Did you know that, in today’s overwhelming world of baby stuff, new parents commonly spend between $9,000 and $12,000 on baby-related products in their baby’s first year?
WHAT???!!! Over ten thousand dollars on baby stuff??? In just the first year? Holy smokes! What is going on, people???!!!
I learned this mind-blowing statistic from a book recently released by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) called “Retro Baby: Cut back on all the gear and boost your baby’s development with more than 100 time-tested activities”. It’s a book written by a child development specialist who is also a pediatric occupational therapist with over 20 years of experience and a mother of three. Her name is Anne Zachry, PhD, OTR/L.
Some of you might know Dr. Zachry from her incredibly helpful OT blog, Pediatric Occupational Therapy Tips. Or maybe you know her from her website devoted exclusively to providing tummy time tips. Or maybe you know her because you saw her book featured on TV or in a recent issue of USA Today. Or maybe you’ve even read one of her many articles she’s written for Parents.com or Babble.com. Okay, you get the point — Dr. Zachry is an expert in her field and knows what she’s talking about!
I was so honored when Dr. Zachry asked if she could send me a copy of Retro Baby for me to read, review, and share with all of us parents who are just trying to do what’s best for our babies and their development. Because that’s the bottom line, isn’t it?
Some of the links below are affiliate links, which means if you click over and wind up making a purchase, you will get a great product and Mama OT will receive a small commission to keep this blog running, at no extra cost to you (thank you!). Read my full disclosure here.
Retro Baby is basically divided into two parts:
- How to establish a good foundation for your baby
- Fun, developmentally-appropriate activities to do with your baby from 0-24 months, with an emphasis on activities for the first year
In the first section of the book, readers learn how to lay a good foundation for baby’s development. Dr. Zachry addresses important topics such as baby equipment to use and avoid, developmental milestones to expect in the first 24 months, the development of a baby’s sensory systems and how to identify early signs of dysfunction, tips for safe infant sleep and tummy time, and how to prevent and remediate the formation of flat spots on the back of baby’s head. As an occupational therapist and a mom (and a total infant development geek!), this first section was my favorite part of the book. It was filled with such interesting, educational information that was not only accurate but also EMPOWERING to me as a reader.
In the second section of the book, readers learn how to play with their baby and facilitate their development! Each chapter starts off by highlighting a handful of milestones to expect during the specified age range and then transitions into activities you can do and toys you can use or make in order to facilitate your child’s development in a natural, playful way. While each chapter in this section addresses the overarching theme of how to play with your baby, they all have a unique flavor depending on the age range being discussed. If you’re interested in knowing what each chapter addresses, well, here you go:
- 0-3 months: Toy recommendations, homemade toys you can make without breaking the bank, how to make your own tummy time bolster, infant safety with items such as crib bumpers and swaddling and, of course, how to play with your 0-3 month old
- 4-6 months:Toy tips and homemade toys, guidelines for using baby equipment such as swings, infant safety with changing tables, and songs and games you can do with your 4-6 month old
- 7-9 months: Toy tips and homemade toys, guidelines for using baby equipment such as the Bumbo seat, exersaucers, and baby walkers, and fun developmental activities you can do with your 7-9 month old
- 10-12 months: Toy tips and homemade toys, guidelines for using “smart toys” (electronic toys that talk and “teach” concepts) and baby equipment such as baby jumpers and walking harnesses, and developmentally-appropriate songs and activities to do with your 10-12 month old
- 13-24 months: Toy tips and homemade toys for this age range, guidelines related to infant TV watching and “educational DVDs”, alternatives to having your baby watch TV and, of course, play activities and recipes for your now-toddler!
- Epilogue: Final words of wisdom, with a handy table summarizing recommendations related to the use of all the different types of baby equipment mentioned in the book
- Index: Organized alphabetically by topic so you can quickly figure out where to find your answers about tummy time, rolling, and any other baby-related topics
Here’s something I really appreciated about “Retro Baby” — it’s not just a list of activities that someone found on the Internet. Don’t get me wrong. I love things like Pinterest. It’s a great resource for anyone looking for ideas, especially when it comes to working with kids. But “Retro Baby” isn’t just a random list of activity ideas with a pretty cover photo and a “Top Ten” list. It’s a well-thought out, well-researched resource that provides insights backed by evidence, and it is intentionally written to target topics, issues, and skills that are developmentally appropriate to specific age groups.
I like that Dr. Zachry tells you not only what to do, but also why you should do it. Her book takes a realistic, balanced approach to the use of baby equipment and infant safety, and it provides parents practical ideas for how to engage with their little one. These ideas for how to play with baby serve not only to encourage baby’s development, but also to establish and deepen the parent-infant bond. I love the fact that she tells the truth about baby products that marketing and advertising companies just won’t.
Another thing I think you’ll like about “Retro Baby” is that it proves you don’t need to be rich to be able to foster your baby’s development. Dr. Zachry shares so many ideas on how to save money and do baby toys on a budget. Many of the activities and DIY projects are simple, straightforward, and easy-to-understand. Some even resemble a few of the activities I have featured here on Mama OT, such as this ball rolling one, this scarf pulling one, or this muffin pan one. Fun, fun, fun!
So who should read this book? Expectant parents and friends who are putting together a baby registry. New parents who are sleep deprived, busy, and desperately in need of quick, simple ideas for how to play with their baby. Babysitters and nannies. Daycare providers. Early Intervention therapists. And even pediatricians. I wish every OB/GYN and pediatrician had “Retro Baby” in their waiting rooms so expectant and new parents could briefly peruse through it every few weeks or months as they wait for their baby’s regular check-ups. Wouldn’t that be amazing?!
I’ll be honest: I have been keeping “Retro Baby” on the shelf where we keep my seven-month-old’s toys so it’s easily within reach for those times when the day just will. not. end. It is so helpful!
I really hope you get a chance to get your hands on this book. It’s such a great resource and I believe its information, activities, and empowerment for parents will stand the test of time.