Wednesday, February 25, 2009

My favorite baby-related books for grown-ups

About pregnancy (mostly):
Body, Soul, and Baby: A Doctor's Guide to the Complete Pregnancy Experience, from Preconception to Postpartum by Tracy Gaudet, MD, and Paula Spencer

What I liked: I wish I had this book before becoming pregnant, but I'm glad I discovered it at all! I really like its positive approach to pregnancy (I'm giving you a shuddering glance, What to Expect When You're Expecting. Thank goodness you didn't even make it home from the library!). This book gives medical info, but gives equal space to your spirit and how your body feels. It offers exercises for your soul. Reading that makes it sound dippy, but I loved it and I don't think I would have "talked" with my baby nearly as often without it--and since that was probably my favorite part of being pregnant, I owe this book a lot!

What I didn't like: The way the exercises are explained could be improved. They're explained once, and then are referred to; I'd like it better if there was an appendix with all the exercises, so at least I could look in one spot, instead of leafing through trying to find the first mention of an exercise. (Or maybe there was an easier way, but my pregnancy brain didn't find it!)

Perfect Hormone Balance for Pregnancy by Robert Greene, MD, and Laurie Tarkan

What I liked: This book emphasizes feeling great while pregnant because of your powerful, wonderous hormones. And since pregnancy (and life) is all about your hormones being in balance, it's pretty important. It was good to refer to, and more fun than a book on hormones might sound.

What I didn't like: I still gained too much weight while pregnant, even though I thought I was following the program pretty well! As a lacto-ovo vegetarian, it was easy to follow for me--or maybe I still messed it up. But I felt great while pregnant most of the time, so something was working.

A Child Is Born by Lennart Nisson

What I didn't like: This is exactly the kind of book I never would have looked at before becoming pregnant. For one thing, the title is a little deceptive: I thought it was going to be all graphic photos of actually giving birth.

What I liked: But to my relief, it's almost all photos of babies developing in the womb. Now, I still wouldn't have been interested pre-pregnancy, but when it was actually happening to me I was fascinated by it!

I loved the BabyCenter weekly update e-mails, of course--Brad and my friends at work would all try to guess what bit of produce would be the comparison for the baby's size that week--but when I didn't want to imagine the baby as a turnip or a honeydew, I would look at this book.

In preparation for baby (mostly):
The Baby Name Wizard: A Magical Method for Finding the Perfect Name for Your Baby by Laura Wattenberg (also the accompanying websites, all based on the info from the book: Nymbler, Your Personal Name Assistant, Baby Name Voyager, and the Nymbler blog.

What I liked: As a writer, I'm always intrigued by names: how authors choose their names and why. I had a hard enough time picking my characters' names for Disneylanders--how would Brad and I ever decide on TWO baby names (since we weren't finding out the baby's sex, we needed at least two great names!).

These sites were the ones that helped me the most--and were the most fun! Unlike every other baby name book I've seen, The Baby Name Wizard and Nymbler give you name suggestions based on the "feeling" or "style" of names you already like. I don't know how it works, but I think most of the time, it does! This is fun for parents and writers, too.

What I didn't like: It's a huge time-suck. I would get drawn into the books/websites and not emerge again for two hours. Also, sometimes the suggestions weren't right on, or I disagreed with them. And, the funniest thing: the name we chose didn't come from the book! Although I think I was reading the book when I came across our grandfathers' names, and thought, hmm.... So maybe the book still gets some credit.

Raising Baby Green: The Earth-Friendly Guide to Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Baby Care by Alan Greene, MD, Jeanette Pavani, and Theresa Foy DiGeronimo

What I liked: I referred to this book all the time when we were deciding what to buy. Plus, it supported me in what I already felt was right (sort of the theme with all of these books!).

What I didn't like: There are some scary factoids about non-eco-friendly materials. It makes life more complicated because Babies "R" Us doesn't always carry the most eco-friendly items (although they're improving). But I think doing the homework and shopping around is well worth it. (And my baby now has nicer cradle and crib mattresses than I do!)

About baby (mostly):
The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp, MD

What I liked: I think the ultimate "gift of sleep" baby shower bundle (other than a live-in nanny) would be the Happiest Baby on the Block, the Miracle Blanket, and a white-noise machine. This book is essential for understanding how to calm a newborn baby (under three months old). In short: recreate the womb environment. For how to do that: read the book. (Also, this swaddling technique was the best we found for normal (i.e., non Miracle) blankets.

What I didn't like: The author often repeats the same advice. It's very repetitive. The book has much of the same information throughout. (Haha.) But, this could be a benefit for the seriously sleep-deprived!

The Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby from Birth to Age Two by a whole bunch of Sears family doctors/nurses

What I like: At one of newborn Henry's first visits, our doctor asked me what I thought my parenting style was. (Um, sleepy?) I told her I thought I'd be more hippy-dippy about things than scheduled, which I think is still true. She recommended this book to me, and it was a great fit, for the most part. It's all about attachment parenting, so it's very pro- breastfeeding, cosleeping, baby wearing, and baby-led routines; it's not for people looking for a cry-it-out, "sleep training" approach.

What I don't like: When breastfeeding didn't work out for me, I found little to ease my guilt about stopping in this book. A huge amount of Sears advice involves breastfeeding. Although I must say, they do throw in the occasional paragraph about making the best decisions for you and your family, etc., one paragraph after a whole chapter's worth of breastfeeding's benefits doesn't really help. I now just try to gloss over any mentions of breastfeeding and appreciate the rest of the advice.

The Vaccine Book by another Sears family doctor

What I like: It's got all the medical information you need, presented in what I think is an objective manner, and is even kind of funny! Plus, it's super short compared to the massive Baby Book, so it's not that intimidating. The alternative vaccination schedule in the back makes it worth the price alone.

What I don't like: Again, there's the breastfeeding talk, but I understand why it's relevant.

Our Babies, Ourselves: How Biology and Culture Shape the Way We Parent by Meredith Small, anthropologist

What I like: I'm still reading this one, but it's fascinating. It's about ethnopediatrics--how different cultures raise their babies, and how that might differ from what's actually best for babies.

I think it's a great coincidence that, while I am reading this book, Baby Henry has taken to using his soft "baseball bat" toy--he loves to swing it around, and sometimes even hit the little squishy ball! Brad said he looks like a "cave baby" with a club. This book reminds me that that's exactly what he is.

It reminds me of the line in Jurassic Park, where Dr. Sattler says that the newly recreated dinosaurs have no idea what century they're living in. It's the same for newborns. Good to keep in mind.

What I don't like: I think you'll sense a pattern that I have residual formula-feeding qualms. This book's "eating" chapter doesn't make it better. The author flat-out says that one of my main problems with breastfeeding does not exist. I need to finish reading the whole thing, though.

On the list with a big asterisk
Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth, MD

What I don't like: Honestly, I don't feel comfortable with most of what the author suggests. I think it could be very valuable if you're into sleep training, though. But this book is on the list because...

What I like: I learned a HUGELY important nugget of wisdom from this book that I haven't seen in any other baby books (and I've currently got more than 25 of them): Young babies generally get sleepy after they've been awake for two hours. Try to put them down for a nap in sync with their natural rhythms, and life will be much more pleasant for everyone. Talk about a revelation! Yes, indeed.

Those are my tops, but I'm sure I'll think of 10 more to add to the list as soon as I hit "publish." If I do, I'll make a new post.

And, if you're interested in my favorite baby books for babies, check out my new blog: Pat the Blog!


bluedog1121 said...

I also love Body, Soul, and Baby. An awesome new mommy friend gave it to me! But Kate, why did "Porn for New Moms" not make the list? ;)

Rebecca Chastain said...

What, "My Hormones, My Magic" didn't make the list? LOL

MiracleBlanket said...

Hello, please pardon the intrusion. I’m Mike Gatten, inventor of Miracle Blanket. Your blog was brought to my attention because of your mention of the Miracle Blanket. I can’t thank you and others enough for helping us spread the word because people just don’t believe us when we tell them it might be “this easy.” That's why word-of-mouth has been the biggest source of growth for us since day one.

To show our gratitude I'd like to send you a free Miracle Blanket. If you don’t need it for yourself you might give it as a gift or maybe a giveaway on your blog.

Please contact Susan in Marketing and let her know what color you would like. or (214) 675.0539.

And again, thank you very much.


TikiBird said...

Mike from Miracle Blanket--thank you so much! That's so wonderfully generous of you to offer. (I'm going to keep it for myself!) :) Brooke and Rebecca, I'll update my lists. I couldn't forget those!