger nephew is a zombie. He just watches the world go by. He was a much needier baby and I think it just shut him down.

    I've been telling my husband and Mom for a few years now that sometime in the future we'll look back at Ferber/Ezzo, etc and recall it as child abuse. Thanks for the article.

  8. i have a close acquaintance who did babywise. I had already been through the infant stuff with my babies and it seemed so unnatural to watch the clock rather than the baby for cues. I absoutely could not stand to listen to this baby crying for hours because she was hungry or because it is nap time and she "should" be sleeping.
    The thing is that as this baby got older, she didn't make eye contact. She wanted to be independent (not in a good way).
    Now, she's 8. she's a nightmare. She completely lacks empathy for others. she has actually hurt her younger siblings on many occassions. She's sneaky and self centered.
    i blame babywise techniques for this.
    You leave a baby crying without consoling them or (changing diaper, feeding, holding) then, you're developing a human who doesn't trust you. babies take work! This program is so irrational and illogical....

  9. Thank you. We did GPGWay and HATED it! I was in tears in the class thinking that my parenting was AWEFUL because of what they were saying is 'correct' parenting. It is abuse in so many ways. Heaven Help us from puttin our kids on schedules just to accomodate our own sleep and lifestyles. May God have mercy on the Ezzo's souls for pushing this to so many as a 'Godly' method. NEVER has God ignored me as I was crying. NEVER has God put me on such a rigid schedule of his attention. NEVER. just some food for thought :) And thanx for this enlightening post!!!

  10. I live with someone who was left to cry a lot as a baby and wasn't cuddled much. He's now in his 50s. I consider the way he was raised to be child abuse. His parents loved him and they were quite affluent, but agree now that they knew nothing about raising kids. They were taking advice from old-fashioned, upper-class European parents who had relied on nannies to raise their kids.

    Psychologically, he is like someone who was abused. When he is "down", he has very low self esteem, feels guilty about everything - even existing, and startles easily. He has experienced a lot of depression. He has episodes of anxiety and panic. He is working hard at overcoming this debilitating mindset. It is very hard for him, but he is making progress.

    From the point of view of a powerless infant, being left alone in a room crying feels life-threatening. It would have been life-threatening for a paleolithic baby to be left alone in a cave. Our brains have not evolved that much since then. Being hungry as a helpless infant is life-threatening too. The message that YOU don't matter and that life is full of fear gets embedded very early.

    Some people are effectively living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for their entire lives, based on how they were treated as babies.

    Perhaps some people are more sensitive than others, and therefore more adversely affected by this kind of parenting. However, I wouldn't take a chance. If the baby is crying, pick him or her up!

  11. hello, may i know where you found that cute baby picture or even who the baby is or when the photo was taken? it looks so so similar to my own baby! thanks in advance.

    1. This is an image sent to us via an author. We are happy to replace it, however, with something more fitting to the article above.

  12. Another one for your list

  13. I just wrote this email to the church friend who turned us onto Ezzo's parenting programs back in 1995 when our first daughter was born:


    We moved four weeks ago into a rental after our $300k home was finally foreclosed on after 13 years of being there.

    Our older daughter (20) has no friends at all, except for the psycho, abusive boyfriend that she can't seem to break away from. She has to have th lights on at night and the dog in her bed so she can sleep. She cannot be alone without having a panic attack. She will obviously need adult guardianship the rest of her life.

    Our younger daughter (16) is crippled with anxiety and depression, and borderline suicidal. We have caught her cutting herself several times. We couldn't get her to come out of her room today to meet with two school counselors from the new school district that wanted to discuss educational options with us. The only option we have left for her is a residential treatment center. I just hope she doesn't hurt or kill herself in the process.

    This would have already broken most people. Sometimes my life just seems like an endless nightmare because of it. I get so upset over it that I become numb, debilitated, and can't get any work done. My wife left her job two years ago to get Marissa help, but we are still without any professional, family, or friend support or assistance of any kind. We are isolated and left alone to rot in this living hell that was caused by Ezzo's barbaric and evil parenting programs. Attachment is everything.

    Not sure how long I can continue like this without going insane. Maybe I already am.