14 September 2009

Baby Lit 101- A List of Good Reads to Survive "The Newborn Experience"

As I enter my last trimester, I am starting to try and get my act together on this new baby thing. The good news is that the second time around it is way less scary, but that has also made it oh so easy to do nothing at all. Having gotten the hormonal kick in the butt I needed, I am getting the nursery together and rounding up some books I want to review before we fire up round two. These are all baby care and parenting books that were recommended to me, and I read them all before Cha Cha (the toddler) arrived. I picked and chose what to use from each book, but the knowledge gained from them really made me feel much more secure in what I was doing.

Baby 411 by Dr. Ari Brown and Denise Fields
- This book is a great, quick reference, no-nonsense guide to babies from head to toe. I like how the information is presented in a non-judgmental manner so you can get the plan vanilla facts and make your own game plan. My caveat with this book: Dr. Brown is very pro-vaccinations, though she gives the best explanation as to why, outlining the concept of herd immunity better than anything else I have ever read. I did not find this problematic, but other may so be warned.

The Happiest Baby on the Block by Dr. Harvey Karp- If you read only one book about surviving with a newborn, this should be it. Karp explains how the first few weeks/ months are actually a 4th trimester of gestation and gives a simple outline to calm a fussy baby. When you read it, it will seem so obvious, but trust me, this information will prove invaluable. I also found the advice to be pretty user friendly regardless of what parenting style you choose to embrace.

On Becoming Baby Wise by Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam
- This book is a bit controversial and I confess I did not follow the regime it outlines much. Despite the fact that I found the suggested parenting method was not for me, this book did teach me a lot of valuable information. Whether you choose to fully utilize the training plan or not, the book does help point out that as a parent you are empowered to alter your child’s behavior. Many argue that the plan is too rigid, even bordering on unrealistic and unhealthy, but the basic premise that at some point in time it is okay to “lay down the law” with your child’s eating and sleeping habits was very helpful. I will also add that I know several people who did this method hard-core with great results. Some babies do appear to respond well to the method. I would say read it and do what you will.

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Dr. Marc Weissbluth- This book saved my life.
Along the lines of Baby Wise it outlines a method to get your baby napping and sleeping with some regularity…and this is a good thing. The book does a very nice job of explaining how babies sleep, and why they need to sleep. It then outlines a simple procedure to get your baby trained to sooth themselves to sleep when they are tired, and wake up when they are refreshed and ready to play. It follows along the lines of Ferber, but with much better explanations of the hows and whys of sleep. With all that said, my daughter is still a total brat about napping, but at least I know I am doing the right thing by at least trying to get her to do so.

Breastfeeding 101 by Sue Tiller RN- or any other guide to breastfeeding. This one is pretty un-preachy and really just covers the quick and dirty of getting going and trouble shooting. While I only nursed for a month, having done the reading made it much easier for me to deal with the whole experience. While the logical knowledge doesn’t make learning to breastfeed any less emotionally and physically stressful, at least you will have some book-knowledge to back you up. Having read some books I felt pretty confident as to when I needed help and when I just needed practice. (As it turns out I needed a pediatrician who knew his ass from his elbow so as to diagnose the thrush I kept asking about, but that is a whole other story.)

I really recommend that people read these in advance of baby’s arrival. It sounds so stupid, but so many women tell me that all they read was pregnancy, labor and delivery books then BAM! They send you home with a baby. Hmm….pretty sucky. Not that reading these books made me a totally calm and competent expert, but it was so nice to know where to look for information I wanted at 3am versus starting the initial Google search with a screaming child in my arms. I distinctly remember seeing a particularly ragged looking couple with a screaming baby at our childbirth class reunion (another horror story for another day) who were completely overwhelmed and had spent so much time caring for their colicky baby that they had not found the time to watch the Happiest Baby on The Block DVD. Not saying that the knowledge would have cured the colic (bless those parents who deal with colic and live to tell the tale), but the information might have been more helpful to have on hand before the poo hit the fan. Additionally, I was glad I had read many books from all over the parenting spectrum. For example, having read about all the sleep training methods out there I was able to make one up that met my needs and comfort level.

Take it all with your personal grain of salt, but these were my favorites. Also, let me know about any tomes you feel deserve representation. I am always looking for something to read while twiddling my thumbs at the OB’s office.



Tim G said...

That's great advice - stay ahead in the education of yourself as a parent. It is so tempting to learn as you go or to seek advice after a problem or concern starts to show.

abdpbt said...

I love the Happiest Baby and Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child -- they both were SOO useful with Mini. Unfortunately, I didn't start Healthy Sleep Habits until after he was born, which was stupid, but sometimes I cannot get myself to do stuff unless it's absolutely urgent.

I'll have to check some of these others out.

Alexis said...

Dr. Weissbluth is my personal savior! That book is my go to new baby gift because everyone needs to read it, even if only to understand the science of sleep for the whole family. Well, that book and a trio of casseroles, those might be more useful actually...

CindyInLA said...

yes, Harvey Karp is amazing. We followed the Happiest Baby book for my son and then a year later used the Happiest Baby On The Block dvd (which comes with a cd of different types of white noise) when my daughter was born. Incredible results.