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1,174 of 1,263 people found the following review helpful
on November 25, 2005
I am not interested in Ezzo- or GFI-bashing here in this review.

As a mom of three infant boys, each a little over a year apart with one more on the way, I see nothing wrong with the gist of the Babywise book. The principles for eating and sleeping work rather well if you employ them with some grace and flexibility as tiny ones require. Contrary to what you may have heard, the Ezzo's do not suggest tossing your tenderness, intuition, or creative parenting out the window--they provide some basic eating/sleeping instructions very similar to those sent home with Mom a generation ago from Dr. Spock, the pediatrician, or the hospital nurse (but not highly common nowadays due to the AAP's shift in philosophy). Such advice will not harm your baby unless you employ their methods religiously as if it is the "magic formula" to enjoying newborns. There exists no such formula--not in Ezzo, and not in the Sears or child-centered camp either.

Briefly, the basic principles covered include:
1. Feeding approx every three hours
2. Trying to keep your baby awake during feedings and a little afterwards.
3. Putting your baby down to sleep before the next feeding
4. Keeping your baby on a eat-wake-sleep routine to help their hunger stabilize for faster nighttime sleeping.
5. Trying not to allow babies to become overdependent for sleep on any one prop (rocking, swings, slings, pacifiers, car rides, etc).
6. Generally helping the baby's needs to fit into you and your family's routine, rather than arranging you and your family's needs completely around the baby's routine (or having none at all).

I maintain that these principles, while presented a little briskly, are not damaging to infants. They are in fact very helpful if after a month or two your baby does not naturally seem to eat or sleep with any pattern, or if he/she has the days and nights mixed up. But people take the Ezzo's too far when they pretend that their methods are gospel to tending, pacifying, or loving newborns--or MAKING them do anything. All they can do is provide guidelines for structure. And yet there is a tendency for new parents with a distinctively wailing newborn to be anxious for solutions to stop the crying, and for signs that they are feeding the child enough, doing all the right things. If you follow Ezzo (or Sears) believing that they will keep you safe, your real relationship with your baby may suffer because that is the wrong mentality to approach parenting. It is this formula-seeking, intimidated approach to parenting that is the real danger to a child's health and psychology, not the actual guidelines in the book. I thoroughly believe that any wild incidents you hear about concerning Ezzo-following came from this mentality, at the root.

That said, it is also true that not all methods are created equal. With one preschooler, one two-year old, one baby, and one forthcoming child in the house now, my husband and I have found that a philosophy which leans a little more towards where the Ezzo's are coming from produces better results than the philosophy that the Sears' or even the AAP endorses, especially by late toddlerhood. The tendency for child-centered parenting to go awry by the two-year old stage--for the parent OR the two-year old!--is noticeable. And the time demands on a parent (or two) practicing this way is almost impossible if you work or your children's ages are close together.

I agree that Babywise could use a little more seasoning of flexibility and lovingkindness in its presentation. It seems to assume that you have already heard all the right ways to parent and is therefore coming from a corrective position rather than an objectively inexperienced one. However, the basic principles are presented clearly and that is the purpose of the book. I found that the principles worked especially well with my first son who cried a lot, had reflux, and could have been considered "a difficult baby." The advice was not so necessary for my next two sons who were easier babies in the eating/sleeping area (and had a more experienced mom!). For more warmth and depth, I'd recommend Tracy Hogg's "Secrets of the Baby Whisperer" which combines the best of the Babywise advice along with some humor and nuanced examples of how to apply this stuff.

Or, on the philosophy end, you can try "The Mission of Motherhood" by Sally Clarkson for a vision of motherhood as a whole and then try to apply the Babywise advice in that context. After all, parenting (even infants) is not just about helping them to eat and sleep right... although it certainly feels like that for the first couple months.
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337 of 368 people found the following review helpful
on April 25, 2001
There is some valid criticism of this book, which is the reason that I only reluctantly give copies to brand new parents--both singing the praises of the methods and warning not to apply everything Ezzo recommends blindly.
The basic premise is that you feed your baby when it first wakes, and wake the baby if it falls asleep before getting a good, complete feeding. Then you try to keep the baby awake--at first this will be only a few minutes, maybe just 2 or 3 minutes in a newborn. Then, while the baby is still awake, lie him or her down to sleep. The main idea is that you don't let the baby depend the breast or nipple to go to sleep--the baby learns to comfort and put herself to sleep. The theory is that babies wake naturally every few hours. With this method they have the skills to get themselves back to sleep without fully waking or waking you once, twice, three times each night.
It REALLY works for most babies. I'm sure there are some babies who just don't have the temperment for this, but it worked like a charm for my baby, and for all of my friends whom I've turned on to the book. I have a five month old who sleeps 12 hours at a stretch without waking and has done so since she was 10 weeks old. Not ONCE since she was 10 weeks old has she awoken in the middle of the night, and she wakes up in the morning so happy and calm it's hard to believe. Often, she'll wake about 1/2 an hour before her usual waking time and "sing" and coo to herself in the crib. When she sees me come into the room, she is grinning from ear to ear. And despite the fact that she has just gone over 12 hours since the last feeding, she is not ravenously hungry in the morning--rarely finishes her very first bottle.
The one drawback to this method is that it's hard for the baby to sleep anywhere but her own crib. We don't go out much, but find that when we do, we can't stay out too long past the baby's bedtime because she won't just fall asleep in the car seat or our arms for more than a few minutes as our older daughter did. She gets very cranky and tired, and seems so releived when we finally get home to her own crib. She's also comfortable in her portacrib, so that she won't go bezerk when we travel--don't forget to factor this in!!!
That said, the critics are right when they say some of Ezzo's advice is stupid and dangerous. Even though he claims his recommendations for a feeding schedule are flexible, they are actually very rigid, and an inexperienced parent who tries to rigidly adhere to them can end up causing dehydration in the baby. I tell people I give the book to that they should try everything they can to make sure the baby takes as much as she can with each feeding, but if she can't go as long as Ezzo recommends between feedings just go ahead and feed sooner. It still works fine.
Also, it's ridiculous to let a newborn "cry it out" for more than just a few minutes. My children have the uncanny knack of just escalating and escalating when any attempts are made in that direction. So just be consistent. If the baby seems to be getting more upset, go in and give comfort, and then start the routine to get the baby to sleep again. I only had to do this for about 2 days to get my newborn to settle down for naps.
Sometimes during the day, my newborn would cry for no apparent reason and be very upset. My attempts to comfort her didn't work, so I'd put her in the crib to give myself a moment to calm down. And the minute she'd hit the crib she'd smile and go right to sleep. She was trying to tell me that she was tired and wanted to be in the place where she sleeps.
Ezzo's idea to place the baby in the playpen or a baby seat in front of a window to amuse herself is pretty ridiculous for a young baby. Baboes aren't awake that much to begin with. PLAY with him or her!!!! As your baby gets older, you can leave her in a safe position to play for a little while--but don't expect 45 minutes as Ezzo recommends. When you're baby starts to express frustration, it's time to give your baby some attention.
However, I don't agree with critics who say this method is incompatible with "attachment parenting". Nothing says you can't be very attached to your baby while letting her sleep in her own space--at least for naps and for most Americans at night too. This baby sleeps so well and seems very secure and serene. She is cuddly and happy to be in our arms, but just as happy to be put in her crib when she's tired. When she's had enough rest, she is positively joyful (and so am I!!!). When she's awake, I am with her, carrying her in a sling or front pack, playing with her on the floor, tickling her on the changing table--everything an "attached" parent would do. But with this method the baby takes great naps so I get things done or a chance to rest myself, and we both have wonderful, restful nights.
If you overlook some of the advice Ezzo gives, I think the basic premise is very good.
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298 of 349 people found the following review helpful
on February 22, 2006
A friend recommended this book to me before my first daughter was born, and after reading the reviews on Amazon, I was certain that I wanted no part of it. After my friend assured me that the things I had read were in no way true, I bought the book and have used it with both my girls, and recommended it to everyone I know expecting babies.

First of all, this book NEVER says not to feed your baby if he/she is hungry. In fact, it states in bold, in several places, that you absolutely need to feed your baby if he/she is hungry, regardless of whether they last ate 3 hours ago or 1 hour ago. One of the main points of the book is to try and figure out why your baby is crying or upset. If he/she is hungry, feed the baby. However, your baby may cry for many reasons, and not all of them are because the baby is hungry. Feeding your baby everytime he/she cries leads the baby to snacking, which isn't good for you, and is especially bad for the baby if you are breastfeeding. The richest, most calorie dense milk (hind milk) is found toward the end of the feeding cycle, and doesn't come the first few minutes of nursing. If your baby is snacking, he/she is never getting that rich hind milk.

The second main point of the book is to change the cycle that most parents employ with their babies. Instead of putting the baby to bed right after feeding, feed the baby after he/she wakes up from naps. This way, the baby will stop eating when he/she is full, not when he/she is tired, which is a huge problem, especially with very little babies.

I don't believe there is one single right way to raise children, so if you've read the book and don't think that their methods fit with your lifestyle or goals, that's one thing. But I can't see how anyone who has actually read the book can dismiss it as dangerous. Again, the book tells you in several place, in big, bold letters, that if your baby is hungry, FEED YOUR BABY!
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744 of 910 people found the following review helpful
on September 18, 2007
I would like to respond to the reviewers that suggest those of us who disliked babywise didn't read it, or didn't apply its principles properly. I read, re-read and highlighted the book after a friend of mine recommended it. And for a solid month I faithfully attempted to place my newborn on the babywise schedule, but it just did not work for my son. For example, my son often awoke earlier from his nap than the schedule would allow. Sometimes he would wake crying, sometimes happy. If he was crying, I would allow him to cry because the book suggests if your baby awakes crying he did not get enough sleep. But, he never fell back asleep. So then I would feed him only to find he was starving. But how was I to know he was hungry...babwise never once discusses reading your baby's cues, only "mom, not baby, decides when nap begins, and mom, not baby, decides when nap ends." If he woke happy, then I really was in a bind. He would play awake in his crib (even if I didn't go to him) so now he was having activity before eating (a babywise no-no). But if I fed him, he would be fed before 2 ½ hours (another babywise no-no). I tried putting him to bed for naps earlier, because the book states that if your child awakes early he probably was overtired and needed less activity, but my son would still awake after 45-60 minutes. I was constantly stressed out.

After one month on babywise, my son was still not back to his birth weight. I quit using the system and my son started rapidly gaining weight. We both became happier. I can't say I disagree with the overall concepts of the book...promoting full feedings instead of snacking, frequent daytime feedings to help baby distinguish day from night, teaching a baby to fall asleep on his/her own, and the importance of sleep to both a baby and his/her parents. I just disagree with the presentation. Babywise assumes all babies fit into its schedule, and in truth, they just don't.

This is obviously a very controversial book. I do not think you have to have an MD/PhD after your name to know something about raising a baby, but the fact that the author has absolutely no medical/childcare background concerns me, especially when the concepts are so radically different from what most pediatricians/child psychologists recommend. Just because something works (i.e. gets you baby to sleep through the night), doesn't make it the best thing for your child.

As a side note, I never co-slept or wore my baby in a sling all day long (though I feel if this works for you and your baby then great...this just isn't my style of parenting). I definitely feel babies need parental guidance, but I think parents must take their baby's temperaments into account. Once I started reading other books, I learned how to better read my babies cues, and I no longer had to fight him to sleep, eat or stay awake. I used a combination of several other books (No Cry Sleep Solution, Sleep Lady's Gentle Guide and Baby Whisperer) and am happy to report I have a 9 month old who sleeps 11 hours per night and takes 2 good naps a day...oh and has been sleeping 10 hrs/night since 3 months of age. He is an absolute joy and everywhere I take him people comment on how happy and content he church, restaurants and shopping. It can be done without babywise!
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96 of 115 people found the following review helpful
on December 22, 2010
If you are looking for a book filled with the latest scientific research on children and sleep, go and read Sleeping Through the Night by Jodi Mindell, PhD, associate director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Children's Hospital in Philadelphia. That book is based on science and explains why training your child to have good sleep habits (i.e., training your child to fall asleep on his own without your intervention) is important for their future as children and adults. Her book also lays out a method for sleep-training. Basically, once your baby reaches 12 lb., she has you put them to bed awake every night at the same time until they have learned to fall asleep on their own. (Obviously this is not the totality of the system. I'm summing up.) It works great. But it's really, really difficult on mother and child, and only a minority of people are willing to really go through with it because it means a week or two of nightly crying. Ugh.

So then there is On Becoming Baby Wise. The book isn't written by a scientist. And it isn't perfect in that the layout is not as direct as it could be, while meanwhile there are a lot of editorial asides you may or may not agree with. HOWEVER, Ezzo* has basically devised (stumbled upon?) an approach that is very similar to Mindell's except a lot gentler on mother and child. Instead of waiting until the baby is physically capable of sleeping through the night (when he's reached about 12 lb.), he has you start setting the stage for good sleep right away by getting them used to a flexible schedule** of feedings and naps and by putting them down for their naps while they are still awake. Since newborns are so sleepy all the time, and especially after feedings, Ezzo's big contribution was the discovery that if you fed the baby, then interacted with the baby for a while, then put the baby to nap instead of the more natural tendency to nurse the baby to sleep for naps, it becomes actually possible to put a newborn to nap awake. Then, of course, since newborns will fall asleep quickly and easily (i.e. 5-20 minutes of crying max) even if they are put down awake (as opposed to the 3 or 4 month old you are trying to sleep train with Mindell's method who will cry for an hour), they learn really quickly the habit of falling asleep by themselves. By the time they are 12 lb., they are already sleeping through the night without any brutal sleep training. And voila! Ezzo has discovered (stumbled upon?) a better way of doing what the sleep scientists recommend.

We used Mindell's method for our first three children. Then we used the Baby Wise method for our next three children. (Yes, we have six.) All six of them have slept twelve hours every night starting by about 4 months of age. All of them have continued to go to bed early, happily, and in their own beds. They all wake up happily 12 hours later, usually singing. We get told constantly that are kids are so content and well-behaved. Honestly, the only thing we are doing as parents differently than other people is training them to sleep. Both methods work, but Baby Wise is easier, so I continue to give it as a gift to new mothers.

*I don't know anything about Ezzo except that he's controversial as a person. Maybe I wouldn't like him if I met him. I'd like to point out, though, that the how well his method works has nothing to do with how nice of a personality he has. Saying otherwise is a classic ad hominem attack. Like saying you don't believe in Einstein's theory of relativity because Einstein was unfaithful to his wife.

** For those who are against scheduling all together, I get it. I think that since attachment parenting/anti-scheduling is such a class marker (i.e. all upper class/respectable women cary their baby in a Moby wrap and feed on demand) and so strongly pushed by the la leche league-trained lactation consultant at the hospital, it can be hard to go against the grain and adopt a schedule. I would urge people to consider two things:

1) most (all?) NICU's will immediately put 4 lb. babies on a rigid (down to the minute) 3-hour feeding schedule. Ask your lactation consultant/well-meaning friend why it will hurt your 8 lb. newborn to be on a 3-hour feeding schedule but not a 4 lb. preemie.

2) If you take your baby to bed with you there is a good chance he will never leave. I know so many women who are chronically sleep-deprived because they have their five-year-old and their two-year old still in bed with them. At least one man told my husband, "My wife wants another baby, but the other two kids are in our bed half the night. I'm never going to agree to have another one." Yikes.
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59 of 70 people found the following review helpful
on December 14, 2004
Babywise has a devoted following, and I was part of it. I was so gung ho to try Babywise on our new daughter, but when every doctor and lactation specialist I talked to cautioned my wife and I about the program, I became cautious and a bit skeptacle. None the less I tried to implement the program on our daughter at two weeks. My wife cried for hours straight, and I began to realized that this just wasn't natural. I did some research and found out that Babywise has been linked to "Failure to Thrive" and Dehydration. We quit the program that day. Today, a few months later, we found out that our friends who introduced us to Babywise, discovered that their baby was diagnosed with Failure to Thrive. She is in the 0 percentile of weight for her age. She also has a suspected kidney problem which doctors suspect could be related to dehydration.

Parents, I know there are many Babywise success stories, but is it worth taking that chance that your child may be among the few who get hurt? Do your own research and you'll see. I have no affiliation with any group or organization, just a concerned loving parent. God Bless.
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76 of 92 people found the following review helpful
on May 14, 2000
This book is an excellent tool. The advice offered is not thebe all and end all in infant feeding, but it is basically sound.
Asnew parents, we were introduced to this book by our Pediatrician who was a devotee. We had heard it had a Christian agenda, but we bought it in spite of that to make our own decision about the advice as to its practicality. After reading it, it seemed sensible so we went with the plan starting with our son's very first feeding.
We continued with the plan and with ADAPTATIONS AND MODIFICATIONS it worked well. Our son was above birthweight after 2 days. He slept through the night in 7 weeks and maintained above the 50th percentile in weight throughout infancy. He napped readily with little fuss in most cases. He is two now and he is well behaved, sleeps like a log at night and naps without any problems.
That being said I want to go back to ADAPTATIONS AND MODIFICATIONS. Any success plan requires situation specific adjustments. You need to look at this book as a guideline, not a gospel. In almost every horror story I've read about this plan I have found a statement like, "I followed the plan to the letter." Therein lies the problem. Anyone who sits there and listens to her baby cry for an hour because she is following some plan out of a book needs a mental exam.
My spouse and I have noticed among our friends that on-demand feeding tends to produce on-demand parents and unruly children. I believe that babies (as well as children and adults) need structure, but it needs to be FLEXIBLE STRUCTURE. It needs to be situation specific, child specific and even mood specific. You need to set your boundaries with bungee cord, not with barbed wire. Stay on the feeding schedule as much as possible, but for heaven's sake be alert to what your baby is telling you. You may have to deviate for a few feedings or even days and then ease the baby back into the schedule. Flex, then bounce back.
If you apply the advice in the book in this way and give your baby lots of love, hugs and affection, you will probably find that the plan has a lot of benefits.
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59 of 71 people found the following review helpful
on November 25, 2005
This book is very controversial, and I have not been able to completely ascertain why. Many of the negative sources I have examined were about how bad a person the author is (this does not necessarily preclude writing a good book). Many negative sources I have read also claim the book says things it does not by taking them out of context or fabricating them. There are many claims that this system results in failure to thrive. But, I have not been able to ascertain whether these are from following this system or from other factors unrelated to it.

The gist of the book is that parents should direct their babies' feeding patterns with a flexible routine they call PDF (parent directed feeding). This is supposed to be a middle ground between rigid "hyperscheduling" and "demand feeding." A key component of this is the order in which things happen. Feeding is followed by wake time, which is followed by nap time. Then comes the next feeding. Parents are advised to always make sure that a full feeding from both sides is given each time. Also key is putting babies to bed while they are awake so that they learn to go to sleep on their own. A central idea is that children are a welcome addition to a family, not the center of it.
The section of the book that covers the mechanics of breast feeding and monitering the baby's growth are pretty much standard fare, not differing any from other sources I have read. I can't count the number of times they say "If (xyz)... then contact your pediatrician." Much of my pediatrician's advice lined right up with what is said in this book. This would include supplementing with formula after feedings if the baby is not gaining weight sufficiently, and not letting the baby go more than 5 hours at night without a feeding among other things. The author claims that PDF babies are happier and more content than demand fed babies. Given the subjective nature of this claim, it would be hard to ascertain. They also claim a significantly lower rate of ADHD among children who were raised as PDF babies. I don't know if this is accurate or not, but the one child I demand fed was given that label.

I have used the baby wise system (modified with my own common sense and my own babies' needs) with three of my four children with good results. They are healthy and happy. They were also more manageable as babies than the oldest one which I demand fed. I don't know if this is coincidence or not. I did find that a basic routine worked very well for my let down reflex. I like to have order in my life, and a routine certainly helps with that. The reproducible growth charts at the end are helpful. I would recommend that parents read this book, judge for themselves if it is any good, and use what parts of it will benefit their families.
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59 of 71 people found the following review helpful
on February 7, 2001
A friend had mentioned Babywise to me when my baby was only a week old, but I thought I had all the answers! I wanted to co-sleep with my baby and feed her on demand. That's what all the "experts" had recommended.(including the lactation consultants at the hospital--although my baby was put on a 3 hour schedule by the hospital staff!)
By the time my baby was 4 weeks old, I was exhausted and depressed! I wasn't getting any sleep and my baby cried day and night. She wanted to nurse at least every hour on the hour, and she didn't sleep at all during the night. I was ready to quit breastfeeding because I was feeding her all day long! After spending 4 HOURS feeding, rocking, walking, and "cuddling" my baby in the middle of the night, I knew there just had to be another way! I was so tired and so depressed and my baby cried so much that I didn't even want to be a mother anymore! We were desperate to try anything!
When we read Babywise, the biggest thing we changed right away was trying to keep our baby awake after feeding her. She didn't have to cry herself to sleep for more than 10 minutes because she went down for her naps after playing and when she was tired! Within a couple of days, we had a new life! Mom, Dad, and baby were getting much needed rest, and we were all much happier. I had a better idea of how often I should feed my baby and help her take naps. She ate better because she was hungrier and more rested. Before Babywise, she only nursed for a couple of minutes every so often, so she was never getting the much needed "hindmilk"! After Babywise, she started to gain weight even though she was eating less often! Since then, people have always commented on how alert and happy our baby is! I know it's because of the techniques we used from this book!
I have several friends who have chosen to co-sleep with their babies. Some of them still sleep with their 2 and 3 year old children because their children are unable to sleep in their own beds. Others have eventually been forced to let their babies "cry it out" for up to 2 hours! I don't see how the gift of sleep can ever be considered cruel or harsh. Forcing a child to become totally dependent on a parent for their sleep seems less desirable.
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171 of 212 people found the following review helpful
on June 5, 2008
I am a first-time mom of a now 6 month old baby, and I have read SEVERAL books including the No-Cry Sleep Solution, Baby Wise, The Happiest Baby on the Block, a wonderful little book called N.A.P.S., and parts of Ferber's book. Baby Wise was recommended to me by 3 very good friends. I read the book before my child was born and was ready to put him on a schedule at 3 weeks of age. That was my first mistake. I have come to realize over the past few months that it's easy to say that every baby is different, but the truth of the matter is that no one program could possibly work for every child. If it could, then there wouldn't be so many books and theories out there.

Baby Wise did not work for me. And yet without it, my son slept through the night at 2 months of age. I think I'm just lucky. I don't believe it's necessarily because of anything special that my husband and I did. I do think it might have had something to do with The Happiest Baby on the Block because that book led us to swaddle our baby which lengthened his nighttime sleep and naps dramatically. And yet we dropped swaddling at night at 2 months of age.

Here's my main issue with Baby Wise. It states ideas like "Mom, not baby, decides when the nap begins and when the nap ends." There's also a similar statement about Mom deciding how much comes out of the bottle, not the baby. At the time I didn't think much of it. Now when I think about those statements, it makes it sound like a power struggle between a parent and a baby. An infant does not have an agenda. He or she is not trying to manipulate the parents. That comes later. :-)

I was talking to a friend whose baby is due in 2 months. I told her that what I had truly learned in the past 6 months is that no one technique works for every baby and that what works for my baby one day may not work for him the next. I also told her that it is easier for me to adapt to my son than for him to adapt to me. And that part is tough because he doesn't nap well. And I've left him to cry, thinking I would try that idea that Mom decides when the nap ends. Whatever. I don't want my son sleeping from exhaustion due to screaming his head off for an hour or more. That's not Baby Kind.

The irony here is that I am very much a control freak. And this book is too controlling for me. It's too much, and I think it expects too much out of an innocent, helpless baby who has no agenda or the ability to manipulate. And guess what? He's a really happy baby, laughing and talking and still sleeping 11 hours at night. I hope every night that it lasts, but I imagine that one night soon, he might wake up. And I'll go to him because I'll know he needs me.

All of this said, I only have the one child. A routine and schedule is more than likely more necessary if you have more than one child. So I can see why friends recommended it. But to expect this rigid routine from a baby whose nervous system is still maturing is just expecting too much. Let your baby be a baby, and enjoy him or her through every stage, no matter how trying.

Bottom line...this book expects too much of a baby. There is a lesser-known book called N.A.P.S. that got me through a trying period of short naps, and like I said earlier, The Happiest Baby on the Block got me through the early weeks due to the swaddling. I also really love the theory that Karp promotes of the 1st 3 months of life basically being the 4th trimester. I think that's what he calls it anyway.

So you see, 2 books helped me along the way,and I'm sure I'll read more as the need arises. Just be realistic if you buy this book and expect your baby to be a baby, not a miniature adult.
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