Most people reading this story were either raised, or raised their own children, following advice they found written in a book by pediatrician Benjamin Spock, who was born in New Haven today in 1903. The most influential doctor of the Baby Boomer generation and a graduate of Yale University and Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, Spock was the first doctor to apply Freudian psychoanalysis to child care.
In 1946, Spock published The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care, which advocated a more intuitive and relaxed approach to child-rearing than was then the norm, written in a conversational, easy-to-understand style. The book, published in the earliest years of America’s post-war baby boom, became an instant bestseller, selling over four million copies in its first few years of publication.
Despite Spock’s many critics, there is no doubt that he single-handedly changed the way millions of parents in America and throughout the Western world approached childcare. His famous book (now published as Dr. Spock’s Baby and Child Care) has remained in print continuously for over 70 years, and by the time of Spock’s death in 1998 had sold over 50 million copies worldwide.
Andy Piascik, “Benjamin Spock: Raising the World’s Children,” connecticuthistory.org
“Spock at 65: Five Ideas that Changed American Parenting,” TIME Magazine