Thursday, December 26, 2013

What Every Parent Needs to Know - Book Review

What every parent needs to know
 by Margot Sunderland

I really didn't expect to like this book What every parent needs to know as much as I do. I think perhaps the title put me off a little - I still feel a bit burned from parenting books that tell you what to do, regardless of who you are or what your baby needs. My particular bad experience was reading Tracey Hogg, but there are plenty of others out there too. I thought it might be more of the same. But I was so wrong. In fact, I think I would go as far as to say that of all the books I have read so far, if I had to recommend just one for parenting, this might well be it.

The book starts with talking about how your child's brain is still quite undeveloped at birth, and the importance of how we parent that unfinished brain. It then moves on through chapters on crying and separation, and sleep and bedtimes. Then it looks at behaviour and discipline, the chemistry of love, the socially intelligent child and looking after yourself. 

Each chapter is further divided into smaller, manageable chunks of text which are accompanied by appropriate photos and diagrams, making it really attractive to look at an easy to read. Even if you are parenting and are only able to read a little at a time this book is accessible. I particularly like the key points at the end of each chapter, which are a clear and concise summary of the key points within the chapter - again brilliant for a parent who can't just sit down an digest a full chapter in one go.

I like it too because it is a wonderful blend of science and love. It is very much based on science, i.e. that of brain development, sleep, stress hormones, psychology etc. and yet also deeply connected to the human nature and instinct, and with much focus on the need for love and care. It's not just about babies either, but also about older children, particularly in the latter half, so it is a book that can be referred to again and again over the years.

A great book, worthy of a place on any parents book shelf. 


  1. This book sounds wonderful - I love books that are based on science when it comes to the developing brain, but then add in the parenting love aspect...I'll have to check it out. Thanks!

  2. Just went looking - is this the same book? Looks like it might go under a different name in the US, as it sounds like the same book.

  3. Yes I just checked it out on Amazon by using the 'look inside ' feature - it is the same book. I like your title for it so much better!

  4. Yes it is brilliant. It's really empowering too when you have the science to back you up when someone is questioning your wisdom (or just telling you are doing it all wrong!) I have been reading some great books recently as part of my BabyCalm and ToddlerCalm teacher training. I am sharing a review of the ones I like. We also have to read some not so great ones - just for the contrast, and so we know what people who come to our courses and workshops may have read in the past - I wont be reviewing those here though!

  5. This post has been hidden for a while as t somehow got shared on Facebook, then liked and timelines and out of my control. I thought I would put is back up now that it will have fallen to the bottom of people's timelines, but looking back, so much has changed since I wrote it. - No house, DD and PP are keen for another child…. I'll post again soon to update people on the story of three changing minds...

  6. I was just going to post how much happier you sound without the back and forth-ness of everything that's been going on. Moving to Peterborough sounded like such a positive move for you both. However, I will await to hear the next chapter before passing further comment. Have a lovely new year Em and if you want to come and stay for a while, please do xxx

  7. I know - it has been a bit of a roller coaster - I hope to put it all into words tomorrow. Would be lovely to pay you a visit too - will be in touch on that xxxxx

  8. Having had my own heart-rending back and forth about baby #2, you know I understand! I came to the conclusion that it's not vanity or competition or conditioning that drives us - it is pure biology, which makes it so hard to rationalize ourselves out of. It's just so hard to close that door. I know women with one child who even after multiple miscarriages, even well into their late forties, are still thinking, "maybe we can still have another baby!" And I don't think they're crazy - they're just responding to a perfectly natural drive. Even I occasionally flirt with the idea of a third baby (perish the thought - now that really would be crazy!)


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