Understanding Babyhood


The movie by director Thomas Balmes and producer Alain Chabat is a must see film for all new and soon to be parents. The film follows the first year of life of four babies in four very different corners of the world–Namibia, Mongolia, Tokyo, and San Francisco. Using film footage only without narration and without dialogue the film conveys several powerful and important meta messages. Most people will instantly be struck by the implicit message that “we are all more alike than different, much much simply human than otherwise.” But I hope American parents will also notice that a little dirt and a little frustration never hurt anyone. Human beings have been walking the earth for a very long time and babies have survived and thrived through many different circumstances and in many different cultures.

Touchpoints: The Essential Reference by T. Berry Brazelton, M.D.

This book is, as the title implies, truly a comprehensive reference. Dr. Brazelton is an internationally renowned pediatrician and expert on child development, who also has psychoanalytic training. He is very thorough in his treatment of child development from physical, cognitive, emotional, and behavioral angles, while also offering compassionate insights into parents’ emotions at each of these stages. Perhaps because of his training, he tends to emphasize and promote mothers’ care, but this is still a classic.

Teaching baby to sleep

Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems by Richard Ferber, M.D.

Sleep deprivation can expose your last nerve like nothing else in parenting. Few of us are at our best when we are emotionally vulnerable from lack of sleep. This book is written by the leading authority on children’s sleep problems and is a practical guide for all new parents. Many people mistakenly believe that Ferber’s methods are “harsh” and spoofs of the method abound.  The Ferber method is just one method and it does involve teaching baby distress tolerance in tiny doses.  Whatever method you choose, it is important to know that teaching your child good sleep habits is one of the best gifts you can give–and one of the best protections against depression a person can have.

Taming the wild ones

1-2-3 Magic by Thomas Phelan Parenting doesn’t have to be difficult. There is a middle path that avoids both the harshness of authoritarian parenting practices and the coddling of laisez faire parenting. Dr. Thomas Phelan’s program 1-2-3 Magic is my hands down favorite. His approach is clear, practical, and effective. It’s also what the NC Department of Social Services uses for training foster parents.   If you get 1-2-3 Magic forget the book and go straight for the DVD.  The first DVD demonstrates effective strategies for stopping negative behaviors; the second 1-2-3 Magic  DVD helps parents with effective ways for encouraging positive behavior.  These strategies have helped transform countless homes.

After The Stork by Dr. Sara Rosenquist . Samantha Meltzer-Brody, MD, MPH, director of the University of North Carolina Perinatal Psychiatry Program writes: “Rosenquist has written an incredibly helpful and comprehensive handbook for couples entering into the new world of parenthood. She thoughtfully and honestly describes many of the challenges that couples encounter during pregnancy and postpartum, including postpartum depression. This book is an invaluable guide for couples willing to invest some time and energy into preparing for parenthood and the inevitable lifestyle adjustments that come along with it.”

Postpartum Support Services

Doulas of North America

A doula is someone who works closely with a new mother, as a general helper, either during (birth doulas) or just after (postpartum doulas) the birth of a baby. If you are looking for a doula, the DONA website will provide the listings you’re searching for.

First Daze Mommy Care doulas come to your home to help in those first days and weeks after bringing home a new baby. Trained, professional caregivers provide guidance, emotional support and practical assistance to make the transition from pregnancy to motherhood more manageable.

Triangle Mothercare This service provides postpartum Doula services to the Triangle area which includes Chapel Hill, Raleigh, and Durham, North Carolina.

Triangle Childbirth is Carol Horrocks, a DONA certified birth and postpartum doula in the Raleigh area.

Joanne Dahill is a certified HUG your Baby instructor.  HUG stands for Help, Understanding and Guidance for Young Families and is a method for deciphering nonverbal infant behavior and for soothing babies that was developed by North Carolina nurse practitioner Jan Tedder and is endorsed by  Dr. T. Berry Brazelton.

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