Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Book Club: Baby Resources

I spent so much time researching healthy pregnancy habits and preparing for the birth of our first child that I completely forgot to get ready for life after his imminent arrival. This meant that I had a lot of reading to do once we got home from the hospital. You'd think maternity leave meant that I had tons of spare time on my hands, but it's absolutely mind boggling how quickly a day with an infant can go by without even a moment to shower.

That being said, I did eventually find time for some informational reading about how to raise a tiny human without screwing them up completely. I shall share that knowledge with you here...

Alway Family recommended reading for 
surviving the first year with a brand new baby:

What to Expect the First Year
by Heidi Murkoff

This book was my bible. There's a reason why it's the world's best-selling, best-loved guide to the instructions that babies don't come with (but should). I loved the month-by-month format, because it allowed me to take the overwhelming first year just one month (and a few pages) at a time. I kept it next to my bed and read little tidbits whenever I had the energy to keep my eyes open for a few minutes before passing out cold — until my little demon baby inevitably awakened me just a few short hours (or minutes) later.

Super Baby Food
by Ruth Yaron

I started reading this book while I was sitting in the closet pumping at work. I had dreamy ideas of becoming a hippie mom who only fed her child homemade, all-natural, organic baby foods. Had that actually happened, this book would have been an incredible resource. As it stands, my kid eats mac 'n' cheese and goldfish alongside his organic blueberries — so I guess we made it halfway. The book is still contains fantastic recommendations on what, when and how to feed your baby and toddler, even if you don't have the time or energy to commit to making your own baby food.

The No-Cry Sleep Solution
by Elizabeth Pantley

This is a book about gentle ways to help your baby sleep through the night. Ryder has always been a crappy sleeper, literally since the night he was born. We went through months of agony deciding how we wanted to deal with the situation — the hotly debated "cry it out" technique, or the "grin-and-bear-it" solution of getting up from dusk until dawn as often as necessary. After I read an article that left me in tears and validated all my basic instincts regarding motherhood, we decided against the "cry it out" method and I went in search of other options. This book offered clearly explained, step-by-step ideas to steer our precious little one toward a good night's sleep — all with no crying.

The Gentle Sleep Book
by Sarah Ockwell-Smith

Along the same lines, this is a gentle, evidence-based approach that doesn't involve "cry it out." It examines everything from frequent night waking in babyhood through bed wetting in toddlerhood to nightmares and refusal to go to bed in preschool — all without leaving a baby to cry or shutting a sobbing child in their bedroom. It's filled with extensive scientific and anecdotal information, plus plenty of gentle suggestions that help the whole family get a good night's sleep.

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child
by Marc Weissbluth

I loved this book's philosophy that "the most important thing is to have a well-rested family." It basically offers a middle ground between severe extinction methods of "cry it out" and attachment parenting. It presents evidence-based knowledge and experiences that offer helpful advice and information about a child's natural sleep patterns. However, the book does still present what are essentially "cry it out" methods. And since I vehemently disagree with this option, I personally recommend some of the previous books I mentioned much more highly than this one.

The following are NOT recommended 
by the Alway Family:

Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems
by Richard Ferber

Please, do not "Ferberize" your child! I bought this book at a garage sale after someone assured me that it was the only reliable sleep-training method. However, Richard Ferber's "extinction method" of ending a child's instinctive cues for attention (popularized more than 30 years ago) has since been shown to be dangerous and damaging. A recent piece in Psychology Today outlines the dangers of "crying it out," which include a stress-released toxic hormone that kills brain cells, among others. Studies out of Harvard, Yale, Baylor and other prestigious institutions also show that this destroying of baby brain cells can lead to a higher probability of ADHD, poor academic performance, and anti-social tendencies. Ironically, even Dr. Ferber himself is reexamining his original theories, which the American Academy of Pediatrics advises against because they increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). So although I didn't actually read this book (and plan to throw it away, rather than donate it and further spread this dangerous madness), I strongly advise against it.

On Becoming Baby Wise: Giving Your Infant the Gift of Nighttime Sleep
by Gary Ezzo

Please, don't try to become "Baby Wise." I stupidly bought this book when I was 38 weeks pregnant at the recommendation of a strange man on the bus. I blame pregnancy hormones. In any case, I did actually read it in a moment of sleep-deprived desperation. The book presents an extremely rigid, unnatural feeding and sleep program that really seemed to go against my basic instincts as a parent, so I ultimately decided it. Thank god, because I subsequently learned that the American Academy of Pediatrics has linked the Baby Wise method with failure to thrive, poor weight gain, dehydration, breast milk supply failure, and involuntary early weaning in infants. The advice found in the book is in direct opposition to the latest AAP, WHO, and La Leche League recommendations on newborn feeding. It also contains many examples of unsubstantiated "medical" claims. This is another one for the trash; I strongly advise against it.

And just to clarify...

The intent of this post is not to criticize any decisions other parents have made, or the resources they have used. Stewart and I have labored over every single choice related to our son. Each one has required extensive research, soul-searching, and the counsel of trusted loved ones. We embrace the opportunity to share some of the information that we've gathered, but we recognize that what worked for our family may not be right for yours.

We're all just trying to figure it out, right?!

What are some of your favorite baby resources?

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  1. Love this Sarah!!

    For the toddler years or even now I love

    peaceful parent, happy kids by Laura markham and No Drama Discipline they helped me soooo much

  2. This is a great list of resources! I'm going to have to save it for a later date. I might be needing this information in the next year or so......

  3. for later! Thanks for the suggestions!


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