Here are some of my favorite baby books & gear — based on infant development:
My Top 10 Parenting Books for New Parents/Parents of Babies
Learning a little more about infant development can be very supportive for parents. Many of us haven’t hung around babies so we don’t have a lot of experience to guide us. Our own child might be our first time with a baby. These books can help. I’ve included links to bookshop.org (where available) so you can find them at your local bookseller.
1. Your Self-Confident Baby by Magda Gerber & Allison Johnson
2. You Are Your Child’s First Teacher by Rahima Baldwin Dancy
3. Dear Parent: Caring for Infant With Respect by Magda Gerber
4. Natural Childhood by John Thomson
5. Between Parent and Child by Haim Ginott
6.Baby Moves by Marianne Hermsen-Van Wonrooy
7.Heaven on Earth: A Handbook for Parents of Young Children by Sharifa Oppenheimer
8. The Blessing of a Skinned Knee by Wendy Mogul
9. How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlisch
10.Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting by Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn
Other great books about RIE:
Respecting Babies: A New Look at Magda Gerber’s RIE Approach by Ruth Anne Hammond
Baby Knows Best by Deborah Solomon
The Gesell Child Development Center helps you understand what you can expect at different ages:
Your 1-Year-Old by Louise Bates Ames, PhD & Frances Ilg
Your Two-Year-Old: Terrible or Tender by Louise Bates Ames, PhD & Frances Ilg
Your Three-Year-Old: Friend or Enemy by Louise Bates Ames, PhD & Frances Ilg
Some books about the Waldorf approach to early childhood:
The Genius of Natural Childhood by Sally Goddard Blythe
Other great books that provide new perspectives:
The Emotional Life of the Toddler by Alicia Lieberman
The Philosophical Baby by Allison Gopnik
Beginning Well by Pia Dogl, Else Maria Rischke & Ute Strub
The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness by Edward Hallowell, MD
Last Child in the Woods by Robert Louve
Nurture Shock by Po Bronson & Ashley Merrymam
www.rie.org is the Resource for Infant Educarers (RIE®) official web site — visit it to learn more about Magda Gerber’s Educaring® approach, professional training and conference schedules as well as RIE books and videos.
Baby Gear: The Few Things Infants Need
Baby gear has become a $24 billion a year market in the US. But experts in infant development know that the way to optimize baby’s growth isn’t through stuff, but relationships.
When you understand what infants need to develop in a healthy way, you realize you don’t need a lot of gear. In RIE, we are proponents of a “less is more” philosophy. Start small, you can always add something later. Babies aren’t materialistic. And science is now showing us many of our problems are solved not by adding something, but by taking something away, making it simpler. Here are some thoughts about what gear you might consider and what you can pass on for now.
Lambie or Blanket for On the Floor
The best place for a baby when not in your arms is on the floor with you looking on. It seemed odd to me to put my baby on the floor, but it is where they benefit the most — they can move, work out their reflexes, even out their body and build muscle. Get an organic lambskin or a nice blanket for your baby to lay on the floor near you and let them discover their capabilities in freedom.
Infants need to be on their backs so that they can build their core muscles, find their hands and begin to play with them. What’s more, they also need to face mommy or daddy and be protected from overstimulation. So an old-fashioned, lay-down pram (like Mary Poppins might have pushed with the twins John and Barbara) is the right stroller for your baby. If they are awake while you are out strolling, they can look at your adoring face — the most important visual stimulation they need in the first six months when they are learning to read faces. Stay away from the other kinds of strollers until they can sit up on their own. When they do sit up, you should still have them face you. Nothing is more interesting or important to them!
Playpens and Playards
Once your baby starts moving, you need someplace safe for them to explore. These old-fashioned playpens, now apparently called “playards” to make us feel better — are actually a great, SAFE space to place your infant while you take a shower or do whatever it is that you need to do for a few moments. We don’t want to leave children for extended periods in these things, but they can give you that moment you need.
Wearing your baby on occasion feels good for both of you. If you are going to use a baby carrier, just be sure to read this article about how to use it in a way that respects your baby’s body development. Also, please note that again it’s important to make sure your baby isn’t getting overstimulated by facing out prematurely. If you love wearing your baby, and of course, you do, just remember to give them enough time on the floor on their back so they can work their core and move as nature has designed them to do.
Baby Gear: Products Baby Doesn’t Need
Ugh — it still makes me cringe when I think how my first child spent time in this kind of chair until I learned about RIE. No wonder she didn’t walk until she was 17 months old! These chairs are entirely effective at immobilizing your baby. It’s nigh impossible to move your arms freely, turn, kick your legs without hurting your heels, or build any of the muscles a baby should be building in the first 6 months. Equally important, they deny baby the time in our arms that is so important in those first few months.
Electric Baby Cradles/Sleep Systems
All babies need to be put to sleep on their backs in a firm, flat surface with no pillows, blankets, etc in their crib or bassinet or sleep space. This is the key to preventing SIDS, and to helping babies learn how to fall asleep on their own — an important skill that all of us need for life. Babies are designed to fall asleep this way and it takes several months for babies to learn to roll over onto their stomach. Strapping babies in limits their ability to move and device-based rocking and white sound create needs that a parent will simply have to deal with later. These devices are an unnecessary expense.
Activity Gyms/Baby props
These things look so cute, but the reality is they create a lot of frustration for infants. While it does encourage us parents to put our children on the floor on their backs (yeah!), what’s that thing dangling right in front of my face that I don’t yet have the strength to get out of there?! What’s more, children don’t learn to move by reaching upward. They need to be on the floor, with things out to the sides that will eventually get them to want to roll over and begin to move across the floor.
This “tummy time pillow” is even worse. It is baby propping, not allowing them to actually work on those muscles that they build when they do tummy time. What’s more, I see future back problems when I look at how the infants back is over-arching.
These sometimes dangerous contraptions don’t do anything to help your infant develop. I get is — they allow us to take a shower, or do whatever it is we need to do — but it’ much better for baby to lay or play freely in a playpen the be strapped into something that doesn’t let them move and build their body and mind.
Baby Einstein/iPads/Screens/Media of any sort
Babies are designed to learn from human beings and the real world. They need to move and explore and build their bodies, and they need to learn to read your face and see that they can influence the world (that’s you) through their own initiative — smiles, screams, and eventually words! Their senses are built for nature and for homelife. These subtle environments allow them to fully integrate their senses in a healthy way — something teachers report is increasingly lacking in today’s children. Screens are an impediment to your child’s development. If you need to have a moment to yourself (and who doesn’t?) you’ll be much happier later on if you’ve taught them to entertain themselves. Exceptions made for skyping with grandparents, mom or dad.