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July 27, 2004

Babywise and Failure to Thrive

Not long ago, Tim Challies blogged about Babywise & Other Ezzo Nonsense. In the comments, one mother shared about the negative impact Babywise had in their family:

"My son suffered terribly because of the Ezzo teachings (Prep for Parenting**). He was hospitalized at 3 weeks old because he was severely dehydrated, failure to thrive, weight loss, etc. We, as his parents, were horrified to know that we had unknowingly caused our precious son to suffer. . . .We hope and pray that some how Ezzo will realize the danger he brings to families and stop his abusive teachings."

I'm so sad for this mother. I want to put my arm around her and comfort her. And I rejoice that her little one is doing well today.

Some have said that all the "harmful" elements have been taken out of the newest Babywise. Sadly, that's not the case. This baby was hospitalized for Failure to Thrive less than a year ago.

You may not be aware that since Babywise was first published in 1993 (and the original Prep sometime around 1987) there have been several revisions of both. Some Ezzo apologists dismiss articles critical of Babywise because the quotes do not exactly match the edition they own.

However, since Ezzo claims that his message and "philosophy of parenting" has remained the same, articles which quote older editions of Babywise and Prep are still a helpful resource for evaluating Ezzo parenting. And even a cursory comparison of older and newer editions show that the harmful advice is still included even in the "updated" versions.

One of the most striking things is the mother's hope that "Ezzo will realize the danger he brings to families and stop. . ."

Gary Ezzo is well aware of the faulty information in his books, he is well aware of the theological and medical criticism of his teachings, and he is well aware that his program undermines healthy weight gain in infants and abundant breastmilk production in mothers.

He is well aware of these problems, and yet continues to promote materials which are harmful to families, under the guise of a "family ministry."

Failure to acknowledge problems in his teacings is similar to Gary Ezzo's failure to acknowledge sin, as is seen in Gary Ezzo's reaction to church discipline. The elders of Living Hope Evangelical Fellowship saw it necessary to publically address issues related to church discipline in 2000, saying, In the end, it was his impenitence that caused us to put him out of the church.

I join with the mother in desiring that Gary Ezzo would acknowledge the problems in what he has promoted, publically issue a statement recalling his parenting materials, and seek reconciliation with the churches who have disciplined him and others in his life that have been hurt by his actions.

** Just a reminder: "Preparation for Parenting" is the version of "Babywise" that supposedly is taught from a Christian worldview, with Christian philosophies and Biblical principles. It's now published as "Let the Children Come Along the Infant Way."

Update: The Cat's Meow and WillowTree are also blogging on Babywise this week.


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Tracked on July 28, 2004 11:11 AM


I have heard a lot (negative and frightening) about babywise. Isn't there some way to force the publishers to print warnings or something? There have been deaths due to this book from my understanding.

Babies are not out to get you, though I jokingly assert that is their purpose. They cry because they need something and just listen to your heart.

I am so glad this mother's child is okay.

Posted by: Rachel Ann at July 28, 2004 10:34 AM

Hi, Rachel Ann!

I really like what you wrote on your on site, "What I will tell you as a mom of five is this:
Babies cry for a reason. They have a problem and they need the problem fixed. They may be thirsty, or hungry, or tired, or need a diaper change, or have a tummy ache or just want the warmth of your arms about them. . ."

For accuracy's sake, to my knowledge there are no documented deaths related to Babywise. There are certainly several stories floating around about related deaths, but I haven't yet found anyone to step forward to substantiate them.

However, it is very well-documented that babies do gain weight slower, mothers often lose their milk supply and attachment problems that are a direct result of implementing Babywise.

And, as you alluded to, one of the saddest problems related to Babywise is how it leads parents to adopt an "Us vs. Them" mindset with their children.

Posted by: TulipGirl at July 28, 2004 04:53 PM

Isn't there some way to force the publishers to print warnings or something?

Actually, his publisher, Multnomah in the US, dropped him several years ago. Gary Ezzo now self-publishes under the name Parentwise Solutions.

I don't know who he is working with for advertising/distribution, but it seems to be with some company that is very well-connected. Major bookstores in the US have prominent displays of his "-Wise" (sic) series of books.

Posted by: TulipGirl at July 28, 2004 04:59 PM

I just purchased the babywise book (really cheap) from a booklist I'm on just so no one else would get it! I'm going to have a burning party. *wink*

Posted by: Jess at July 29, 2004 09:37 PM

After disposing of all my copies of Ezzo materials, I did purchase a copy of Prep from a used bookstore not long ago. I told the lady exactly why I was buying it (to keep it away from other mothers.) She was unimpressed. But the woman in line behind me was really concerned and I got to give her some good info. *grin*

And, skimming Prep again, I saw just how false and persuasive Ezzo can be. *shiver*

Posted by: TulipGirl at July 30, 2004 05:13 PM

I find it truly amazing that he keeps republishing under new names for the same program- much the same way a felon will continue to assume a new alias each time he's close to being "found out". Has anyone else found this disturbing?


Posted by: Dy at August 1, 2004 04:44 AM

Totally, Dy!

And yet, Ezzo supporters really like having "updated" materials because then they can say, "oh, the problems are only with the older materials." *sigh*

What it really does is line his pockets. . .

Posted by: TulipGirl at August 1, 2004 07:20 PM

I can't stand this book..I'm horrified at the misinformation given. Each time I see any "wise" material in the bookstores, Walmart, Fred Meyer, where ever... I try and hide it elsewhere so nobody else can buy it. I've even went so far as to print stickers with the Ezzo.info website, then place them on the covers. LOL

Posted by: Olivia at December 6, 2007 12:13 AM

This is a terrifying thing to find out about. I worked at a major book store and sold many copies of these books. If I would have known about this then I would have definitely recommend something else to these women. How could anyone willing publish something that is clearly poor and harmful advice to women and men about how to raise a child? Money is the only thing that seems to matter to this man. Iím glad that the womanís baby is doing great now. She is a strong woman to come out and let people know that this book is full of damaging lies. Thanks for putting this information out here for others to see. People need to know to avoid such a dangerous material.

Posted by: RealSugarBaby at March 19, 2008 08:53 PM

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