Turn yourself into a super parent in twelve easy steps

A review of Superbaby by Jenn Berman

No pressure! It'sjust thatif you want to maximize your child's full potential during the most critical developmental years of their life, you must read this book and commit all of it to memory. Again, no pressure!

Superbaby: 12 Ways to Give Your Child a Head Start in the First Three Years
by Dr. Jenn Berman includes simple tips, tools, and techniques for encouraging a child's optimal development. It's true; most of the tips are simple. But parenting books are like diet books. There are a million of them out there with lots of good advice that make sense and seem easy to follow. At some point, however, it becomes overload.

That's not to say I didn't immediately check this book out and read it in the hopes of assuring that I have the skills to raise a superbaby, too, but my approach to parenting is this: I take what I can from the recommendations, trust my instincts and love, love, love my baby. You do your best and hope for the best. Here is my extremely abbreviated version of the twelve ways to superbabyize:

  1. Communicate: talk respectfully to your baby, narrate everything, listen, and demonstrate good behavior. Be mindful of praise. Read Nurtureshock for more about this.
  2. Respond to your baby's cues for hunger, tiredness, interest and overstimulation. You may not always recognize these cues, so, again, do your best.
  3. Create security and predictability. Try to stick to a schedule. There are excellent sample schedules provided here, including the schedules of Dr. Jenn's twins. The girls have been taking 2-3 two hour naps daily since they were 4-6 months old. I am totally jealous. It also seems that there is a grandparent present to help with the child rearing. Again, I am totally jealous.
  4. Touch your baby a lot, including infant massage.
  5. Promote language development. The number of words you speak to your child is directly proportionate to the size of her vocabulary.
  6. Use sign language. Sign language helps children acquire speech earlier and increases vocabulary. ASL is recommended as opposed to Baby Sign. I am trying out a couple of signs, but it's hard for me to remember. I do it as I remember. This is not a lot.
  7. Raise your child to be bilingual or multilingual. I am not bilingual, so this is a tough one to accomplish. Reading bilingual books is a good place to start. I hopeand prayMadison opens more immersion schools.
  8. Read to your child. Every day. Have books around the house. This is my favorite step!
  9. Old-fashioned play. Avoid electronic learning toys. Simple toys are the best. Auseful chart of recommended toys by age level is included in this chapter, and there's a nice reference to our local Oompa Toys.
  10. No screen time. No TV. No computer. No background sound, either. So no more Brewers at our house or CNN at Grandpa's. I totally agree with this, but it's easier said than done.
  11. Reduce exposure to toxic chemicals. Use green cleaners, organic clothes, bedding, and food. I've been feeling terrible about not using cloth diapers, but after reading that Dr. Jenn uses Seventh Generation diapers, I'm feeling much better. I am also going to make a plug here for Nature Babycare compostable baby wipes. They are great.
  12. Proper eating and nutrition. Yes, this I know.I feel about this the way I feel aboutThe Omnivore's Dilemma. Do your best with the time and money you've got. I try to eat organic, but I'm not giving up M&Ms. I feed my baby organic foods, but he's only been on solid foods for a couple of months, so it's not hard, yet.

Ultimately, these twelve steps make sense and are excellent parenting guidelines. It's beneficial to have them collected into one volume and the anecdotes and research references are nice, but sometimes judge-y. If you're the type that reads parenting books or magazines,you may have read this all before.

Another recent book that I found quite valuable and actually bought to have on hand at home is Active Baby, Healthy Brain: 135 Fun Exercises and Activities to Maximize Your Child's Brain Development from Birth through Age 5 1/2 by Margaret Sasse. This illustrated guide provides simple games and stretches that you can use with your child based on their age and development. The illustrations are very cute and easy to follow and remember. I highly recommend this one.