Babywise: “assessment of real need”
I’m still not past Chapter 2. I’ve noticed a really disturbing underlying assumption. First, let me provide the actual quotes (emphasis added).
“[In attachment parenting] the baby is offered the breast simply and immediately without regard to assessment of real need.”
“the single most critical element for all aspects of infant care . . . an acquired confidence to think, evaluate and respond to real need,”
“using parental assessment to decide when to feed based on actual need.”
“Feeding based on fixed times ignores legitimate hunger cues”
Lest you think I’m combing the book and cherry picking, those quotes all appear on pages 33-38. The chapter is dense with this concept.
If parents need to constantly assess whether a baby has “real need,” and whether his cries are “legitimate hunger cues,” that assumes that babies also express “fake needs” and “counterfeit hunger cues.” It’s clear from his use of this language that Ezzo is worried that babies are just shamming when they cry for a parent’s attention, and unless parents are careful that the baby has a genuine need, they’re just suckers for the baby’s sly emotional manipulation.
That interpretation is borne out by additional language in the first two chapters:
“If she believes she is central to the family universe, her self-centered feeling will carry over into every relationship in her ever-expanding world.”
“[The baby should learn] from the start that giving is equally important as receiving.”
“The virtues [of kindness, goodness, gentleness, charity, honesty, honor, and respect for others] are not inherent in her or any new life. Therefore, Chelsea’s parents must govern and monitor her . . .”
There you go. Babies are sociopaths, and only constant vigilance by the parents will train the evil, conniving ways out of a newborn. Attachment parenting is a huge mistake because those gullible parents are duped by their babies into thinking every cry is genuine, and not merely a bid for domination of the household. Sure, sometimes babies have “actual needs,” but a lot of the time they’re just trying to assert their power over the family, and you have to learn how to tell the difference. If you don’t start in the first two months, it’s all over – your baby will be a selfish, manipulative jerk for the rest of her life, and never have a fulfilling relationship. She’ll probably go to hell, too.
I suspect that they actually believe that bit about hell, and that’s what’s driving all this suspicion of neonates’ byzantine motivations. A while ago, a friend suggested that I look into the original Ezzo parenting program, Preparation for Parenting, an explicitly Christian guide on children and parenting. Babywise began as a mere copy of PfP materials, with the overt Christian references expunged. With this in mind, all this blather about assessing whether a cry indicates a legitimate need makes more sense. In their own words, the Ezzos proclaim that they “clearly teach the doctrine of the depravity of man and original sin.” More to the point, PfP materials maintain that “children enter the world in a depraved state.” I definitely need to get my hands on the PfP materials and compare, as my friend mentioned. I think it will be very illuminating.
In the meantime, there’s plenty of evidence here that Babywise is based on the idea that newborn babies aren’t just subject to original sin in a vague, eventual way, such that they will require forgiveness when they reach the age of reason. Babywise assumes that babies are actively sinful from the moment of birth, and indeed, that their sin nature imbues them with a precocious capacity for subterfuge, manipulation, and possibly even mustache-twirling accompanied by maniacal laughter.
This is not just silly, it’s dangerous when they are pressuring parents to adopt this approach for infants who can only communicate their needs by crying, and who have “legitimate needs” far beyond that for caloric input. In the rush to squelch the legacy of Eve, Ezzo ignores the growing research that babies actually require human touch and interaction, help organizing their mental functions, and sensory stimulation including sucking, rocking, and hearing human voices. Remember, this guide is for babies less than six months old, and this advice is meant to apply from the moment of birth. Ezzo isn’t talking about beginning to socialize a toddler, whose needs and wants have diverged to some extent. The bottom line is that all of a baby’s needs are legitimate, and all of their cries are disingenuous, and Babywise recklessly ignores these facts to service its hidden religious agenda.