Required Reading

Sometimes it seems there are as many experts on raising babies as there are babies to be raised—and the advice can be contradictory. We look at four of the most popular books and compare their philosophies to provide a road map when you enter your local library or bookstore.

Book Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems by Richard Ferber On Becoming Babywise: Giving Your Infant the Gift of Nighttime Sleep by Gary Ezzo and Dr. Robert Bucknam Secrets of the Baby Whisperer: How to Calm, Connect, and Communicate with Your Baby by Tracy Hogg The Baby Book by William Sears
Name of Parenting model Ferber Method, “Ferberizing,” “Cry it out”: Letting the baby cry so he learns to soothe himself to sleep without parent intervention. “Parent Directed”: creating a time-based schedule for feedings so parents and baby know what to expect. “E.A.S.Y.” (eat, activity, sleep, your time): creating a routine of daily activities for parent and baby. “Attachment Parenting”: the idea that a baby should be able to rely on her parent at all times.
The Basics Discusses a range of options for “baby training” children to soothe themselves using a variety of techniques. Advocates a relatively strict schedule of feed/play/sleep cycles. Talk more about when and how often to feed baby rather than how to get him to sleep. Promotes building a flexible routine and includes quizzes and suggestions for different personalities. Focuses on reading your baby’s cries, gestures and facial expressions. A “gentle” approach to parenting that stresses bonding with baby by responding to her cues, breast feeding, “wearing” baby in a carrier and co-sleeping.
Sleepy Time Outlines a series of practices to “train” your baby to sleep, including leaving the child in bed and then returning to comfort her at ever-greater intervals of time. (Cry it out.) The authors assert, when baby is on a good schedule, sleep comes naturally. Tries to find a compromise between the Ferber method and the co-sleeping method. Supports co-sleeping, wherein babies sleep with parents in the same bed or within arm’s reach until the child asks for her own bed.
Feeding Not a major topic. Not a fan of “feeding on demand,” the authors advocate trying to maintain scheduled feedings for the benefit of mom and baby. Advocates feeding as a part of a flexible routine, with a compromise between scheduled feedings and on-demand feeding. Firmly advocates breast feeding above formula and advises “feeding on demand” whenever baby is hungry, rather than on a schedule.
Great Debate Some people believe it is cruel to leave a baby on his own for any period of time. Dissenters argue that scheduling feedings is cruel because it could allow a child to go hungry for several hours to the next scheduled feeding. Some don’t like Hogg’s conversational tone and find her frequent direct addresses to the reader patronizing. Critics say many of attachment parenting’s principles may result in a spoiled child who relies on parents for everything
Author’s Cred Director of Boston’s Center for Pediatric Sleep Disorders at Children’s Hospital Ezzo is the author of Growing Families International church-marketed infant care curriculum; Bucknam is a pediatrician. Neonatal nurse, lactation consultant and teacher. Pediatrician, author of more than 30 parenting books and frequent guest on talk shows and guest author in magazines; coined the term attachment parenting.
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