Parenting books put to the test – ‘Secrets of the Baby Whisperer’

With so many baby books on the shelf, it can hard to pick one that’s right for you. Our mums take a leaf out the experts’ books and report back on the approaches…

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‘Secrets of the Baby Whisperer’ by Tracy Hogg

Tracy Hogg has been dubbed the ‘Baby Whisperer’ because of her claims to be able to understand the language of babies and so calm even the most distressed or difficult infant. Tracy teaches parents how to work out what kind of baby they have and which parenting plan will work best for them. Believing babies need to be part of the family rather than dominate it, she has developed a programme for infants as young as day old.

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Mum tester

Julie Mason, 41, is a designer. She is married to Maurice and they have one daughter, Esme, who is nearly 6 months old. In the early days, she used Secrets of the Baby Whisperer by Tracy Hogg: ‘the perfect book for new mums’. More recently, she’s been drawn to the ideas of William and Martha Sears in the Baby Sleep Book.

What our mum thought…

“After we got Esme home from hospital, we were all over the place. She was constantly feeding or needing to be held, but the worst came in the evenings when we could not get her to sleep. It was such a struggle as I was in a lot of discomfort with breastfeeding and had undergone a difficult labour. Maurice and I were getting totally worn out and confused about what to do.

I found people very reluctant to give advice. The ideas of my mother’s generation seemed very out of date, but listening to advice of other new mums can be such a dangerous thing as every baby is different.

The Baby Whisperer taught me a lot more about what my baby was doing. It felt like she was a leech: constantly demanding of me emotionally and physically. The book was a breath of fresh air as it provided insight and a structure for us to work to, which helped us to understand what she needed.

EASY (Eat, Activity, Sleep, You time) is the acronym that book gives fir structuring baby’s time. It advises you to feed your baby as soon as she wakes, after which she’ll be awake and active requiring stimulation for a period, then she’ll be ready to sleep again (without feeding), and then you eventually get some ‘you time’.

The book doesn’t dictate set times for doing things. It’s about listening to your baby. It claims to teach you how to ‘calm, connect and communicate with your baby’. That appealed to me as I want to keep things as natural as possible. But it also shows you how to structure your time and find space for you and your partner, which was a relief.

Having a baby later in life means I can see the importance of stillness. Younger mums I meet are so rushed. The Baby Whisperer is all about stopping in your tracks, standing back and listening to your child, rather than jumping to the rescue or worse still, shutting her up with a bottle or breast.

We are still left with a very poor sleeping pattern. Esme wakes every 2 hours in the night. The Baby Whisperer claims that if you adhere to EASY ‘this will sort itself out’ but I question that. A friend lent me The Baby Sleep Book by William and Martha Sears which has lots of advice on sleeping.

Poor sleepers wake during the light part of their sleep cycle (about every 45 minutes), according to Sears. These babies need help in learning how to get back to sleep. During the daytime they simply require a lot of stimulation – signs apparently of an intelligent, active child. This fits in with our experience with Esme who has always been into everything – she hated being in her pram as she couldn’t see everything! Even giving her big feeds late at night, as some suggest, didn’t make any difference.

Sears believes that for some children ‘crying it out’ is inappropriate: it can cause emotional damage or does not work for wilful, highly spirited babies. Friends say I’d make a rod for my own back by feeding Esme on demand through the night, but I instinctively felt that the other approach was wrong.

You question yourself all the time when you’re a new mum. I honestly think it’s the hardest part of the job! You can feel vulnerable in a way you experience in no other part of your life. Eventually you have to listen to your instincts. You can find ideas in books when times are hard, but you have to have faith in yourself. I found it best to pick and choose, using what works for me and Esme.”

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See what our mums thought about The New Contented Little Baby Book, On Becoming Babywise, and Continuum Concept.


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