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The Baby Book, Revised Edition: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby from Birth to Age Two (Sears Parenting Library) Paperback – January 8, 2013
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About the Author
William Sears, MD, has practiced pediatrics for more than 40 years, and is an associate clinical professor at the University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine. Martha Sears is a registered nurse and parenting and health consultant. They are the authors of more than 30 books and live in southern California. Robert W. Sears, MD, is a board-certified pediatrician in private practice in southern California. James Sears, MD, is a board-certified pediatrician and co-host of The Doctors.
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My biggest complaint with the book, is many of practices he advocates seem like they would be very hard to follow for anyone who doesn't have a flexible work schedule (or did not work) in which they were able to spend significant amounts of time with their child during the day and night. I've posted some of the themes that will be repeated and restated throughout this book time and time again. Consider how realistic it will be for you to follow these themes before purchasing this book. As other reviewers have stated, I could see someone feeling a great deal of guilt and failure as a parent if this was the only baby book you read and tried to follow.
Consider this book if:
1) You are the child's birth mom. The book offers very little advice for dads and almost all the advice involves "supporting your wife" by stepping in to give her a break while she does the bulk of the care. See point 2 for adoptive moms.
2) You are planning on breastfeeding - and I don't mean, pumping. Bottles are tolerated in this book (eventually) but not in any way shape or form embraced. If you are an adoptive mom there is a section for you on how to breastfeed. However, it takes 1 month of advance preparation and then can take several times of day of pretend breastfeeding for 4 months to finally produce a minimal supply of breast milk (not enough to actually provide the baby with adequate nutrition). That is, if it works at all. There are also options of jerry-rigging dad to "breastfeed" if mom is not around.
3) You have the means to make the baby your priority 24/7 for a significant period of time. If you can't afford to stay at home with the baby or are the kind of person who WANTS to go back to work after having a baby your first recommendation will be to find a job in which you can take the baby to work with you. More specifically, the advice is to *wear* the baby at work with you in a sling. Keeping an infant in a sling is Sears' advice to pretty much everything. Clean houses for a living? Great, wear the baby in a sling to work and carry on! Your employer will admire your dedication. Your job won't let you wear your baby to work? Maybe try to find a different one. Get invited to a black tie affair? Bring the three-month-old along in a sling, everyone in the room with be impressed with your mad baby-wearing skills. Have a speech to deliver for 150 professionals or getting interviewed on television? No problem, stick that little sucker in its sling and carry on. If the baby starts to fuss, you can easily breastfeed from the sling while on TV. The black tie affair, speech and TV interview are actual examples from the book of things the doctor's wife has done over the years.
4) Following point 3 - babywearing in a sling is a must for you during your waking hours. Not just you actually. If you have a child care provider, you should insist that they also wear the baby for *at least* 3 hours out of the day.
5) Cosleeping in your bed is a must for you. Chapter after chapter talks about sharing a bed with your infant. There is very little discussion of other options except in one small section of the book. Eventually, Sears will tell you not to feel guilty if you can't cosleep but after reading chapter after chapter where the only option he talks about is cosleeping, it's too little too late.
6) You have expendable income. A few more bits of practical advice from the book: Your birthing experience will be so much better if you hire a doula or midwife. Getting a housekeeper will give you more time to worry about the baby and not the dirty toilet. Not working will allow you to breastfeed on demand for at least the first two years of your child's life (although you might want to consider taking 3 years off in case your child isn't fully ready to wean until age three).
As you can see this book offers one very specific and very intensive parenting style. It's not so much that I disagree with the bulk of the ideas - I do plan to breastfeed, have a sling ready to go for baby wearing and I'm lucky to be able to take an extended time off work to spend with the baby - it's just that so many of these points are belabored over and over and over again while alternatives are lumped together and given lip service in one chapter. I am glad that I have this book as a reference but I would not want it to be my only reference. I think most parents would benefit from having another, more objective and comprehensive baby book to complement this one, especially if someone other than the breastfeeding mom wants something to read. Someone gave my husband the Baby Owner's Manual which he has found straightforward and useful. I've also ordered the Mayo Clinic: Guide to Your Baby's First Year as I liked their pregnancy guide and have heard that book is similar.
Full disclosure, I'm about to be a first time mom, so I haven't put any of these child-rearing theories to the test. I'm just trying to learn as much as possible before the baby comes so I can find a strategy that works best for me. This book certainly offers up one such strategy and I do not regret having read it; however, I would not consider it a stand-alone resource. I do feel like it is priced very reasonably considering its heft and has enough useful sections that it has a place in my library.
I like to consider myself a fairly laid back parents and open-minded person and I can't even tell you how helpful this book has been. Certain things that Dr.Sears recommends certainly wouldn't work in my household, but the most important take away is "trust your instincts". Read this book, use the ideas you like, ignore the ones you don't, and certainly don't feel guilty or parent shamed if you read something you disagree with (in this book or anywhere else).
All parents should be able to find the section on common medical concerns useful and the extensive Index is a quick way to jump directly to the information your are looking for. If you plan on breastfeeding for any length of time this book is a great tool. And, of course, if you plan on baby wearing or co-sleeping this is the bible of baby books.