Monday, June 6, 2011

My Bookshelf: Baby Care and Infant Happiness

I've been recommending books to various people in my life lately, so I thought I would share the things I read, mostly the things that are useful to me in my mom life, but also books that are relevant to my other roles in this world, too. So this is the first in a series about my bookshelf.

The Baby Book, by Attachment Parenting gurus William and Martha Sears (co-authored by two of their children, one of whom is the pediatrician from The Doctors.) that has been my most useful guide through this mothering experience. It was a gift from a friend, and when I got it, it was a bit like I had just been given my reading material for a college course, as it weights in at a slim 769 pages. However, once I got over its heft and let go of my compulsive need to read books cover-to-cover in short order, this book has proved very useful. It is basically a travel-guide for children ages 0 to 2 years, and has sections on breastfeeding, discipline, and potty training. While it lacks the month-by-month guidelines found in What to Expect the First Year, it also lacks the "OHMYGOD IF YOU DON'T DO THIS EXACTLY, YOUR BABY WILL SUFFER A TERRIBLE AWFUL DEATH OR AT LEAST SOCIAL DIFFICULTIES THAT YOU WILL FEEL PROFOUNDLY GUILTY OVER" tone that the What to Expect books have. It also has dosage charts for common infant and toddler medications, which has saved me from making yet another call to the pediatrician on the weekend because the Bug has a wee bit of temperature.

Harvey Karp, MD's The Happiest Baby on the Block very seriously saved my sanity when the Bug was tiny and colicky. It's ideas may seem a bit obvious-- swaddling, swinging or rocking, white noise, sucking, and so on, but I'm the sort of person who needs to read stuff from an "expert" to really get it. (Probably the scholar in me. DH just needs to find it on the internet, and he's good.) I have just recently gotten over my disappointment that these things have stopped working.

I have 2 books that live on my bookshelf regarding baby sleep, and one will probably be a surprise for those familiar with the various positions on baby sleep. I'm too much of a liberal arts professor to just accept as gospel one idea or another, so I took a little from one and a little from another and finally sorted out the Bug's sleep a little.

The first book, particularly as it is suggested reading in The Baby Book, won't come as a surprise. It is Elizabeth Pantley's No Cry Sleep Solution.
Most authors on baby sleep pretty much say that either you have to let the poor dear cry-it-out or you have to live with multiple wake ups and/or sleep with the poor dear. If I got nothing more out of Pantley's book, it is that it is okay not to be satisfied with either path.

Speaking of all-or-nothing approaches, my second baby sleep book is Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth, MD. I disagree with Weissbluth's preferred solution for infant sleep problems, which is to let the child cry it out after identifying the correct time for bedtime and naptime. What I did find useful is that the book is packed with information on the science of infant and child sleep, and by applying some of those ideas about when and why the Bug should sleep to the how from Pantley's book, we've been able to mostly assemble a sleep strategy that works for our family.

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