Category Archives: BOOKS FOR PARENTS

recommended books for parents


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How to keep baby healthy is a question at the front of every parent’s mind.  Thanks to Mary Ruebush, PhD., and her book Why Dirt is Good: 5 Ways to Make Germs Your Friends, we can learn how to build a strong immune system from infancy on.  Yet, her suggestions might surprise today’s hand-sanitizer obsessed society.  “What we need today isn’t less dirt, it’s more,” is Ruebush’s premise from the first paragraph onward.  Ruebush teaches microbiology and immunology for Kaplan Medical, and has taught immunology, infectious disease, and pathology in medical school settings for over 30 years.  Published in scholarly journals, her topics of research include viruses, parasites, and bacteria.  Ruebush also is a mother of two, so her information is solidly backed by scientific research as well as the personal experience of raising two children.  She was interviewed on CBS in 2009, and the above video is from the CBS youtube channel.

What is the immune system?  What are the cells in the immune system and what is their function in our health? How do we strengthen our immune system?  Written in easy to understand language and embellished with cartoons, Ruebush answers these questions with 5 rules to follow for allowing germs to strengthen our health.  She also suggests that the increasing prevalence of allergies and asthma among babies and children may be reduced with an understanding of how to strengthen the immune system through proper exposure to allergens and germs.  Her explanations of the development of the immune system of a baby are the reason this book is a “must read.”  Her concept of “immunological exercise” emphasizes exposing babies or children to germs that builds cells which fight off disease. Ruebush explains, “White blood cells multiply in response to a challenge:  Each exposure to a germ gives your immune system more memory cells, which means you can respond faster and more aggressively the next time that particular germ tries to attack.”

Immunity begins in infancy.  Read Ruebush’s book and Dr. Henry Bieler’s Food is Your Best Medicine to get baby off to a very healthy start!

Why Dirt is Good:  5 Ways to Make Germs Your Friends:  by Mary Ruebush, PhD.  (New York:  Kaplan Publishing, 2009).


To date, the most important book written on the subject of nutrition is this one.  Dr. Henry Bieler was a general physician who prescribed dietary changes for his patients to heal their symptoms of disease or discomfort.  Based in the science of endocrinology, this book explains how eating the foods one digests easily promotes healing and optimal health.  Dr. Bieler describes the foods that stimulate our glands and fatigue them, leading to illness, then presents his simple remedies which allow the glands to rest and heal.  The infamous “Bieler’s Soup” is discussed throughout the book.  This puree of zucchini, string beans, and Italian parsley brings the body to a more alkaline state, aids in digestion, and provides important vitamins and minerals.

Dr. Bieler wrote this book after over fifty years in practice treating movie stars, coal miners, politicians, professionals and seeing thousands of healthy babies into the world.  He guided women’s nutrition through pregnancy and usually she avoided morning sickness.  After the birth of the baby, he taught the mother how to feed her infant during the first year and minimize illness and teething pain.  He was far ahead of his time, as many books published today touch on topics he was discussing in depth back in the 1960′s.  This book is recommended for everyone.  Read it today!

Food Is Your Best Medicine:  by Henry G. Bieler, M.D.  (New York:  Random House, 1965).


The parenting book "Verbal First Aid"

Part of growing up and learning to move inevitably involves falling down.  Unfortunately, sometimes this includes gaining a cut or breaking a bone.  Traumas such as physical injuries and emotional distress exist in baby’s life from birth on.  Verbal First Aid teaches parents how to attend to one’s baby or child in the way that minimizes the fear and distress of the trauma experience and promotes quick healing.  It is about what we say and how we say it.

Written by Judith Simon Prager and Judith Acosta, both trained in the field of psychotherapy, the book is written from an intimate knowledge of the topic.  The authors trained doctors, nurses, firefighters, and other emergency first responders in the USA, England, and China.   Prager also worked with crisis counselors in Bejing after the May 2008 magnitude 8.0 earthquake that tragically flattened schools.

Much of the book is devoted to toddler and early childhood traumas such as falling off a bike, fear of spiders, nightmares, getting stitches, and asthma attacks.  The few pages that focus on infancy are extremely important and every mother should read them.  They clearly teach that what you feel in your nervous system the baby will feel in theirs. Words, even when not understood by the baby, convey emotion. So, if you feel panic, he will feel panic.  If you feel alarm, he will feel alarm.  If you feel calm and centered, he will feel calm too.

Techniques for responding to distress are covered in detail.  The multitude of stories presented assist parents in understanding how to apply these techniques immediately and creatively!  My personal favorite is the story of a toddler who awoke from a nightmare extremely distressed because the grinch was chasing him through the streets of New York City.  His mother reminded him that he knew his address and could tell it to any cab driver who would drive him home to safety.  When the child protested, “But, the Grinch (was chasing me)!” The mother simply said, “But, sweetheart, grinches don’t ride in taxis.  Have you ever seen a grinch in a  taxi?”  The child smiled and realized his mother was right…and he would be safe in his dreams.

Verbal First Aid:  Help Your Kids Heal from Fear and Pain-and Come Out Strong:  by Judith Simon Prager, Ph.D., and Judith Acosta, LISW, CMT., :  (New York:  Penguin, 2010).


Child development book "What's Going On In There" by Lise Eliot

While holding your blinking infant in your arms, watching your toddler run toward music, or observing your five-year-old remember some tiny detail from last Christmas, did you ever wonder how the infinitely complex brain, five senses, and memory of these little ones develop?  So did Lise Eliot, Ph.D., a neurobiologist and assistant professor at Chicago Medical School.  Eliot, mother of three, could not find a book that sufficiently answered her questions, so she researched and wrote one herself.  The result is a “must add to your bookshelf” reference for pre-pregnancy through age five or anyone interested in infant development.

What’s Going On in There:  How the Brain and Mind Develop in the first Five Years of Life, published in 1999, is thoroughly researched, well organized and indexed, and easy to read.  Eliot explores the development of the five senses, language, emotions, memory, and cognition.  Rather than just a treatise of scientific explanations on the development of these processes, Eliot focuses on what parents can do to raise a smarter child.  What I love most about this book (beside, of course, the content) is the organization.  When you have a thought such as “If we took our 5 month old with us to Hawaii, would he remember it?” or “What can I do to stimulate language development,” just look in the index and read the corresponding pages.  Read as much or as little as you would like, but either way, in a very short time you will have your answer.

What’s Going On in There:  How the Brain and Mind develop in the First Five Years of Life:  by Lise Eliot, Ph.D., (New York: Bantam Books, 1999).


Winner of the American Medical Writers Association Award for the best trade book of 1991.

Diary of a Baby, by Daniel N. Stern, M.D., provides an adorable synopsis of significant developmental leaps that a baby goes through from six weeks until four years of age.  Writing from an infant’s point of view, Stern takes the reader through a journey of what a baby sees, feels, and experiences.  The book is concise at 165 pages, and both easy and fun to read.  Stern studied medicine at Harvard University and for more than thirty years worked in research and private practice focusing to the observation of infants.  He is also the father of five children, and his personal experiences directly influenced this book.  A noted author, professor, researcher, and therapist, Stern weaves together facts derived from infant research, the undeniable importance of emotional bonding as evidenced in the clinic setting, and a creative writing style.  The result is a book that gives a quick yet layered understanding of baby at six weeks, four and a half months, twelve months, twenty months, and four years.   This book is the perfect gift for a new parent.  Sadly, Diary of a Baby is currently out of print.  However, copies can usually be found at and  After you read it, please pass it on to another new mom!

Diary of a Baby:  What your child sees, feels, and experiences:  by Daniel N. Stern M.D. (New York: Basic Books, 1990).