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BABY'S 1ST YEAR

What Do the Experts Have to Say?

October 05, 1998|BARBARA THOMAS

The best advice any doctor ever gave for a baby's first year is to choose your advice and advisors. Spend a few hours in the massive child-care section of a bookstore and find an expert who agrees with you on most subjects.

Raising a child is as individual as making a marriage. No single advice will work for everyone. To that end, we've culled advice from four popular baby experts and the venerable Dr. Benjamin Spock to see just how the experts agreed and differed on basic child-rearing topics. Many of their books are available in other languages, and many of these authors have produced informational videos. Two other expert-authors worth noting are Fred Rogers (yes, Mr. Rogers himself) and Burton White.

T. Berry Brazelton

A researcher at Children's researcher at Children's Hospital in Boston and Harvard Medical School, longtime pediatrician and TV celebrity, Brazelton writes in a mesmerizing, comforting way that shows all sides of an issue...so don't go looking for definite answers. Bestseller is "Touchpoints: Your Child's Emotional and Behavioral Development" (Addison-Wesley, 1992).

Feeding on Demand: Baby needs to set the schedule starting out, but baby and family can work toward an acceptable schedule as the child is able to eat at less frequent intervals.

Bed: New parents considering this must realize sharing a bed may last for many years. Must be both parents' decision and should not be because of parental loneliness or similar issues.

Sleep: A baby's sleep patterns differ from an adult's. Learn and respect it, but baby "is more likely to adjust to parents' environment if they expect her to." Sleep is discussed at every age, including how to develop warm, comforting rituals of going to bed.

Discipline: The basis for disciplinary decisions should be the child's need to learn limits. The goal is to teach self-discipline and respect for other people's rights.

Day Care: Expressing your own feelings about separations from child will allow them to diffuse. "Touchpoints" gives steps on how to make it easier to separate and reunite every day as well as advice on how to find and maintain child care.

William Sears

On staff at USC Medical School, a 20-year pediatrician and father of eight, Sears writes with wife and registered nurse Martha. Advocates lots of touching as an antidote to high-tech, stressful society. "The Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby--From Birth to Age Two" with Martha Sears, (Little, Brown & Co., 1993).

Feeding on Demand: Mother and child will negotiate a feeding pattern. Listen to your baby's cue.

Bed: Sharing bed helps connect parents and baby as long as both parents agree to it. A good way for working parents to bond with child. Has chapter on "weaning" baby from family bed.

Sleep: "Babies need to be parented to sleep, not just put to sleep." Letting a baby "cry it out" hurts baby and parents. A baby who is forced into becoming a self-soother loses out on necessary intimacy.

Discipline: Goals should be consistent boundaries and keeping child out of danger. Discipline really begins at birth with attachment and evolves with relationship. Chapter on "Bothersome but Normal Toddler Behaviors" addresses gamut of problems.

Day Care: The issue, again, is attachment. Chapter on working and parenting reflects the conflicting feelings of the authors and many working parents. Good tips on staying connected with your baby and finding a caretaker to whom your baby can attach.

Penelope Leach

Children first, says the English psychologist. Parent and baby have the same goal--a happy child. Her pet peeve is a society that refuses to take "the business of loving [children], of minding about them, seriously." Her books, notably "Your Baby & Child: From Birth to Age Five" (Dorling Kindersley, 1989), are encyclopedic in both developmental and medical information.

Feeding on Demand: Dictating a schedule will only make mother and baby miserable. Feed the baby as soon as you know the baby is hungry.

Bed: No one can make this choice for you. Leach presents positives to sharing your bed with baby and not. She warns, however, that once a decision has been made, it should be maintained consistently.

Sleep: Around 6 to 9 months it is vital for baby to know how to fall asleep alone. Chapter on sleep offers tips on comfort habits and making bedtime an affectionate, happy time.

Discipline: Self-discipline is the goal, and that takes time. "Show," don't tell or force, a child how to behave. The first rule is "Do as you would be done by."

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