The Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know Right at the Beginning

Cover of The Baby Book, four naked babies of different skin and hair colours, sitting in a row facing away from the camera

The Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know From Birth to Age Two by Martha and Dr Sears

One of my favourite parenting books for new parents is The Baby Book by Martha and Dr William Sears. It’s my standard gift for new parents to be, because it not only covers “Everything you need to know from birth to age two” it does it with a lovely philosophy that is kind to babies, mothers and fathers; and, because it has an excellent section at the beginning about the first few days and weeks and how to encourage bonding for mothers and fathers. It talks about how fathers can support mothers, especially in those first weeks, but also about what mothers can do to support fathers.

One of my favourite pieces of advice for the new parents-to-be is to do the learning together. Basically, if the mum does all the learning (while the Dad is off at work, say, or even at home but busy cleaning and cooking and generally being support staff), and then instructs the Dad in what to do – from what clothes to put on the baby to what to pack in the baby bag to go out to when to change the nappy – then the Dad doesn’t learn to take care of his own baby as an equal partner.

Look, I know in most families only one parent is going to be home with the baby, and mostly that’s going to be the mum. But if the Dad can at least be there for the first few weeks, so the new parents can learn about caring for their baby together, in my experience and observation, it sets up a much better pattern for the future.

The Sears’ are also the original proponents of attachment parenting. So The Baby Book has the attachment parenting philosophy seeped through it’s pages, as well as a section early on about what attachment parenting is.

The book is divided into five sections:

  1. Getting Started: Baby-Care Basics (which includes a whole chapter on birth as well as everything else you need to know in those first few weeks).
  2. Infant Feeding and Nutrition (which includes information on both breast and bottle feeding, as well as chapters on introducing solids and feeding toddlers)
  3. Contemporary Parenting (which covers baby wearing, how to get your baby to sleep, working and parenting, fussy or colicky babies and special situations)
  4. Infant Development and Behaviour (which includes sections on the first six months, month by month, the next 12 months in three month blocks and then 18-24 months in one section; plus chapters on ‘bothersome but normal toddler behaviours’ and ‘toilet training’)
  5. Keeping Your Baby Safe and Healthy (which includes a section on standard childhood illnesses and their symptoms which I still refer back to for my primary school children; plus a lot of information about when to call the doctor and what you can safely manage at home. Also baby proofing the house and first aid for common emergencies.)

I consider The Baby Book to be one of the best parenting books around, for the parents of babies and young children. In fact, if you were grab only one parenting book for your book bag, I’d say this should be it. (On the other hand, wait till they get to school and you might find you need some more advice!)