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National

Revolutionary Pediatrician T. Berry Brazelton Dies At 99

SARAH MCCAMMON, HOST:

Parents and children lost one of their most dedicated advocates this week. T. Berry Brazelton was a pediatrician and a child psychiatrist, but he will be remembered most for teaching the world and especially parents about babies.

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T BERRY BRAZELTON: You notice that she smiled the first two or three times (laughter). And then she moved her hands a little bit. And finally she began to open her eyes as if she was waiting for the next stimulus, which I think it's fabulous 'cause it shows that she's sort of anticipating.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Through his clinical work, best-selling books and TV program, Brazelton became a rock star to overwhelmed and anxious new parents.

MCCAMMON: His nickname was the Baby Whisperer. In 2007, he told NPR's Steve Inskeep about what led him to be a pediatrician.

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BRAZELTON: Well, I hated my younger brother, and my mother was so invested in my younger brother. But my grandmother valued me, and she let me take care of all my younger cousins. And I found out that it was so much fun, that I knew by 9 years of age that I wanted to be just what I am - a pediatrician who works with parents.

SHAPIRO: For generations of parents, Brazelton was the expert. But when it came to his own children, he struggled.

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BRAZELTON: Oh, gosh, I don't think I ever did anything right. My kids will be glad to tell you that. (Laughter) And so I really feel that learning to parent is learning from your mistakes, not from your success.

MCCAMMON: Brazelton's work revolutionized the way we view babies and young children. During his more than 50-year career, he encouraged the world to see them as complex beings. Here he is in a 2010 interview.

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BRAZELTON: What I dream of is that every parent will have an opportunity to give her and his child the best future that they can dream of and that every child will be ready to accept that and take off to get there. And I think we can do that.

SHAPIRO: T. Berry Brazelton died on Tuesday just shy of his 100th birthday. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.