On Becoming Baby Wise: Giving Your Infant the Gift of Nighttime Sleep by Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam teaches parents how to train their baby to sleep. BabyWise also helps parents understand how to take care of a child and when to do what. I used the techniques explained in the book with each of my four babies, beginning the eat-play-sleep routine when they were two days old. One friend began the routine significantly later, when her nine-month-old had trouble sleeping. The techniques helped him to sleep through the night within a week. While each of my own children has responded slightly differently, and I used the routine as a guideline rather than as a strict schedule, it has proved very helpful.
With my first child, I was not familiar with caring for babies. BabyWise helped me more quickly identify my baby’s needs. When my second had a lot of trouble settling into the BabyWise routine, I was able to identify that he had food sensitivities by the time he was six weeks old because I could tell that, despite meeting his need for sleep, milk, and play, something was wrong.
The consistent routine not only highlighted a problem, but it also positively set a rhythm to our life at home. We keep a balance between sleep, play, and food, giving each its particular place. When I meet the kids’ basic needs, they tend to have better attitudes and learn well. Please do not misunderstand – life is far from being perfect. We have rough days and bad days like everyone else. But while every child is different, there are basic principles that make child-raising easier and, I believe, healthier for both parent and child. This book teaches those principles.
Parenting with Love and Logic by Dr. Foster Cline and Jim Fay also provides many essentials for disciplining and raising children, giving numerous examples of application. It has been around for decades, achieving acclaim in both Christian and secular communities. One of the most convincing testimonials stems from one of the author’s own sons, who, as a teenager, decided not to attend the most significant party of the year because his only ride to the party was his best friend, who had begun to play around with drinking and driving. This son made an unpopular choice but lived to tell about it, while his best friend died the night of the party with everyone else in the car after driving off the road. If applying these principles can help a hormone-raging teenage boy make logical decisions, I will recommend it!
Love and Logic coincides with Boundaries with Kids by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend, which provides the Biblical foundations behind many of the ideas described in Love and Logic. It provides some application but mostly answers moral questions about why one teaches a child a certain rule rather than how that rule achieves the desired behavior. It pairs wonderfully with Love and Logic. Beyond helping me parent, this book has taught me much about myself and showed me how to nurture healthy relationships in every area of my own life.
When asked to recommend parenting books, these are the three I mention. Every child is wonderfully unique, but I believe these resources give valuable and timeless suggestions, strategies, and foundations for parenting.