Friday, February 25, 2011

Book Review: The Baby Book by William Sears et. al.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Like some other first time parents, we got ourselves a small bookshelf of pregnancy and parenting books when we found we were expecting. And these stayed readily available at our bedside, referenced almost every night during pregnancy, and during the middle of the night during the first several months (since we were up anyway). Pregnancy was more straightforward (we joked that our son was taking the checklist approach, pretty much everything that the books said would happen did to some degree). Parenting is harder, because every child is different, and wildly so. What makes the Dr. Sears book the one we (or at least I) still open up and read is that it recognizes that fact with every page.

Every parenting book is reviewed at the extremes. And that is probably just the nature of thought about parenting. There is probably nothing that people take so personally as discussion about their parenting skills. Even if they are like us and state up front that we know nothing and we are learning as we go along. (and my inlaws who are staying with us say the same thing, which makes our dynamic better then what may be feared.) So, any parenting book that has any opinions whatsoever will have lots of reviewers complaining about how it is unyielding. But the book does what I think it should do. It lays out an issue, states an opinion, then works with various levels of departures from their opinion. So the chapter on breastfeeding is followed by a chapter on bottlefeeding and formula. The parts on attachement parenting are alongside chapters on issues faced by working mothers.

But what keeps me coming back to this book is the chapter on fussy baby. We have one. And that means I get to hear many potential solutions. Probably more then there are days where this will last. When the pediatrician declared 'colic' I regarded this as a disaster declaration, with months of exhaustion to look forward to. What this book gives is a framework that puts it in perspective. So based on the classifications and descriptions we don't have a true member of the colic club, we have a high-needs baby. As the well-meaning advice comes in (usually from people who have never experienced a fussy/colicky baby), I can take it in stride, recognizing that we're not missing the non-existant magic bullet, but adding to our battery of tricks, each of which may or may not work on any given day. And that is OK. And while there may not be an end to it (only changes in form), there may be things we can look forward to with our sensitive, interactive, communicative son that we will be glad to see someday.

I'd highly recommend the book. It is not just a set of paragraphs of facts (there are some sections that are, but all parenting books have those), but also good discussions on how to approach this turn-your-life-inside-out thing called parenthood.

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