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I am discovering through my work duties that the nonfiction works of popular fiction authors often languish. This one looked too interesting to pass when it came up on my list of long unread books.

book coverThe Blue Jay’s Dance by Louise Erdrich In this book, Erdrich, author of several authors focusing on Native Americans and prairie life, writes about the first year of her daughter’s life. Although she says the baby in the book is a composite of all three of her daughters, in the book it sounds like she is writing about the youngest of her three daughters. It’s poetic and reflective, honest about the difficulty of parenting a baby while at the same time stunningly beautiful. It doesn’t hurt that Erdrich lives in a cabin in the woods, and the baby’s stages are mixed in with large doses of the natural life outside their window and the woods through which they walk. She writes, as an example of the tough times, of how hard it is to keep a sense of self apart from the baby, how easy suicide seems after weeks of sleepless nights – only her self is so absorbed in the baby that she feels that she has no self of her own left to kill. On the plus side, she writes about breastfeeding, how many great romantic writers’ deep inarticulate longings were really for that feeling of unity and transcendence that breastfeeding brings. Despite the poetry and deep thoughts, the book is slim enough to get through easily, an important consideration for sleep-deprived new parents. The saddest part for me was knowing that the happy blended family described in this book fell apart just a few years later, giving the already fleeting pleasures of a baby and the changing of the seasons an even more ephemeral feeling.

Crossposted to and .
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book coverThe Breastfeeding Mother’s Guide to Making More Milk by Diana West and Lisa Marasco While I’m not at all happy that I have personal reason to need this book right now, I am really thrilled to have found it. West and Marasco are both IBLC-certified lactation consultants with personal experience with low milk supply. They are very reassuring and nonjudgmental – you will find neither the idea that problems are all in your head or your fault nor the idea that everyone needs to supplement. First, they go over common things that people think are signs that babies aren’t getting enough but really are not. Then they talk about how to tell if you baby isn’t getting enough. If not, is the problem your baby, your feeding habits or something on your end. They go into quite a few specific situations here, covering many problems that I’ve known people to have. For instance, I hadn’t known that milk production is stimulated most heavily by night nursing, so that the common practice of pumping during the day so that Dad can bottle-feed baby and let Mom sleep is doubly harmful to establishing milk supply. They also go over supply problems caused by PCOS, hormone imbalance, and low breast tissue (either from nature or from breast surgery). Next, solutions, and a whole raft of them: how to best establish a good milk supply; how to optimize with pumping; various pharmaceutical and herbal galactagogues and when to use them. Finally, dealing with the emotions of low milk supply and how to define your own success. It’s also linked with a web site, , designed to provide further support. Mamas, if you are concerned about your supply, this is the book for you.
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book coverGood Night, Sleep Tight by Kim West What to do with a baby who just will not respond to Elizabeth Pantley’s gentle methods, whose sleeping patterns are resulting in significant sleep loss for both the baby and the caretaker? These were the questions that led me to look for an approach somewhere in between Ferber and other cry-it-out methods, which are very hard on both parents and children, and Pantley’s very gentle suggestions. This was the book that I came up with. I was expecting to have some problems with her approach, and boy, did I. But overall, if one ignores especially her breastfeeding advice except as it bears directly on sleep, the kernel of her method for teaching babies to fall asleep on their own seems straightforward and less traumatic than other popular methods.

Read more... )
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Another excellent recommendation from my friend Dr. M. I think the next book by Satter, Secrets of Feeding a Healthy Family, aimed at school aged kids through adults, is probably better for us now. But, this is one is still very good. For those book-averse among you (though I'm not sure why you'd be reading this in the first place), she's got a lot of useful information on her website:

book coverChild of Mine by Ellyn Satter This fabulous book covers feeding children from infancy through preschool. Satter has been counseling families with food issues for nearly 30 years now, and the book is full of references to other studies, so this is an authoritative book. If you’ve found yourself engaging in any of the following behaviors with your child, then this book or its sequel, Secrets of Feeding a Healthy Family, would be excellent choices: Making separate meals for your child; bribing your child to eat; avoiding eating out of the house; battling with your child to finish rejected food or to eat less. She sets goals for preschoolers such as being able to try new foods, rejecting foods politely, stopping when they are full, and being able to eat out of the house. Feeding and mealtimes should focus on enjoyment for parents and children and on children learning to eat the food of their family and culture.

Read more... )
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Maybe a little random... but one I found on the new book shelf and liked enough to bring home.

book coverHow to Photograph Your Baby by Nick Kelsh So you’ve got a baby cute enough to be a model, but not the fortune to spend on a professional to have the model-quality photos taken. In several short lessons, with big text and lots of pictures, Kelsh walks through the basics of taking excellent photographs of your baby with entry-level equipment. The basic technique involves getting up close and using indirect natural light; he also recommends having photo sessions when your baby is in a good mood where you just take a lot of pictures. It’s short, funny (I especially loved the “What Rembrandt would have looked like if he had used a flash” side-by-side comparison), and exceedingly helpful.
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I’ve noticed something about pregnancy books, which is that being mainstream or natural will affect what they talk about. The mainstream camp will spend a lot more time on the pregnancy, what to eat and wear, dealing with relatives and heartburn. For labor, they’ll talk about the three stages, and tell you that modern birth is safe and to do what your doctor says. The natural camp will of course tell you what to avoid during pregnancy, but basically tell you to pay attention to what your body needs. They will spend the bulk of the time on labor and birth – preparing for it physically and emotionally, what it feels like from your perspective, the side effects and risks of common medical interventions and well as the effectiveness of various non-medical pain relief techniques, various labor and birth positions and their benefits. Both because no medical intervention is risk-free and because I’ve known people who decided in advance on an epidural and then had it not work for them, I recommend that everyone read about birth from the natural perspective whatever their plans for labor. I’m also including books for fathers and soon-to-be older siblings, for hopefully obvious reasons. [Edited 2/13/09]: because more of my friends are having second or more children now, who need their own books, as do fathers. Links are to my original reviews, where available.

lots of books, with pretty pictures )
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It has been just over a month now since Mr. Froggy Pants started on solid foods, for which occasion [personal profile] amnachaidh asked me to check out a baby food cookbook. I hadn’t really expected to find more than a couple books on the topic, but there were more than a dozen, so I found myself unable to get away with just one. So, here they are, along with a couple of useful Web sites.

Homemade Baby Food Pure and Simple by Constantina Linardakis This is the most comprehensive of the books I checked out, and toes the official medical line. It starts out with a detailed discussion of infant and toddler nutritional needs (including the advantages of breast milk) before proceeding to recipes. Starting with infant cereal (for which she recommends only iron-fortified packages stuff) and proceeding to more advanced recipes, all the recipes follow guidelines on when to introduce foods and include the major nutritional value of each dish. There is also a section of contributed recipes, which don’t include the nutritional profile, and one of recipes for supplies like homemade wipes and play-do. I don’t see us ever feeding Mr. FP liver, in spite of its high nutritional content, though. It’s a little on the dull side, and includes really cheesy little stories of fictional mommies happily breastfeeding or making baby food, but the advice and basic recipes are solid and useful.

Organic Baby Food by Lizzie Van This is a DK book, full of gorgeous, full-color pictures of yummy-looking food and adorable babies. Unfortunately, the pictures are the only aspect I can recommend about this book. The author seems to have no idea of current food recommendations for babies, although she is free with advice. The book includes not one single-food recipe, even though you’re supposed to start with single-ingredient foods. The first recipe has five or six different vegetables, oil and salt – and includes corn, which most experts say not to introduce until 10 or 12 months. I was horrified by one of the sidebar Q & As (paraphrased here): Q: I’m going back to work soon. Should I wean my baby to formula milk? A: No, don’t do it all at once. Wean your baby a couple of weeks before or after you go back to work. Pardon??? Not even a suggestion that returning to work might not necessitate weaning at all? Even looking at the recipes for toddlers, who have fewer restrictions, the recipes didn’t seem anything special. Not recommended.

The Baby Bistro Cookbook by Joohee Muromcew There’s no pediatrician panel backing this book, like Homemade Baby Food Pure and Simple and line drawings rather than the fancy full-color photos in Organic Baby Food. But this was our favorite. It starts out with simple single-food purees, as you might expect. Some of the early recipes are indeed overly simplistic. But move on, and there are lots of delightful recipes and suggestions for variations on standard food. It’s nicely multi-cultural, with simplified versions of ethnic cuisine – Mexican, Indian, Korean. Interestingly, where other people say not to give spicy food to babies, she says they often enjoy it, and to let your baby try. Maybe we could avoid Mr. FP having my spicy food handicap! Finally, in a Foods for Special Occasions section, she presents low-sugar recipes for treats, including some fruit drinks that look absolutely scrumptious. I especially appreciate that these are naturally low-sugar recipes – not using sugar substitutes, but made to taste yummy with less sugar. In general, the recipes look easy to follow, don’t seem to use obscure ingredients, and would be tasty for everyone, not just babies. - While this web site doesn’t have a whole lot of recipes for older babies, for instructions for do-it-yourself cereals and purees, this is the place to go. It also has tables of when to introduce foods, sample menus for a week of meals for different age ranges, and discussions of baby-food-related topics like, “Does my baby need iron-fortified cereal?” I’m very pleased to note that the site has recently been updated to reflect the new AAP guidelines for delaying solids until six months. All of the cookbooks above say to start solids at 4-6 months – the old recommendation – but really assume that you’ll be starting at four months and ready to move on to more frequent and more advanced foods by six months. The newly updated advice on this site is wonderfully helpful. If all you want is the basics, this site has it covered, for free. They’ll even answer your emailed questions. - This site isn’t strictly about baby food, and doesn’t have any recipes. Kellymom has evidence based information breastfeeding, sleep and parenting, though I have mostly only looked at the breastfeeding information. Evidence based means that they cite literature and medical studies for all the advice they give – very helpful, and very refreshing. For the purposes of this discussion, it also has articles on iron supplementation, and schedules on introducing food with the intention of keeping breast milk baby’s primary source of nutrition during the first year. This is helpful, since a lot of information still follows older recommendations of weaning or seriously cutting back breastfeeding by six months. It also has lists of medicines and herbs that affect breast milk, both positively and negatively – so helpful if you need to know if you can take something while breastfeeding. This is a site I reference frequently.
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Why Motor Skills Matter by Tara Losquando-Little
The answer to the question in the title is easy – motor skills matter because later skills depend on the earlier ones having been mastered. Good motor skills can be helpful in supporting a healthy social life, as all of us who were picked last for the ball team can attest. The tricky part is whether or not to recommend this book. On the one hand, it has really valuable information that I haven't seen other places – what skills develop when, the smaller intermediary steps that are necessary for the bigger things to develop, things that you can do to help or hinder your child's development. On the other hand, the organization is somewhat confusing and the writing not exactly scintillating. The books covers motor development in children from birth to five years. This is split into three big sections: the first year, 1 to 3 years and 3 to 5 years. So far, so good. But then each section is split into multiple smaller sections, on different topics and then smaller age ranges, so that it gets difficult to figure out exactly what age of child she is referring to, and, even more confusing, if she says "older child", whether she means older in the same time frame or the next step up. Yikes! Also, she uses a lot of technical language which she defines once and then keeps using, even when ordinary language would work. For instance, why does she insist that crawling be called creeping and creeping be called commando crawling? Another good thing, kind of – she includes lists of recommended toys for different ages, but doesn't include pictures of them. If you find the topic, see if your library has it before you buy it, and then I'd consider this one a prime candidate for skimming and looking at the boxes, rather than trying to read cover to cover as I did.

For those who don't have patience even for that, here's my list of interesting or important ideas from the book:

Things to do:
- Turn your baby over onto the side before picking up – this helps develop stronger head muscles, rather than overextending them backwards.
- Start working with a real cup at six months.
- Do tummy time lots for short periods, rather than one long period.
- Let your baby explore on the floor as much as possible.
- Use bouncy seats for small babies, and swings are also good.
- Go barefoot as much as possible

Things not to do:
- Don't use, or strictly limit, time in an exersaucer or bouncer – this encourages bad posture, skipping important developmental steps, and stifles curiosity.
- Don't use only sippy cups – regular cups are better for learning to drink.
- Don't scrape the contents of the spoon off onto the upper lip – let baby learn to close his or her mouth around the spoon.
- Don't use shoes with soles that baby can't bend – proper walking involves bending the feet.
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…and finally did. You know, those books you keep hearing about, or reading about, and you say to yourself, “I really ought to read that book.” Here’s two I can now cross off my must-read list.

The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley If you have a baby and are having or want to forestall sleep problems, this is The Book being read in my circles. So, I had to read it to find out what the fuss was all about. The author of the book, a mother of four, was looking for a way to help her wakeful fourth child sleep through the night. She found two answers: either let the child cry until he falls asleep, or live with it. She wrote this book as a third option, a way to help a baby fall and stay asleep without the pain of cry-it-out methods. The book starts with the basics of safety and how sleep works in infants. Then, she starts the program: First, catalogue how your baby sleeps now – for naps and nighttime, where, how long, and how the baby fell asleep. Next, read through her suggestions and formulate a plan that you think will work. Try it for ten days, do the cataloguing thing again, and adjust any elements that you think need changing. She’s big on routines and teaching a child to fall asleep without a nipple in the mouth, and includes advice for crib-sleeping and co-sleeping babies, as well as tips for weaning a baby from co-sleeping to the crib. So, does it work? Well, happily my Mr. FP has never had the sleep problems she describes – waking every hour and not wanting to go back to sleep. On the plus side, she tested her methods with I think 70 or 80 mothers and had about a 95% success rate (I say about as I already returned the book.) She states is that this kind of method will take longer to work than cry-it-out methods, but that the once accomplished, the sleep patterns will be more firmly established than with cry-it-out methods. Using the full method requires a whole lot more record keeping and commitment than I’m willing to put into it at this point, particularly since we’re not having huge problems. This seems to be the case with most of the mothers I’ve talked about it with, as well. If you’re really desperate, they probably will work. If you’re looking for only minor improvements, there’s a smorgasbord of ideas to choose from, as well as suggestions for establishing good sleep habits before problems develop.

Ida B: - and Her Plans to Maximize Fun, Avoid Disaster and (Possibly) Save the World by Katherine Hannigan This is a beautiful, wonderful book. I left it out where my Mommy could read it while she was watching Mr. Froggy Pants, and she read it in one sitting. (OK, part of that was Mr. Froggy Pants wanting to cuddle with his grandma, but still.) Eleven-year-old Ida B, after a traumatizing experience with public school in kindergarten, has been home-schooled ever since. Life with her parents on the farm, talking with the apple trees, is “just about righter than right.” Then her mother gets sick, and her parents decide that she must go to the public school. Her heart shrivels up into a hard black rock that will hurt anyone that tries to get in. Ida B, even with a shriveled-up heart, is full of life and eloquent, memorable phrases. I say, reluctantly, being aimed at children, this book probably isn’t for everyone. But if you like children’s books at all, or if you have a child in the 8-12 range in your life, do read this book.
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You’d think that sometime in my three months off, I would have found time to post, but no. So now I’m back to work, and I’m sure that I don’t even remember everything I read anymore, but the Show Must Go On, so I’ll type up what I can remember, and hopefully keep up with my current reading, too. Anyway, first installment, yet more parenting books.

Mothering the New Mother by Sally Placksin Amusingly enough, this the last book I finished before Mr. Froggy Pants made his arrival. But this is a really great book that I’d recommend for any new parent, and selective bits for anyone whose friends are having children. It starts out by going over customs for taking care of the new mother in other cultures – with the point that modern America is pretty much alone in expecting new mothers to be able to take care of themselves plus the new baby by themselves within days of having the baby. It talks about how to take care of yourself, and how to recognize, prevent (as much as possible) and treat postpartum depression. It also has chapters devoted to the challenges of dealing with staying at home, working at home, and going back to work. All of the chapters have large lists of resources, all given twice – once with extended annotations, and once just with contact information. I somehow got the 10-year-old edition, but I’m sure that the new edition includes urls as well as phone contacts.

Infant Massage by Vimala McClure Another great book, which my sister gave us for Christmas. I’ve read lots of places how important touch is for babies to develop properly, but how to do it? We tried once from the instructions in The Baby Book, and found them not really complete enough. Not the case with this book – complete photos with detailed instructions on individual moves and suggestions for building up a massage routine with your baby. It also includes background information on the benefits of massage – although the photos of calm and smiley babies could be convincing enough - and special chapters on routines for colicky babies, preemies, working with siblings, and teen parents. Whether you fall into the cry-it-out camp or the attachment parenting camp, or somewhere in between, you and your baby will benefit from this book.
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OK, only one book reviewed this time. What can I say? I’m still reading.

Guide to Natural Family Living by Mothering Magazine This was another attempt to find a really liberal parenting book for my friend Teb. I think I (or actually, my husband) did pretty well finding it. Though I couldn’t find the title she requested, Liedloff’s The Continuum Concept, it is quoted here. Unlike most of the books I’ve read so far, this book covers everything from pregnancy through the teen years, with special sections on Difficult Issues like death and divorce. But liberal. Or is it conservative, when the book tells you not to take even Tylenol during pregnancy, and that you really should do the best you can to stay home with your child. Another concept I found a little radical: the no-punishment method of child-rearing. Not that nothing happens when they misbehave, but that you should first try to understand them, and then, if they were deliberately misbehaving, you should reason with them, or help them come up with a good way to make up for what they did. There’s plenty of good advice in here, too, from dealing with sexuality at different stages of life to alternative healthcare and schooling options. This book won’t tell you when your baby should be crawling, but it is a good resource for instinctive and attachment parenting styles. It shares one of the features I most admire about Mothering magazine, which produced it: even when I disagree with their conclusions, everything is meticulously researched, with citations given for multiple studies on both sides of an issue.

This leads me to an update on Babywise and Gary Ezzo Again, my dear husband was disturbed enough by what I told him of this book (recently reviewed) to do some background research. This has forced me to take back my half-hearted semi-commendation of the book. Turns out, the man has no medical background, and not even an undergrad degree. The book has lots of flat-out medical misinformation, and has led to a couple of hundred cases of Failure to Thrive and dehydration in babies whose parents followed the advice. The American Association of Pediatrics has issued warnings about the book, but it’s still really popular. Holy cow! We will be pulling all his books from our library, though, which is a small step. My current advice: don’t read the book. If your friends are reading it, pass on a warning. You can find more info at
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In a continuation of parenting titles, I found two more crying/sleep books, one random leftie baby book, and one Baby Tome. Yeah, I should probably find a couple more Baby Tomes with different approaches, but I'm not sure how many 700 page books I'll make it through. As always, I'm open to suggestions of titles you've read or want me to try first.

Calming Your Fussy Baby: the Brazleton Way by T. Berry Brazleton My research into crying/sleep books continues with this title. Dr. Brazleton is a well-known pediatrician (I discover); he’s best known for his “touchpoints” or stages of baby development. He seems to me to be fairly middle-of-the-road in his parenting philosophy. This book, then, covers crying by age – why a baby might cry at different stages, and appropriate responses at each. Unlike Dr. Karp, he doesn’t assume a single solution in each case, but presents a variety of options. Again, it’s hard to say without trying, but his approach seems geared towards first understanding your baby, then figuring out a solution.

On Becoming Babywise by Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam Yes, this is a third “how to get your baby to stop crying” title. I think I mentioned earlier that it’s a little hard to guess at an author’s parenting philosophy from the back cover of the book, so I was excited to find this book – a really, really conservative approach to baby care. [ profile] amnachaidh, on hearing me talk about it, described this as the Ann Coulter of baby care, and it’s a pretty good metaphor. If you agree with the conservative philosophy to begin with – that you must put your baby on a schedule from birth and train him to sleep in his own room right from the beginning by letting him cry until he stops – then the advice in this book is straightforward. You can either skip over or enjoy the vitriolic attacks against attachment parenting, as you prefer. If you are liberal in your parenting philosophy to begin with, you will find this book highly disturbing. And if you are not really sure where you are, I would not recommend reading this book. While the advice on how to put your baby on schedule is straightforward enough, and may in fact be the perfect solution for your family, the science that he cites to support his views is shaky at best. As I’m currently reading Dr. Sears on attachment parenting, I can say with some certainty that the attachment parenting philosophy that he uses as an example of bad parenting throughout the book is a straw man, more extreme than AP doctors would recommend. As an example of bad science, at one point he says that letting your baby cry it out will make her smarter, and has an endnote to a study. The study that he cites was one that showed that four and five year olds who could wait 15 minutes to get two marshmallows rather than getting one right away did better on their SATs than the ones who ate their marshmallow right away. I don’t think that this proves that waiting makes kids smarter, and I certainly don’t see how a study performed on children old enough to talk and reason could prove anything about caring for a baby. He says throughout that doing anything differently than what he says will resulting in spoiling your baby – which I object to on the grounds that different things work for different babies; and throughout that one shouldn’t trust one’s emotions or instincts for baby care, or any decision-making, despite research on the subject to the contrary. This book is really popular, but I’d still say that Dr. Spock will give you advice on putting your baby on a schedule, with better science and less guilt.

Mothers & Others for a Livable Planet guide to natural baby care : nontoxic and environmentally friendly ways to take care of your new child by Mindy Pennybacker In search of more liberal baby books, I found this one. It’s one to read only if you have lots of money or are willing to ignore lots of warnings. Do you really want to know what the chemicals in paint, carpets and plastic toys can do to your child? Especially when the alternatives appear to cost at least twice as much, and often even more? (The easy way out: air out things like plastics and paint that smell when new for a couple of weeks to disperse the nasty VOCs. Use natural fibers whenever possible, and wash new clothes several times before putting them on baby.) There is some more practical advice in the later chapters on food, and a nice chapter on raising a nature-loving child. Otherwise, sadly, you have to be really, really committed to a low-chemical lifestyle for this book to have practical information for you.

The Baby Book by William and Martha Sears This is the first baby tome that I’ve reviewed, recommended to me by at least four different sources. It is indeed a wonderful book. Dr. Sears is an advocate of attachment parenting. For the uninitiated, this means he believes that the first duty of parents is to teach their children that they will always be there to take care of them. To this end, small babies should be picked up when they cry, carried a lot (whether or not they are crying) and so forth. No, he does not say that co-sleeping is the only right way to do things, and yes, he does include instruction on how to encourage your baby to sleep more at night without using the cry-it-out technique, as well as how to wean your baby out of your bed should you decide to sleep with your baby for a while but not want it to be permanent. For those of a more liberal persuasion to start with, he also includes discussions of vaccines and controversies surrounding them, though he is in general in favor of them. But this is just a small look at places where his book gives a unique view, particularly touching on issues brought up in the other books I’ve reviewed or that have come up in discussion. Overall, this book is aiming to be the only baby book you’ll ever really need. It covers pregnancy and childbirth briefly, and then focuses on baby’s major needs: eating, sleeping, development, health and comfort. Although all of the information looks like it would be invaluable to have on hand, I was very impressed with the health section. Split up by illness (with a separate first aid section), it covers what the symptoms are, treatment options, when to worry, call the doctor, and what to tell him or her. The Sears are both medical professionals as well as parents of eight children, and I found their advice knowledgeable and reassuring. Like Dr. Spock, they stress knowing yourself and your baby and finding solutions that work for you. If you want a general baby book with a liberal-ish bent, this is for you - either as a sole resource for the die-hard AP types, or as a liberal point of view to balance another book with a more conservative approach.
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And now, by popular request, some parenting titles. If I were really, really coordinated, I would have gotten three books representing different takes on the same topic. In fact, I kinda tried, but it’s a little hard working with library books, as other people besides me want to read them. Anyway, here we have book by a Classic Expert, one very popular book, and one geared towards fathers.

The Happiest Baby on the Block by Dr. Harvey Karp This book seems to have achieved a loyal following in the past couple of years, and I seem to be one of the last people on my board to read it. Karp claims to have discovered the cure for colic, which any parent can use by carefully following his instructions. The Cuddle Cure involves following the 5 S’s: Swaddle, Side or Stomach, Shhh, Swing and Suck. You would need to read a little more to make it work, of course. I can’t really tell how well it would work, not having a screaming baby on hand to test it with, though the testimonials throughout the book are encouraging. With a chapter devoted to the thesis, one for each S, and another of synthesis, I found the book a little on the repetitive side – maybe designed for sleep-deprived parents? In any case, the ideas seem good, and the bigger your arsenal of baby-calming techniques, the happier you and baby are likely to be.

Dr. Spock’s the First Two Years by Dr. Benjamin Spock Dr. Spock is the granddaddy of child rearing advice doctors, as you all should know already. I thought I’d read some of his advice to get a traditional/conservative view on the whole thing. This book is a collection of magazine columns from the late 80s and 90s answering common questions, not really a month-by-month or stage-by-stage guide. But, I was surprised and fascinated – surprised, because Dr. Spock is not as conservative as I would have guessed him to be. He’s strongly in favor of breastfeeding (on demand through the first several months), opposed to circumcision, and, most radical, advocates for a vegan diet. (He also talks about the benefits of bedsharing, though it’s clearly not something he’d be comfortable doing himself.) On the Cry It Out vs. Attachment Parenting debate, for those who are curious, he says that before about 6 months (I think) a baby is too young to be manipulative, and therefore should be picked up when crying. Past that, leaving the baby alone may be helpful in some cases. Throughout, his mantra is “Trust yourself – you know more than you think you do.” What made his book especially fascinating is his historical perspective – he started practicing in 1944. Most parenting books will tell you, for example, that you don’t need to try to put your baby on a feeding schedule – so rigid, so unhelpful for both you and baby. Dr. Spock explains both why schedules were considered so important, and what caused the shifts in opinion over the years. This is a slim little book; most of the actual advice you could probably find in other places. But the advice is sound, and the perspective just cool.

The New Father: A Dad’s Guide to the First Year by Armin Brott The discerning reader will note that this is the follow-up book to The Expectant Father, which I reviewed a while back. My husband and I both enjoyed these books for their solid advice coming from the father’s perspective. This book is split up with one chapter per month. It outlines what milestones are reached in each month (divided up into different areas past the first couple, where development is nearly all physical.) It talks about emotional and social issues that may come up for the dad. And, it has really good advice on what to do with the baby, from the very beginning where being involved means not giving up the baby as soon as she starts crying, to good games for each age child. I was especially excited that he talked about reading to the baby in every chapter. I’ve recently run into one father-to-be who didn’t like having his emotions addressed, as it felt to him like he was being told what to feel, so I guess nothing works for everyone. But amnachaidh liked having his point of view addressed. Most parenting books that I’ve read take it for granted that the mother is the one reading the book, and make only the occasional side comment for fathers. From that point of view, having a book like this can make it easier for the father to read, since he doesn’t feel left out, and it can be helpful for the mother to know what her partner might be going through. The dad perspective aside, it’s a good general reference book.

This is just a start – if you have parenting favorites you’d like me to read, or if you’d like me to preview something for you, I’m taking suggestions for the next round now!


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