Thursday, March 1, 2007

Favorite Baby and Toddler Books-n-Stuff

I have three children and I've read lots of parenting books. I've tried and failed and tried again. These are my "tried-and-true" resources -- the things I've found that actually worked. I'll update as I find or think of others.

Your Amazing Newborn by Marshall H. Klaus
An astonishing book, focusing on the innate physical and social capabilities of the newly born child. Beautiful black and white photographs.

Secrets of the Baby Whisperer by Tracy Hogg
I started out as a diehard AP mommy. Sorry, Dr. Sears, but a toddler and a baby down the road, I was a physical and emotional zombie. Sleeping through the night? What was that? It was supposed to just happen naturally when I met my baby's needs. Only a selfish parent wants their baby to sleep through the night. Weaning? That happens naturally too, right? I don't disagree with the basic tenets of AP -- connecting with your child by understanding and meeting their needs and lots of physical contact and play are the very foundation of a healthy human psyche -- but that is only one piece of the parenting puzzle. I found myself lost trying to "follow my instincts" and "learn to follow my baby's cues" as most AP authors advise -- it was just too vague. Tracy takes a balanced, middle-of-the-road, "family-centered" rather than "child-centered" or "parent-centered" approach. She actually spells out how to distinguish a baby's different cries and understand their body language (there are charts), and then shows you how to build a sensible routine around those needs. Her approach is based on observing and understanding your baby, then respectfully and responsively creating a flexible structure which will allow everyone's needs to be met. Her sensible sleep plan is gentle, responsive, and it works. Although she doesn't advocate sleep-sharing, extended nursing, or babywearing, her mantra is, if it's working for your family and you enjoy it, keep doing it -- but if it's not working, don't exhaust yourself thinking you are doing your baby a favor. Her other two books, The Baby Whisperer Solves All your Problems and Secrets of the Baby Whisperer for Toddlers, are also excellent.

Baby Talk by Dr. Sally Ward
This is a readable and practical book which takes you through speech development in the first five years and outlines simple activities for fostering language development and averting/correcting speech problems and delays. Emphasizes the relational aspect of language learning.

MamaToto Project
Babywearing was the best thing I learned as a new mom. One of my favorite memories of my first child's infancy was going to a market in Peru and buying a manta, which the ladies at the market then helped me use to tie my five month old daughter onto my back. I found the Peruvian manta hard on my back, so I moved on to circle slings, ring slings, and finally fell in love with the Mexican rebozo, which I have used ever since. This website has everything you ever wanted to know about babywearing, including visual step by step instructions on how to tie oodles of different baby wraps (front, back, side, for sleeping, for nursing, for different ages, for moms with back trouble), traditional wraps and carriers from cultures around the world, and how to make/sew your own wrap or carrier.

Signing Baby
I did a little baby sign language with my first child, but she learned two signs and then began to talk. Now, with my third, we've done lots of signing and had lots of fun. She learned about 25 different signs which she continued using as she learned to talk. This website is has great information for getting started with baby sign language.

Infant Potty Training, Early Potty Training, and Three Day Potty Training
"Just as babies signal when they are hungry and need to be fed, they signal when they are about to eliminate and need you to help them stay clean and dry. By tuning into your baby's signals and responding to prevent accidents, you strengthen attachment and provide the early learning experiences that ease potty training down the road."
-- Dr. Linda Sonna
After what I considered good success at potty training my daughter by age two and my son by 2 1/2, I thought I was a pro. I had heard of infant potty training with my firstborn (not called by that name, though) from a Peruvian friend who suggested I save myself a few diaper changes by holding my baby over the toilet to pee. "You just figure out when they are going to go, take off the diaper, and hold them over the toilet." I was intrigued, but found her instructions too vague -- how did you "figure it out"?
When my third child came along, I stumbled upon the book Infant Potty Basics: With or Without Diapers -- the Natural Way by Laurie Bourke , which finally gave me the specifics I needed: take your baby to the potty upon waking and twenty minutes after nursing or feeding. There's no pressure for her to go, but if she does go, clap and coo and carry on like she's done something wonderful. I started IPT with Abby at 5 or 6 months, and by 9 months she was going pretty consistently in the potty.
We sort of fell off the potty wagon in the midst of moving to a new house, but when she was 15 months old, I knew she had both control and comprehension -- and even a "potty" sign. So when a friend who has four children under age four came singing the praises of "one day potty training", I thought I'd give it a go. After reading up, I decided that one day was a bit overambitious, so I cleared my schedule for three days, filled a jar with Reese's Pieces and set it in the bathroom, took the diapers off my little girl, and gave potty learning my complete attention. It went beautifully -- by the end of the weekend she was fully trained and wearing her new underwear day, night, and on the go, and very proud. She still says "potty" every time she sees Reese's Pieces, though! I haven't read all these titles, but here are some books on the subject:

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