Tag Archives: solter

Parenting Through the Debates: The Aware Baby

1 May

Title: The Aware Baby, revised edition (2001)
Author: Aletha J. Solter,, Ph.D
Credentials: Solter has an MA in biology and Ph.D. in psychology. She leads workshops for parents and founded the Aware Parenting Institute. She has two grown children.
Genre: Parenting handbook; philosophy of parenting
Audience: “Attachment” parents; those interested in psychology

No-Method Method Summary:

Solter’s mission is to change the world through “aware” parenting. She believes that the majority of violence in the world is caused by a lack of compassionate parenting. Her major contribution to the debates is the idea that babies–and adults–need to cry to release their emotions, work out stress, and heal from trauma. In many situations, she recommends providing a loving environment for children to cry. She strongly advises against leaving a baby to cry alone. She offers some support for the idea that parenting is culturally determined and provides examples from many cultures to show a variety of parenting styles. She believes that, since babies in developed countries are no longer at immediate risk of death or malnourishment, parents should turn their focus to the best practices for raising compassionate, non-violent, emotionally attuned adults. Every chapter has a list of exercises for you to do in three categories: Exploring your childhood; Expressing your feelings about your baby; Nurturing yourself.


I started off by hating this book. The idea that children need to cry is counterintuitive, especially since I spent the first four months of my daughter’s life desperately trying to get her to stop crying. Thinking about it, however, I realized that I like to cry sometimes, so it’s quite possible that a baby might, too. Still, the notion that babies need to work out the trauma of their birth sounds preposterous to me. She seems to think of life as a perpetual trauma, an idea that I know has some currency with certain psychologists that that I think is perfect nonsense. Many of her ideas are commonsense and easy to put into practice, but parents on both sides of the spectrum will resist her suggestions. The book is not easy to read; the style is academic and a bit off-putting.

One major objection I had: according to her, if you get angry or frustrated while trying to let your baby cry, you have unresolved trauma from being let cry alone or from not being permitted to cry. By saying that, she effectively silences any opponents: if you don’t like her suggestions, you are a traumatized individual who needs healing.

To her credit, she really does think that her advice can change the world. She’s not just trying to make money by becoming a household name.

Recommended only if you’re particularly interested in this summary.

Related Books:
Sears, The Baby Book
Cohen, Lawrence, Playful Parenting

Gerber, Dear Parent: Caring For Infants With Respect
Leo, Pam, Connection Parenting



Parents raise children to fit into their specific cultures–cooperation, obedience, dependence, independence, conformity, pride, humility; Continue reading