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The Sears Baby Book
Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby from Birth to Age Two
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Revised and expanded: America's bestselling "baby bible" –– an encyclopedic guide to the first two years of your baby's life.The million-copy bestseller by “the man who remade motherhood” (TIME) has now been revised, expanded, and bought thoroughly up-to-date — with the latest information on prenatal vitamins, breastfeeding practices, daycare, midwifery, hospital births, preventing and overcoming postpartum depression, and infant development.
The Searses draw from their vast experience both as medical professionals and parents to provide comprehensive information on virtually every aspect of infant care. The Sears Baby Book focuses on the essential needs of babies — eating, sleeping, development, health, and comfort — as it addresses the questions of greatest concern to today's parents. The topics covered include:
- Preparing for a safe and healthy birth
- Bonding with your baby
- Feeding your baby
- Soothing your fussy baby
- Getting your baby to sleep
- Understanding your baby’s development
- Treating common illnesses
- Babyproofing your home
- Understanding toddler behavior
- Dealing with temper tantrums
- Toilet training
- Working parenting
- First-aid procedures
- and much more
Unrivaled in its scope and authority, The Sears Baby Book presents a practical, contemporary approach to parenting that reflects the way we live today. This is a rich and invaluable resource offering the basic guidance and inspiration you need to get the most out of parenting — for your child, yourself, and for your entire family.
Welcoming Words from Dr. Bill, Martha, Dr. Bob, and Dr. Jim
We have not only written this book — we have lived it. The Sears Baby Book was written on the job: Bill and Martha’s fifty-five years of parenting their eight children, grandparenting eleven, and now great-grandparenting two babies. Add to that Dr. Bob’s and Dr. Jim’s experience parenting their own children and we have truly been there, done that, and now we write about it.
We write what we learned in our pediatric practice. Besides our own parenting experiences, we have collectively a hundred years of pediatric practice experience — Dr. Bill’s fifty years, and Dr. Bob’s and Dr. Jim’s twenty-five years each. As we all learned to become keen baby and parent watchers, we kept track of what most parents did to help their children turn out well. Each day, in our office, we gleaned from successful parents practical advice on baby care. You will find these tips scattered throughout the book.
The Sears Baby Book is a timely new edition. Caring parents, wishing to do the best for their baby, are vulnerable to information overload and unresearched advice. But, children are too valuable and parents too vulnerable for any author to offer unresearched information. We take responsibility for our teachings seriously. Every statement has been thoroughly researched and has stood the test of time.
The Sears Baby Book fits baby brains. In the last twenty years, new technology has given neuroscientists windows into baby-brain development, and — take a deep breath — mommy-brain development. Baby’s brain grows the fastest in the first two years. So, it makes sense — and is supported by science — that the parenting styles you give your baby during this cerebral window of opportunity can last a lifetime toward building a happier, healthier, and smarter child.
Personalize your parenting styles for your baby. We give you starter tools. You then reframe these tools to fit the unique needs of your baby and make allowances for your own busy lifestyles. We, too, juggle the spontaneous needs of our children and the duties of our professional lives. You may not be able to use all of our suggested tools all of the time. Choose what best fits you and your baby and then enjoy the satisfaction that you did the best you could in the circumstances you had.
In our book, we present basic tools to help you become a sensitive nurturer as you arrive at a parenting approach that meets the needs of your baby and fits with your lifestyle. We advise a high-touch style of parenting to balance the high-tech life of the new millennium. In The Sears Baby Book, you will find a way of caring that brings out the best in you and your baby.
Since its first edition in 1993, The Sears Baby Book has been dubbed the “baby bible” for millions of parents. We are so pleased that our advice has made baby care more enjoyable for new parents throughout the world. In this new edition, we add many new topics based on reader feedback and include updates that have occurred over the past ten years in the fields of parenting and pediatrics.
The thousands of thank-you notes, thousands of Facebook fans, thousands of Twitter followers, and millions of website users have given us a “helper’s high”— that priceless feeling that, because of this book, many children and parents are happier, healthier, and more connected. It gives us great joy to know that through our family advice in this book we have become in some small way part of your family.
Bill, Bob, Jim, and Martha Sears
Dana Point, California
Getting Started: Baby-Care Basics
There is really no such thing as one best way to parent a baby, just as there are no perfect babies and, would you believe, no perfect parents — only people who have studied babies and people who have more experience than you. Being a parent requires on-the-job training. Too much advice from “experts” can actually interfere with the beginning parents’ intuition and block their ability to learn as they grow. We are going to show you how to become your own baby experts. Our goal for this book is to help you and your baby fit. This tiny word economically describes what parenting is all about.
Let’s get started!
Getting Attached: What It Means
Parenting, in a nutshell, is giving your children the tools to succeed in life.
Every other baby book is missing a chapter that would be entitled “Parenting Your Baby.” Now, together with you, the expectant couple or new parents, we are going to construct this chapter.
From our mutual experience as parents and pediatricians, and Martha’s as a nurse, we believe that the best way to achieve the proper fit between parents and child is to practice a parenting style we call attachment parenting. This style is a way of caring that brings out the best in parents and their babies. Attachment parenting has been around as long as there have been mothers and babies. It is, in fact, only recently that this style of parenting has needed a name at all, for it is basically the commonsense parenting we all would do if left to our own healthy resources.
PARENTING YOUR BABY
Fifty years ago, when I began pediatric practice,1 I had already trained in the two top pediatric hospitals in the world, and I thought I knew everything about babies. In fact, our friends used to tell Martha how fortunate she was to be married to a pediatrician, to which she would reply, “He only knows about sick babies.” My first week in practice was really a shock. Mothers kept asking me all sorts of nonmedical questions: “Should I let my baby cry?” “Are we going to spoil her if we pick her up too much?” “Is it all right to sleep with our baby?” I didn’t know the answers to any of these questions, but parents were relying on me to be the expert. These were not medical questions, but questions about parenting style. I knew what we did with our own two babies, but I didn’t think this made me an expert. So I read baby books, just as you are doing now. The books were confusing. They seemed to be based on the authors’ opinions rather than on actual research. Most authors either lacked common sense, refused to take a stand, or preached only what was popular at the time — whether or not it worked.
I decided to consult the true experts — experienced parents in my practice who appeared to have a handle on parenting: parents who seemed to be in harmony with their children, who were able to read their babies’ cues, and who responded intuitively and appropriately; parents who enjoyed parenting and whose children seemed to be turning out well. These parents and their children became my teachers, and I became an astute listener and a keen baby watcher, keeping careful notes about which parenting styles they practiced. I accumulated a “what works” list. Martha worked with me in those early years (until our fourth child, Hayden, came along), and she is still active as a parenting adviser and breastfeeding consultant. My practice was our field research, and we had our own growing “laboratory” at home.
After many years of listening and learning and eight children of our own, we began to draw some conclusions about parenting. From an array of parenting styles we selected what worked for most parents most of the time. We taught these concepts to the parents in my practice and have used them in parenting our own children. Over the years, Martha and I have modified our approach to fit our changing lifestyle and to meet the individual needs of our children (and we’re still learning). In this short chapter you are hearing the essence of what took us fifty years of practicing pediatrics, parenting eight children, and counseling thousands of parents to learn.
Don’t expect to learn everything at once. Parenting is a learn-as-you-go profession. It takes hands-on experience. Our suggestions are just starter tips. From these basics you will grow and develop your own style, one that best fits your baby’s temperament and your personality. Also, there is no way you can completely decide on a parenting style before you have a baby. You have no idea what a baby will do to you and how drastically a baby will change your outlook. Determining how much to hold your baby, what you will do when your baby wakes up at 3:00 A.M., and how long you will breastfeed requires on-the-job training. Reserve these decisions until you see what your baby is like. But there are some parenting-style ideas to consider before the job begins.
Before we plunge into Parenting 101, let’s make a deal. A few of the ideas we will share with you may initially sound different from advice you have heard elsewhere. But please do not close your mind. Enter your parenting career with an open mind, or you may set yourselves up for a lot of frustration. The easy baby you are expecting may not be the baby you get. Stay open to new ideas, and then select what best fits your family. In return, be assured that everything we discuss has been well researched and well practiced.
THE SEVEN BABY B’S OF ATTACHMENT PARENTING
There are three goals that we see as important for beginning parents:
• to know your child
• to help your child feel right
• to enjoy parenting
The style of parenting we discuss helps you achieve these goals. Here are the seven concepts that make up attachment parenting.
1. Birth Bonding — Connect with Your Baby Early
The way baby and parents get started with one another often sets the tone of how this early attachment unfolds. Take an active role in orchestrating the birth you want. Take responsibility for your birth, educate yourself, and work out a birthing philosophy with your obstetrician or birth attendant. A traumatic birth or a surgical birth resulting in the separation of mother and baby is not the ideal way to begin parenting. In this case, part of the energy that would be directed toward getting to know your baby is temporarily diverted toward healing yourself. Feeling good about your baby’s birth carries over into feeling good about your baby. (Read Chapter 2, “Ten Tips for Having a Safe and Satisfying Birth,” to understand the connection between birthing and bonding and how to lower your chances of having a difficult, traumatic birth or even an unnecessary surgical birth. Also see here for tips on catch-up attachment, in case a medical complication does result in temporary mother-baby separation.
Cheek to breast sums up where babies love to be. The early weeks and months are a sensitive period when mother and baby need to be together. Early closeness allows the natural attachment-promoting behaviors of a baby and the intuitive, biological caregiving of a mother to unfold. Early closeness gets the pair off to the right start at a time when the baby is most needy and the mother is most eager to nurture. Of course, the process of falling in love with your baby, feeling attached or bonded, begins long before the day of birth and continues long afterward. (For practical suggestions on birth bonding and getting attached with your baby in the postpartum period, see Chapter 4, “Getting the Right Start with Your Newborn,” and Chapter 5, “Postpartum Family Adjustments.”)
2. Belief in Your Baby’s Cries — Read and Respond to Your Baby’s Cues
One of your earliest challenges is to figure out what your baby wants and needs from moment to moment. This can be very frustrating and lead to “I’m not a good parent” attacks.
Relax! Your baby will help you learn to be a good cue reader. Researchers used to believe that babies were only passive players in the caretaking game. Now we know that babies actively shape their parents’ responses. Here’s how: Babies come wired with attachment-promoting behaviors (APBs), magnetlike behaviors so irresistible they draw the parent to the baby, in language so penetrating it must be heard. Some APBs are hard to miss — for example, your baby’s cries, smiles, and clinging gestures; others are subtle cues, like eye contact and body language. All parents, especially mothers, have a built-in intuitive system with which they listen and respond to the cues of their baby. Like a transmitter-receiver network, mother and baby, through practice, fine-tune their communication until the reception is clear. How quickly this communication network develops varies among mother-baby pairs. Some babies give clearer cues; some parents are more intuitive cue readers. But good connections will happen. They will happen more easily if you remember to be open and responsive. Even an occasional “incorrect” response (for example, offering to feed a baby who wants only to be held) is better than no response, because it encourages your baby to keep working with you.
Pick up your baby when he cries. As simple as this sounds, there are many parents who have been told to let their babies cry it out, for the reason that they must not reward “bad” behavior. But newborns don’t misbehave; they just communicate the only way nature allows them to. Imagine how you would feel if you were completely uncoordinated — unable to do anything for yourself — and your cries for help went unheeded. A baby whose cries are not answered does not become a “good” baby (though he may become quiet); he does become a discouraged baby. He learns the one thing you don’t want him to: that he can’t communicate or trust his needs will be met.
It’s easy for someone else to advise you to let your baby cry. Unless he or she is a very sensitive person, nothing happens to his or her body chemistry when your baby cries. Let’s get a bit technical for a minute. Your baby’s cry will bother you; it’s supposed to. This is especially true for mothers. If we were to put a mother and baby together in a laboratory and attach blood-flow-measuring instruments to the mother, here’s what would happen: When the mother heard her baby cry, the blood flow to the area of her brain that controls nurturing behavior would increase, as would blood flow to her breasts. This would result in an overwhelming urge to pick up and comfort her baby. Your baby’s cry is powerful language designed for the survival and development of the baby and the responsiveness of the parents. Respond to it. (See here and here for more detailed information about the crying-communication network.)
As a new parent, you may be concerned that being too responsive will spoil your baby and keep him from learning self-soothing techniques. We believe that research has shown the opposite to be true. Meeting your baby’s needs in the early months means solid communication patterns will develop. With time you can gradually delay your response and gradually your baby will learn to accept waiting a little bit as she learns noncrying language and develops self-help mechanisms. If nothing else, consider responding to your baby’s needs an investment in the future; you’ll be glad for good communication when she gets older and her problems are bigger than being fed or getting off to sleep.
Throughout this book, we ask you to consider our advice but to develop your own intuitive style of parenting. When your intuition doesn’t jive with our written words, who is right? You guessed it — you are. We believe attachment parenting helps you know your baby better than anyone else ever will, especially us. You will discover what level of responsiveness to your baby’s cries fits you and your baby best because this process focuses on you, your baby, your intuition, and your baby’s unique personality and needs. You will both discover together how to bring out the best in each other.
3. Breastfeed Your Baby
Fathers often say, “We’re going to breastfeed.” Breastfeeding is indeed a family affair. The most successful breastfeeding mothers and babies we have seen are those that have a supportive husband and father. The benefits of breastfeeding in enhancing baby’s health and development are enormous, but what is not fully appreciated are the magnificent effects of breastfeeding on the mother. Here’s what’s in it for you: Every time your baby feeds, hormones (prolactin and oxytocin) enter your system. These “mothering hormones” help form the chemical basis for what is called mother’s intuition. As you will learn in greater detail in later chapters, the same hormones that help make milk make mothering easier. And, as you will learn in Chapter 8, new studies show that breastfed babies turn out to be smarter children. For families who do not achieve breastfeeding success for medical reasons, we offer numerous tips and alternatives for you and your baby.
4. Babywearing — Carry Your Baby a Lot
This is the most exciting parenting concept to hit the Western world in years. As we were doing our parenting-style research, we attended an international parenting conference where we noticed that mothers in other cultures wear their babies in sling or wrap-like carriers as part of their native dress. Impressed by how content the babies were and how attentive their mothers were, we asked these mothers why they carried their babies. They volunteered two simple but profound reasons: It’s good for the baby, and it makes life easier for the mother. That’s it! That’s what all parents want: to do something good for their babies and make life easier for themselves.
A baby carrier will be one of your most indispensable infant-care items. You won’t want to leave home without it. This is not to say you must carry your baby all the time, but it may mean changing your mind-set wabout babies. Most people imagine babies lying quietly in their cribs, gazing at dangling mobiles and being picked up only long enough to be fed, changed, played with briefly, and then put down again “where they belong”; that holding periods are just dutiful intervals to calm and cuddle babies so they can be put down again. Attachment parenting challenges this view.
Good things happen to carried babies and their parents. Most noticeably, carried babies cry less, as if they forget to fuss. Besides being happier, carried babies develop better, possibly because the energy they would have wasted on crying is diverted into growth. Also, a baby learns much in the arms of a busy parent. Babywearing benefits you because it fits in nicely with busy lifestyles. It allows you to take your baby with you wherever you go. You don’t have to feel house-bound; home to your baby is where you are. Of course, baby won’t spend every moment wrapped in your arms; some down time is good too. Using a sling or wrap simply adds one more variation to how you and baby spend each day. (For your personal course on babywearing and how it does good things for babies and makes life easier for parents, see Chapter 14, “Babywearing: The Art and Science of Carrying Your Baby.”)
5. Bedding Close to Baby
Very early in your parenting career you will learn that the only babies who always sleep through the night are in books or belong to other people. Be prepared for some nighttime juggling until you find where baby and you sleep best. Some babies sleep best in their own bedside co-sleeper, some sleep best snuggled right next to mother, and some babies sleep well in a cradle or crib. Wherever you and your baby sleep best is the right arrangement for you, and it’s a very personal decision. Be open to trying various sleeping arrangements, including welcoming your baby into your bed — a nighttime parenting style we call sharing sleep.
Sharing sleep seems to evoke more controversy than any other feature of attachment parenting, and we don’t understand why. We are amazed that such a beautiful custom, so natural for ages, is suddenly “wrong” for modern society. Most babies the world over sleep with their parents. Even in our own culture more and more parents enjoy this sleeping arrangement — they just don’t tell their doctors or their relatives about it. Try this experiment: Next time you’re around a lot of new parents, mention one-on-one that you are considering sleeping with your baby. You’ll be surprised how many of these people are doing just that, at least some of the time. Don’t worry about your child never leaving your bed. He will. For the baby who needs nighttime closeness, the time in your bed is relatively short — and the benefits last a lifetime.
We do realize, however, that sharing sleep this way isn’t for everyone. Attachment parenting is flexible, and every family chooses what level of each of the seven Baby B’s to follow. We have many attached parents in our practice (and in our own families) who sometimes enjoy their own bed to themselves. (For a detailed explanation of how sleeping with your baby makes nighttime parenting easier and enhances the development of your baby, as well as the latest research on this controversial topic, see Chapter 15, “Nighttime Parenting: How to Get Your Baby to Sleep.”)
Dr. Bob notes: My wife and I intended to have our first baby sleep next to our bed in his own cradle. My wife wasn’t yet sold on the whole idea of bed sharing. But after the fifth waking during that first night at home together, I asked her, “Why don’t you just keep the baby next to you? Maybe he’ll stay asleep.” She did, and he did. And so did I. We grew to love having him there next to us; we all slept so well that we wouldn’t have had it any other way.
6. Balance and Boundaries
In your zeal to give your baby everything she needs it’s tempting to try to give baby everything she wants. This can result in mother and father burnout. Since a new baby in your home can absolutely turn previously predictable schedules and couple time upside down, it’s easy to neglect your own needs and those of your marriage while meeting the needs of your baby. Throughout this book we will show you how to be appropriately responsive to your baby, which means knowing when to say yes and when to say no, and also having the wisdom to say yes to your own needs. When mom and dad are doing well, baby will also do well. One day Martha, in exasperation, said to me, “I don’t have time to take a shower, my baby needs me so much!” I lovingly reminded her, “What our baby needs is a happy, rested mother.” Remember, while attachment parenting is not the easiest style of parenting, if practiced properly it can be the most joyful one.
7. Be Wise About Babytraining
- On Sale
- Dec 6, 2022
- Page Count
- 784 pages
- Little, Brown and Company