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The Evolution Of Parenting Advice

LATE 1880

Several childcare manuals deplore breastfeeding as unnecessary and animalistic. Writes Mrs. Ellen Panton, a leading domestic doyenne, "Let no mother condemn herself to be a common 'cow' unless she has a real desire to nurse."


One of the first baby books, Record of a Child's Life, by Florence Hatton Ellis, includes places to record "baby's first railway journey and baby's first donkey ride."


In his book Infant Education, Eric Pritchard, M.D., encourages mothers to forgo all activities that would take them out of the house so as to be available to their hungry children.


Helen Hodgson, author of Mrs. Blossom on Babies, advises against using "dummies," or pacifiers: "Dummies are an invention of the devil to tempt mothers to harm their children."


In her book Nursery Management, Mary Gardner chastises mothers who opt not to breastfeed, warning that their offspring may be less physically fit and won't know how to nourish their own infants later in life.


The first edition of Dr. Benjamin Spock's Baby and Child Care becomes an instant sensation. In it, Spock rejects the belief that babies are inherent schemers.


The concept of "family bonding" is introduced in Lee Salk's first book, How to Raise a Human Being. T. Berry Brazelton, M.D., also stresses the benefits of parental involvement in Infants and Mothers: Differences in Development.


Thomas Gordon's Parent Effectiveness Training spawns a national movement, P.E.T., advising parents to "treat children much as we treat a friend or a spouse."


What to Expect When You're Expecting is the first in a series by mother Arlene Eisenberg and daughters Sandee Hathaway and Heidi Murkoff. The books become childcare bibles of the '80s and '90s.


Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo's Babywise, a series of books encouraging assertion of authority over babies, sparks controversy. They advocate establishing strict schedules and meting out punishments, including isolation and "pain with controlled force."


William Sears, M.D., and Martha Sears publish their first popular guide, The Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby From Birth to Age Two. Their underlying philosophy: Developing a strong bond with a child is paramount in parenting.


Marianne Neifert, M.D., pediatrician and mother of five, publishes a sensible, medically based book, Dr. Mom's Parenting Guide. Three more Dr. Mom books follow.


Deepak Chopra, a new-age healer and philosopher, writes The Seven Spiritual Laws for Parents. The book encourages parents to focus on their child's and their own inner peace and well-being.