The following list corrects a few of the lies (or misconceptions) that Mr. Ezzo writes about Attachment Parenting.
"PFP" = Preparation for Parenting (Ezzo's church-based parenting program)
"BW" = Babywise (Ezzo's secular book based on the above program)
"AP" = Attachment Parenting (A style of parenting that focuses on becoming closely tuned to your baby)
"PDF" = Parent Directed Feeding (The feeding schedule described in Babywise)
1. Ezzo claims Attachment Parents follow a “Neoprimitivistic” school of thought that hopes to “undo birth trauma.” (BW ’98 pg 31-2)
The term “Attachment Parenting” was coined by Dr. William Sears, a pediatrician and father of eight. Dr. Sears wife, Martha, served as a La Leche League Leader. Together they are well-qualified to share information about normal growth and development, breastfeeding, baby care, and parenting.
In contrast, Gary Ezzo and his wife, Ann Marie, parents of two, have no experience or credentials in lactation or child development.
2. Ezzo claims Attachment Parents cannot be Christians.He says that Christians who practice attachment parenting “are Christians up to a point… [not subjecting] their personal opinions, reasoning, and emotions to the guidelines of Scripture...” (
a) Far from a group of neo-primitivistic secular humanists, the founding mothers of La Leche League were members of a close-knit church.
The idea for La Leche League was conceived at a church picnic, when the nursing mothers had been approached by several others expressing their regret in not being able to breastfeed. The church had recently hosted a series called the Christian Family Movement in which attendees were encouraged to reach out to others in the community. The founding mothers thought that perhaps helping other mothers was a God-given opportunity. They realized that if they helped mothers, they helped entire families, and if they helped families, they were helping the whole community.
Most of the founding moms themselves had not been successful either when trying to breastfeed their first babies. Each of them had learned by experience that the secret of success was to watch the baby instead of the clock, selflessly nursing the new baby as often as the baby seemed to need it.
This was a terribly radical idea at the time. Science was the new god. Doctors, rather than mothers, delivered babies. Doctors, rather than mothers, formulated milk for the babies. Doctors, rather than moms and babies, regulated the times babies were to be fed. Formula was new, modern and scientific; breastfeeding was seen as something the lower animals did. Formula was expensive but seen as superior, especially in an era of prosperity. Breastfeeding was for the poor.
The name "La Leche League" was chosen because 'breast' or 'breastfeeding' were words that could not be used in polite company in the 1950's.
b) Dr. Sears is a Christian, and author of Christian Parenting. His wife, a nurse and a La Leche League Leader, is a Christian
c) It is extremely arrogant to say anyone not feeding their child on a timed schedule cannot be Christian.
d) If this were indeed a Godly parenting program, it would be the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. This schedule could not work in Jesus' time when people did not have timepieces.
It would not work in less developed nations where fewer people rely on clocks.
e) Ezzo recognizes that mothers in less-developed nations carry their babies attached in wraps or slings "out of convenience" but he claims mothers in North America who do this are only doing so because they are afraid the child is suffering Birth Trauma.
d) In Preparation for Parenting, Ezzo attacks Christians who AP:
Here are three questions for the Christian community to consider:
(1) Did God make a mistake when creating the birthing process by introducing trauma?
(2) Did Jesus suffer from psychic shock and separation anxiety as a result of His birth?
(3) Was Mary a bad mother because she laid Jesus in a manger (literally a feeding crib) and not a family bed? To all three questions, we answer "no."
I would answer:
(1) God did not make a mistake creating the birthing process, MAN made the mistake of messing with it.
(2) If Jesus had been born in modern times, he would have been ultrasounded several times, induced by 40 weeks, his birth assisted by forceps, scissors, scalpel or cesarean section. His cord would be clamped immediately, before it finished its function, so He could be taken from his mother. He would likely have his nose, mouth, possibly even lungs suctioned, medicine would be put in his eyes, and He'd be injected with Vitamin K. He'd be placed on a metal scale, weighed, measured and tagged, then taken to the NICU for observation, due to the increased risks involved in virgin birth. And yes, this would likely cause some psychic shock and separation anxiety.
(3) No, Mary was not a bad mother because she put her baby in a manger. It was probably the only place not covered in animal manure and amniotic fluid. I also doubt that Mary and Joseph would have toted a feeding crib with them when they fled to Egypt in the middle of the night..
Here are three questions I would ask Mr. Ezzo to consider:
(1) Did Mary have a clock in Jesus' nursery?
(2) Did she have to check the sundial to know when it was time to feed her baby?
(3) How was she able to stretch out his feeding times in 15-minute increments as he grew?
His "infant management program" is obviously not feasible for Christians living in less-developed nations - or else all believers outside of the Western world are "only Christian up to a point."
This is not correct and it is not descriptive of attachment parenting.
3. Ezzo states that for Attachment Parents, the primary signal for
food is the baby’s cry. (BW '98 page 33)
In other words, after the baby has been hinting - after the baby has been rooting and smacking his lips and getting restless, after the baby has been asking politely for several minutes, then baby becomes increasingly agitated - and the mother continues to ignore these signals, then comes the late signal: he cries. Nobody was paying attention to his distress until he cried. Attachment mothers notice the early signals, and respond when the baby asks politely. That is why they cry less.
Attachment Parents recognize the baby needs a mother's presence as much he needs her milk. Her breast is a source of comfort and nurture and delight, - and this is biblical. "that you may nurse and be satisfied from her consoling breast; that you may drink deeply with delight from her glorious abundance...Her children will be nursed at her breasts, carried in her arms, and held on her lap. I will comfort you there in Jerusalem as a mother comforts her child." ~ Isaiah 66:11-13
4. Ezzo believes you can hurt a baby by picking him up too much (page141) and disapproves of the use of baby slings, even claiming this hinders the child's development. (page 34)
Attachment parents use a sling for many reasons.
a) It’s convenient, keeping the baby where you can see it, the cat can’t jump on it and the toddler can’t poke it. Mother doesn't need to keep going to check on the baby.
b)It's easier than a stroller in many situations (walking in rough terrain, at the beach, in the woods, etc.)
c) It keeps baby content. They are soothed and calm by mother's movements.
d) It benefits the baby's learning. When baby is at eye level, he is able to see what his mother does and how she does it, constantly watching and learning about the world he lives in. (How does this hinder development?)
e)Lying alone in a crib or playpen hinders development! Carring actually enhances the baby's development in a variety of ways. http://www.bobafamily.com/research/strollers-baby-carriers-and-infant-stress/
f) Moms quickly recognize changes in the baby’s movement that indicate things like hunger, sleepiness, and discomfort, and respond accordingly.
g) They are simply following the wisdom of their ancestors and sisters and around the world. (http://www.hybridrastamama.com/2011/04/babywearing-around-the-world.html .)
Ezzo mentions the women “in some third-world nations and primitive settings, [carrying] their babies in an infant sling as they move through their day. Their actions are not based on a need to create an attachment with their child nor spurred on by Freud’s writing. For these mothers it is simply a matter of convenience and safety.” (page189)
5. Ezzo claims babies raised by Attachment Parents are insecure.Ezzo says, “A baby’s security is tied to his or her developing relationships with mom and dad, not simply the proximity of mom. The child who is physically attached to mom through baby slings and shared sleep is not necessarily experiencing relational attachment. That statement is easily proven. Just remove the child from mom at any point and observe how secure he or she appears. It’s disheartening for a parent to see and hear her own child in a state of hysteria under the stress of independence.” (pg 139-140)
d) How you can have a good developing relationship with mom and dad without proximity?
e) Why would he think a small child - who is incapable of getting his own food or keeping himself warm - shouldn't be upset when left alone?
f) I would remind the reader how disheartening it is for a parent to see and hear her own child in a state of hysteria when he needs to sleep away from home.
Of course! The baby would cry because he is not accustomed to being left there.
Try taking the PDF child camping and in all probability there will be a great deal of crying because baby isn't in his own bed. Meanwhile, the AP’d baby will fall asleep and stay asleep anywhere. His security is not in his furniture, but in the proximity of those who love and care for him.
Actually, studies show that nursing mothers get the most sleep. http://www.scienceandsensibility.org/?p=3618
6. Ezzo claims that frequent nursing is so exhausting that many mothers quit prematurely, and that PDF moms are better rested.
Frequent nursing assures more than just milk supply; it also increases maternal hormones in the mother - hormones designed to make her feel loving, calm, and motherly, delighting in her baby. These hormones increase every time she breastfeeds. Wouldn't you want a child's mother to feel more loving, more nurturing, more calm? Far from the “mutual discontentment” (pg.44) he predicts when a mother feeds on demand, the mother who nurses more often is happier and more content.
The more she nurses, the less she cares how much she nurses!
This is a gift from God, ensuring we find joy and contentment in caring for our babies so we don’t leave them outside for the buzzards!
Since theAP mother believes in sleeping with or near baby, this means
- She doesn’t have to go to the baby’s room and sit in a chair for those feedings, but can tuck the baby in bed with her, warm and sleeping while baby nurses.
- Studies have shown that when you sleep close to your baby you share the same sleep cycles. This means:
- Fathers are rarely aware that the baby even wakes.
- You can sleep in later when you co-sleep. (My firstborn would happily keep nursing on and off and I could stay in bed till 10.)
7. Ezzo claims the AP mother isn't able to make good decisions about her child's needs.“By blocking the cry, mother loses confidence in her own decision-making. She also misses out on assessing the child’s real need. While she may be meeting a secondary cue, she probably is missing her baby’s primary cues.” (Pg 139)
"Blocking" something means to hinder or obstruct it. AP's are not hindering the baby's communication, they are learning baby's language, interpreting it and acting accordingly.
The AP'd baby doesn't cry much because he doesn't need to. Mother doesn't wait for the distress call, she already knows what baby wants. This is the essence of the “attachment” in attachment parenting. There is a level of communication and understanding such that the baby doesn't have to resort to crying to be "heard."
PDF involves making the baby wait for feedings, using a pacifier if necessary, and include keeping the baby in his own room. Ezzo discourages the use of a baby monitor (page 187), so the baby's early signals won't be heard, only the distressed baby's cries.
8. Ezzo claims breastfeeding works better on a PDF schedule.
A study on five hospital practices from the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative showed that women who used pacifiers, delayed the first feed, gave formula, did not breastfeed on demand, and did not room in, were eight times less likely to be breastfeeding at two months than women who experienced none of these practices.
9. Ezzo claims most AP'd babies are fussy.
"Because of the lack of order associated with the attachment-parenting methodology, the one statement attachment mothers do not hear is: "My, what a good natured baby you have!"PFP page 49
That is simply not true, and the first lie I saw when I looked at a copy of Babywise. As a member of La Leche League for many years, I often heard moms comment on how frequently they were complimented on our delightful, happy babies. We felt sorry for all the moms who had put their babies on feeding schedules and didn't know how liberating it was to nurse freely on baby's request. At LLL Conferences where there would be hundreds of babies in attendance, only rarely did you hear one crying.
10. Ezzo claimed babies are born in a state of metabolic chaos.
He says the parent’s job is to stabilize their hunger metabolism the PDF.
Medically defined as a severe disturbance in amino acid chemistry, a result of chronic illness with multiple causes, metabolic chaos is NOT a normal condition of the newborn.