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Looking for a great book on baby care? Perhaps you need a reference for toddler issues such as temper tantrums or picky eating. The 411 Parenting Series contains the best books that I’ve found to provide clear, insightful answers to all of your parenting questions. Featured on the Today Show, the 411 Parenting Series is a collaboration between Dr. Ari Brown, a renowned pediatrician in Texas, and Denise Fields, author of Bridal Bargains and Baby Bargains, who has been featured by countless media outlets, including Oprah.

People say “if only babies came with instructions.” As parents themselves, Denise and Ari understood the need for such a “manual,” so they set out to create one. The 411 Parenting series is that “manual” that parents desperately need.

In Baby 411, you’ll find tips on nutrition, sleep, first aid, colic, vaccinations and picking a pediatrician. Toddlers come with their own slew of challenges, and Toddler 411 addresses them. In that book, you’ll find answers to common parenting questions pertaining to picky eaters, potty training, safety, discipline and sleep. Then there’s Expecting 411, coauthored by OB Michele Hakakha, which aims to prepare women for not only pregnancy and birth, but also the first few weeks when you bring that sweet little baby home. All in all, the 411 Parenting Series is truly a wonderful resource for parents who can be overwhelmed by all the baby books bursting at the seams of bookstore shelves.

I caught up with Ari Brown recently to learn more about her philosophy on parenting and the 411 Parenting Series. Here’s what she had to say. (And leave a comment to be entered into a random drawing to win a signed copy of Baby 411!)

Tell us a little bit about your background and the inspiration behind the 411 Parenting Series.

Well I started private practice in 1995 and it only took a few years for the rise of the Internet to create more anxiety than reassurance as parents gained unlimited access to health information — some accurate, some not. I found parents needing a reliable, up-to-date source of information beyond the books on the parenting shelves. That would empower them with the info they needed to be a partner in their child’s health care decisions.

My old college roommate also had her first child around the same time. Living in different cities, I became her “second opinion” for every issue with her baby — asking me questions she felt too uncomfortable to ask her own doc or wanting more detailed information on issues that came up at office visits. She told me she wished she had gone to medical school instead of law school, and that I needed to put my brain on paper. I found the voice that was missing in all those parenting books: a friend, who happened to be a pediatrician, talking to the reader. Baby 411 was born in 2003. Toddler 411 followed.

Then I realized that many parents-to-be don’t start thinking about their baby’s healthcare until AFTER the baby is born, leaving them very unprepared for what lies ahead. We needed a pregnancy book that combined the wisdom of an OB and a pediatrician to take advantage of the 9 months ahead of delivery to educate families. I found an OB who was as crazy and passion about patient education as I was and Expecting 411 arrived in 2010.

What inspired you to become a pediatrician?

I love kids. And I love watching them and their parents grow up. I’m all about preventive care, beginning with healthy lifestyle choices is much easier than breaking bad habits. And that is what pediatrics is all about.

In Baby 411, you discuss sleep (parent’s most precious commodity). How do your sleep training tactics differ from the rest on the market?

Oh, I don’t think I have a magical solution. What makes our sleep information different is the way it is presented. We explain the science and research behind healthy sleep routines, how to do it, when to do it, why it is important. Then we go over something even more important: Helping parents understand where their baby is developmentally and what they are capable of. The secret sauce in all our 411 books is taking the scientific evidence and explaining it to families so they can make educated decisions about their parenting and health care choices.

There seems to be various schools of thought on colic. Some believe there is always an underlying medical reason (either a food allergy or intolerance), while others feel that babies just cry and there is not always a reason behind it. What is your opinion on colic?

Boy, I wish we knew what causes colic, and how to effectively treat it or prevent it. Our best guess is that it is intestinal immaturity that leads to discomfort. Often, other true medical disorders make babies uncomfortable and those things CAN be treated, like milk allergies and acid reflux. So it is important not to discount all these symptoms and just chalk it up to colic, something the baby will just outgrow after 3 months. Get it checked out by your doc first.

The autism/vaccination connection has been disproven. What would you say to parents who are hesitant to vaccinate because of this?

As a parent and pediatrician, I vaccinated my own kids on the recommended schedule. I would do it again in a heartbeat. And I would do nothing differently for your child. As a parent, I understand that we are all just trying to do the best we can to protect our kids. In this case, the best thing we can do is to vaccinate them. Read my book!

In Toddler 411, you provide a lot of great potty training tips. At what age should a parent become concerned if their toddler isn’t learning to use the potty?

Girls usually train by age 3, boys are more like 3 to 3 1/2. If your child is approaching age 4 and still is not trained during the day, it is time to talk to your doc for tips and advice.

What is the most common overlooked hazard in parent’s homes and what is your recommendation to make it safer?

Well, that is a tough question. I think the most common unsafe thing parents do is to give their toddler free reign of their home once they graduate from their crib. Most 2-3 year olds are not ready to run around their home at night in the dark. Lord knows where they might end up besides mom and dad’s bed. If your child moves up to a toddler bed or a mattress in their room, put a safety gate in their doorway or a safety device on their doorknob until you can trust they will not end up in a disastrous situation (opening front door, back door, refrigerator, fall down stairs) when you are not watching them. Make their room, their crib — a safe sleep space.

In your opinion, what is the best way for parent’s to tame temper tantrums? Ignore or attempt to soothe the toddler?

Once a child is in full blown tantrum mode, let him go. It is not a form of communication unless you make it one, by responding. And, the tantrum is often an attempt to GET attention. So, if you respond, your child just won. Calmly say, “You are having a tantrum. Let me know when you are done.” Just make sure it is happening in a safe location.

For all the exhausted and exasperated mommas out there, what one tip would you offer them?

Take a night off every once in a while — alone, or with your partner (date nights are very therapeutic). Parenting is a 24/7 job (literally as you will be up all night with some regularity). It is the hardest job you will ever have, but also the most rewarding. You may lose sight of the enjoyable moments if you get too wrapped up in it and forget you, and your marital relationship. Happy parents make happy babies.

We’ve all had them – some worse than others. What has been your biggest parenting blunder?

Where to begin?!! Let’s just say that no one is perfect as a parent, me included. And, our kids usually survive despite us!

Can we expect to see more 411 books in the future?

Perhaps! Let me know what you’d like to see!

Check out the whole Parenting 411 Series, including Expecting 411, Baby 411 and Toddler 411! Like I said earlier, I’ll choose one comment at random to receive a signed copy of Baby 411. Check back on June 1 to find out who won this must-have parenting guide!

Find Ari and Denise on Twitter, Facebook or their website!

Congratulations the winner of a signed copy of Baby 411, Matt!

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  1. Very interesting! I think I need to read this before my Hubby and I have children 🙂

  2. What a cool book! I am going to buy one for my friend for her baby shower! I needed this!!!!! I probably still do! 🙂

  3. Matt Nolan says:

    My wife and I have a copy of Expecting 411 and Toddler 411. These are great books and I would recommend them to anybody. We have our 2nd child coming in late June and we are looking forward to using these books again.

  4. I love this book and it has been awesome with our now three-month-old. I’d love the signed copy to share with an expectant friend!

  5. I have read baby 411 and loved it! It answered so many of my questions and kept me from calling my pediatricians office everytime the baby did something unusual.
    I wish I had known about expecting 411, but I do recommend your books to any and all expectant mothers I meet. They are very helpful.
    Thank you!

  6. I’m always checking out parenting books when I’m in bookstores, but I’ve never seen this series. Sounds interesting, though I’m a Dr. Sears fan myself so we’ve already got the Baby Book. 🙂 I like the temper tantrum advice. Thanks for sharing your review and interview.

  7. Momma on the Rocks Momma on the Rocks says:

    Wow! Lots of fans of the 411 books! So great to hear!


  1. […] And now for the winner… Congratulations to Matt! You win a signed copy of Baby 411! […]

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