our everyday life

The Best Infant Development Books

by Jaime Budzienski, studioD

Infancy goes by in a flash -- 12 short months in which a baby learns to sit up, crawl and maybe even walk and talk. They say babies don't come with a manual, but these infant development books, written by renowned experts in the field, come pretty close. Moms and dads navigating the years of diapers, sleepless nights and first foods can find information and comfort in these best-sellers, parenting library must-haves.

Touchpoints: Birth to Three

Written by T. Berry Brazelton, the beloved pediatrician, founder of the Child Development Unit at Children's Hospital Boston, and professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and Brown University, "Touchpoints" is a best-selling infant and early childhood guide. The latest version is updated to reflect the current parenting climate with contributions from Joshua D. Sparrow, M.D., a child psychiatrist. Part One of the book describes the "touchpoints" of development, which are growth spurts followed by regressions; Part Two is an alphabetical reference of common early childhood issues; and lastly, Part Three explains the essential role of a child's "allies in development": moms, dads, grandparents, childcare workers, nannies, pediatricians and friends. Notes the journal "Behavioral and Developmental Pediatrics," "This book deserves to be in the library of every caring parent and practicing pediatrician. It glows with the warmth of the author but also contains his wisdom, his humanity, and his compassion."

The Essential First Year

Authored by the world-renowned child development expert Penelope Leach, Ph.D., "The Essential First Year" offers patient, reassuring guidance on issues of babyhood such as feeding, sleeping and crying. For this book, Leach draws on her background and experience, as well as what current research points to about how babies' brains develop. Her aim is to help parents understand and respond to their babies in an effective, nurturing style. "When all is bleak, a great many parents feel their only hope is to reach for their trans-Atlantic lifeline. It is the empathetic voice of Penelope Leach, a British psychologist who has become a popular dispenser of advice on how to survive parenthood and nurture a happy and healthy child at the same time," writes Carol Lawson of "The New York Times."

Your Baby's First Year

An all-in-one guide on babycare, "Your Baby's First Year" by the American Academy of Pediatrics is in its third edition as of 2013. This revised and updated version has new information on sleep and allergies, and advice on raising twins, multiples and kids with autism, as well as information on prebiotics, probiotics and the Tdap vaccine. Also useful is a month-by-month guide for baby's first year with information about growth, behavior and milestones, and an encyclopedia which covers illnesses, injuries and disabilities. "Comprehensive, reassuring, and up-to-date, 'Your Baby's First Year,' is an indispensable guide for all parents who want to provide the very best care for their baby," notes HealthyChildren.org.

The Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby From Birth to Age Two

The work of William Sears and his wife Martha, a registered nurse, along with their two sons Robert and James (both doctors), "The Baby Book" is full of the latest information on all aspects of infant care. The Sears' guide parents through eating, sleeping, development, health and comforting techniques, and offer tips and inspiration for parents looking to find the parenting style that suits them and their baby best. Writes Publishers Weekly, "...the authors of this comprehensive volume (who share their own parenting experiences along the way) are assured and reassuring experts."

Dr. Spock's Baby and Childcare

Relied on for generations, "Dr. Spock's Baby and Childcare" has sold more than 50 million copies around the world, and has been translated into 42 languages. The work of Benjamin Spock, M.D., a pediatrician widely regarded as the world's foremost authority on babies and children, the seventh edition is a collaboration with Steven J. Parker, M.D., a Boston pediatrician. To meet the challenges of the new century, the updated "Baby and Childcare" has sections on breast-feeding techniques for working mothers, immunization schedules, whooping cough vaccines, diaper rash, baby acne and balancing the demands of working and parenting. "More than ever before, this essential and classic work will help all parents face their many challenges and responsibilities with new confidence and joy. As Dr. Spock always said: 'Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do,' " reads the description on the bookseller Amazon.com.

About the Author

Jaime Budzienski has contributed essays and articles to the "Boston Globe Sunday Magazine," "Pregnancy and Newborn Magazine" and the "Boston Parents Paper." She holds a B.F.A. in writing, literature and publishing from Emerson College and a master's degree in education from UMASS Boston.

Photo Credits

  • BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images