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February 26, 2012

Spock Parenting Book Gets Online Update

by Ted Landphair

'Baby and Child Care' becomes an e-book

Books published in electronic form to be read on tablet-sized readers are, in some cases, outstripping sales of conventional hard-copy volumes.

E-books on parenting, for example, are, if not flying off the shelves - since there are no shelves - proving immensely popular with online customers.  

Online retailer, Amazon, for instance, lists almost 7,000 parenting-book titles available on its Kindle readers.

And the latest is an update of the most famous parenting book of all time. First published 65 years ago, it carries a simple title: Baby and Child Care. Fifty million hard copies in 49 languages have been sold since then - a record beaten only by the Bible.

The book was written by Dr. Benjamin Spock, a New York City pediatrician. It was the first comprehensive volume offering advice about every aspect of medical care and childrearing.

Dr. Spock, who died in 1998 at age 92, also incorporated many of the teachings of the Austrian psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud.  

Spock reassured jittery young parents. “Trust yourself,” he told them in his very first chapter. “You know more than you think you do.”

He continued, “Don’t take too seriously all that the neighbors say. Don’t be overawed by what the experts say. Don’t be afraid to trust your own common sense. Bringing up your child won’t be a complicated job if you take it easy and trust your own instincts.”  

The new e-book version includes updates by Cleveland, Ohio, pediatrician Robert Needlman about such topics as autism, learning and reading, and racial diversity.

At a time when many of the thousands of other parenting books on the market zero in on particular theories or specialized prescriptions for effective child care, it will be interesting to see how today’s young parents respond to Dr. Spock’s folksy, old-fashioned “trust your own instincts” approach.