I know that this probably isn’t going to make your reading list unless you find that you’re about to have a baby, but I wanted to give this book an honorable mention for sheer usefulness. If there’s one book I’ve heard lauded it’s What to Expect When You’re Expecting, which is followed by a What to Expect the First Year, but neither of those has been as useful, as accessible to read, and as comforting to me as the Baby’s First Year book!
I found the What to Expect books informative, but difficult to read because of the month-by-month layout and less than comforting because of the way it presents some information. However, the Baby’s First Year book was well-laid out, has some very useful little charts and tidbits of advice (for example, a chart that documents the risk level of several over-the-counter medications for the baby when/if you choose to breastfeed), and was much more comforting. And if there’s one thing I’ve needed since I got pregnant it’s big heaping doses of comfort. Pats on the back, hugs, and people telling me (or books telling me!) that I’m not going to horrible screw up my baby if I make a mistake.
This book reads almost like a manual. It reminds me a bit of the book I got that detailed repairs, parts, and wiring for my last car. Handy, easy to reference, and laid out in such a way that I can flip through and find information easily. There’s even a first aid section that I’m sure I’ll be looking over frequently the closer I get to my due date.
Not only does this give you practical advice on issues like whether or not you want to breastfeed, with pros and cons for both, but it goes over what I’m calling baby equipment. Do you really need a bouncer seat for your baby? There are pros and cons. Are bassinets a good alternative to cribs? Etc. What a lifesaver. I wasn’t even away of half the baby equipment on the market until I started looking around on the internet for what I will need. This list several common items that parents find useful, and why or why not to buy them. Even better, it tells you what you want to look for if you do decide to buy something. On cribs, for example: did you know that the US banned drop-side cribs and why? That there are organizations that certify cribs, etc for safety? I had no idea. But it’s there in the book so I don’t have to go on the recollections that my grandma has of getting a second- or third-hand crib for my father after he was born, and how I slept in the playpen after she got custody of me at 9 months because I totally flipped out if you put me alone in the crib.
There are instructions on swaddling. (If you’re like me and you didn’t know what that was, it’s where you wrap the baby up in a blanket like a burrito.) There are instructions on burping the baby, caring for a baby with colic, how to hold the baby if you decide to breastfeed (who knew there was more than one way to do that???), how to change diapers (okay so that’s self-explanatory, but it’s there), and some tips on how to soothe your baby when they decide to fuss, or cry, or totally freak out and lance your eardrums with wails that set off car alarms.
If you’ve been around babies, these things aren’t hard to figure out. There’s also a little section in the front of the book that suggests what you may want to bring to the hospital with you. I, for one, would have never thought of bringing a nice black top of some kind for when the hospital brings by a photographer for newborn photos. (And yup, I checked, the hospital where I’m planning to deliver does that.)
In short, this book is really useful. I suspect even for people who are fairly familiar with children this could be a handy little go-to book to reference when you’re stymied by a baby. I really prefer it over the What to Expect series of books, though those aren’t a complete waste of money, and I’ve gone over it a couple times already just to mentally prepare myself for what’s up with babies. I’m glad I came across it and if you, or someone you know, is preparing for an addition to the family this is the book I would recommend for them.
Filed under: Non-Fiction on February 7th, 2012