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The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care written by Benjamin Spock, is a book on infant and child care first published in 1946. The book "challenged the child-rearing orthodoxy of the early 20th century—that babies should be fed according to a tight schedule, and that showing them too much affection made them weak and unprepared for the world. Instead, Dr. Spock encouraged a more gentle approach to bringing up children, and told parents to trust their own instincts and common sense."[1]

For the book's fifth and sixth editions, Spock co-wrote the book with pediatrician Michael B. Rothenberg; for the 7th edition, his co-author was Steven Parker.


Baby and Child Care sold 500,000 copies in its first six months; within a decade it was selling a million copies a year.[1] By 1985, the book had sold 30 million copies;[2] by 1998, it had sold more than 50 million.[3] One source places the book as the seventh best-selling book of all time.[4] As of 2011, Baby and Child Care has been translated into 39 languages.[1]

The 1968 edition included a "completely new section in the first chapter. Spock argues that 'we need idealistic children' so that, as adults, they can confront the 'enormous, frightening problems in our country and in the world.' 'We have an overwhelming supply of the most powerful weapons the world has ever known,' yet 'we are in imminent danger of annihilation.' Because of our power, 'we are interfering arrogantly in the affairs of other nations and arousing worldwide resentment. 'Our only realistic hope,' Spock concludes, 'is to bring up our children with a feeling that they are in this world not for their own satisfaction but primarily to serve others.'"[5]

At least one piece of advice from Baby and Child Care was discredited decades after it was first published. Spock recommended putting babies to sleep on their stomachs in order to reduce the risk of infants choking on their own vomit; by the 1990s, that practice was linked to sudden infant death syndrome.[1]

Other editionsEdit

During Spock's lifetime there were seven editions:[6] the 3rd edition of Baby and Child Care was published in 1968; it was following by a 4th in 1976. The fifth and sixth editions, in 1985 and 1992, featured a co-author, Dr. Michael B. Rothenberg. The 7th edition was co-authored with pediatrician Steven Parker and published in 1998.[6]

  • Spock, Benjamin (1968). Baby and Child Care, 3rd, 619, London: Bodley Head.
  • Spock, Benjamin (1976). Baby and Child Care, 4th, 666, New York City: Pocket Books.
  • (1985) Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care for the Nineties, 5th, 647, New York City: E.P. Dutton.
  • (1992) Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care, 6th, 832, New York City: Dutton.
  • (1998) Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care, 7th, 939, New York City: Pocket Books.

A 1996 New Yorker article called the series of editions of Baby and Child Care a "record of a half century of quintessentially American optimism and panic about the fate of the family" and noting in particular that the "'child-centered' first edition became a parent-focused second edition."[6]

See alsoEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Hidalgo, Louise Dr Spock's Baby and Child Care at 65. Witness. BBC World Service. URL accessed on 2011-08-27.
  2. Behavior: Bringing Dr. Spock Up to Date. Time. URL accessed on 2011-09-19.
  3. includeonly>Meisol, Patricia. "Echoes from the baby boom Appreciation: For 50 years, parents turned to the book by Dr. Benjamin Spock for the most common-sense advice about raising children.", 17 March 1998. Retrieved on 2010-03-31.
  4. The Internet Public Library. All-Time Bestselling Books and Authors. URL accessed on 2007-11-07.
  5. Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care, 1968 edition. The 1968 Exhibit. Minnesota Historical Society. URL accessed on 2011-09-19.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Hulbert, Ann Dr. Spock's Baby. A Critic at Large. The New Yorker. URL accessed on 2011-09-19.

External linksEdit

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