I'm a full-time working mom of a 2.5 year old, incredible boy.
Initially when I read Sears my reaction was that to be a good parent I would have to quit working, spend my whole day breastfeeding and wearing my baby and never get a solid's night sleep again. (And, I've have to grind my own wheat, grow my organic vegetables and move to an unpolluted island...well, not quite, but that seemed to be the general drift.)
But, what the Sear's approach or Attachment Parenting approach to me comes down to this:
Know your baby.
Respond to your baby's cues.
Understand that your baby isn't a mini-adult who just happens to live in a diaper. Understand that your child comes with his own personality and developmental timetable. Understand that when he cries he needs you. Understand that cuddling, holding, touching your baby is good for him and is not "spoiling" him. Understand that being given a brand new soul to nurture can be exhausting, but that everything you do which demonstrates empathy will come back to you 10 fold in the bond you will have with your child.
I do wish that the AP "movement" was less associated with "crunchy granola" types of parents. AP (and the Sears as the best known proponents) is really doing what comes naturally: We are hardwired to pick up our babies and care for them when they cry. We are hardwired to feel the intense desire to protect them from discomfort. This isn't a "movement" this is how we are made, and Mother (and Father) Nature are brillant!
Updated in 2012: Our son is now a happy 10 year old. And, I would say that though we are hardly an organic, crunchy family (though we do love Cheetos Crunchy a lot in our household....), the core principle of "Know your baby (now child), and respond to your child's cues" remains our abiding guideline. We looked at our baby's tantrums as a 2-4 year old and acknowledged that they were emotion, not disobedience; we looked at our 5 to 7 year olds struggles with school and saw confusion and a need for reassurance and not laziness or lack of intelligence, we looked at our older elementary school aged child's peer identification and saw a need for belonging and not "sass".
In addition to Dr. Sears, we've found Positive Discipine by Dr. Jane Nelsen to be a wonderful guide.
on March 11, 2004
I started my pregnancy with the Dr. Sears pregnancy book and also read the breastfeeding book and I loved his natural, gentle approach to everything so I registered for The Baby Book. I devoured this book and loved everything I read. I felt so confident going into parenthood! Then I had my baby and I was shocked to find I was completely unprepared in some ways. I followed some dangerous advice about not supplementing her with formula while my milk was coming in and she ended up in the hospital dehydrated and with dangerously low blood sugar. The day we left the hospital I bought the American Academy of Pediatrics book "Caring for Your Baby and Young Child," and this is my new bible for illnesses in my baby. It is much more thorough, and I feel comfortable knowing this is what is reccomended by a community of professionals instead of one Dr with one philosophy. Another example, we tried the family bed until she was five months and we never let her cry for a second. At four months old she was fussy, clingy, and was sleeping less that ten hours a day. I finally broke down and bought "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child." After some gentler approaches and limited crying it out she will only sleep through the night (12 hours) in her own bed because our moving wakes her, and she gets about 13-15 hours of sleep a day. She is happy every morning and much more playful and engaging, and our bond is even stronger. My point is that you really need to find your own approach to problem solving the ups and downs of parenthood, and this book will only present you with one method. I still practice attachment parenting, but I also respect my child's needs to sleep and to play on her own. I love Dr. Sears and Martha's loving approach to parenthood, but I have developed my own loving approach now thanks to the input I have gained from other professionals in the field.
on March 12, 2009
I bought and read this book before I had my baby on recommendations from friends. I loved it and thought I would follow the Attachment Parenting philosophy to the word. Then I had my baby and all my preconceived theories and opinions on baby care went out the window. While I still believe in (and did myself) baby wearing, responding to their cries, breastfeeding if you can, and many other of the aspects of AP, there were some things we ended up doing differently....
1.I had planned to use a co-sleeper next to our bed but my baby made so much noise in her sleep that we ended up moving it to the other side of our bedroom and ultimately put her in her own room at about five months. My husband and I were very happy to have our room back and she seemed very happy in her own room.
2. Even though we carried our baby all the time in a sling the first two months, she still cried A LOT. The book says that carried babies cry less, and maybe she would have cried more had we not carried her, but don't expect a miracle if you have a crier. She also really liked to lie on the ground or in a bouncy chair looking at our faces so we ended up not carrying her as much as we thought we would after about two months, although we still do wear her for walks and to do chores around the house. etc.
3. I thought I would breastfeed until a year at least, but after about six months, my baby just got fussier and fussier wanting the bottle instead (we had given her one (with breast milk) a few times a week so my husband could help out), so we ultimately weaned her to formula after seven months. Also, I realized pretty early on that totally on-demand-nursing wasn't for us. I just couldn't figure out some of her sleep cues from her hunger cues and ended up getting frustrated. I used a relaxed version of the E.A.S.Y method from "The Baby Whisperer" instead and it made such a huge difference in my confidence and understanding what she needed. (I highly recommend that book for helping you understand babies' body language/cues etc. but beware, it can feel very anti-attachment parenting at first if you are used to Dr. Sears' books).
4. While she slept well from about 6 weeks to 13 weeks, her sleep took a turn for the worse, waking every hour to two for many, many weeks. I was totally exhausted and miserable during the day. I re-read Dr. Sears' advice on sleep and he pretty much says just to live with it and it will eventually work out. I had to turn to other books to help me with her sleep and ultimately had to use a modified, gentler Ferber method (and Baby Whisperer methods). She needed to learn to sleep without our help. (She was getting quite heavy to be carried and rocked every time). We still do rock her a little before bed and naps to help her settle down, but letting her cry a little at bedtime and night time really did help her learn to self soothe. She is a lot happier baby during the day because she is well rested and I am a much better Mommy when I am well rested. "The 90 Minute Sleep Solutions" is also a very helpful book in understanding babies sleep cycles. My baby had awake/sleep cycles like clockwork (just as this book says). It really helped me know when to put her down for naps.
So, basically what I am saying is when you are a new parent you HAVE to be flexible and open to other ideas if something isn't working in your family. Dr. Sears even says this in his book, but I think it can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking you have to do everything by "the book". Dr. Sears is very convincing in making you believe his way is best and very guilty if AP doesn't work out for you or have the results he says they will. You really have to do what feels right in your heart and works for your family. I have found parenting to be LOTS of trial and error until you find something that feels right or works for your child.
on November 19, 2004
This is an excellent book - I refer to it regularly in parenting my second baby and wish I'd owned it with the first...
I was a fairly instinctive parent first time round - I had looked critically at my own childhood and spent enough time observing and caring for (other peoples) small children to have developed some gut feelings (as well as strong ideas) about how best to care for / relate to my baby - and for the rest I followed his lead.
It was natural and intinctive and expert-free - and it worked well for us.
However when he was 6 months I ran into trouble - my baby was not coping at all well with starting solid feeding (everything seemed to disagree with him - even potato made him vomit!)and his night wakings were getting more rather than less. I was badly in need of advice, but all available sources were of the ignore-babys-cries type which totally opposes every instinct I have about how to treat another human being. Enter Dr Sears...
What a huge relief to find a parenting writer whos basic beliefs were compatible to my own - and therefore to find advice I felt I could trust.
One of the things I find most wonderful about the Sears is the way they have worked to become good and wise parents. Some of the (few) opponants to their books say that being a Dr or raising 8 children does not necessarily an expert make. I agree. But the Sears are, like most of their fans, dedicated parents who have tried very, very hard to become the parents they want their children to have - they have researched extensivly, evaluated their own performances critically and most importantly kept on trying to be better than good.
Their own descriptions of how their No 4 child, the 'fussy baby' of the family, changed their whole idea about what it meant to be a parent is so enlightening because it shows clearly how parents are not born but made...and it gives hope to the rest of us in our daily struggle for elusive perfection!
I now own a Sears library, and though the advice can be rather repetative, and I wish they'd do a real bibliography/source list on the scientific data, I find it always inspires me - and inspiration is often all the help you need.
on November 14, 2005
I have to start off by agreeing with many of the other reviewers about the faults of this book. It is most definitely geared toward the stay-at-home-mother whose husband doesn't read baby books. Token acknowledgement is given to fathers, working mothers, and those heroes of our modern world, the single parents.
Having said that, I am a stay at home mom whose husband does not read baby books, and a first-time parent. I read a bunch of baby books and this is the one that did not make me feel guilty, even when I disagreed with some of the suggestions presented. I think that this is a supportive book, and Dr Sears makes a point to try different parenting techniques, but to stop if they make you feel uncomfortable or resentful of your child(ren). I think an overriding theme in this book is to do what feels right - pick up your baby when he cries, feed your baby when he's hungry, let other things go undone if you need sleep ...
The main point seems to be to build a strong attachment with your baby so he trusts you. According to the Sears family, that trust will help your baby grow into a caring and trustable adult. So far, all the suggestions that I have tried have worked - my fussy baby calmed down when I wore him in a sling; my wake-in-the-middle-of-the-night-screaming baby sleeps all through the night next to me; I weaned my baby when he seemed to want it and he hasn't looked back. I'd have to say this is my most helpful baby book.
on January 21, 2005
As far as I can tell, the people who have negatively reviewed this book haven't actually read it or are actively trying to spread inaccuracies about it. Perhaps they are referring to much older editions of this book. But a number of negative reviews here suggest things that are simply NOT true.
For example: Yes, Dr. Sears recommends breast-feeding, as does pretty much every health organization and doctor around the world. One reviewer suggests that readers will feel guilty for not breast-feeding because Dr. Sears is so strident in his support of it. Fact - the book contains 2 chapters on breast-feeding explaining why it is the healthiest choice and how to do it successfully. The book ALSO contains a FULL CHAPTER on how to BOTTLE-FEED safely and lovingly if breast-feeding is not right for you. I guess you could say he should have devoted equal time to both so no one would feel bad but the reality is that bottle-feeding comes fairly easy to everyone; breast-feeding does not.
One father complains that the book suggests his ONLY role as a father is supportive. The quote he gives is taken OUT OF CONTEXT. The quote refers to a father's role in breast-feeding not in the overall care of the baby (sorry fathers breast-feeding is something you just can't do!). The reviewer suggests that the father's role is only referred to on a few pages of a huge book. This is simply NOT true. Every section of the book (including the breast-feeding section) comments on the father's role. Dr. Sears goes as far as suggesting that the father as well as the mother should touch the baby soon after birth to encourage bonding. He also recommends that both parents take time off of work when the baby is first born.
Another suggestion is that Dr. Sears doesn't support a working-mother yet there is a whole chapter devoted to working-mothers. There are also stories of different ways that mothers (including Mrs. Sears) have incorporated the "attachment" approach to child-rearing and working.
This book is about a particular parenting philosophy called "attachment." It includes information about how to raise your child following that philosphy. Some of the ideas in the book may not work for you and your family and Dr. Sears allows for this often in the book. He states clearly over and over that you don't HAVE to follow ALL the recommendations.
The complaints about this book seem to be by people who only glanced through it or who expected to find a book that supported every decision they had already made on how to raise their child.
This is an EXCELLENT book that supports a caring, warm, and natural method of baby-raising. It is very detailed and well-researched.
If you already have your own parenting philosophy that excludes breast-feeding, picking up your baby when it cries, sleeping with your baby, and carrying and touching your baby as much as possible, then this book is probably not for you. But that doesn't make it a flawed book.
on June 28, 2012
William and Martha Sears have great advice on a number of topics, and I would recommend this book to new parents. However, there's a hidden hysteria beneath the surface of this book at times, and if you're not careful, you will start to think that any time your child cries without your immediate response, any time s/he is briefly left alone, any time you take her in a stroller instead of carrying, any time you make any mistake at all you are doing permanent damage. Sears relies on a few fallacies throughout the book to make his points: (1) the "studies show" fallacy (what studies? what do the studies actually say?), (2) the "traditional cultures do it" fallacy (how do we know that what these cultures do is universally better? Maybe it's just adapted for their lifestyle and not for ours?) and (3) the "One of my patients" fallacy (i.e. using an extreme anecdote, such as a woman who completely shut herself off to all of her child's cries, to demonstrate that you have to immediately respond to every cry).
Obviously I am wholly against the extreme opposite of attachment parenting. I cringe when I hear parents talk about how being too responsive to a three-month-old baby is going to "spoil" the baby, or that the baby will grow up too dependent, when there's no evidence to suggest as much. At the same time I question Sears' assertions that constant babywearing, bedsharing, and limitless availability to your child are the best approach. Parents have to be able to balance their own sanity with their childrens' needs in order to be good parents, and babies do not shrivel up and die of loneliness just because they have to wait three minutes to eat when they're hungry. Develop a balanced approach that works for you. Don't treat your child like a Spartan soldier in training, and don't treat him/her like a soap bubble that's going to pop any second either.
on April 4, 2005
I bought this as one of many baby books when I was pregnant with my first, and quickly let the others go. I found so much great advice here, (and in his other books-- "The Birth Book" gets Five stars, too! And "the Pregnancy Book"). I always give one or more as baby gifts.
I became heavily engorged the first few days of breastfeeding my first son, and even the LeLeche lady could not offer me much help. She said to stand in a hot shower-- made it FAR worse, because it only made me have more let down, but nothing could come out! I was like Pamela Anderson on utter-roids. Then I flipped through this blessed book, and it was the ONLY place that talked about what can happen when you are first nursing, and sugested to ICE the girls down to decress swelling and inflamation in order to let the milk come out... After only a few minutes of cold therapy,the nummies were flowing and the CRAZY PAIN was gone!!! God bless Dr. Sears.
He seems to explain things in an easy, reasuring manner, and gives more important and interesting information than I have found anywhere-- even our Doctor. Only because of this book was I able to find out that my son had a painful Acid Reflux condition that was being over looked by his doctor, even though I kept pushing that something wasn't right! I changed doctors and told the new one what I had read in this book, and how it sounded just like my baby. She did the testing, and sure enough the poor little guy had acid reflux, and we were able to treat it.
WELL worth the dough. Wise gift to new and repeat moms.
on November 15, 2005
This book became my bible when my son was born. Not only does it have invaluable information that helps detect what may be ailing your child, sickness wise, it offers explanations for behavioral issues and gives great solutions as well. I had conventional ideas about how I would raise my child, and this book actually taught me to open my mind up to other alternatives. The people that criticize the fact that it's geared towards attachment parenting have obviously chosen a different route. For me, attachment parenting was something I knew little about until reading this, and it worked well for me and my child. The thing I liked best about it is that Dr. Sears offers many suggestions and always encourages the parents to do what feels right to them and the baby. Other books I'd read, like "Babywise", were telling me to follow strict rules that didn't feel right to me, or my child, and made crazy suggestions about what could happen if I didn't follow these rules. I felt like someone was trying to force me to do something I didn't want to, because they said it was best and they were the "experts". Dr. Sears was the first doctor who helped me realize it was up to me to choose what worked best for all of us. By giving me suggestions and valid information it was easier to come to my own choices. He makes you realize that you are the only expert for your child. I don't think he discriminates against working moms or against babies who sleep in cribs. He even talks about how his first 3 kids slept great in cribs, and it wasn't until his fourth that he had one who wasn't up for it. The two sides need to be more accepting and less defensive. He states why he supports attachment parenting a lot, but I think his reasons are good ones. Obviously, since it was enough to convince me too. But he's not all that hard core about it. And everytime my son gets sick and I can't figure out what it is, this book almost always solves the puzzle. I would loan this book to friends, but since I'm about to have another baby, I have to hold on to it. I think it's a great baby gift for someone who is at a loss of what to do with their new bundle.
on November 6, 2003
I have this new revised edition and am impressed with the amount of information covered - physical, medical and emotional issues are included. There are very nice pictures and charts also. The book is strongly for natural birth, co-sleeping, using a sling, and breastfeeding and these find their way into many entries, so it's best if these work for you, otherwise you may feel left out or made to feel guilty. I would also recommend: Gentle Baby Care and The No-Cry Sleep Solution with a foreword by Dr. Sears.