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Friday, October 06, 2006

Wheat from the Chaff

As we all know, today's parents are subjected to a GAZILLION options in terms of reading material. (And toys, parenting philosophies, and diaper brands, but let's try tackling one thing at a time!) In my case, in addition to the many, many tomes I have given away, there are dozens littering my bookshelves. And a lot of them are scary looking -- pastel covers, overly adorable kids, childish fonts. (And what's with all of the weird names? I am not convinced that I want the Baby Whisperer involved with my child.) So, as a resident expert reader of the many baby books, here are my favourites:

Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care: It seemed a bit old school when I received it as a gift. It also seemed a bit small -- only 800 pages for pregnancy, labour, infant care, toddlers, preschoolers, children AND teenagers?? But, you know, the darn thing works! It is kind of like wikipedia for kids -- you have a concern, you turn to the appropriate page, look it up and, bang, there are a few paragraphs dealing with the issue. The advice is always no-nonsense, combined with a dash of "think of the kid's perspective" and a vigorous mixing of "trust your instincts".

Becoming the Parent You Want To Be: A Sourcebook of Strategies for the First Five Years: It's hippie, I admit it. It can also be a little scary: a pregnant pal of mine asked after reading the sections on discipline, "Do toddlers actually BITE other children?" But it provides a good overview of major things that come up in the first few years of parenting, stuff like sleep, your relationship with your partner, and discouraging children from engaging in certain behaviour. What I really liked was how it made you question where your parenting beliefs come from, and to look long-term as to the choices you make when kids are small.

The New Father: A Dad's Guide to the First Year: I have vivid memories of Dan and I reading this book to each other when we first got home from the hospital after having had Jonah. It was sort of a stunning period, really, with us trying to figure out what to do with the new 8 pound wee thing that had suddenly ended up in our home. This book was so straightforward and informative without being preachy. It also had lists and charts! And, best of all, it made Dan feel genuinely involved with the whole parenting thing, which is surprisingly uncommon in the baby world.

And, a runner-up:

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child: Jonah was a pretty good sleeper from the beginning, but I really liked reading up on the science behind sleep. I always figured you put your head on the pillow, counted backwards from 100, and that was that. Turns out that sleep is more complicated, and is actually learned behaviour. The book's strategies didn't really work for Jonah after the first 18 months, but the book was so good at saving us from sleep deprivation until then that I really can't leave it off of my list.

How about you? Are there any that have really stood out?

10 Comments:

  • At 10:35 AM, Blogger Molly said…

    The Baby Book
    by Dr. Sears

     
  • At 10:51 AM, Blogger Joanne said…

    I was really helped by The Happiest Baby on the Block, by Dr. Harvey Karp. I had an extremely fussy and colicky baby and the strategies that he recommends to calm the baby down really really helped us. I also love Dr. Spock, mostly because of the reassuring and positive tone throughout the book, i.e., calling the "Terrible Twos" the "Terrific Twos"! I agree with you on the Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, as well. I'm sad to hear that it hasn't helped you much with an 18 month old, as mine is 16 months old and it's really saved our lives so far.

     
  • At 1:07 PM, Blogger Melissa said…

    I just finished "How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk" and I thought it was fabulous. It has so much good information about how to say positive things to your child that will encourage them to praise themselves instead of relying on you for praise, how to let them know you don't like their behavior without criticizing them, etc. Basically it tells you how to treat your child with respect but still set limits. This stuff doesn't come naturally to me so I thought it was a gold mine.

     
  • At 1:37 PM, Blogger Karen said…

    LOVED Berry Brazelton's "Touchpoints."

     
  • At 6:30 PM, Blogger landismom said…

    Ditto for Touchpoints. My mom also gave me this kind of generic kids' health book (I think it's called something like "Your Child's Health") which is the thing I turn to when the kids are sick. It's pretty no nonsense as far as fevers, vomiting, and less normal illnesses.

     
  • At 7:05 PM, Anonymous raidergirl said…

    I loved Dr Spock. It's funny that in its original day, it was considered so permissive, and child centered. Now, many people would find it rather rigid, with an emphasis on a scheduele. I kept it in the bathroom, to read whenever.

     
  • At 11:03 PM, Blogger Anne-Marie said…

    Love the Baby Book as well! Will have to look into this Touchpoints book...

     
  • At 10:45 AM, Blogger Libby said…

    Very cool book suggestions -- I'll definitely check them out. The whole discipline thing is the next hurdle, so it will be great to get some other perspectives.

    Joanne, with the sleep thing, Jonah developed something weird at around 18 months where he would refuse to go down. Up until then, it was easy as pie, so the sleep issues really did seem to come out of nowhere. We tried the Weissbluth strategies for a week or two, and they unfortunately didn't help. We instead turned to Dr. Spock, did what he suggested, and have been fine ever since. Maybe it was just a Jonah thing?

     
  • At 11:04 AM, Blogger Joanne said…

    Thanks! I just wondered, we have struggled so much with our Anthony's sleep (or lack thereof, in the beginning). The friend that recommended Weissbluth to me told me that she still refers to it and her kids are like 6 and 8! The one thing I have learned in the last 16 months is to never rest on my laurels - he sleeps well now, but we still have our nights and God knows how he'll do once he figures how to get out of that crib. I have Dr. Spock, too, so if I have the 'Jonah Problem' (ha), I will look up what he says. Thanks.

     
  • At 1:29 PM, Blogger Anne-Marie said…

    I'm curious to know what Dr. Spock says about sleep since as you know, we too are having 17 month old sleep issues...

     

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