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Dr. Susan Luddington-Hoe needs to learn to relax a bit when it comes to the subject of educating babies! This book is ideal for those of you who want to bombard your poor defenceless little baby with in-your-face stimulation every waking moment of the day in the hope that you might eventually create a mini Einstein. But for those of you who, like me, prefer to adopt a more moderate approach, I suggest you use this book as a handy guide to dip into every now and again, but take the advice with a pinch of salt and do not follow the ‘programme’ to the letter. The idea of the book is quite clear from the title, and to be fair there is a lot of useful information and ‘tips’ about how to optimise your baby’s intelligence both during pregnancy and after the birth. For example, we all like to buy brightly-coloured toys and decorations for our new baby’s nursery, don’t we? But did you know that newborns actually prefer to look at black-and-white patterns? They don’t see colours very well to begin with, so they like to see things with contrast. Have a look around baby shops and see how many black-and-white toys and things there are to choose from – not a lot (Mothercare do a cloth ‘book’ which has black, white and yellow shapes in, this is the only one I’ve found). There is also useful information on what a newborn can see and hear, what they enjoy looking at (faces and pictures of faces are the favourite!), and identifying their different states of activity. There is a whole section on how to make toys for your baby, which although I wouldn’t have the time or the patience to do, I’m sure that certain mums and grandmothers would find this useful. Another very useful chapter is all about choosing the right daycare centre – an abundance of questions to ask and points to notice. Although it would be almost impossible to check every sin
gle item that is mentioned, it covers just about every aspect a parent should be concerned about. The main body of the book is about the “Infant Stimulation Programme”, which you are supposed to carry out on a daily basis with your baby. Personally, I feel that to carry it out to the letter would be too much for your baby. It is, however, an excellent reference book with lots of useful ideas for games and activities. Although I intend no offence to Americans, I can’t resist pointing out another of those charming eccentricities that I love to come across in American books! This one starts when the poor unsuspecting baby is still in the womb. Mummy and Daddy are supposed to each record their voices on tape and play it to the unborn child. The advice on what to say, in this case to a poor little baby named temporarily R.T., is as follows (and I quote): “R.T. this is your mother speaking. I love you, R.T. R.T. this is your mother speaking. I can’t wait for you to be born, R.T. I love you, R.T. R.T. this is your mother speaking. You’re going to be such a welcome member of this family, R.T.” etc. And it doesn’t stop there! Even after the birth, the parents are supposed to use “setting events” every single time they interact with their baby. By that the author means to repeat the same two or three “loving phrases”, as in the following example taken from the book: “Mary, this is your daddy speaking. I love you Mary. You’re such a good baby.” I can see where she’s coming from, but to seriously expect parents to start off every ‘conversation’ like that, I found rather funny and sweet! The only bad thing about the book is that they say a baby should only be put down to sleep on their front, something I found shocking as it is well-known that this increases the likelihood of cot death. From the begi
nning of the book, it appears that it is a 1987 edition, which isn’t very good as some parents may well follow this advice. On the whole, the book has its useful points for information and ideas for activities for babies under six months old. But it is quite extreme, and if I’d realised this before I wouldn’t have bought it (a drawback of impulse ordering from Amazon!). It was quite cheap though – maybe that’s why!