Book rescues new parents with good advice, humor


Baby 411: Clear Answers & Smart Advice for Your Baby's First Year, by Ari Brown, M.D., and Denise Fields, Windsor Peak Press, 2003, $11.95.

Does the world need another parenting book? Take a quick trip down the overstuffed bookshelves in the parenting aisle of your local bookstore and you'd likely say no. Despite all the information currently available to new parents, Brown, an Austin, Texas, pediatrician, and Fields, author of Baby Bargains and Toddler Bargains, deliver a well-researched new parent primer on birth and babyhood.

Presented in a question-and-answer format, Baby 411 addresses current pediatric trends such as cord blood banking, screening for genetic diseases, the anti-vaccine movement and alternative therapies for newborns. There also is complete coverage of nuts-and-bolts issues faced by most new parents including diaper rash, sleep schedules, nursing, nutrition and more. Icons signifying "Helpful Hints," "Bottom Line," "Reality Check" and "Old Wive's Tales" pop up throughout the book with spot-on summaries and parent feedback. (Questions and parent input were drawn from Brown's patients and Baby Bargain and Toddler Bargain readers.)

I liked the frequent boxes with "Dr. B's Opinion," her frank take as a doctor and parent on hot buttons such as pain medication at delivery ("Get this baby out as quickly, painlessly and safely as possible!") and "rooming in" at the hospital after delivery ("View your hospital stay as your last opportunity for free babysitting.")

I found the chapter on first aid and the descriptions of medications and infections to be helpful resources for treating kids of all ages. And after reading the appendix on common infections and vaccinations, I learned more about these two topics than I'd ever known before. If you need extra information on a particular issue, a nice reference of books, Web sites and parenting and medical organizations will point you in the right direction.

As a bonus, the Baby 411 Web site,, offers the latest news on baby's health, message boards and a chance to sign up for a free newsletter.

So does the world need another parenting book? If you're looking for a concise, real-world, no-guilt resource, I'd call Baby 411 for help.

Monica Ginsburg


Start your kids on the road to fiscal responsibility Prodigal Sons and Material Girls: How Not to Be Your Child's ATM, by Nathan Dungan, John Wiley & Sons, 2003, $24.95.


Thanks to Nathan Dungan, my children now are getting an allowance. For a year we had been negotiating the allowance issue-trying to agree on jobs they were willing to do that I was willing to pay for. But Dungan, author of Prodigal Sons & Material Girls: How Not to Be Your Child's ATM, puts this whole allowance thing in a different light. It's not about pay for work, he says, it's about teaching your children responsible money habits.

After all, if they don't have any money of their own, what do they do when they want something? Mine, at least, believe in begging until they wear me down. I am their ATM.

Dungan's book is unnecessarily preachy in tone-especially the second half. Those of us who are reading it probably already feel guilty enough about doing financial instruction right. So, someone who picks this book up to start the process could be immediately turned off by his scolding. But it offers some valuable insights into the emotional side of money.

The first half of the book helps parents understand what we're up against: the overwhelming marketing machine that is the American economy. Our kids recognize the Golden Arches long before they learn to read the word McDonald's. Their desire to have what Madison Avenue tells them they want only grows from there. Dungan's statistics are truly frightening-particularly the one that says the average young adult graduates college with $10,000 in credit card debt, on top of thousands more in student loans.

The second half, the more preachy part, offers help in giving kids sound financial footing. He recommends the allowance (for which my kids thank him), but suggests that it be divided by savings, spending and sharing (to teach kids the value of charity).

My kids took to the idea quickly. We'll see how well it goes the next time they want something and I tell them to make a withdrawal from their own ATM.

Cindy Richards

Kids Eat Chicago

Copyright 2017 Wednesday Journal Inc. All rights reserved. Chicago web development by liQuidprint