Monday, February 15, 2010

Feed Baby When Hungry

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There is a common misconception floating around the world that Babywise equals hyperscheduling. Hyperscheduling means you let the clock rule your feeding schedule; even if baby is hungry, you do not feed until it is time. I sometimes see comments from people stating that Babywise tells parents to not feed their baby even if hungry. When asked, some these people claim to have read the book. Others say no, their friend's, neighbor's, sister or something like that told them so.

Let me shed some light on the subject. Real, factual, light. Do you know how many times Babywise says to not feed your baby even if your baby is hungry. ZERO. That is right. Zero. Do you know how many times Babywise says to feed your baby when your baby is hungry? Not off the top of your head? Well, I am about to tell you*. Each of these quotes is telling the reader to feed a hungry baby. All text that is made larger is done so by me to add emphasis.

  1. "Both the variable of hunger cues and the constant of time guide parents at each feeding." page 37
  2. "When the hunger cue is present, the clock is submissive to the cue, because the hunger cues, not the clock, determine feedings." page 40
  3. "Responding promptly to a newborn's hunger cue is also a central part of Parent Directed Feeding." page 64
  4. "The first rule of feeding states: Whenever your baby shows signs of hunger, feed her!" page 74
  5. "Sometimes it may be less and sometimes slightly more, based on your baby's unique needs" page 74--talking about how often to feed baby
  6. "As stated, there will be times when you might nurse sooner than 2 1/2 hours..." page 74
  7. "There is only one Babywise feeding rule for the first two weeks. Mothers and fathers should take their clocks, turn and face them against the wall." page 77
  8. "...even feeding as often as every two hours." page 79 (in discussing jaundice)
  9. "Be careful not to compromise your baby's nutrition while attempting to establish healthy sleep patterns." page 98
  10. "Remain mindful of growth spurts that may require additional feedings for a few days." page 113
  11. "As stated, your baby's normal feeding periods fall between 2 1/2- and 3- hour intervals. But there are times when you may feed sooner than those time increments." page 115
  12. " might be that she is hungry and in need of another full feeding. If that is the case, feed her again..." page 115
  13. "...just know that hunger is always a legitimate reason to feed less than two hours." page 115
  14. "There also may be medical reasons for feeding a child more frequently. For example,...premature newborns...jaundice..." page 115
  15. "'s okay to deviate from the 2 1/2- to 3-hour feeding norm." page 116
  16. "Don't be afraid to add an extra feeding if you think your baby needs it." page 118
  17. "If you feel you need to add an additional feeding during the day, do it." page 121
  18. "Our emphasis and encouragement is to first approach the 45-minute intruder as a hunger problem, not a sleep adjustment problem. Try feeding your baby first." page 144
  19. "Feed the baby during these growth spurts and adjust your daily routine to allow for a few more feedings during the day." page 144
  20. "By feeding sooner than normal ou are not going backward in your routine but are making the healthy and proper adjustments needed to move into the next phase of your baby's development." page 145
  21. "With a reflux baby consider feeding more often than the general recommended 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Try feeding every 2 hours. This may be easier on your baby..." page 167
  22. "Possibly for a couple of days you might feed every two hours. That's okay." page 192 (in discussing jaundice)
  23. "If baby is hungry, feed him." page 196
  24. "Probably she is going through a growth spurt. For the next couple of days, add a feeding or two to her routine." page 202
  25. "When your baby goes to the nursery, leave a bottle of water, formula, or breast milk and give the nursery worker freedom to do what he or she thinks is best." page 214
  26. "We are encouraged by the fact that so many parents understand the value of order in their lives and their children's lives. But sometimes people redefine order to mean rigidity, and that leads to imbalance. Balance includes both structure and flexibility." page 214
  27. "If you are breast-feeding, these [growth] spurts may necessitate some extra feedings for a couple of days..." page 219
Some of you who are reading this and claim Babywise tells you not to feed a hungry baby might be feeling a bit uncomfortable at this moment. Maybe you feel some heat rising. Go ahead. Look these quotes up. They are real. I didn't make them up.

So now you might be thinking, "yeah, sure, but this is the newest version. The OLD version is the one that I am referring to."

One step ahead of you. [Let me note, the 2001 printing is just about the same as the 2006 printing, so I didn't include that printing.]
Thanks to my friend Amanda for the following:

  1. "Second, our conviction is that a baby should be fed when he or she signals readiness. With PDF, a mother feeds her baby when the baby is hungry..." page 39
  2. "If your baby is hungry, feed him or her." page 132
  3. "If you have a baby who becomes exceptionally and continuously fussy, consider the possibility that that he is hungry." page 134 (in reference to late evening fussy periods)
  4. "If your baby is hungry, feed him" page 181
Want me to go further? Thanks to my friend Maureen for this info:

1990 VERSION of PREP FOR PARENTING (the non-secular version of Babywise)
  1. "Besides hunger, they cry when they are tired, wet, feeling sick, bored, frustrated, out of their routine, fed too often or simply that's what normal, healthy babies do. As a parent, you must learn how to assess your baby's cry in order to respond properly." page 119
  2. "It should go without saying but we will say it anyway: ignoring a hungry baby's cry is unacceptable. If your baby seems to be hungry all the time, the problem is not with a routine, but with your routine." page 124
  3. "Parents should comfort their baby when comfort is needed...A diaper change will comfort a wet baby, feeding will comfort a hungry baby, holding will comfort a startled baby, and sleep will comfort a tired baby." page 126
  4. "Growth spurts for your infant...may necessitate an extra feeding for a couple of days to increase your supply for baby's increased demand." page 143

What is my point? Babywise tells the parent, over and over again, to feed a hungry baby. And then it repeats it some more. These quotes aren't randomly thrown in and hidden in the book. If you read the information around the quotes, you will see the information from each quote is elaborated on.

If a Babywise baby is asking for food, then a Babywise parent should be giving it. End of story. Here it is in black and white and quite undeniable.

*Disclaimer: Amanda, Maureen, and I may have missed some of the quotes from the books that state to feed a hungry baby. There may be more than listed here. But everything listed here is actual.



MsSarahNicole said...

Awesome! Thank you for doing this! Im going to print it our and distribute it at my next La Leche meeting. I love breast-feeding my baby and enjoy the support that i get from the LLL but none of them support Babywise because of this misconception! And when they complain about night feedings and I see them snacking 24-7 I have to bite the side of my cheek to stay quite. Thank you for your posts and enthusiasm for raising your children!

Ashley said...

Thank you for posting this! I get tired of digging out BW to inform people of the truth when they start in on the "my mom/friend/pedi said...". Now I'll just pass along this post. :)

Amanda said...

Love this post :) If I spot any more pertinent quotes I'll let you know. When I was searching I literally only looked for things that referenced "feed your baby when hungry", I didn't include the numerous statements defining PDF as taking hunger cues into account and the statements about being flexible with your routine, etc.

Jennifer said...

What a great post. Thanks to all of you for taking the time to put these together!

mandgmom said...

I have never really understood why there are so many naysayers regarding BW. There is NO parenting book out there that is a manual to be followed word for word, and most people who speak negatively about BW must not have read it. A friend introduced me to BW when my son was 5 months old, and we were struggling with feeding and sleeping patterns. I read it in one evening, and in trying what BW suggests, we were on a consistent schedule by the following week. Of course there are going to be things that don't work for everyone, but BW NEVER suggests not feeding a hungry baby!Thanks for the post! I think this will clarify a lot for people.

Redheads said...

I can't imagine anyone NOT feeding a hungry baby!
Now that my daughter is 12 months old, if she is hungry 30 minutes before meal time, I distract her to keep her from snacking and spoiling her meal. But she is very obviously not a baby anymore!
Who would want to be a slave to the clock?
Babies should be fed when they are hungry. If they are hungry every hour, then feed them. But responsible moms should do more than that. They should research the reason for the need for frequent feeds and correct it if possible. This way, the baby can get the sufficient sleep they need. I know BW talks about this!

Sarah said...

This is awesome! Thanks for compiling these quotes and also for all you do with this blog! I am no longer nursing my baby - he is 15 months - but am still so passionate about BW. I had a friend try to warn me about things she heard, but she clearly had not read the book herself or she would never had tried to 'warn' me. Also, the negative things you hear are either from people who did not truly read the book or ones who went way overboard and 'hyperscheduled' as you said and therefore hurt their baby.

Thanks again!

Kara @ KSS said...

Hahaha I love this. Good job!

I just found your blog recently, and I'm really excited about it. Our first child is due Feb 27th, and I think your blog is going to be a great resource.

I've read Babywise twice, and you're definitely right...the book emphasizes over and over to feed your baby if he shows signs of hunger.

Kristin said...

I've often wondered how this is different than "demand feeding"? Observe the clock as your guide, but when baby is hungry you feed her. That sounds like demand to me. Maybe I don't know the definition of demand feeding (always feed as a first response rather than trouble shoot? wait till baby cries to demand food?). I just remember thinking as I was first implementing BW that I must have missed something because I was really looking to my DD for cues to help shape our schedule and wondered if I was *really* doing BW since we were quite flexible. As I read the book, I was doing just fine, and couldn't understand how BW is associated with hyper scheduling.


Kristin said...

LOL... this post is awesome! Thanks for searching it out and putting it together. It's hilarious!... and sad... sad that us BW mom's even need such a thing, but it is what it is. Thanks again!

*Tanyetta* said...

Thank You. I am going through a bit of a rough time right now with my baby girl and her weight. My doctor is concerned that she isn't gaining on schedule.

Caroline said...

Thanks for taking the time to do this!! I'm always amazed when people who say they have read the book have this misconception!

Val said...

Good post. I can say as one who had babywise wrong in the beginning (as a hormone filled, crazy new mom of twins), that when re reading and re reading, I missed so much.
I think the reason for the misconception is the section in the middle that provides a sample schedule. Those who skim could be tempted to read it and think, oh, this is my template that I have to follow in order to get a baby to sleep through the night.
Other problems could be from the what do I do section where some throws of sarcasm over shadow the need to feed. (ie Your baby will not lose IQ points if it cries, also the part about the 10 week old baby crying like a loud airplane before dropping off to sleep).
The new babywise parents that I've talked to say that they don't know if their baby is hungry, and they are afraid to feed it because it will "babywise says it will start a bad habit and I will become a slave to the childs wants". I spend a lot of time correcting people on babywise (but a whole lot less than you do!) but I understand where they are coming from, because I was there for the first week or so.
Hardest part about being a new parent is we don't know what the cries mean yet. Somehow (and I'll have to go back and find it for you, so when YOU rewrite the book :) You can take it out), there is an overarching theme of screwing up your baby by responding to their cries by a feeding.
If it's a theme that is prevalent is so many who have "read" the book, that feeling must be coming from somewhere.
I'm sorry I can't provide specific text, but I'm just curious, what it is that makes people go about Baby Wise so wrong...

Kyle, Courtney, and Audrey said...

Thank you for so concisely addressing one of the most common misconceptions about the BW method. I found when I first implemented this method for our daughter, 99.9% of the naysayers argued against BW out of ignorance. It also seemed to me that the people against the method didn't want to admit that the way they raised their children (using sleep props, etc.) wasn't exactly the best way, and that they could have had many more restful nights (and more well-adjusted babies) if they would have had the knowledge and resolve to stick to the principles behind BW. These also seem to be the parents that end their rants and raves against BW with "...and my kids turned out OK." It will help immensely with our second child to have the resources that you've provided to help get the last of the anti-BW family and friends on the bandwagon. Thank you!

Michael and Natalie said...

First of all, I love Babywise.
That being said, I have to agree with both Val's here. I have a very good friend who now has 2 children. She swore by BW with her first and, as far as I could tell as a brand new mother, had a handle on the concepts completely. She had outlined and highlighted her copy and I called her frequently with questions when my daughter was born. She gave birth to a son about 6 months after my baby was born. When that son was about 3-4 months old she discovered that he had very severe failure to thrive. He had lost a pound from his previous weigh in. He had extensive tests run, and at this point (12 months later) his mother has concluded that it is because of BW (or better because of the feeding schedule she stuck to). He is a naturally very calm baby and after she thought about it quite a bit, she realized that instead of crying for a long period of time or rooting like most babies do when he was starving, he would just fall asleep. Since she didn't have him crying she just stretched his schedule to 3 - 3.5 hrs, which is appropriate at that age. This could've happened to any baby, but its interesting that even though she had such a grasp on the concepts she still had that happen to her baby. Having experienced this traumatic experience with her and my own severe anxiety inducing experience with BW I can understand completely while people misunderstand the concepts. There must be SOMETHING about the way is book is written if there is such constant controversy. I believe that people like me who are vigilant followers and supporters of the entire BW series may feel hesitant to come forward with any constructive complaints or criticism of the book for fear as being labeled as a BW basher. I hope that my dedication to the Yahoo Group has demonstrated my level of understanding and adherence to the BW principles, however I feel I must admit that one of the reasons I am so active is because I want to keep what happened to me from happening to other mothers. I want them to understand the concepts I could not. I have read this book SO MANY TIMES and am only now able to say that with the experience of a baby that I feel comfortable feeding before the 2.5 hr mark. I think I can sum it up by saying that after all my readings of the book the basic gist I got was "Feed the baby if it's hungry BUT make sure you aren't feeding it if it's not hungry." I admit I'm probably totally wrong, but that's what I got from it. I couldn't identify my daughter's cries for such a long time. How could I know why she was crying? And if I fed her and she only took a half-feeding I had the idea that she was going to break.

All that being said, I still love BW but only when it is paired with this site and the Yahoo Group. I will use it totally and completely with my next child, but I just wish the authors could listen to all of our comments and realize that this book would probably help many more people and not be so looked down upon if SOMETHING changed. I just wish I knew what it was.

Emily said...

Oh my goodness do I agree with what was posted above (by both Val and the other commenters)! I heartily agree with what was posted above about a major "take-away" message from BW being: "be careful not to start bad habits regarding feeding." That is exactly the impression that I and my other mommy friends got from reading the book. Yes, I agree that there are lots of quotes from BW that remind the reader "feed the baby if he's hungry," but there's also the fear that is put into the reader (usually an newbie mom), that it's really easy to start bad habits. I think this leads unsure new moms to trend towards spacing out the feedings maybe sooner than. It also seems to prevent moms from trusting their instincts. I know it's not intentional, but that seems to be the message that lots of moms have taken away from BW.

I guess an individual's experience depends on the environment that you're in, but in my community of BW moms, we were all new mothers, not quite sure of ourselves. We frequently found ourselves saying: "you're not supposed to be hungry yet" and "you're not supposed to be awake yet. We all wanted to have the "perfect" baby, so we were each often at a loss about what to do when our baby wasn't acting like BW predicted. We were all so afraid of having a child who wouldn't sleep through the night on his own or who nursed every 15 minutes, that we focused more attention on what we thought we were supposed to be doing than on the baby right in front of us!

I think when a young mom is struggling with confidence in their new role, BW offers a neat compact way to organize feedings, but it really comes up short regarding what to do when the baby isn't quite predictable. It also can be really rough when you've done BW from birth and your child still isn't quite where you thought he'd be at 6 months.

BTW, Val, I really liked the post you did a while ago about how to tell if a baby's hungry. I almost think that's essential information which needs to be attached permanently to every post that discusses feeding! (Or at least sent home with new moms when they leave the hospital).

Confessions said...

YOU are AWESOME! thank you for such time spent on this post.

Chrissi said...

WOW great post! I agree that the book needs to be rewritten. If I hadn't found your blog when my son was 4 weeks old I would have given up on BW all together. Thank you so much for your commitment!

thesprian said...

I agree that the writers "voice" can tend to be a turn off to BW and would love to see it rewritten from a more compassionate standpoint. . . possibly by a woman. I've often wondered if the writer of Baby Wise was home all day long, day after day with his kids implementing BW or if he was off at work while his wife did the dirty work. I don't know, but I've wondered because of the lack of compassion toward the new mom that comes across.
I think that's why Baby Whisperer is such a good resource to go along with Baby Wise. I just told my sister in law who is expecting her first baby to read Baby Whisperer instead of Baby Wise because she'll get the same concepts but I think she'd be offended by Baby Wise, and take Baby Whisperer very well.
I agree that BW does state over and over to feed baby when hungry and have had to defend BW on this concept before, even to other BW moms who always "wait till the 3 hour mark." But it does also tend to put a fear in the new mother who lacks confidence that if she does, she'll blow the whole thing. I too would not have stuck with baby wise if I had not found your blog back with my first. And now with my second, I have more experience and confidence to follow my instincts and "do my own thing" when he's not being a perfect little BW baby.
Val, I often marvel as I read your newborn updates to see where McKenna was at each week where my 5 week old is at. And he just not as neat and organized with his progress and she seemed to be. You either really have the touch, or you were blessed with an angel baby (or both!)

Tyler and Shea Moses said...

Dr Jim sears is doing a special question and answer session on Twitter today tuesday the 16th of feb! He is answering tons of peoples questions and you Can see all his responses!!! His name Is @DrJimSears! Thought you might want to get in their and get some answers out of him!!!

Val said...

thesprian...I think you got it. It's the tone of voice of which it is written. Baby Whisperer too can be a turn off sometimes, "quit calling me "love"!", but I totally agree they go hand and hand.
I tell all my new mom friends to read Babywise for over arching theme of Parent Directed Feeding, then ready Baby Whisperer and implement EASY and other techniques like shhh-pat. Then at 5 months, start on Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child.
The three books go together perfectly...

Megan D said...

I wish I would have read this before last weekend. My sister in law has a one month old and was planning to do babywise this time. She has demand fed and nursed to sleep all of her previous kids, but saw how well it worked with my one year old and wanted to try it. This weekend she informed me that it was bad for the baby so she was stopping. (She has a friend who is a nurse). I did not really argue her on the point because I could tell her mind was made up.

I think sometimes people see that babywise is hard and so they use the negative press out there as an excuse to not do babywise. I really think that is a huge part of so many people bashing the book. It is hard and it does not go as easy as the book suggests but it is worth it if you stick with it! I just wish she could see that a little hard work at the begining pays off big time.

samantha said...

First of all-I am so happy to have found this site! It is great to see so many moms coming together to support one another. Second, I would just like to say that for those people who have "issues" with the babywise method, it literally may have saved my family. My son Ronin was born this October. I started nursing at the hospital, and things were going great. When we brought him home, he was nursing about every hour, which seemed normal to me. As the days wore on, he was nursing more and more frequently, for less time. We got to the point where we would nurse for about 5 minutes every half hour during the day, and at night it seemed like he was constantly attached to my breast. 5 minutes here, 10 minutes in the crib. 10 minutes nursing, 20 minutes down. Still, I was an exhausted but happy and proud new mommy. Soon, however, my breasts became incredibly sore. Ronin was nursing often, but never draining my breasts. I was in extreme pain, and teared up at even the thought of yet another nursing session. There was little my husband could do to help, and any doctor or professional I spoke to said that if I felt engorged, to just keep nursing as often as possible. Then, when Ronin was 6 weeks old, I became so tired that my milk supply dropped suddenly and dramatically. He would try to nurse, pull away, scream and cry. I tried to pump and got little or no milk. We began supplementing with bottles of formula. I was at my wits end when friend lent her copy of Babywise. She had successfully implemented it with all three of her children, and was also able to breastfeed for the entire first year with all of them. I started out doing my best to nurse for 10 minutes on each breast, and then offering a supplementary bottle of formula. We stuck to an eat/wake/sleep rhythm as best we could. Soon, Ronin was nursing every 2 1/2 hours during the day, and my supply had increased to the point where he only had about an ounce of formula a day. He was sleeping for a 5 hour stretch at night. Things continued to improve until he was on a predictable 3 hour schedule all day long, and slept for 6 1/2 hours at night. Now, Ronin is 4 1/2 months old, sleeps 9 hours at night and sticks to a 3 1/2 hour schedule all day long. I have a full milk supply and things are going well. My baby is happy, healthy, and thriving. My husband and I can plan our days, have a little peaceful time together each evening, and I am even able to pump and leave the house for a few hours at a time. If I hadn't found babywise when I did, I would have stopped nursing all together before Ronin was even 2 months old, not to mention the strain that was placed on the relationship between my husband and I. Anyone who has a problem with babywise has more than likely not read the book, or has followed it incorrectly. Life is good at our house, thanks to this book and the principles found therein.

Plowmanators said...

You are welcome everyone!

Ashley, that is exactly why I wrote the post...

Plowmanators said...

Kristin (the first), Babywise talks about that idea. All forms of feeding are demand feeding and all forms of feeding are "parent directed" because ultimately the parent does decide when to feed baby. Some parents interpret all crying to mean baby needs to eat...and BW moms don't. We know babies cry for more than hunger. So if baby cries 30 minutes after eating, we think, "hmm...probably not hungry. Bored? Tired? etc." I think that is the inherent difference. We don't automatically feed at every cry.

Plowmanators said...

Natalie, that is interesting about your friend. I would have to disagree with her conclusion that it is because of BW based on her reasoning. If she had done demand feeding and he wasn't one to demand food, he would have been worse off most likely.

I think there can be babies who FTT on any system. The only baby in know IRL who had FTT was demand fed. Her doctor finally told the mom to go to a schedule and that improved it.

Plowmanators said...

I wanted to add, thank you to everyone for your comments, especially the ones outlining reasons for your own misunderstandings. They are noted and will hopefully be added to the next edition of Babywise.

Plowmanators said...

thesprain, just stay seems like McKenna's rough patches started around 8 ish weeks and lasted until about 3 months or so?

I have learned a lot over the years. I think McKenna is pretty close to Brayden in baby personality, and he was my hardest and she my easiest :)

Plowmanators said...

Megan, thanks for your thoughts! I think you have some excellent points. I agree that it is hard, harder than the book makes it seem it will be, but also that it is very worth it. The work comes at the front end, and as time goes by, you are able to focus on more important things like moral training and not worry so much about eating and sleeping.

Plowmanators said...

Samantha, what a great story! Thanks for sharing that!

Steph R said...

I really appreciate your sharing the stories of success with Babywise. It makes me feel all the more contented in our choice. When I see the stark scientific data that is amassed that a well fed and in tune baby makes for a happy child I feel we have made good decisions.
Thank you for providing a forum for community, support and information on being a momy and newbies to Babywise too!

Plowmanators said...

You are welcome Steph!

Kristin L. said...

While Babywise is a great resource and does lay out a great way for parents to help their babies achieve healthy eating and sleeping habits, the tone of the book can totally strike fear into new parents... that if they don't follow Babywise principles, their children will be overtired, unstructured kids with snacking habits!!!! Look at the examples given with Chelsea and Marisa! While the book says to "feed your baby when hungry" many times, as you pointed out, the overall theme and tone of the book indicates that following a schedule and feeding every X number of hours is of upmost importance (in addition to having a set start time of day and following feed, wake, sleep)... without that you will have a chaotic disorganized day and an unhealthy baby (due to snacking and disorganized sleep patterns, short naps or not sleeping through the night as soon as possible). Don't get me wrong, I stand by the BW principles and have seen them work well, but I don't care for the scare tactics used in some of their writing and have experienced a lot of stress trying to follow the principles as a new mom with my firstborn.


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