Sunday, January 31, 2010

Taking Down Babywise: A Hero




I am so frequently impressed by the way that many of you reach out and make the world a better place for babies and their mothers, for families, and for society in general. Occasionally, I am forced to pause in silent awe of your strength and wisdom to handle situations with gentle grace, but urgent demand for change.

As Laurel Thatcher Ulrich said, "Well behaved women rarely make history." And here's to YOU for stirring the pot just a bit when our stagnant ways start to stink.

Today my hero is Laura Bilbo.


Laura with her two youngest boys


Mother to three boys, one who is all grown up and recently enlisted in the Navy, Laura is a stellar example of a woman of strength, courage, compassion, and honesty.

She will openly tell her story of how her first sons were circumcised before she dug into the research on the matter. After self-educating and seeking out the information that is rarely provided to parents making this choice, Laura kept her 3rd son intact. She speaks about the situation from a foundation that is steadily making a difference for those around her. Today, she is an intactivist, working in her own way to save babies and empower others with accurate information.

Laura also takes steps toward making the world a baby-friendly place in other situations as they present themselves. Always aware. Always on the lookout. Always keen and quick on the draw - Laura is changing lives.

Today, she took her two youngest boys to a half-price bookstore near her home in Texas. As the boys indulged in their latest fictional discoveries, Laura scanned the shelves to check for any copies of Babywise.

I'm sure she was half-hoping not to find any. After all, when they are there glaring you in the face you are presented with the bigger dilemma - what to do about them? When I recently walked into our local Babies R Us store to find the shelves lined with nothing but Babywise, I stumbled into my own catastrophe of sorts.

As I've mentioned before, I am not a fan of censorship, or book burning. That is, in virtually all cases but this one. The Ezzos and their Babywise books have damaged more infants and caused more problems than is even comprehensible. You would think that if the AAP (who tends to be rather conservative on most subjects) issues a statement regarding the damaging effects of Babywise methods, that parents would hear about it and the failure-to-thrive incidents would end.

Unfortunately, as I type there are still "I Love Babywise" groups in various locations online with hundreds of members and mothers asking, "What do I do if my 10 week old is crying for 5 hours a night?" "How should I handle my 3 month old who screams in between his every-4-hour-feedings?" "Why is my milk decreasing in volume?" "How can I get my newborn on MY schedule?!" ...you get the picture.

So there Laura stood, scanning the books, and was a bit taken aback to find 2 copies of the yellow book glaring at her from their place on the shelf.

And now the problem presents itself.

Should she buy the books to toss - ensuring another unknowing mother seeking advice doesn't accidentally stumble upon them and reek havoc on herself and her little ones in the process?

Or should she use the money for her sons' books - her original intent on coming into the book store in the first place.

She could hide them. That is what many women have admitted to doing in libraries and bookstores across the country. Only in this small store, they would easily be found and placed back on the shelf for purchase. Plus, there are cameras, and hiding books isn't exactly a social norm that mothers need to be caught breaking in front of their kids.

So instead, Laura went to the store manager. "Now don't think I'm crazy..." she started her explanation, "but I thought you should know that The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued a statement against this book for health reasons." The manager was intrigued as Laura quickly pulled up the AAP's statement on Babywise on her iPhone and let the manager look it over.

The manager was genuinely concerned and took the books from the shelves with Laura's request that they be removed from the store. It may be too much to hope that the books will not make their way back up to the "Baby" section of this second hand book store. But the manager did assure Laura she would at least make sure each book had a disclaimer warning parents who may buy the book.

And with that small feat, Laura has changed the world in her South Central Texas town. At least for someone, somewhere.

Cheers, Laura!! Now if I had that personal jet of mine, I'd fly over and give you a big ol' hug. But just know, I am cheering you on from D.C. with happy tears in my eyes and a smile in my heart for all the ways you made life a better one to live. Thank you for inspiring others to do the same.

...and now, too, I guess I will have to admit to my husband that there is at least one useful reason for him to have that iPhone always on hand. ;)

~~~~

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

American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Statement on Babywise





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


Parents Against Babywise (Facebook page)

Moms Against Babywise (Facebook group)







Info cards (front/back) available to share. 
Suggested Donation (includes shipping):
$3 = set of 25
$6 = set of 50
$10 = set of 100


Or write to DrMomma.org@gmail.com

36 comments:

  1. This is truly amazing! Thank you Laura for your dedication to improving the lives of our most innocent, helpless citizens.

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  2. I have a little "tract" if you will typed up about babywise (AAP position) and when I see these books on bookshelves I slip it into the book, somewhere in the first chapter. Hopefully parents will read and reconsider...

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  3. Wow! Laura made an awesome choice. I cringed as I thought maybe she would buy them because unfortunately that creates at "demand" for more books. With just a small conversation, she may have healed a wound rather than just put a band aid on it! How awesome!!!! Another example of how changing the world one person at a time really does work!!!

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  4. Yay Laura! A true hero!I also was afraid at first that she would buy them. I have talked to moms who have... but the thing is that puts money into his pocket even if the book doesn't get into the hands of a parent who doesn't know better. My mother who is a pedes nurse and I were talking about this just the other day. She is of the mind the the doctors and lactation consultants who face the issues that crop up with the children and the parents who are following Babywise need to start calling children and family services if the parents want to stick to it. There is a part of me that agrees.

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  5. I keep looking for copies second hand here, but I've never even seen a new copy. Maybe I should get my aunt to ask at her church (gag)

    Tiny Footprints, they do need to have child and family services called on them. Using babywise doesn't necessarily make you abusive -but if your child is having medical problems because you are following the method rather than your brain that means you need someone monitoring you. The same as if you have become desensitized to your baby's cries -either through babywise or depression or whatever. Your child as at increased risk and someone should be watching.

    (and for the record I hate CPS but I also don't think you can walk away from an at risk child just because the social worker might be useless or worse)

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  6. CPS is supposed to be an educating institution to help keep children in their home and improve parenting...unfortunately it doesn't always work that way. A babywise siutuation would be a perfect opportunity for education

    I love the idea of putting a little pamphlet in the book! Great idea!

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  7. That is great. I would likely put them behind some other books so they might never be found...only because I have a toddler and would not make it to talk to the manager.
    That is great to hear, that book is awful.

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  8. All we can do is educate parents one at a time. Book stores have the right to carry tho books but maybe by educating the owners like Laura did, they will make the right choice to not endanger any more babies with this method...

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  9. Hurray for Laura! I joined the I love Babywise group the other day, hoping that presenting information gently would help SOMEONE, anyone...nope. They kicked me out and blocked me. It breaks my heart to think of those babies. A lady at my church uses BW. *GAG*

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  10. Awesomeness at it's height.. way to go Laura!!

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  11. Great story! A brave act of activism. :)

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  12. The same should be done with those sicko Pearls' books. Great job!

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  13. LOL ok so, I hid 3 copies that were at the local Borders about 3 weeks ago...in another section of the store, behnd bigger books. And they are STILL behind those books! (Though, not sure what that says about the 3 books still there that they are behind lol)

    I would LOVE to be able to ban those books!

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  14. I have done what Laura did as well, with good response. We all need to do this and have the AAP statement ready.
    I was presented with BW when my first was born. I am so glad it all seemed way to fabricated and unnatural. It is sad that so many women are far from their instincts and simply don't feel how wrong BW is.

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  15. I do this too!

    also, i do a lot of one-on-one work too. when i meet a parent telling me--excitedly--how great babywise is, i say "you know what book i really loved and found enlightening?" and then i talk about another great book on the topic such as Dr Sears Baby book.

    I actually carry around printed lists of books that i love and that changed my world, and I hand it out to pregnant ladies. I ask any pregnant lady whom i meet what she's reading, and i go "oh, that sounds great, but you know what book really made my life SO much better?" and then pull out the list!

    People *love* it. they take it. and when i see them again (i teach yoga, but i also own a holistic health center, so we get a lot of clients from a lot of walks of life) they say "wow! that book really opened my eyes to this or that" and ask me about how it works.

    I find that just being as excited and going "this changed my life" is really something. :)

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  16. That's a very good idea! I think I'll print out the AAP statement and keep it in my purse.

    At stores carrying new books, I always turn them around, spine to the back, when I see them.

    At thrift stores, I will admit that I buy them, then tear them into pieces and throw them in the nearest dumpster. Maybe not the smartest move, but it's very cathartic, and it makes me feel better. :-)

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  17. @Tiny footprints - I would have been appalled if someone had called CPS, just because I "stuck with" Prep for Parenting (the class version of BW). I very successfully -- in terms of mainstream breastfeeding -- BF my oldest daughter using the PfP methods. My second daughter was colicky, and that was the first chink in the wall of my Ezzo defense, since they claim there's no such thing if you're "doing it right". By my 3rd child's birth, my son, I had loosened up a lot on the whole anti-AP stance that I'd been brainwashed into by BW, and had found an AP, gentle mothering msg board. He had constant ear infections, and even if I'd been a hardcore GKGW, I wouldn't have left him to cry. By my 4th child, I'd done a 180° turn with my parenting. It was then I found I had over-active letdown and oversupply, which is probably the only thing that kept my oldest two BF for an entire year and kept them from FTT.

    If someone had challenged me, had called CPS on me for using PfP when my oldest was a child, I would have dug in. They teach you that they are different, that you're doing what God wants for your child, and that everyone else, EVEN CPS, is WRONG. I might have lost that child. I might have gone on to never have the following children. I definitely would not have made the parenting journey that I did. It was gentle suggestions, reading blogs of gentle, AP parents, seeing that AP was not this whirlwind of brattiness that the Ezzos claim it is that changed my mind and the course of my children's lives. If I'd been confronted & had CPS called, that NEVER would have happened.

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  18. I keep small cards with "Babywise Dangers" on them and slip them inside the book . . . at the library, the book store, the used book store, and even one I saw at a rummage sale.

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  19. I have never heard of Babywise (and no...I don't live under a rock). What is it and why is it so bad?

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  20. A neighbor gave me BabyWise a few weeks after my first son was born. Knowing nothing about parenting guides, I cracked the book open and within the first 10 pages I was utterly appalled. I threw it in the trash.

    There are people who buy BabyWise not knowing what a bunch of sadistic crap is inside and are ultimately turned off by the BabyWise methods, either right away or after trying CIO a few times.

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  21. When that book comes in to the library donations, I chuck it into recycling. If it accidentally gets boxed up for our book sale, and I find it on the table during set up, I chuck it into recycling. I like the idea of having that AAP warning handy to show in bookstores. I don't have an iphone, so I guess I'll have to look into printing it out small and carrying it with me.

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  22. Gem, I don't think anyone is suggesting turning a parent in to CPS *just* for following Babywise...it is when they persist in following it even when their baby has health problems related to it.

    I used to go to a church where it was quite strongly promoted by a woman who had her first baby 2 months before I had mine. By the time my daughter was FOUR months old she was bigger than that 6 month old baby--even though that baby had a higher birth weight. That little girl grew into a waif of a child who seemed afraid of her own shadow (no wonder when her mother JOKED about keeping a wooden spoon in her back pocket so that she could swiftly enforce "first time obediance," a la Ezzo's "Growing Kids Gary's Way"), and yet when she thought adults weren't looking, she was very mean to other kids. Great verbal skills though--her mother had been a school teacher, and really loved her kids and spent time with them, thought she was doing the best thing for them by following that crap. Its really sad. We ended up leaving the church, didn't want our kids growing up in that environment.

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  23. Inspiring story, I'm pregnant in my third semester and I was very moved by this post.

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  24. I had to contact the county library to pull the ezzo books, since I saw they had not been pulled yet.

    My letter:

    Hello,
    As a concerned citizen and a mother, I'd like to bring to your attention about a book that should be pulled from the shelves of all the libraries.

    The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued an official statement against the "BabyWise" by Gary Ezzo (649.122E) method and books. It has been shown linked to failure to thrive and dehydration of infants. Parents who are checking out this book from your libraries and practicing this method on their babies may be putting their babies lives at jeopardy.

    http://aapnews.aappublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/14/4/21

    Please, pull this book from your shelves, and save some babies lives."


    Their response:

    "Dear Ms. G-,

    Thank you for taking the time to educate us about this. I have filled out the form for reconsideration of material and passed it along to our Materials Management department. I included your name on it since you reported this so they can get in touch with you if they need to. Thank you for alerting us and for your concern.

    Beth T
    IT Instructor & Specialist
    H.... County Library "

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  25. i was told by riley children's hospital in indianapolis, indiana to only feed my son every 4 hrs for 20 min at a time and if he didn't finish his feeding in this amount of time too badf let him cry til his next feeding time. they tried to make me feel like a bad mom cuz i was feeding him every time he was hungry and had cps worker tell me if i didn't stick to their schedule they would take him from me and keep him in the hospital. so he ended up with failure to thrive because of their every 4 hrs feeding rule and had to get a feeding tube placed. this is supposed to be one of the best children's hospitals in the US but they failed my son because of this feeding schedule they thought was so important to live by. when is the message gonna get out to the hospitals and the world that this is not ok. if a baby is hungry they need to eat they shouldn't have to cry for hours til they get fed again. Booooo....riley hospital wake up a babyh knows when they're hungry let them eat.

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  26. The biggest Christian bookstore in my state (a chain that operates all over Australia) sells the Babywise franchise of books and resources. When i emailed my concerns a few years ago, i got an email back saying that it was perfectly fine and not potentially harmful to babies in any way. Unfortunately, we dont win them all. But congrats to Laura for winning in her town!

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  27. Kim in Australia..............I was given this book with my first child.
    :-( gosh I wish I hadn't lay eyes on it!!! Thankfully after a few months of HELL, including my anxiety/depression, I woke up to using my instincts. I BF my baby girl until she was 17 months old - Yay. I have since had two more babies - both boys and didn't read any books....just went with my instinct and abundance of love for my babies. Babywise is still on my bookshelf however it won't be making it out of my house without being torn to shreds and recycled. At least someone somewhere can make something positive out of it :-)

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  28. To Kim in Australia...I too was told to read the book with my first child. After about 4-5 months of HELL too, I followed my instincts and throw my first book ever into the trash one night. Talk about a freeing moment!!! It was like I just got free from a demon! I too went on to nurse my little girl until she was 14 months old. With my second child did not read any books as well and we are still nursing after 25 months and my third child is on the way in about 3 more weeks! I'm so glad Laura did what she did at that book store. Makes me want to do the same every time I go into a book store. The Babywise book for sure should be a banded book! Cause it causes a woman to go crazy.... and a baby to loose what he or she really needs, our care and protection over them.

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  29. YES!! Way to go!!!! :) And how awesome to have been in a store where a manager actually showed some genuine concern on this!!! I had a Babywise book...my sister-in-law recommended it to me, but none of it worked for me. None of it. None of it felt right in my heart, and it made me feel sick to my stomach. I was SO angry when I found out that instead of me recycling it, it went accidentally to the local Goodwill. I went to try and find it, but couldn't. :( I wish more people understood that this book is so horrid and detrimental to a mother and child. Especially a nursing child....I detest these books!

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  30. What a breath of fresh air!! When my daughter was born, Babywise was recommended to me. Since I had never heard of it, I did a google search and QUICKLY decided the book was NOT for me. It was selfish of me to think that my 4 week old could be on MY schedule and not her own. If she cried, it was for a reason. My job is to try and figure it out. Maybe she's hungry, wants help, needs to be changed, etc.

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  31. I had been 'following' a blog of a family who had suffered heartache. One baby which died in toddlerhood (he was severely disabled) and another baby who if I remember correctly was either a later miscarriage or stillborn.

    Anyway, they eventually had another, much longed for healthy baby.
    I stopped following them in disgust and sadness when they 'admitted' on their various blog entries that the baby was babywised. And circ'd too I think. Made me so sad.
    After all they had been through to have a healthy baby, to raise it in such a way just seemed so illogical. :(

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  32. First, I must admit that I only scanned the article. But I have to disagree with Laura's assertion that FTTincidents will end if Babywise goes away (which it should). Both my daughters have suffered through FTT (thankfully my son did not). DD #1 did because of my failure to understand her cries (first baby, ignorant mom). At four months I relactated and used a supplemental nursing system with a mix of formula and EBM. She gained a pound in a week and never looked back. With my new baby daughter, we found the she was FTT at only 3-4 weeks. With pumping and increasing my supply, we have managed to keep from using formula. I nursed both (well, all three of my kids) on demand from day one. When DD#1 was born I had never heard of Babywise, and all the people around me told me to nurse on demand. I just had problems recognising her demands. So, I don't think FTT will disappear once Babywise (finally) disappears, but at least people will know that it's not happening because they read in a book to schedule feedings some ridiculous amount of time apart.

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  33. I tucked a copy of the AAP position statement inside our Library's copy of Babywise...

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  34. Has anyone even read Babywise? I read it but didnt implement anything in it, however, I dont understand how parents get the idea that they can let their infant cry for 5 hrs and say that the book told them it was ok...because it doesnt. I thought there was interesting info on sleep cycles in it. I dont know...it just seems like parents take it way out of context, that is THEIR fault, not the books fault.

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  35. Its funny; when I was a new mom (ftm with failed bonding due to traumatic birth) I was advised to buy "The Baby Bible" aka Babywise by my sister and her (child development major!!) friend. I am super poor so I don't order online but I hunted it up everytime I was at a book store. I NEVER found it, at ANY of the stores I looked (SOO grateful).
    I did CC (controlled cry) for about two months and it is both my greates regret and my biggest lesson. About 6 months in of breastfeeding on demand (though she was a pretty regularly scheduled baby all on her own; every 2-3 hrs like clockwork from the get go) and 4 of those being exclusive pumping until we got her latch right and hubby back to work night shifts right away I was WIPED. I never found the book so I just did what I had heard it was about and would let her cry for 5 mins then go in, then 10 mins and go in, then 15, and so on. I never was able to go more than 20 (my sisters friend said she had a "policy" that she didn't enter her son's room at all between 7pm and 7am!!! but I would have never done that no matter what). After about two months of her screaming herself into exhaustion every night I finally saw not only the damage I was doing to our bond; but that it was there to begin with. So I started responding again right away, and co-sleeping, and holding her close to my heart at every moment. Her trust in me grew daily; and so did mine as a mom. I am just sad she had to endure those two months of lonliness and sorrow for me to see how much she loved me; even if I had been less in love with her than I had wanted to be.

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