Thoughts on Infant Training

Child training, for our family, always began in the hospital.

Before even starting our family, I participated in a Growing Kids God’s Way class at my church titled Preparation for Parenting by Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo. I sat in the pew, excitement filling me, thinking, This makes sense! So I ordered my own book and tape set and studied up for our children’s future.

Our three girls could be poster children for the success of their first years. I scheduled, not rigidly, just making sure that:

  • No less than 2 hrs passed from the beginning of one feeding to the beginning of the next. I aimed for 3 hours, but didn’t sweat it at two. My firstborn was in the 90th percentile, and I figured the child needed extra nourishment!
  • At night, I let them sleep as long as they would, not waking them to nurse, but nursing them if needed those first 8-10 weeks.
  • I kept to a strict cycle of: feedtime/waketime/naptime

According to the Ezzo’s, and I found this true with all three of my girls, if you switch up the “feed/wake/sleep cycle” you mess with the infant’s ability to sleep through the night by 8-10 weeks of age. So if you subscribe to this theory, your infant never requires sleep props, because you keep them awake after feeding. Even if you just tickle their feet or change their diaper, minutes of awake time with a newborn, are sometimes all you’ll get! They’ll develop the habit, with no hardship, of falling asleep on their own. (w/o rocking, bouncing, shushing, swaddling, nursing…)

My first child slept through the night at exactly 8 weeks of age. To the night. And we’re talking 10-12 hrs each night, consistently, except when teething!

My second child made me sweat it, wondering if firstborn had been a fluke. She didn’t start her 10 hours a night till she was 9 weeks old. But from then on, she too, remained a consistent sleeper.

Third daughter…same scenario. Worked like a charm.

I know you all think I’m spoiled with all that great sleep, but this was trained into them from the hospital by the scheduling.

I always stress that, because I think so often moms wait till they’ve got problems to try to figure out how to solve them…and then you’re in for a lot of fussing and “crying it out” if you go that route, and some have to if they want to break the habit and ever get their 2 or 3 or 4 year old to sleep through the night!

By starting out with my little routine from day 1, my infants fell right into line and I had the blessing of several things:

  1. Knowing that if they cried, its cause was either a dirty diaper or pain or needing cuddled. Btw, so often nursing becomes an overfeeding problem which can lead to upset tummies, fussing, etc, when maybe baby just needed more mommy-time…
  2. Knowing that I had a two or three hour block of time before the next feeding came in pretty handy when planning grocery expeditions, etc!
  3. Having a happy, well-adjusted infant and toddler who knew what to expect and had her expectations satisfied.

Another fun aside is that all our girls loved bedtime! People would be so amazed when visiting us at night and our crawling eight month old would grab her blankie and say, “Night-night!” (with no prompting from us) and head for her crib. Not a one ever gave us any bedtime trials. Kisses and hugs and special-lovin’ tucking in’s and they were practically counting Z’s before we had the door shut…

We’re all different, and I have nothing against breastfeeding on demand and co-sleeping…

I just can’t beat 10-12 hours of sleep at eight weeks post-partum! That, my dears, really rocks!

17 thoughts on “Thoughts on Infant Training”

  1. you ignorance is astounding. ezzo is revolting and nothing more than church sanctioned child abuse. i was guided to you blog by another homeschool mother who was completey disgusted by your methods. rather than feeling proud, you ought to feel ashamed of the neglect of your children.

  2. Mary,

    Great post. Please don’t let the nay sayers get you down. You will find that most of the critics don’t even own a copy of the book, have never taken a class, and are just repeating gossip. Most of the ones who have read the material seemed to have skimmed or skipped large portions.

    Preparation for Parenting and Babywise are awesome resources. We have three boys and are right in the middle of implementing the principles with our newest addition Josiah born on 8/10.

    My wife and I teach Preparation for Parenting in our home and are friends with the Ezzos.

    You can read current blog posts by Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo on a new site called GrowingKids.org.

  3. Colleen, it was adorable. None of our three were ever afraid of the dark either, which is a nice aside.

    Linda, welcome to Home-steeped Hope! The Ezzos and their resources have been a great blessing to our family, a blessing I can’t try to explain to you as you already have your mind made up. :) I’ve got three well-adjusted sweethearts, and I can’t complain. God is good!

    Hank, thank you for the encouragement, I’m so glad to hear your story and will definitely follow your link and read about Josiah. I’ll always be thankful that I discovered the wisdom and practical advice that Gary and Anne-Marie offer. Dh and I also took their GKGW classes, and were blessed to attend one of their conferences as well. Super nice people, their hearts are in the right place!

  4. Your babies may have thrived under the ezzos, but have you read about the ones who have starved? are you concerned about the way their methods undermine breastfeeding and the lawa of supply and demand. do you comprehend that most babies don’t just fall in to a blissful sleep, but are left to cry alone? how is any of this a blessing to anyone?

  5. Those things are all incomprehensible. But instead of blaming the Ezzos, I blame the parents who for whatever reason felt that such drastic measures were warranted. I’ve read most of their (Ezzos) books and honestly feel the people who have let their babies starve or cry alone for hours aren’t taking the directions within context. However, I do agree that in everything, we parents must use common sense and grace. And be creative and intuitive enough to know what works for our own children.

    You bring up a good point on the supply and demand. I never had a problem coming up with enough milk, but I have heard that some women can’t go 10-12 hours a night without feeding b/c it affects their milk supply, especially as early on as 8-10 weeks post-partum. I’d set the alarm and pump if that were the case, because my babies really didn’t need to eat during the night. Thankfully they were all right on target for their weight/height on the growth charts, and two of my three were in the 90-95th percentile.

    No matter what method parents use, they definitely need to make sure their infants are thriving health-wise and emotion-wise. And I know this is where we probably disagree. I hate that there is such a great divide between moms/dads that fervently believe in attachment parenting vs scheduling. I know you are motivated by concern for infants, and that’s fine. But the methods couldn’t have worked more beautifully for me and mine.

    I appreciate your comments, Linda!

  6. I do not follow Gary Ezzo. I follow my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I have sincere concerns about anyone who claims that their parenting method is “God’s Way”. If God had a specific method for us to train our children to sleep it would be laid out for us in the Bible. I have listened to the Preparation for Parenting tapes and read Ezzo material and repeatedly found places where scripture was twisted in order to back what Ezzo feels is the best way to train babies. The point is it is Ezzo’s method, and not God’s. Some have even deemed Ezzo’s materials and classes “cult-like”. I would be extremely careful before subscribing to any of his “methods”. Here is an interesting commentary on the subject:
    http://www.fix.net/~rprewett/concerns.html

  7. I should probably mention that what I have done with my children was not really “demand feeding” or “parent led feeding”. I nursed them when they showed signs of hunger (sucking hands, etc.) or when I felt let down and knew it was about time for a feeding, but I did not deny them comfort feedings either. Mine all (4 children) slept through the night by the time they were 2 months old. One of them slept for 11 hours straight almost from the time we brought him home from the birthing center. I let him because he was a good weight and didn’t seem to be fussy or anything. Anyway, they all go to bed when they are supposed to and don’t put up a fight and sleep through the night though my youngest does nurse to sleep most of the time at 17 months.

  8. No one can go wrong following Christ, and sure, I can see how off-putting it is that Gary Ezzo claims his parenting methods are “God’s way”. Whoever’s way it is, it’s worked well for us. But like I’ve said before, I don’t follow it like the gospel of child-rearing. I’m a mom that in light-bulb moments follows my instincts and the advice that makes sense. Much of what the Ezzoes say makes sense to me and dh. Same thing with the Pearls. When something gives you great results you want to share it with others. That’s simply what I’m doing here on my blog. I appreciate your concerns, and I’ve been sickened by what’s on the net about the Ezzoes and Pearls, that some of it may be true I don’t doubt. Some people are very stringent in following guidelines…and I probably don’t agree 100% with all their doctrine/teachings. What I’ve adapted to use in my family has worked amazingly. That’s all.

  9. I enjoyed reading about your experiences with nursing and infant sleep, Corrina! Thanks for sharing that there are other ways to get the same results. I’m not against other methods, such as nursing on demand and co-sleeping. I’m sure my blog posts seem like strong one-sided opinions. In sharing my experiences I don’t intend for others with different ones to feel I’m judging them as wrong, or myself/my methods as right. Of course I wouldn’t bother to write about it if I didn’t think it was worth sharing, same as you with your concerns about the Ezzoes.

  10. Mary,

    Would love to talk more about Babywise with you, I’m starting my 2 week old on it, of course being very flexiable, but would love tips, advice, etc

    Thank you

  11. Dear Sharon,
    I’m so glad you’re trying this way of scheduling, I hope it works as well for you as it has for me and my family. The key thing, besides being flexible, which you’re remembering ;), is to keep to that feedtime-waketime-sleeptime schedule. Even if you can only keep your 2 week old awake a few minutes before he/she drifts off, that’s good enough. Sometimes it’s hard keeping them awake long enough to nurse at that age!

    And as far as “sleep props” go, don’t get too worried about naps taken in swings and bouncy seats. My middle daughter just didn’t sleep well in her crib till she was about 3 months old. I kept trying, but half the time she’d nap in her bouncy seat inside the crib. I think she needed her head elevated or something. I was SO worried she’d think she “needed” the vibration to lull her to sleep, but thankfully she outgrew it and adjusted to sleeping on her side in the crib just fine. FYI, I’d usually switch the vibrator to “off” after she dropped to sleep. Just some things to keep in mind, in case your baby gets to a point where they’re fussing and it’s time to sleep!

    As you can see, this subject recently got a beating here at my site. Unfortunate, as the Babywise book holds a lot of practical advice and has worked for many families. But it’s always good to have a personal “check” about whatever method one chooses, God’s given us these precious ones, and not a one of them comes with a “one-size-fits-all” care manual!

    I’d love to answer specific questions, and to help however I can. This is a subject near and dear to my heart! What did you have? A boy or a girl? Are you recovering well, getting enough rest? Is this your first?

    God bless,
    Mary

  12. Hi Mary,
    Thanks for this post. This is something I haven’t addressed on my own blog, as I haven’t (yet) been blogging while having an infant. I know there are many nay-sayers, but I, too, am very thankful for being able to “read” my baby’s cues (not just feeling like I have to nurse every time they cry), have a routine for my baby, and be able to (like you said) have sleep- glorious sleep – within 2-ish months of a newborn joining our family.

    I, like you, have been flexible with the schedule… but the cycle (eat/wake/sleep) is what makes it all work. And like you, I won’t fault anyone else for their methods, but I’m thankful for one that makes everyone in the family– baby, parents, and any siblings… much happier, much more rested, and makes life generally more predictable.

    Thanks for writing about a subject so many aren’t willing to broach (no doubt because of utterly rude comments like Linda’s).
    ~Jess

  13. Jess, thank you for your encouragement! ((Big hugs)) It’s wonderful to have another mom who’s BTDT to back me up. When people automatically associate this method with infant starvation and worse, it really bothers me, because in the majority of cases it works wonderfully. And, excuse me, but if your infant is failing to thrive or ends up screaming itself to sleep constantly, then you need to do something different!

    I guess it shouldn’t surprise us that something this great is being attacked, since it promotes wellness w/in the family.

    Again, thanks for stopping by and taking time to add to this!

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