Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Book Review: "Sensory Parenting: From Newborns to Toddlers" by Britt Collins and Jackie Linder Olson

Sensory Parenting: From Newborns to Toddlers
Parenting is easier when your child's senses are happy!
by Britt Collins, MS, OTR/L and Jackie Linder Olson
ISBN: 978-193556722-6
Published by Future Horizons

You could be forgiven for thinking that this was just another ordinary baby book. Indeed it's not until about the third chapter that the differences really begin to hit you. Of course, those differences have been there all along, just more subtly in those early chapters.

Sensory parenting has been written by the Parent-Paediatric Team of Jackie Linder Olsen and Britt Collins and they're the ideal team for a baby book. Jackie provides a wealth of special needs parenting experience while Britt's experience comes across in the amazing array of therapies.

Normally such tag-team books can leave you a little disorientated but they've gone to great lengths to speak in "one-voice" throughout and aside from a few obvious chapters, and some scattered comments, it's not particularly obvious who is "speaking" at any one time.

Even better, when outside opinion is solicited, it's first-hand. The book contains short interviews with several practitioners, therapists and parents, all with their own particular strengths and points of view. In the appendices it includes feedback from interview questions with a panel of mothers and links to a variety of informative web sites.

At 300 pages and with very few illustrations, this is one densely packed volume.


Preparation and Newborns
My first reaction when I discovered where this book starts was sadness. Those critical early chapters are mostly going to miss their main audience. After all, they start before the baby is born and cover important topics like building a sensory-friendly nursery and making your house as sensory friendly as possible.

The problem is; who buys "baby-with-sensory-issues" books for a baby still in the womb?.

This is where genetics comes into play. If you already have one sensory child, there's good odds that there could be another. If you've got a pregnant friend with sensory issues, genetics may again be a factor - be a great friend and get her this book.

If the baby turns out to not have sensory issues, this is still a great baby book packed with good and practical advice.


Toddlerdom
This is where the book really comes into its own. The book covers the five senses, plus a couple more. It doesn't just explain their sensitivities from a baby/toddlers point of view, it covers a variety of things you can do to reduce their impact. Most importantly though, it covers natural therapies you can use to actually decrease the severity of those sensory issues.

It's all natural therapy, from light therapy for the eyes, aromatherapy for the nose, music therapy for the ears, baby massage and acupressure for the skin and several others.


More than just a baby book
At first glance, this seems to be a normal baby book. It's got lists of the major developmental milestones and it has information on potty training and tantrum handling. On sensory issues however, the book steps well outside the realm of normal parenting books.

It covers less common topics such as pets, choosing a nanny and interacting with siblings but it does so in a specific sensory manner. The nanny sections talk about the importance of a handover period and why it matters more to a sensory child. It gives tips on how to find the best person for the job and what qualities to look out for.

The pet sections talk about the sensory differences between dogs and cats, which is unusual in itself in a baby book - but then it goes on to cover ferrets, fish, rabbits, reptiles and even rats. Yes... it's that comprehensive.

The book is also fairly non-judgemental. It doesn't agonise over the benefits of breast versus bottle but gets right into the sensory issues associated with each - and how to reduce them. I did detect an overly "natural" push to it and in some places it seems to go overboard in detoxification but these are sensory issues and they are very relevant to the material.

There are also some amazing stories from mothers who have helped their babies through some very difficult sensory issues. I was particularly moved by the story of Zaky's "hands".


All in all, this is one of the most informative parenting books I've read. It's very factual and it doesn't even attempt humour but sticks solidly to the topic. If you have a sensory baby or toddler, you need this book and if you don't, it's still one of the better baby books.

Sensory Parenting: From Newborns to Toddlers is available from Future Horizons and Amazon.

Honesty Clause: I was sent a copy of this book to review at no charge

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