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The "Baby Whisperer" Books: Which One To Read?

Updated on November 12, 2012
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Sarah stays at home full time with her three children ages 6, 4 and 2. She has been homeschooling for two years.

The Available Titles

Before her death, Tracy Hogg (better known as the "Baby Whisperer" for her uncanny ability to soothe babies and understand their needs at any given time) wrote and published three books: Secrets of the Baby Whisperer, Secrets of the Baby Whisperer For Toddlers, and The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems. While the Secrets of the Baby Whisperer For Toddlers book is, of course, geared toward older children, it's not immediately clear to new parents which of the other two books is better suited to them for their younger infant. The purpose of this article is to compare and contrast Secrets of the Baby Whisperer and The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems so that new parents and parents-to-be can decide which one best meets their needs.

Secrets of the Baby Whisperer

Secrets of the Baby Whisperer is Ms. Hogg's first book. There are nine chapters (eleven, if you include the introduction). In the first few chapters, Ms. Hogg explains her basic philosophies of childcare, including her suggestions for following a structured routine (which she refers to as "E.A.S.Y.", an acronym for "Eat, Activity, Sleep, You"), and her advice for learning to understand what your baby is saying before he or she is able to use words. The next few chapters each focus on one part of the routine. The next chapter discusses unusual circumstances, such as multiple births and adoptions. The last chapter talks about the potential for gently changing "bad patterns" (i.e., patterns that a baby has learned that the parents are having difficulty coping with).

This book has a very conversational tone and is very easy to read. It covers a lot of topics at a high level. Some of her suggestions are for what parents should do to prepare before the child is born, or for what parents should do in the very first days of being home, so it is good to read this book before the baby arrives.

For more detailed information about The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems, see my complete book review here.

The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems

The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems is Ms. Hogg's third book. Ms. Hogg describes the goal of this book as an attempt to explain her thought process as she cares for infants, the thought process that allows her to determine what the baby needs or how she might change a behavior that isn't working for the parents. For much of the book, she describes scenarios and how she would approach them; then, she points out which questions she might ask to "troubleshoot" the situation if her basic approach doesn't solve the problem on its own.

Since the trouble that parents most often encounter have to do with the child's eating and sleeping habits, a large part of the book is dedicated to these two issues. Whereas Secrets of the Baby Whisperer devotes one chapter to each of these subjects, The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems devotes two chapters to eating and three chapters to sleep—more than half the pages in the book discuss these two topics.

At A Glance

 
Secrets of...
The Baby Whisperer Solves...
# of pages
304
416
# of chapters
10
10
Theme
General principles for child care
General principles and "troubleshooting" problems
# of chapters about feeding
1
2
# of chapters about sleeping
1
3
Best suited for...
Parents-to-be and very new parents
Very new parents or parents who are struggling with specific issues

Comparison

The basic philosophies of the two books remains the same. In both books, Ms. Hogg advises parents to follow an "E.A.S.Y." (Eat Activity Sleep You) routine with their babies. Both books talk about respecting babies as individual people and discuss learning to read a child's cues.

However, the two books have different motivations, and therefore the contents of the books are quite different.

Secrets of the Baby Whisperer seems to be mostly a general "principles of childcare" book, with the majority of the advice geared toward parents-to-be preparing to care for their young babies. So, for example, a significant portion of the chapter on feeding your baby offers information about the choice between breastfeeding and formula feeding. The information about reading a baby's cues is largely formatted as a chart describing body language, the sounds of a baby's different cries, and other concrete signs to look and listen for. When discussing the baby's activity portion of the day, significant information is given about bathing and massaging an infant. Secrets of the Baby Whisperer also directs most of its advice to young babies or babies in general. With the exception of few pages worth of discussion on childproofing, very little time is spent on topics that apply to older babies.

The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems, on the other hand, attempts to teach a thought process—a way of evaluating the situation when a baby is discontent or exhibiting a behavior that the parent wants to change, and of coming up with a solution to the the problem. It describes the questions that Ms. Hogg would consider in various situations and suggests remedies to apply (while always keeping in mind that some things that look like problems in the parents eyes are simply things that babies sometimes do and don't necessarily need to be "solved").

One of the most telling differences between the book is the amount of time spent on the Big Two — that is, the two topics that most parents worry the most about in the infants earliest days — eating and sleeping. As a general-principles parenting book, Secrets of the Baby Whisperer spends one chapter each on these two issues. As a problem-solving book, The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems spends two chapters talking about feeding, and three chapters talking about sleeping.

For information about other topics and how they are each approached in these two books, see the chart below.

Topic
Secrets of the Baby Whisperer
The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems
Choosing between breastfeeding and formula-feeding.
Several pages are devoted to comparing the pros and cons of each method; the decision is left to the reader and both methods are treated with respect.
Briefly mentions that the choice should be left to the mother and both methods are respected.
Interpreting a baby's cries
Includes a "guide" of sorts that explains the body language and sound of the cry associated with various discomforts.
Focuses more on asking questions about the baby's routine and environment that should be considered.
Transition to solid food
.Not addressed in detail
Addressed in detail, including a chart of recommended foods for each meal for the first twelves weeks after starting solids.
Bathing and infant massage
Gives detailed "how-to" advice.
Bathing as part of a routine is discussed, but no "how to" advice is given.
Childproofing
Includes a one-page checklist of recommendations.
Not discussed.
Getting a child to sleep
Includes discussion on what Ms. Hogg calls "sensible sleep" where children are taught to sleep independently from an early age (though not by being left alone to cry).
Detailed discussion of getting a baby to sleep, including methods such as shh/pat and pick-up/put-down. Also includes dicussion of variables that contribute to sleep problems.
Changes in child's routine
Not discussed in much detail.
Detailed discussion, particularly about adjustments that take place around the four-month-old mark.
Potty training
Not discussed.
Discussed in a full chapter devoted to the subject.
Discipline for older children
Not discussed.
Discussed in a full chapter devoted to the subject.

Conclusion

I have read both books, pretty much cover-to-cover. I think both books are useful, particularly for those whose child hasn't been born yet, if you have the time to read both. If you're only going to read one, though, I would recommend The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems first. For parents whose child has already been born, I would be less likely to recommend Secrets of the Baby Whisperer as the child gets older, as much of the book seems geared more toward giving advice to brand-new parents than toward advising parents whose child is a few months old.

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