There is more to do after pregnancy?
November 17, 2012 4:54 AM   Subscribe

Expecting our first baby in about 2 months now. I have been so consumed with reading up on this pregnancy & labor that I have neglected to learn about what to do AFTER that. You know, when the little homunculus is actually out of my belly and chilling in our living room. Please share your best book recommendations for newborns. Humorous and serious alike. Telling me not to read and let instincts take over is also acceptable with anecdotes.
posted by MayNicholas to Education (36 answers total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
I loved Your Baby and Child by Penelope Leach. Practical, comprehensive and comforting, it's full of information-- always with the underlying message that there are many ways to raise a child and that so long as it is done with love it's hard to go wrong.

I particularly like how she dispels so many of the negative parenting myths-- again with that underlying message about love.
posted by idest at 5:08 AM on November 17, 2012 [5 favorites]

2nding Penelope Leach and adding Dr Sears: The Baby Book. (Dr Sears is sort of the Dr Spock for the current generation. In the politics of parenting, both veer to the crunchy end of the spectrum.)
posted by DarlingBri at 5:17 AM on November 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Heading Home With Your Newborn is great- very simple, practical advice on the basics of baby care.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:32 AM on November 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

Happy to hear that people still read Penelope Leach... 3rding her. Her approach is very kind and not nearly so "this is what you must do."
posted by Sweetie Darling at 5:32 AM on November 17, 2012

I recommend Baby 411 for a no nonsense practical matter of fact book that leans a bit on the medical side.
posted by dhruva at 5:40 AM on November 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

I liked Jack Newman's book a lot; I remember being pleased about what I summed up as "My guidelines are: no guidelines." There are not just exhortations to be confident but explanations of why you do not need to worry about fashionable worry X.

Leach's book is a nice one, too.

I adored Rima Apple's "Perfect Motherhood: Science and Childrearing in America" and "Mothers and Medicine: A Social History of Infant Feeding, 1890-1950" which are really nice to balance out how large a grain of salt all advice must be taken with; they are amusing social history and very useful for perspective if you do end up overwhelmed with it.
posted by kmennie at 5:52 AM on November 17, 2012

If you plan on breast feeding, The Food of Love is pretty great.
posted by dawkins_7 at 5:56 AM on November 17, 2012

Check out Vikki Iovine's "Girlfriend's Guide to..." series. Hysterically funny no-nonsense straight talk.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 5:56 AM on November 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have the Leach book (recommended by our doctor) and the Sears book, and find both to be interesting and useful. But the best thing we did to prepare for bringing home and taking care of our son was to take a newborn care and breastfeeding class at our hospital. It was all day on a Saturday, and we took it about two weeks before my due date. It was full of practical tips and demos on diaper changing, swaddling, baby soothing, breastfeeding, pumping, product recs, etc. Our son is three months old and I still find myself referring back to things I learned in that class.
posted by JenMarie at 6:02 AM on November 17, 2012 [3 favorites]

Ugh, I threw away the Sears book. I found it paternalistic and unhelpful. My favorite was Your Baby's First Year by the American Academy of Pediatrics. It breaks down each month and gives you an idea of what to expect without out a lot of biases towards any particular parenting philosophy. It's kind of a dry read but it was the most reassuring to me.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 6:13 AM on November 17, 2012 [5 favorites]

Oops. The version I linked to is out of print. Third Edition is what you want.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 6:20 AM on November 17, 2012

"Baby 411," was my wife's favorite of the many, many books she read.

It's short on theory and narrative, but long good, practical advice.
posted by oddman at 6:23 AM on November 17, 2012

When I had my first-born, my best friend was a mid-wife and mother of four. (Still a friend, but not a mid-wife). She gave me advice that literally changed my life: "don't worry; people had babies before they had language. There are three reasons a baby will cry: it is hungry, it is tired, or it needs a diaper change"
This was so different from my family's approach and my in-laws' approach. They had all sorts of ideas on everything and books, but since my friend was an authority, I followed her advice, and it worked! It worked far beyond the baby-stage, because it made me try to make logical choices throughout baby's upbringing. When no. two arrived it was even better.
With no. one, we did have a "colic" phase, but today I believe my friends opinion, that we were disturbing her (the baby) too much, was correct. Most people totally fall in love with their first baby, and can't let it be. So if the baby says the slightest thing, you take her up and out of her sleep, and distress her. This eventually leeds to discomfort, and maybe colic.
To my friend's advice, I'd like to add: get into a schedule. Not for the baby's sake, but for your own. With no. one, midwife friend and I were still young and partying and it fitted with our life-styles that we could bring our babies anywhere, anytime. Later on, it became a problem the kids were difficult to get to bed at night and to school in the morning, so I changed that for no. two. But you decide. It's not difficult, if you do stuff at regular hours, baby will follow.
Throughout, I ate anything I liked, breastfed and generally enjoyed not being pregnant. Both times I walked a lot, with the baby in it's stroller, and lost all the weight that way.
posted by mumimor at 6:26 AM on November 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

I am that non-judgmental, kid-free friend you have.

Find her (or him!), and let her come over, and tell her everything that you don't want to say to your other friends.

And that friend will tell you that no matter what, you care enough to be worried, and you're going to be FINE.

I promise, we even laugh when New Baby passes out on us and our legs fall asleep, or when New Baby spits up like that oil well in the Beverly Hillbillies.
posted by Medieval Maven at 6:31 AM on November 17, 2012 [4 favorites]

Find her (or him!), and let her come over, and tell her everything that you don't want to say to your other friends.

Seconding this. As this friend, I've heard my mother-of-three best friend confess to me that "Babies can be boring" although she wants them, is into breastfeeding as an activist volunteer etc etc etc
posted by infini at 6:45 AM on November 17, 2012

Not "how to" type books, but these two older books really helped me and I think withstand the test of time: Child of Mine--essays by people you've heard of and haven't, edited by Christina Baker Kline, and Anne Lamott's Operating Instructions. I also loved reading Catherine Newman's blog, which she turned into a book.
posted by gubenuj at 7:10 AM on November 17, 2012

Nthing Baby 411. Our friends received a copy when their baby was born. Four months later, they bought us a copy when our baby was born because they liked it so much. My wife and I liked it so much, we gifted copies to each of our friends and family since then. We read it cover to cover and the index was perfect for looking up issues that popped up. Everything in the book is based on something called "science", which I found lacking in a lot of the other baby books out there. "Science" is good a thing in my opinion. In fact, if you don't find the book useful, I will send you the $10 it goes for on Amazon! That is how strongly I feel about it.

I did not care for Sears.
posted by Silvertree at 7:10 AM on November 17, 2012

So That's What They're For!

I liked Dr Sears a lot, but don't get too sucked in -- it's okay to use his book as a reference tool but not believe everything he says 100%.

(This was 10 years ago, so I might be out of date.)
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:10 AM on November 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

> Find her (or him!), and let her come over, and tell her everything that you don't want to say to your other friends

Sure, but make sure you say it to your fellow new parents, too. They're thinking exactly the same stuff and they'll appreciate it all the more.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:20 AM on November 17, 2012

The Happiest Baby on the Block (book or DVD) is good. You also might like the forums on altdotlife.
posted by medusa at 9:32 AM on November 17, 2012

Not a book (yet):

Antectdote: the best book fit you depends on how you parent and your baby's personality. I tossed the books and relied on friends who patented the way I wanted to parent for advice.

Congrats :)
posted by dpx.mfx at 9:39 AM on November 17, 2012

We've been reading Your Baby's First Year Week by Week as we've gone -- I'm usually about a month in advance. We also read bits of The Happiest Baby on the Block and Sleep 411 when we were having trouble in that department.

There are three reasons a baby will cry: it is hungry, it is tired, or it needs a diaper change

I'm sure there are others, but for us there was a fourth: it has chronic acid reflux. When we got that treated the baby's life and ours improved tremendously. I throw it out there simply because it's very common, but it took a while for us to find a doctor who would take seriously the idea that our baby really was crying more than was normal (or than she needed to).
posted by gerryblog at 9:42 AM on November 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

I found the "Happiest Baby on the Block" DVD helpful. I don't think I got anything useful out of any of the other books mentioned above; online sources generally worked better for me.
posted by snickerdoodle at 9:46 AM on November 17, 2012 [3 favorites]

Re Sears' Baby Book -- it's a mix of straight, useful info and HIGHLY opinionated stuff, disguised as the former. He's the main advocate for co sleeping and attachment parenting, and some bits are pretty insulting. ("if the mother mustreturn to work...")
posted by kestrel251 at 11:11 AM on November 17, 2012 [3 favorites]

Stockpiles of pre-measured formula amounts and many clean bottles ready to go ( we supplemented breastfeeding with formula ); a dozen baby blankets ready to go when the current one gets hiccuped on, several waterproof changing blankies ready to go, multiple pacifiers located and ready to go; ... Be a "Baby Prepper"; the 2AM 4AM 3PM 1AM 3AM etc. wake up will be so much less of a "where is the ____ / why isn't the ____ ready / OMG I don't have a clean ____" circus when all the items are already grouped and ready to go.

Be careful where you point that thing, it *will* go off randomly; bare hands might make for a funny catchers mitt but a ready cloth would be better and less messy.

Planning 'sleep shifts' of sorts helped us rest better so that we were not both totally worn out at the same time.
posted by buzzman at 12:48 PM on November 17, 2012

When you read about taking care of babies, you'll get as wide a variety of opinions as you do reading about pregnancy. Just try to keep in mind: whatever decision you make that feels right for your family IS the right decision. Even if you change your mind. You can cosleep for a while and then Ferberize. You can decide breastfeeding sucks and use formula, or your baby could never take a bottle. But they are your decisions.

You can do this.
posted by linettasky at 3:28 PM on November 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

Anecdote: My friends had a toddler and then had twins. The twins were a teeny bit premature, and one came home a week or two before the other. I was babysitting the toddler (it was evening - he was asleep) when they picked the first twin up from the hospital and brought her home. She was all bundled-cacooned up and had a hat on. Very cute. They kinda propped the baby up in the corner of the couch, and we all stood back and admired her for a minute in silence before the following conversation took place:
Mom: Now what?
Dad: I don't know?
**awkward silence**
(this wasn't their first kid, either... I think this is pretty normal!)

Also, FWIW, my mom kept a journal for a few days when I was a few month old and she continually refers to me as "the baby"... much in the same tone that she did "the cat" and "the parakeet". She said it took awhile before I exhibited enough independence that she thought of me as *me* and started referring to me by name. Judging by the journal entry... just focus on getting through one day at a time.
posted by jrobin276 at 4:00 PM on November 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

I bought the AAP book, the Sears book, and the Leach book, and never read them because our baby seemed pretty easy to figure out. My advice would be to check the books recommended here out of your library rather than buying them, you may not need them as much as you think.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 4:24 PM on November 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

When my kids were babies, I liked a book I had by Miriam Stoppard (for primarily medical type info), and a couple I picked up second hand by Penelope Leach (for reassurance - she is like the Kwan Yin of baby and child books, imo). But most useful of all was How Not to Be a Perfect Mother, which is a half and half book of useful advice, and encouraging gossip.

Beyond that, try not to be overhwhelmed by all the "helpful" advice everyone will give you. Pick a couple of sensible people (other mothers, midwives, childcare nurses, whatever) and listen to them. Get your midwives to show you how to hold the baby, and change nappies and feed it. I think the first six weeks or so are pretty whirlwind, focus on getting to know the baby and taking care of yourself, and accept any offers of help (but make them do things that will actually be helpful to you, for many mothers, visitors who expect a nice lunch made for them while they follow you around criticising are not what we would describe as 'helpful'). You'll be fine! Congratulations!
posted by thylacinthine at 6:15 PM on November 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Marc Weissbluth's "Healthy sleep habits, happy child".

If you have a baby who's colicky and/or not an easy sleeper (which is not uncommon), it will save you a LOT of anguish.

If you have an easy baby, it will still be useful, and you can pass it on to others who need it more.

Please please please stay well away from all the Sears family. Unless you happen to find yourself with a Sears-compatible baby, lifestyle, income, etc.
posted by 8k at 8:19 PM on November 17, 2012

My husband and I split up the pre-baby reading -- I tackled labor and delivery (and pointed out things I found helpful or wanted him to read) and he took on caring for baby (and showed me certain chapters/tips). So, that included swaddling, Happiest Baby on the Block, early stages with feeding, sleeping, diapering, etc.. Which was great -- it really calmed me tremendously in those last weeks and he was really go-go when our baby arrived. Which was necessary as I had a c-section after 40 hours of labor and was pretty rocked by the whole thing.

I liked Sears but, yes, skip anything that makes you roll your eyes. I also recommend Leach and Baby 411. I also recommend a post-partum doula if you have those kind of things in your area. It's nice to have someone to answer your questions and give you very helpful tips and support without the baggage of family.

For general baby science -- "Pink Brain, Blue Brain" is really interesting and "Nurtureshock." "What's going on in there?" is really good on science but can be a little heavy (been reading a bit of it lately but didn't have the focus for it right before baby or just after!). And I thought "Brain Rules for Baby" was pretty interesting. These are good books to have nearby or on your phone/kindle during breastfeeding or other feeds. ;)

posted by amanda at 8:29 PM on November 17, 2012

Do yourself a favour and read up in general on babies and sleep, as IMO, it's the hardest area of parenting in the early months. I have a 4 month old and I've just started reading Elizabeth Pantley's "The No Cry Sleep Solution" - I desperately wish I'd read it earlier. It's a very kind book, emphasises care and routine rather than forcing you to endure screaming or personal discomfort in order to get the baby to sleep (I stupidly put up with both for at least two months, ouch my back). There are many many books out there that will present good ideas though. It's just down to you to know your baby well enough to figure out what will work.
posted by saturnine at 9:37 PM on November 17, 2012

I watched a lot of Youtube videos about everyday things - changing diapers (protip, put the fresh diaper under the baby before removing the old one - that way if they pee again, you only have to change the diaper, you won't be washing blankets/bedding, etc!), how to give a bath, etc. Also we watched a few Youtube clips from Happiest Baby on the Block. So glad we watched those about a week before delivery, because we put the tips to use the first day in the hospital. Anything you can get on dvd is going to serve you better than a book (this was especially true a few months in when we were seriously sleep deprived and decided we needed to do sleep training - I never would have figured that out from the book). Best of luck!
posted by vignettist at 11:26 PM on November 17, 2012

I'm sorry to lumber back into the thread to rave at you about nappies, but I did just want to mention that in addition to the above pro-tip, I have these also to offer:

When changing a boy, keep a cloth (either a spare cloth nappy if you use those, or a clean washcloth) to hand and whack it down over his penis while you sort out your nappy in case he has a small sudden-exposure induced pee - it can arch up surprisingly high! Make sure the penis is pointing down into the nappy before you do it up, or he will spray pee up into his clothes.

In babies that are still lying down, girls nappies are wetter at the back (the pee follows the path gravity dictates) and boy nappies are wetter in the front. I was used to boys and had no idea when my daughter's nappy was wet, until a helpful midwife explained.
posted by thylacinthine at 12:50 AM on November 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

"The Story About the Baby" has precisely enough gallows humour to function as a coping mechanism when it gets really, really hard.

I actually read "What to Expect When You're Expecting" and didn't find it to be as terrifying as so many claim to do. I found it soothing to know that so much weird stuff was absolutely normal. The most recent versions have definitely toned down the alarmist stuff.

I loved "No Cry Sleep Solution" - didn't do the whole thing, but the encouragement and empathy were priceless.

I may have learned way more practical stuff from the various baby websites than any specific book, though.
posted by batmonkey at 2:24 AM on November 18, 2012

Thank you all for the suggestions & well wishes!
posted by MayNicholas at 4:40 AM on November 19, 2012

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