You have reached the Preparation for Parenting questions page. Whether you are brand new to Growing Families International or just looking for information on a particular topic, we trust our answers will be helpful to you.
- What are the foundational principles of Preparation for Parenting (PFP)?
- What is Parent-Directed Feeding (PDF)?
- What created the popularity of PFP and On Becoming Babywise?
- What are some benefits of PFP and PDF?
- What measures does PFP take to guard the healthy growth of an infant?
- Are parents encouraged to use flexibility when implementing PFP?
- How should a parent respond when a baby cries?
- What does PFP say about breastfeeding?
- Breast or Bottle Feeding what is best?
1. What are the foundational principles of Preparation for Parenting (PFP)
PFP is based on the belief that childrearing is a responsibility given by God to parents. Parents are to guide, nurture, and train their children. The Bible is silent concerning the method of feeding a baby. It does not speak of demand-feeding, clock-feeding, or the Parent Directed Feeding plan. No method should be labeled as spiritually wrong or right. Though the Bible is silent on infant feeding, basic scriptural principles should not be ignored. Order, sound judgment, love, patience, care, strong marriages, and that which promotes soberminded assessment are but a few biblical imperatives to consider.
The best evaluation of any parenting philosophy is found in the overall results. New and expectant parents ought to consider, evaluate, and decide for themselves which philosophy is most consistent with biblical thought. Review the options, examine all the alternative theories, observe the end product, and make an informed decision.
When a woman becomes a mother, she does not stop being a wife, daughter, sister, friend, or neighbor. A mother feeds her baby when he is hungry, but takes advantage of the first few weeks of life to guide the baby’s hunger patterns by a basic routine. A baby is a welcome member of the family, and not the center of it. With this in mind, everybody wins, baby, mother, father, and the often-forgotten siblings. A husband/wife relationship is a basic prerequisite for optimal parenting and both the husband and wife need to be active in parenting of their child.
2. What is Parent-Directed Feeding (PDF)?
It is a proactive approach to infant care. It creates and maintains healthy patterns for your baby, which enhance all phases of development. At the same time, PDF is flexible enough to meet the growing emotional needs of the child through infancy and the toddler years. The PDF plan involves more than just feeding a baby. It is a twenty-four hour strategy designed not only to meet the baby’s needs, but those of the entire family. PDF is made up of three basic activities that are repeated in rhythmical cycle throughout the day: feeding time, wake time, and nap time.
3. Why is Parent-Directed Feeding so popular?
There are many reasons but the three primary reasons are contained in Dr. Robert Bucknam’s article appearing in the AAP News on the May 1998.
1. Healthy Sleep: A sampling of 520 babies revealed that PDF helps babies organize nighttime sleep. By the end of the ninth week for “Babywise” participants, 87 percent of breastfed girls and 77 percent of breastfed boys begin sleeping through the night (7 to 8 hours). By 12 weeks, both groups reach 97 percent success, and both start sleeping 10 to 11 hours at night. The “Babywise” mom feels healthier as a result of her established feeding routine. She gets uninterrupted restful sleep. Fatigue is not a friend to a nursing mom or baby.
2. Successful Breastfeeding: Despite numerous benefits to breast-feeding, the Academy notes that “in 1995, 59.4 percent of women in the United States were breast-feeding exclusively or in combination with formula feeding at the time of hospital discharge; only 21.6 percent of mothers were nursing at six months, and many of these were supplementing with formula.” (Pediatrics, December 1997, pp. 1036-1037). A convenient sampling of more than 240 mothers following the PDF principles demonstrated that 88 percent of mothers who start with the program breastfeed, and 80 percent of those moms breastfeed exclusively, and 70 percent continued into the sixth month. The average PDF mom breastfeeds 33.2 weeks. When you add to these statistics the benefits of uninterrupted nighttime sleep, it is easy to understand why so many attachment parenting mothers find their way to “Babywise.”
3. Excellent Weight Gain: Can faster weight gain be attributed to a particular method of breastfeeding (routine or ad-lib)? A review of 400 infants, 200 demand fed, 200 PDF from four different pediatric practices, and commissioned by GFI Educational Services, revealed the following. While there was no significant difference between the two groups, “Babywise” breastfed infants gain weight slightly faster in each half-pound category than those fed ad lib. Even when these babies began sleeping 8 to 10 hours at night, there was no significant change in weight gain performance.
In summary, we believe infants, pretoddlers and toddlers with healthy eating and sleep habits, are more content, easier to manage, faster learners, and happier children.
4. What are some benefits of PFP and PDF?
This proactive style of parenting brings predictability to life during a great time of adjustment for new parents. It enables moms and dads to appropriately meet their baby’s needs and parent with confidence. This predictability is a great tool in the early detection of an illness or other potential medical problems related to infants. PFP offers practical guidelines for daily care and nurture of an infant. PFP provides answers to various newborn scenarios and advice on a plethora of infant-related topics such as baby equipment, diapers, growth spurts, pacifiers, teething, weaning and more. Successful breastfeeding for PDF moms.
Healthy sleep. The majority of infants will begin sleeping 7-8 hours at night between 7 and 9 weeks of age. In addition, the infant will not need to be manipulated to go to sleep. (Gadgets, rocking, walking, riding in the car, nursing to sleep, etc.) Consistent and steady weight gain.
5. What health and safety measures does PFP offer?
PFP places the highest priority on the health and safety of the infant. For this reason, parents are empowered to make their own objective evaluation of their baby’s health, and encouraged to contact medical professionals for regular checkups or if any problem arises.
Empowering Parents Chapter 5, titled “Monitoring Your Baby’s Growth”, teaches parents to recognize the signs of a healthy baby. It discusses seven indicators for healthy growth at various stages of an infant’s life.
For example, the “Healthy Growth Indicators” for a baby during weeks 2-4 are as follows: Your baby is nursing at least eight times a day. Your baby over the next three weeks has two to five or more yellow stools daily. (This number will probably decrease after the first month.) Your baby during this period should start to have six to eight wet diapers a day (some saturated). Your baby’s urine is clear (not yellow). Your baby has a strong suck, you see milk on the corners of his mouth, and you can hear an audible swallow. You’re noticing increasing signs of alertness during your baby’s waketime. Your baby is gaining weight or growing in length. We recommend your baby be weighed within a week or two after birth. Weight gain is one of the surest indicators of growth.
The chapter then refers the reader to the end of the book where the Healthy Baby Growth Charts are located. Each chart allows several healthy growth indicators to be monitored and logged on a daily basis. Increased confidence in decision-making and decreased anxiety are two very positive consequences for parents.
The following exhortation is listed at the bottom of each “Healthy Baby Growth Chart”: “Any two consecutive days of deviation from what is listed as normal should be reported immediately to your pediatrician.” (emphasis in text)
Encouraging Parents to Contact Medical Professionals In addition to empowering parents to recognize and evaluate their baby’s health, parents are also encouraged to seek medical advice and expertise.
“If your baby exhibits any of the unhealthy growth indicators, notify your pediatrician and have your baby weighed.”
“If you have a low weight-gain baby, seek your physician’s specific recommendations as to how often your baby should be fed.” In a section discussing why a baby may be “failing to thrive.” Suggestions are given to help counteract or correct these difficulties. For babies who are suspected to have an underlying medical problem that does not allow them to eat properly, the advice given is to “Call your pediatrician immediately.”
“Breast-feeding proficiency is usually a matter of standard review in childbirth classes. For additional help, consider taking a breast-feeding class at your local hospital or renting a ‘how-to’ video.”
6. Are parents encouraged to use flexibility when implementing Preparation for Parenting?
Preparation for Parenting encourages flexibility and discourages parents from adopting a rigid and inflexible mindset. The following quotes provide some examples:
“It is our experience that both baby and mom do better when a baby’s life is guided by a flexible routine . . . It [PDF] has enough structure to bring security and order to your baby’s world, yet enough flexibility to give mom freedom to respond to any need at any time.”
“The mother who insists on watching the clock to the minute lacks confidence in decision making. The clock is in control, not the parent. The hyper-schedulist insists on a strict schedule, often nursing her baby no more often than every four hours. Enslavement to the clock is almost as great an error as a mother who is in bondage to thoughtless emotions.”
“Your baby’s normal feeding periods fall between 2 1/2 and 3 1/2-hour intervals. But there are times when you may feed sooner than those time increments.”
“There will be times when a situation will dictate a temporary suspension of the [PDF] guidelines. Remember you are the parent, endowed with experience, wisdom, and common sense. Trust these attributes first, not an extreme emotion or the rigidity of the clock. When special situations arise, allow context to be your guide.”
“Most of your day will be fairly routine and predictable, but there will be times when you may need more flexibility due to unusual circumstances. Your life will be less tense if you consider the context of each situation and respond appropriately for the benefit of everyone.”
“Remember, unplanned disruptions will come into your day. Count on it. But also take comfort in knowing that flexibility is a natural part of a healthy routine.”
7. How should a parent respond when a baby cries?
This question is very difficult to answer, especially for first-time parents. For this reason, PFP devotes a whole chapter to help parents accurately assess their baby’s cry, discern the cause behind the cry, and then respond appropriately. In addition, parents learn when it is normal or abnormal for their baby to cry, and what may be causing the baby to cry.
The chapter closes with a four-step plan for parents to promote proper evaluation and action when their baby cries.
1. Listen for the type of cry
2. Think about the reason why the baby might be crying
3. Pray for wisdom (James 1:5)
4. Take Action based on a proper evaluation of the circumstances
8. What does PFP say about breastfeeding?
Though PFP addresses breastfeeding in great detail, these few paragraphs discuss some of the many benefits of breastfeeding. “Nothing beats breastfeeding for physiological benefits to baby. That is plain fact. Mother’s milk is the complete and perfect food?nothing short of miraculous. Easily digested, it provides excellent nutrition and contains the right balance of proteins and fats. It also provides additional antibodies necessary for building your baby’s immune system.
“According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, there is strong evidence that breast milk decreases the incidence and/or severity of diarrhea, lower respiratory infection, bacterial meningitis, and urinary tract infection. The Academy also points out various studies demonstrating breast milk’s protection against Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, allergic diseases, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and other chronic digestive diseases.
“There is more good news. Unlike formula, which needs to be prepared, stored, warmed, and packed for every outing, breast milk is always ready whenever and wherever you go. And you never need to wonder about the milk’s freshness. Inside mother, it won’t go bad. Breastfeeding is also known to speed the return of mother’s uterus to its normal size and shape which is another healthy consideration for a postpartum mom.” (65-66)
9. Breast or Bottle Feeding what is best?
Preparation for Parenting desires to give a fair representation of the positives of both approaches and let each family come to their own decision. Though there are many advantages to breastfeeding, we do not think women should feel guilty if they choose to bottlefeed.
“When it comes to nourishing baby, mother’s milk is clearly superior to formula. Now for the stickier issue of nurturing. Is breast superior to bottle? In times past, experts said yes. Stressing the value of breastfeeding, they associated bottle-feeding with child rejection. Considered to be lacking warmth, a bottle-feeding mom was accused of renouncing her biological role as a woman and her emotional role as a mother. Others considered bottle-fed children to have less of an advantage in life than those who were breast-fed. In truth, studies over the last sixty years which attempted to correlate methods of infant feeding with later emotional development failed to support any of these conclusions. A mother’s overall attitude toward her child far outweighs any single factor, including manner of feeding . . . “
Again, we cannot overstate breast milk’s advantage in infant nourishment. However, if you choose not to nurse, you can’t nurse, or if you decide to discontinue nursing within the first twelve months, the decision will not make you an unloving mother. Just as breastfeeding doesn’t make you a good mother, bottle-feeding won’t make you a bad one.”