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Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care: 9th Edition [Paperback]

Benjamin Spock M.D. , M.D. Robert Needlman M.D.
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Book Description

Jan. 24 2012
The most trusted childcare book for generations, this newly updated edition is still the most comprehensive, authoritative, and reassuring go-to reference for parents of children from birth through adolescence.

For sixty-five years, parents have relied on the expert advice of renowned pediatrician Dr. Benjamin Spock. But while children never change, issues and concerns do. While still providing reassuring advice on age-old topics such as caring for a new baby, as well as accidents, illness, and injuries, this revised edition also covers:

Cutting-edge medical opinion on immunizations
Obesity and nutrition
Cultural diversity, and non-traditional family structures
Children’s learning and brain development
The newest thinking on children with special needs
Environmental health
Increasingly common disorders such as ADHD, depression, and autism—including medications and behavioral interventions
Children and the media, including electronic games
Coping with family stress
And much, much more!

With an updated glossary of common medications, and a resource guide that compiles the most reliable online resources, this invaluable guide is still the next best thing to Dr. Spock’s #1 rule of parenting: “Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.”

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About the Author

Dr. Benjamin Spock was the most trusted and most famous pediatrician worldwide; his reassuring and commonsense advice shaped parenting practices for half a century. Please visit DrSpock.net.

Dr. Robert Needlman, a practicing pediatrician in Cleveland, Ohio, for fifteen years and the reviser of the 8th and 9th editions of Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care, has taught at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, cofounded the Reach Out and Read literacy program, and is a widely featured speaker on early learning, literacy, and developmental-behavioral pediatrics.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Section I: Your Child, Age by Age

Before Your Child Is Born

Babies Develop; Parents, Too

Fetal development. When you think of all the incredible changes that go into turning a fertilized egg into a newborn baby, how can you not feel awe? By the time most women realize they're pregnant, about five weeks after their last menstrual period, the embryo is already pretty complex. Shaped like a disk, it has an inner layer of cells that will go on to become most of the internal organs, a middle layer of cells that will form muscles and bones, and an outer layer that will become the skin and the neurons of the brain and spinal cord. By eight weeks after conception (about ten weeks after the last menstrual period), all of the major organs have begun to form and the fetus is beginning to take on a human look. But it is still only two inches long and weighs about a third of an ounce.

Four or five months into the pregnancy -- just about half way -- marks a turning point. This is the time of quickening, when you first feel your baby moving. If an ultrasound hasn't been done, those little kicks and nudges may be the first palpable proof that there really is a baby in there -- a thrilling moment!

Moving into the third trimester, after about twenty-seven weeks, the name of the game becomes growth, growth, and more growth. The baby's length doubles, the weight triples.

The brain grows even more quickly than that. At the same time, new behaviors appear. By twenty-nine weeks of gestation, a baby will startle in response to a sudden loud noise. But if the noise repeats every twenty seconds or so, the baby soon ignores it. This behavior, called habituation, is evidence of the emergence of memory.

If a pleasant sound is repeated -- say the sound of your voice reading poetry -- your unborn fetus is likely to remember this, too. After birth, babies choose to listen to their mother's voice over that of a stranger. If you have a favorite piece of music that you play over and over during the third trimester, chances are your baby will love it too, both before birth and after. Without a doubt, learning starts before birth. But that doesn't mean that you need to break out the flash cards along with the maternity clothes. Nobody has ever shown that special teaching adds anything to fetal learning. Instead, it's the natural stimuli -- the sound of your voice, and the rhythms of your body -- that are most nurturing to development.

Classic Spock

There's nothing in the world more fascinating than watching a child grow and develop. At first you think of it as just a matter of growing bigger. Then, as the infant begins to do things, you may think of it as "learning tricks." But it's really more complicated and full of meaning than that.

In some ways, the development of each child retraces the whole history of the human race, physically and spiritually, step by step. Babies start off in the womb as a single tiny cell, just the way the first living thing appeared in the ocean. Weeks later, as they lie in the warm amniotic fluid, they have gills like fish and tails like amphibians. Toward the end of the first year of life, when they learn to clamber to their feet, they're celebrating that period millions of years ago when our ancestors got up off all fours and learned to use their fingers with skill and delicacy.

Mixed feelings about pregnancy. We have an ideal about motherhood that says that every woman is overjoyed when she finds that she is going to have a baby. She spends the pregnancy dreaming happy thoughts about the baby. When it arrives, she slips into the maternal role with ease and delight. Love is instantaneous, bonding like glue.

This is all true to a degree -- more in one case, less in another. But it is also, of course, only one side of the picture. We now know what wise women have known all along -- that there are normal negative feelings connected with a pregnancy, too, especially the first one.

To some degree, the first pregnancy spells the end of carefree, irresponsible youth. Clothes that were loose become tight, and clothes that were tight become unwearable. Athletic women find that their bodies don't move as they once did, a temporary effect but very real. A woman realizes that after the baby comes there will be new limitations on her social life and other outside pleasures. The family budget has to be spread thinner, and her partner's attention (and her own) will soon be focused in a new direction.

Feelings are different in every pregnancy. After you have had one or two, the changes due to the arrival of one more child do not look so drastic. But a mother's spirit may rebel at times during any pregnancy. There may be obvious reasons why one pregnancy is more strained: perhaps it came unexpectedly soon, one of the parents is having tensions at work, there is serious illness on either side of the family, or there is disharmony between mother and father. Or there may be no apparent explanation.

A mother who really wants another child may yet be disturbed by sudden doubts about whether she will have the time, the energy, and the unlimited reserves of love that will be called for in taking care of another child. Or the inner doubts may start with the father, who feels neglected as his wife becomes more and more preoccupied with the children. In either case, one spouse's disquiet soon has the other one feeling dispirited, also. Each parent may have less to give the other as the pregnancy progresses and concerns persist.

I don't want to make these reactions sound inevitable. I only want to reassure you that they do occur in the very best of parents, that they are usually part of the normal mixed feelings during pregnancy, and that in the great majority of cases they are temporary. In some ways, it may be easier to work through these feelings early, before the baby arrives. Parents who have had no negative feelings during pregnancy may have to face them for the first time after their babies are born, at a point when their emotional reserves are fully taken up by baby care.

Father's feelings during pregnancy. A man may react to his wife's pregnancy with various feelings: protectiveness of his wife, increased joy in the marriage, pride in his virility (one thing men always worry about to some degree), anticipatory enjoyment of the child. A certain amount of worry -- "Will I be able to be a good father to this baby?" -- is very common, especially in men who remember their own childhoods as having been difficult.

There can also be, way underneath, a feeling of being left out, just as small children may feel rejected when they find their mother is pregnant. This feeling may be expressed as crankiness toward his wife, wanting to spend more evenings with his men friends, or flirtatiousness with other women. These reactions are normal, but they are no help to his partner, who craves extra support at the start of this unfamiliar stage of her life. Fathers who can talk about their feelings often find that the negative emotions (fear, jealousy) shift aside, allowing the positive ones (excitement, connection) to come forward.

The supportive father in pregnancy and birth. The expectations for fathers have changed in recent decades. In the past, a father wouldn't have dreamed of reading a book on child care. Now, it almost goes without saying that fathers take some responsibility for child rearing (although in reality, women still do most of the work). Fathers also take a more active role before the baby is born. A father may go to prenatal doctor visits and attend childbirth classes with his wife. He may be an active participant in labor and the first parent to hold the baby. If the mother is unwell or the baby has special problems, the father may be the parent most actively involved with the baby in the early hours after birth. He no longer has to be the lonely, excluded onlooker.

Love for the baby may come only gradually. Many parents who are pleased and proud to be pregnant still find it hard to feel a personal love for a baby they've never held. Love is elusive and means different things to different people. Many parents begin to feel affection when they watch the first ultrasound that shows a beating heart. For others, it's feeling the baby move for the first time that makes them realize that there is a real baby developing, and affection begins to grow. For other parents, it's not really until they are well into the care of their baby. There is no "normal" time to fall in love with your baby. You shouldn't feel guilty if your feelings of love and attachment aren't as strong as you think they should be. Love may come early. It may come late. But 999 times out of a thousand, it comes when it needs to.

Even when feelings during pregnancy are primarily positive and the expectation is all that could be desired, there may be a letdown when the baby actually arrives, especially for first-time parents. They expect to recognize the baby immediately as their own flesh and blood, to respond to the infant with an overwhelming rush of maternal and paternal feelings, and to bond like epoxy, never to feel anything but love again. But in many cases this doesn't happen on the first day or even the first week. Completely normal negative feelings often pop up. A good and loving parent may suddenly think that having a baby was a terrible mistake -- and feel instantly guilty for having felt that way! The bonding process is often a gradual one that isn't complete until parents have recovered somewhat from the physical and emotional strains of labor and delivery. How long that takes varies from parent to parent. There is no deadline.

Most of us have been taught that it's not fair to hope that the baby will be a girl or a boy, in case it turns out to be the opposite. I wouldn't take this seriously. It's hard to imagine and love a future baby without picturing it as one sex or the other; that's one of the early steps of the prenatal attachment process. Most expectant parents do have a pr...

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Most helpful customer reviews
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
I read one of the earlier editions when I had her. I was so impressed that when I saw this one I bought it right away assuming it only got better. I depended on the knowledge and advices, and I hope that my daughter would find it helpful even though she is a registered nurse.

The book is slightly thicker and prints appear smaller than my copy.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A timely necessity for any new mom. Feb. 28 2014
By Carol
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is the same book that was my bible, for my own children, which was given to me as a gift, 31 years ago. It has been revised, but the same easy to follow, easy to find, topics on everything from diaper rash, to formula. I recently purchased this for a new mom, and she too loves the wealth of practical information.
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5.0 out of 5 stars new parents May 30 2013
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a great new parent book. It is generational as well as current. This is a must in my opinion.
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  67 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Helpful After All These Years June 30 2012
By Inga - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
Doctor Spock's book has been around for ever, but it's still the best comprehensive childcare book. There's no judgement to it (unlike a lot of other books that seem to have strong opinions about breast feeding, etc) and simply gives the information new (and experienced) parents need. I definitely think every new parent should read this book, if only to remind themselves: "Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do."
24 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent tool April 27 2012
By Clinical Psychologist - Published on Amazon.com
As a psychologist I am always interested in new parenting books. But I was unprepared for the paradox of the latest Dr Spock book - an absolute page- turner with a strangely calming, soothing effect. What was this? Maybe it had always been thus. According to my father, my mother was always rushing to Dr Spock for me, her first born.

The readability stems in part from the use of well-written, plain English - no jargon and no condescending tone to parents or children. The authors come down equally on both sides, yours and your child's. And the practical and medical advice on topics such as constipation, include levels of explanation that often get skipped over, yet are essential for understanding and solutions. Similarly, any of the psychological advice stems from a thorough understanding of the developmental tasks of each age and stage, while considering the various cultural and individual nuances of different families. Nonetheless, the authors do not shy away from "do's and don'ts". For example when discussing fears: "It is not your job as a parent to banish all fears from your child's imagination. It is your job to help your child learn constructive ways to cope with those fears" (p191). Sound how-to-do-it advice follows.

This important book not only fulfills its promise that you'll trust that "you know more than you think you do", but you will have been respectfully taught a lot that you didn't.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Time-Tested and Proven Jan. 4 2013
By Bettye B. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Dr. Spock helped me raise my babies fifty years ago, and I downloaded this more recent edition for a refresher course upon the arrival of my great-grandson. Good, common-sense advice. I was a big fan fifty years ago, and still am.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars very useful Feb. 20 2013
By Shenoda Guirguis - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Our baby is only 2 weeks old now, and I read only 10% of the book.
Thus far, the book is very useful, has detailed tips for almost everything, and we were able to find answers for almost every question we had. What I like the most is that it provides the different opinions in each matter, and a simple (and persuasive) evaluation for each.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great learning Jan. 18 2013
By Jessica Fer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
Dr. Spock is an oldtime favorite. He has passed through generations an even countries. It's a must have for first time parents.
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