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Dr. Spock's Baby And Child Care

Dr. Spock's Baby And Child Care

3.6 17
by Benjamin, M.D. Spock, Steven J. Parker, Sharon Scotland (Illustrator)

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Generations of parents have relied on Dr. Spock's timeless bestseller. It remains the source book, the most authoritative and reliable guide available. Collaborating with Dr. Steven J. Parker, Dr. Spock has now updated and expanded this reference to meet the changes and challenges of the next century. Organized for fast and easy reference, and including entirely


Generations of parents have relied on Dr. Spock's timeless bestseller. It remains the source book, the most authoritative and reliable guide available. Collaborating with Dr. Steven J. Parker, Dr. Spock has now updated and expanded this reference to meet the changes and challenges of the next century. Organized for fast and easy reference, and including entirely new sections covering adolescence, this resource provides the latest advice and information on such topics as:

  • breast-feeding: the newest approaches, with proven techniques for working mothers
  • immunization schedules, vitamins and dietary recommendations
  • common medical questions and answers about whooping cough vaccine, diaper rash, infant diarrhea, scoliosis, and acne
  • working and parenting
  • talking to your child about sex, contraception, homosexuality, tobacco, alcohol and other drug abuse, AIDS
  • school and learning problems
  • children with disabilities
  • dental care for children
  • raising non-violent children
  • gay and lesbian parents
  • first aid and injury prevention-including sports and recreational safety.

All Dr. Spock's invaluable, time-tested advice is here including the most current medical practices and advances in child care, along with an all-new glossary of medical terms. More than ever before, this essential and classic work will help all parents face their many challenges and responsibilities with new confidence and joy. As Dr. Spock has always said: "Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do."

Product Details

Pocket Books
Publication date:
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5.48(w) x 8.32(h) x 1.61(d)

Read an Excerpt

Trust Yourself

1. You know more than you think you do. Soon you're going to have a baby. Maybe you have one already. You're happy and excited, but if you haven't had much experience, you wonder whether you are going to know how to do a good job. Lately you have been listening more carefully to your friends and relatives when they talk about bringing up a child. You've begun to read articles by "experts" in the magazines and newspapers. After the baby is born, the doctors and nurses will begin to give you instructions too. Sometimes it sounds like a very complicated business. You find out all the vitamins a baby needs and all the immunizations. One mother tells you she couldn't live without disposable diapers; another swears by cloth diapers. You hear that a baby is easily spoiled by being picked up too much, but also that a baby should be held as much as possible. Some say that fairy tales make children nervous, others that fairy tales are a wholesome outlet for children's fears.

Don't take too seriously all that the neighbors say. Don't be overawed by what the experts say. Don't be afraid to trust your own common sense. Bringing up your child won't be a complicated job if you take it easy, trust your own instincts, and share concerns with your friends, family, and doctor or nurse practitioner. We know for a fact that the natural loving care that kindly parents give their children is a hundred times more important than their knowing how to make a diaper fit tight or just when to introduce solid foods. Every time you pick your baby up -- even if you do it a little awkwardly at first -- every time you change her, bathe her, feed her, smile at her, she's getting the feeling that she belongs to you and that you belong to her. Nobody else in the world, no matter how skillful, can give that to her.

It may surprise you to hear that the more people have studied different methods of bringing up children, the more they have come to the conclusion that what good mothers and fathers instinctively feel like doing for their babies is usually best after all. All parents do their best job when they have a natural, easy confidence in themselves. Better to make a few mistakes from being natural than to try to do everything letter-perfect out of a feeling of worry.

2. How you learn to be a parent. Fathers and mothers don't really find out how to care for and manage children from books and lectures, though these may have value in answering specific questions and doubts. They learned the basics from the way they themselves were brought up while they were children. That's what they were always practicing when they "played house" and cared for their dolls. If a child is raised in an easygoing way, then he is likely to be the same kind of parent. Likewise, a child who is raised by strict parents is likely to become a relatively strict parent himself. We all end up at least somewhat like our parents, especially in the way we deal with our children, though most of us will want to change some aspects of how we were brought up. To some of you this is a happy prospect; others may find it an alarming thought. In any event, every parent has had the experience -- and you will too, if you haven't yet -- of, when talking to their child, hearing the voice coming from their lips to be that of their mother or father, with exactly the same tone and exactly the same words!

As you embark upon parenthood, you might think about just how your parents raised you and, with the perspective of an adult, what you now see as positive and constructive. You might also consider the ways they raised you that you absolutely don't want to repeat with your child. Having a child offers you the wonderful opportunity to think about what made you the kind of person you are today and what kind of parent you would like to be. It is just that kind of insight that will help you to understand and trust your own instincts and become a more confident parent.

You'll find that you will learn about how to be a parent gradually, through the experience of caring for your children. It's taking care of your baby, finding out that you can feed, change, bathe, and burp successfully, and that your baby responds contentedly to your ministrations that will give you confidence and feelings of familiarity and love. These are then the foundation of a solid, trusting relationship with your child. But don't expect to feel that way right off the bat.

All parents expect to influence their children, but many are surprised to find that it's a two-way street and that they learn an enormous amount about themselves and about the world from their parenting and from their children. You may find, as many others have, that being a parent becomes the most important step in your own growth and maturation as a person.

Parents Are Human

3. Parents have needs too. Books about child care, including this one, put so much emphasis on the child's needs -- for love, for understanding, for patience, for consistency, for firmness, for protection, for comradeship -- that parents sometimes feel physically and emotionally exhausted just from reading about what is expected of them. They get the impression that they are meant to have no needs or life of their own apart from their children. And they can't help feeling that any book that seems to be standing up for children all the time is going to be critical of parents when anything goes wrong.

To really be fair, this book should have an equal number of pages about the genuine needs of parents: their frustrations (both inside and outside the home), how tired they get, the human need to hear, at least once in a while, that they are doing a good job. There is an enormous amount of hard work that goes along with child care: preparing the proper diet, washing clothes, changing diapers, cleaning up messes, stopping fights and drying tears, listening to stories that are hard to understand, joining in games and reading books that aren't very exciting to an adult, trudging around zoos and museums, responding to pleas for help with homework, being slowed down in housework and yard work by eager helpers, going to parent-teacher association meetings on evenings when you are tired, and so on.

Additionally, children's needs always seem to come before the parents'. They account for a good part of the family budget, from the high rent or mortgage on a large enough house to the shoes that wear out or are outgrown in no time at all. Children keep parents from parties, trips, theaters, meetings, games, friends. Spontaneity is a long-lost friend and the fact that you still prefer having children, wouldn't trade places with a childless couple for anything, doesn't alter the fact that you miss your freedom.

The fact is that child rearing is a long, hard job, the rewards are not always immediately obvious, the work is often undervalued, and parents are just as human and almost as vulnerable as their children.

Of course, parents don't have children because they want to be martyrs. They have them because they love children and want to raise their very own, especially when they remember being loved so much by their own parents when they were little. Taking care of their children, seeing them grow and develop into fine people, gives most parents -- despite the hard work -- their greatest satisfaction in life. It is a creative and generative act on every level. Pride in other worldly accomplishments usually pales in comparison.

4. Needless self-sacrifice and excessive preoccupation. Many conscientious young people facing the new responsibility of parenthood feel that they are being called on to give up all their freedom and all their former pleasures, not as a matter of practicality, but almost as a matter of principle. Others just get obsessed. They forget their hobbies and interests. Even if they do occasionally sneak off, they feel too guilty to get full enjoyment. They come to bore their friends and each other. In the long run, they chafe at the imprisonment and can't help unconsciously resenting the baby.

I think that the temptation to become totally absorbed in the baby should be resisted and particular attention paid to sustaining a loving intimate relationship with your partner. After you have made all the necessary sacrifices of time and effort to your children, carve out some quality time with your partner. Remember to look at each other, smile at each other, and express the love you feel. Make an effort to find enough privacy -- and energy -- to continue your sexual relationship. Remember that a close, loving relationship between parents is the most powerful way children learn about how to be intimate with another person, a lesson that your child is likely to carry into his or her adult relationships. So one of the best things you can do for your child, as well as for yourself, is to work to let your children deepen, not inhibit, your relationship with your partner.

What Are Your Aims in Raising a Child?

5. Raising children is more and more puzzling for many parents because we've lost a lot of our old-fashioned convictions about what kind of morals, ambitions, and character we want them to have. We are uncertain and worried about what kind of world awaits them as adults. The pace of social change is almost overwhelming. We can barely keep up with the latest dangers and opportunities for our children's well-being: drugs, violence, the information superhighway...the list seems endless.

In an uncertain world, with more uncertainty to come, we do well to ask ourselves just what our goals are in raising our children. Is doing well in school our most important objective for them? Is the ability to sustain intimate human relationships more important? Do we want them to be individualistic with a competitive edge so they can succeed in a dog-eat-dog society? Or do we want them to learn to cooperate and sometimes to renounce their own desires for the good of others? If the ultimate goal of raising children is the fashioning of a fully formed adult, then just what kind of person do we want that adult to be in order to be a happy and productive member of society?

These questions cut to the heart of much of raising children. Parenting is about choices. In order to decide what's best for your child, you will always be well served to step back and think about these tough questions before making a decision. So many parents get totally caught up in the difficult day-to-day issues of how they are parenting that they lose perspective about why they are parenting in the first place. I hope that raising your children will help you to understand your own ideas about what's really important to you in life and that this insight will guide the choices you make about raising your child.

6. Other times and other countries. Parents' aspirations for their children have always been influenced by the culture and times in which they live. In the past it was almost universally assumed that humanity's main function in the world -- aside from survival -- was to serve God by carrying out His purposes, as revealed by religion. Much the same was true in America during the Colonial period. Parents back then did not have the relatively modern notion that a goal of life might be fulfillment or happiness, and children were constantly exhorted to overcome their base natures in order to grow up to be pleasing in God's eyes.

In certain countries, such as China and Israel, it has been believed that serving the country is most important. With this idea in mind, parents, religious leaders, and teachers in those countries usually agree about what virtues are to be encouraged in children: lawfulness, cooperativeness, studiousness, dedication to the specific principles of the nation. In other parts of the world, it has been assumed that children are born and raised to serve the aims of the extended family or clan, and should prepare themselves for jobs important to the family. Children must revere and defer to their elders. They may even be forced to marry a stranger chosen by their parents for the purpose of advancing the family's welfare. In a way, this simplifies child rearing for the parents because they all agree with what child rearing means. This is in contrast to America where each family has to decide for itself what its aims are, whether they are primarily materialistic or spiritual, whether religion is to play an important role or whether a certain psychological theory is the determinant.

When parents have a kind of moral certainty about the goals of raising children, they usually don't have to keep wondering and worrying about whether they are doing the right thing. It all follows from the expectations of the culture. Everybody agrees with those expectations and adheres to the same child-rearing practices. It's all crystal clear. Young parents learn about the aims and methods for rearing their children from ancient traditions and from having the extended family nearby to advise and help.

But this security is often lacking in the present day. In the United States, for example, very few children are raised to believe that their principal destiny is to serve their family, their country, or their God. Generally children are given the feeling that they can set their own aims and occupations in life, according to their inclinations. We are raising them to be rugged individualists, with success often measured in material terms. An English anthropologist said that whereas in most countries children are taught to look up to their parents as rather distinguished superior people, in the United States parents will say to their child, "If you don't do better than I've done, you're a failure."

The support from a close extended family is likewise often absent. Our ancestors left their homelands because they were impatient with old ways and had the courage to face the unknown. Ever since, their descendants have been restlessly moving from place to place in search of opportunity, often raising their children hundreds or thousands of miles away from any relatives.

For this reason, many parents have turned to professional advisers, books like this one, and psychological theories to get the help they need. The problem is that psychological concepts and advice about child rearing don't help much unless they are backed up by a sense of what's right and proper -- in other words by a firm foundation of core values.

7. We are disillusioned. In my sixty years as a pediatrician, I have witnessed marvelous changes in our society. Modern medicine can perform wonders, and children have never been healthier. Technology has provided all of us with comforts that, only a few decades ago, even the very rich couldn't have dreamed of. We are much more aware of what is happening around the world -- the global village has become a reality. And there is the promise of much more to come.

At the same time I have witnessed an increasing tendency in literature, plays, and movies to belittle the kindly and spiritual aspects of humanity and to focus on its cruder side. Manners in social life have been coarsened and long-held religious beliefs eroded. The mass media cater to children's lowest tastes. And the gap between rich and poor -- between the haves and the have-nots -- in our society has widened.

In many ways we have lost our faith in the meaning of life and our confidence to understand our world and our society. My point here is that you are raising your children in the context of very confusing and rapidly changing times at the end of the twentieth and beginning of the twenty-first century. Your goals and aspirations for your child are going to be greatly influenced by these times and the prevailing ideals and beliefs. A central core of values and beliefs -- ones that remain unshaken by tumultuous social changes -- will serve as your best compass as you chart a course for your family. I hope that, at least once in a while, after yet another hectic day, you will sit back and reflect on where you are going and whether your day-to-day interactions with your children reflect your true values and dreams for their future.

Why Feelings Are Different for Different Children

8. Everybody knows that children are born with quite different temperaments. Some by nature seem active and outgoing, others are quiet and shy. Some are easy to raise and others just plain difficult. Like it or not, you can't order the kind of child you want, you have to take what you get.

What happens if the child you've got differs from the kind of child you thought you wanted? In my experience, this can be a major source of heartache between parent and child if you aren't aware of it. Of course, parents have well-formed personalities, too, which they can't change overnight. One gentle couple might be ideally suited to raise a boy with a sensitive nature but may not be nearly so ready for an energetic, assertive boy whom they find baffling and challenging, no matter how much they love him. Another couple may handle a spunky son with ease and joy but be quite disappointed with a quiet, thoughtful one.

It doesn't really matter that the parents are intelligent people who well know that they can't order the kind of child they wanted most. Being human, they have irrational expectations and can't help feeling let down.

Additionally, as children become a little older they may remind us, consciously or unconsciously, of a brother, sister, father, or mother who made life hard for us at times. A daughter may have traits like her mother's younger sister, who used to be always in her hair, and yet the mother may have no conscious realization that this is the cause of a lot of her irritation. A father may be excessively bothered by timidity in his young son and never connect it with the fact that he himself had a terrible time overcoming his shyness as a child.

Some people call this goodness of fit -- that is, how well your expectations, goals, hopes, dreams, and aspirations for your children fit with the talents and temperament they were born with. It is this fit that will play a significant role in determining how well things go for you and your children as you go about the business of raising them.

In my experience it is goodness-of-fit issues that seem to cause the most discipline and other problems for parents. If, for example, you are chronically disappointed that your child is not a math whiz or well coordinated, and if you spend a significant amount of time trying to make him what he is not (and does not have the inborn talent to be), then I can guarantee trouble is brewing -- both for you and your child. If, on the other hand, you can learn to accept and love your child for who he really is (and not what you would like him to be) then your life together is likely to be a lot smoother.

Are Parents Meant to Love All Their Children Equally?

9. This question worries a lot of conscientious parents because they suspect that in some ways they don't. They reproach themselves because they have different feelings about each of their children. I think they are expecting the impossible of themselves.

Good parents love their children equally in the sense that they are devoted to each one, want the best for all of them, and will make any necessary sacrifices to achieve this. But since all children are quite different, no parent can feel just the same about any two of them. It's human and normal and inevitable that we should feel quite differently about each of our children, that we should be impatient with certain characteristics in some of them and proud of others.

I think that it is the acceptance and understanding of these different feelings, rather than feeling guilty about them, that will allow you to treat all of your children with the love and special attention each one needs.

The Father as Parent

10. A father's capability and responsibility. Men, especially the husbands of women with outside jobs, have been participating increasingly in all aspects of home and child care. There is no reason why fathers shouldn't be able to do these jobs as well as mothers, and contribute equally to the children's security and development. But the benefit may be lost if this work is done as a favor to the wife, since that implies that raising the child is not really the father's work but that he's merely being extraordinarily generous.

There are increasing numbers of fathers married to women with full-time out-of-home jobs, and these men assume the major share of care for the children and home while their children are small. At its best, parenting occurs in the spirit of equal partnership.

I think that a father with a full-time job, even if the mother is staying at home, will do best by his children, his wife, and himself if he takes on half or more of the management of the children (and also participates in the housework) when he is home from work and on weekends. The mother's leadership and patience will probably have worn thin by the end of the day -- as would the father's if he were alone with the children all day! On the other hand, some mothers find it difficult to allow fathers to assume control, perhaps because they are worried that if they are not the "official" family nurturer, then what exactly is their role in life? Children will profit from experiencing a variety of styles of leadership and control by both parents -- styles that neither exclude nor demean, but enrich and complement the other.

In child care, fathers can certainly give bottles, feed solid foods, change diapers (for too long fathers have gotten away with the clever ruse that they lacked the intelligence, manual dexterity, and visual-motor skills to be capable of changing a smelly diaper), select clothes, wipe away tears, blow noses, bathe, put to bed, read stories, fix toys, break up quarrels, help with questions about homework, explain rules, and assign duties. Fathers can participate in the whole gamut of domestic work: shopping, food preparation, cooking and serving, dishwashing, bed making, housecleaning, and laundry. My mother taught me these jobs beginning when I was around age seven.

When a father does his share of the work at home as a matter of course, he does much more than simply lighten his wife's work load and give her companionship. It shows that he believes this work is crucial to the welfare of the family, that it calls for judgment and skill, and that it's his responsibility as much as hers when he is at home. This is what sons and daughters need to see in action if they are to grow up with equal respect for the abilities and roles of men and women.

Pay and prestige have traditionally been men's prime values in twentieth-century America. From my point of view, this emphasis has played a major role in misleading many men into excessive competitiveness, excessive materialism, frequent neglect of relationships with wives and children, neglect of friendships, neglect of community relationships and of cultural interests, and stress-related health problems. I don't mean to deny that a sufficient income is absolutely essential -- for the two-parent family and even more important for the single-parent family. What I am concerned about is that our obsession with getting ahead at work often puts an intolerable strain on family life and makes many women as well as men view the outside job as their central responsibility in life.

I believe that both boys and girls should be raised with a deep conviction that the family is the richest and most enduring source of satisfaction in life. Then women could feel less pressure to accept men's traditional values, and men, freed from their narrow obsession with work and status, could begin to practice women's many skills and try to adopt their values. It will be a great day when fathers and mothers consider the care of their children as important to them as their jobs and careers, and when all career decisions are balanced with careful consideration of their effect on family life.

You know, I've talked to a lot of parents. As their children became adults and moved out of the home, not one mother or father has ever said to me that they regretted spending too much time with their families. But I can't tell you how many have regretted that they didn't carve out more time to spend with their families when they had the chance.

Quality Time

11. When both parents, or single parents, have outside jobs, they usually try to arrange work schedules that will give them maximum time with their young children. In two-parent families, the attention of one parent at a time can be quite satisfying to children. Preschool children can be regularly allowed to stay up late in the evenings if it is possible for them to regularly sleep late in the mornings or have a nap at day care. The exact number of hours of companionship is less important than the quality or spirit of the time spent together, and this is what's behind the expression "quality time."

From a practical point of view, "quality time" implies interactions that are close, nurturing, and lovingly responsive. Quality time can occur during driving time, mealtimes, any and all routine times together. Trips to the supermarket or department store can always be enhanced with time for talking and listening and teaching. So quality time does not imply doing anything out of the ordinary. It is the accumulated day-to-day interactions, not dramatic trips to the circus, that have the most profound effect on the child's development.

The idea of quality time in itself is fine. But I'm concerned that a few conscientious, hardworking parents take it as an obligation to be talking, playing, reading with their children, long after patience and enjoyment have run out. Parents who regularly ignore their own needs and wishes in order to provide quality time for their children may come to resent the sacrifice, and then the spirit of friendliness and responsiveness dissipates. And a child who senses that he can make his parent give him more time than the parent feels like giving is encouraged to become pesky and demanding.

I have another concern about the expression "quality time." Some parents misinterpret the phrase to mean that it really doesn't matter how much time they spend with their children, as long as the time they do spend is jam-packed with "quality." But quantity of time is also important -- time spent together in unexciting tasks with mundane interactions. Children need to simply be around their parents, watching them in action, learning from their day-to-day example, and knowing they are an important part of their lives. The trick is to find the right balance: to spend as much time as possible with your children, but not at the expense of fulfilling some of your own personal needs.

Special Time

12. I like the concept of "special time" as a way to make sure there is at least some quality time every day. Special time is a brief period -- five to fifteen minutes is usually sufficient -- that you set aside every day to spend with each child individually. What's "special" about special time is not what you actually do with your child -- you can do a puzzle, take a trip to the store, or just talk together. What's special is that it is your personal, exclusive time together, when your child gets your undivided attention. Special time shouldn't be taken away as a punishment; it's earned simply by virtue of being your child and being loved. It acknowledges the specialness of that child to you, even if you can't always spend time together in the daily hustle and bustle.

The Temptation to Spoil

13. Working parents may find that because they are starved for their child's company, and perhaps because they feel guilty about seeing her so little, they are inclined to shower her with presents and treats, bow to all her wishes regardless of their own, and generally let her get away with murder. When a child finds that her parents are appeasers, it doesn't satisfy her -- it's apt to make her greedy.

It's fine for working parents to show their child as much agreeableness and affection as comes naturally, but they should also feel free to stop when they're tired, to consider their own desires, avoid giving presents daily, spend only what money is sensible, expect reasonable politeness and consideration from their children -- in other words, act like self-confident, all-day parents. The child will not only turn out better but will enjoy their company more.

Parental Sexual Relations After Delivery

14. The process of pregnancy, labor, and delivery may interfere (for a time) with many parents' sexual relations. Near the end of pregnancy, intercourse may become uncomfortable or at least physically challenging. Following delivery there is a normal period of time of discomfort, readjustment of the body to its pre-pregnancy state, hormonal shifts, and the hard work, sleep deprivation, and fatigue of caring for a newborn. Sex may be crowded out for days, weeks, even months.

This can also be a difficult time for a man's libido. He may be tired. For some men the shift in perspective of their partner from lover to mother is difficult to reconcile with sexual feelings. All manner of deep emotional contradictions may arise. Some men, for example, have been raised with the "Madonna or whore complex." It's hard for them to reconcile that a woman could be both a mother and a lover; the feelings may seem mutually incompatible (just as some of us can't even begin to picture our parents as sexual beings, even though we are the proof incarnate of that sexuality).

If you recognize that sexual intercourse may be slow in returning, you won't be so alarmed at its temporary absence. And a cessation of sexual intercourse should not mean that you cease all sexual relations. Take time for cuddling, hugging, kissing, a romantic word, an appreciative glance, an unexpected gift of flowers.

Balancing parenthood with the other aspects of your life is one of the skills of successful parenting and successful marriage. Almost all parents get sexually back on track after a while. What makes the biggest difference is that, in the tumult of caring for a new baby, they don't lose sight of how much they love and care for each other, and that they make a conscious effort to express that love by word and by touch. Suggested activities could be reading poetry aloud to each other, going for a walk together (without the baby), exchanging warm oil massages, meditating together, having a quiet meal together, and sharing lots of hugs and kisses.

Parents as Companions

15. Children need friendly, accepting parents. Boys and girls need chances to be around their parents, to be enjoyed by them, and to do things with them. Unfortunately, working parents are apt to come home wanting most of all to relax after a long day. If they understand how valuable their friendliness is, they will feel more like making a reasonable effort to at least greet the children, answer questions, and show an interest in anything they want to share. I say reasonable because I don't think the conscientious father or mother should force himself or herself beyond his or her endurance. Better to chat for fifteen minutes enjoyably and then say, "Now I'm going to read my paper," than to spend an hour grumpily playing.

The child with only one parent, temporarily or permanently, is discussed in Sections 959-965.

The parents' part in discipline is discussed in Sections 644-662.

There's more on the parents' relations with son and daughter in Sections 426-432.

16. A boy needs a friendly father. Sometimes a father is so eager to have his son turn out perfect that it gets in the way of their having a good time together. The man who is eager for his son to become an athlete may take him out at an early age to play catch. Naturally, every throw, every catch, has its faults. If the father is constantly criticizing, even in a friendly tone, the boy becomes uncomfortable inside. It isn't any fun. Also, it gives him the feeling of being no good, in his father's eyes and in his own. A boy comes around to an interest in sports in good time if he's naturally self-confident and outgoing. Feeling approved of by his father and mother helps him more than being coached by him. A game of catch is fine if it's the son's idea and if it's for fun.

A boy doesn't grow spiritually to be a man just because he's born with a male body. The thing that makes him feel and act like a man is being able to pattern himself after men and older boys with whom he feels friendly. He can't pattern himself after a person unless he feels that this person likes him and approves of him. If a father is always impatient or irritated with him, the boy is likely to feel uncomfortable not only when he's around his father but when he's around other men.

So a father who wants to help his son grow up comfortable about being a man shouldn't jump on him when he cries, scorn him when he's playing games with girls, or force him to practice athletics. He should enjoy him when he's around, give him the feeling he's a chip off the old block, share a secret with him, take him alone on excursions sometimes.

17. A girl needs a friendly father, too. A friendly father plays a different but equally important part in the development of a girl. She only patterns herself after him to a limited degree, but she gains confidence in herself as a girl and a woman from feeling his approval. In order not to feel inferior to boys, she should believe that her father would welcome her in backyard sports, on fishing and camping trips, in attendance at ball games, whether or not she wants to accept the invitation. She gains confidence in herself from feeling his interest in her activities, achievements, opinions, and aspirations.

By learning to enjoy the qualities in her father that are particularly masculine, a girl is getting ready for her adult life in a world that is half made up of men. The way she makes friendships with boys and men later, the kind of man she eventually falls in love with, the kind of married life she makes, are all influenced strongly by the kind of relationship she has had with her father throughout her childhood and by the relationship her parents enjoy with one another.

18. Mothers as companions. Boys and girls need their mother's companionship in more ways than just the time they spend together in their daily routines. They need opportunities for special activities with her, the same way they need them with their father. These could be trips to museums, movies or sporting events, or going hiking or bicycle-riding. The point is that it shouldn't be an obligation for the mother, but something both she and the children really enjoy.

19. What about single parents? I have stressed the importance of children's relationships with both their mother and father. But what if, as is commonly the case, there is only one parent at home or, less commonly, the parents are of the same sex? Must the child's psychological well-being inevitably suffer?

The answer to this question is a resounding no. While it is true that children need both male and female role models, those role models need not live in the same house. What children need most of all is nurturing and love, a consistent presence in their lives who provides emotional support and teaches them the ways of the world. A child growing up with a single parent who can provide these necessities will be far better off than a child whose mother and father neglect his needs because of their own unhappiness. Most children from single-parent families find role models outside the home -- a special uncle or aunt, perhaps, or a close friend of the family.

We have learned that children are resilient: give them what they need and they will blossom. It is the necessities of love, consistency, and care that come first in a child's life. With those in hand, a child can do well in all sorts of different family constellations (see Sections 959-997).

Copyright 1945, 1946, © 1957, 1968, 1976, 1985, 1992 by Benjamin Spock, M.D. Copyright renewed © 1973, 1974, 1985, 1996 by Benjamin Spock, M.D. Revised and updated material copyright © by The Benjamin Spock Trust

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Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
After reading reams of infant books that advocate rigid schedules and a kind of hypervigilance that imposes upon infants their parents' uncertain fears Dr. Spock's book is a welcome relief. Rather than timetables and formulas he encourages parents to get to know their babies -- to attend to their child's movements, sounds, expressions and in so doing, he builds trust in one's own ability to care for this new life. Most books seem to advocate a kind of constant surveillance and 'make work' that may make the parent feel 'competent' but are a far cry from the loving attention babies need to develop trust. His careful advice coupled with an invitation to experiment around the basic guidelines has helped our baby get what he needs and built our confidence at the same time. Also, FINALLY, a book that does NOT promote outdated roles for men and women in child rearing and uses inclusive language when describing the baby (switching from she to he periodically so that neither sex is the norm). I wholeheartedly recommend this readable, practical and inspiring book.
Lit_Wit_Lawyer More than 1 year ago
As a new parent this book is extremely helpful! I didn't want to call the pediatrician every time I had a question about a hiccup, burp or spit up so this book has provided a wealth of information. Please remember that this does not replace the advice of a pediatrician but it does help explain a lot of things that you may not know or you might just be unsure about (which seems like everything).
Boxed_in_mom More than 1 year ago
Great book! I recently moved and all my baby books are in a box somewhere. I went looking for a paperback that I could carry around with me as I go through potty training for the first time and found this book to be a great addition to my baby library.
GeorgiegirlOR More than 1 year ago
A must for every new mother....in fact it is probably a book a woman should buy herself when she finds out she's pregnant. If not, a very good gift to give at a baby shower. It answers so many questions, instead of relying on other people and their misinformation. I think it's also good for women who have previously had children....a great book to have around just to make sure you are doing right by your little one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Having raised my two daughters with the assistance of an earlier edition of this book, when my grandson was born, I gave the revised edition as a gift to my daughter. During the first weeks after the baby was born, we constantly referred to Dr. Spock (and his co-author) for information. Almost everything you need to know when a question arises is in this book, or at least some calming and informative advice. I was even surprised that my daughter used the book so consistently. Every new mother and parent should have this within ready reach. I also like the sections that contain the "original" material.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book offers simple classic advice for those of you who want to raise children how you were raised - to play outside and be creative - not to rely on TV and video games or overscheduled days. It is not the end-all be all of child raising, but it has classic, simple explanations of child behavior and parenting advice. Great reference.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I plan on having children in the future, and reading this book and others like it has made the thought of pregnancy and the troubles that go along with it not quite so scary.. It takes you step by step on what to expect throught out the different stages of your pregnancy, and who to take care of yourself...
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Guest More than 1 year ago
With its simple and honest look at EVERY age and EVERY stage it is the only book you'll need. Buy this book and let it never leave your bedside table!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Dr. Spock was considered the baby care guru in the 1950's and many parents took his advice as the word of the Lord. I have no doubt that after years of research, and of practicing pediatrics, that he is very knowledgeable in the field of baby and childcare. However, the revised edition of his once revered book is not my first choice for obtaining information. This book covers everything under the sun, but perhaps it is too comprehensive and not detailed enough as some of the other books out there. Dr. Spock writes in a condescending tone that sounds more like he is talking to his young children, instead of adults with children seeking information. He is preachy, instead of informative, and speaks in absolutes and generalizations. Getting your baby to sleep through the night is a hot topic where everyone claims to have the solution. I believe that many of the methods have the potential to work, but Dr. Spock's suggestion is cruel and may even border on child abuse. He suggests that you let your baby cry in their crib for as long as it takes until they fall asleep, and that under no circumstances should you go in to check on them. The clincher is his advice that you should not go to your baby even if he vomits because he gets so upset. He says you can clean it up after your baby falls asleep! Maybe Dr. Spock should be claiming he has frontal lobe disorder! If you are looking for a reference book that touches a little bit on everything you can imagine, then this may be the book for you. Otherwise, I think your money is better spent elsewhere.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I will put this bluntly. This book is not going to help you raise a healthy baby. It will help you learn to ignore your babies needs though! If you want a better suggestion try Dr. Sears' books he's much more realistic, seriously!