05 November 2010

Does this baby come with an instruction manual?

My Mum has always said that children don't come with an instruction manual. If this is true, then why are there SO many books written about babies and children?

When I first found out I was pregnant I remember going to Borders and standing in the pregnancy and new baby section. I was gobsmacked as to the number and variety of books. I remember leaving empty handed and completely confused. When I told Mum of the pregnancy, she instantly went out and bought half the books on display at Borders that had bamboozled me! I read all of the books she bought (plus the ones I subsequently bought) and began to study up on the little being growing inside me. As my pregnancy continued, I started buying baby books in anticipation of the imminent arrival. Again, I started reading and getting ready for Layla's arrival. Given my academic and professional background, I was following the logical path of studying before commencing any new challenge. I wanted to be ready, to know what to expect, be 'fit' for the race I was about to run. Despite all my reading, I still have and continue to come across challenges that no book has prepared me for.

A small selection of my baby & pregnancy books

I recently asked my wonderful Mummy friends to tell me about their favourite Mummy things so that I could include them on my blog. My friend Deb gave birth to the gorgeous baby Ava 7 weeks after Layla's arrival. Deb's advice was not to read all the baby books. She says:
"I would suggest to new parents not to read all the textbooks!
You learn more about parenthood through experience, trial & error than getting frazzled about what the textbooks say you should be doing. Stay cool and go with the flow

I completely agree with Deb's comments but that did not and has not stopped me from regularly buying and reading baby books. Ultimately the books are only advice and opinion. As per my post on being an expert, you are the ultimate expert on your child not the author of the book you just read. The books nevertheless provide you with guidance, ideas, solutions and confusion that are all necessary on this journey. When you are at your whits end having tried EVERYTHING, it is only natural to seek information that may work and end the nightmare.

Given my extensive library, I thought I'd share with you my favourite books that I regularly consult:
1. General : Baby Love by Robyn Barker. Great overall guide reference book.
2. Routine: Save Our Sleep by Tizzie Hall. If you think you want to do the whole routine thing, this is a good place to start. It is less intense than Gina Ford's books but follows a similar theme. Remember your baby is not a robot and may not conform to the prescribed routine. The book will help you get organised and figure out how to structure your day;
3. Development: The Wonder Weeks by Hetty van de Rijt, Ph.D. and Frans Plooij, Ph.D. (see previous post - LOVE IT!)
4. Labour: Birth Skills by Juju Sundin & Sarah Murdoch. Great book to prepare you for labour. It's hard to know what labour will be like and what to do. This book is a great guide and really helpful for natural birth (with or without drugs);
5. Food: New Complete Baby and Toddler Meal Planner by Annabel Karmel. A gift from my friend Alizah that has been fantastic in the past month.

Given my appetite for books, I have found that http://www.booko.com.au/ is a wonderful way to find the cheapest price for books from across the world.

Got  favourite book? Have an opinion on baby/pregnancy books? Leave me a comment and share your thoughts.


  1. As you know Jas, I'm a fan of Gina Ford. However, neither of my children ever completely fitted the Gina mould and I had to adapt the routines to suit them. I found the SOS book expected babies to sleep for too long and amongst my mummy friends I've yet to meet a baby who can sleep as long as suggested.

    Robin Barker simply lost me when she said babies don't feel the effects of teething.

    In terms of food I hunt high and low for books, but really relied on the same Annabel Karmel book (as well as her Finger Food book) and also Gina's The Complete Weaning Guide. The Women's Weekly cook books are very good too. But I will use anything from a Donna Hay recipe to good ol' shepherd's pie, to something from a magazine, as long as it suits everyone's taste buds. I'm pretty big on encouraging everyone to eat the same thing.

  2. When we were babies the book to read was 'The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care' by Dr Benjamin Spock. Nowadays there is so much information online and in the bookstores that looking for advice can be more a nightmare than a pleasure.

    I was really happy with the "What to Expect: The First Year" a handy reference for the whole pregnancy, birth and development.

    Also sign up to a baby website e.g. www.babycenter.com.au and all you need do is check your email and there will be a week-by-week description and information on how your baby is developing from conception. The website also has FAQ and message boards so that you can communicate with other new mums.

  3. Thanks for your comments Deb and Sus. Couldn't agree more! Layla has not fitted either Tizzie or Gina's routines but I've managed to combine both plus a bit of creativity to make my own routine. Both books are good guides. The online resources can also be wonderful. As for Robyn Barker, it's only a general guide. I also used the what to expect series to even out the information. When it comes to food, we're only at the early stages where purees dominate the menu. I'm waiting on a book called 'baby led weaning' which will add to my library. I've also found that looking up organic baby food companies in here and in the USA provided me with great ideas when preparing food for Layla.
    Thanks again and keep the comments coming. Jas x

  4. Jas...big kiss for being dedicated to organic, healthy food for Layla (and going sugar free). What a wonderful start for her life.

    My only regret, now that I'm feeling so well, was not being this well when I was pregnant and giving breastfeeding a better go. My homeopath has really sorted out all my hormones and I believe I would have been better equipped to BF.

  5. I've had 4 kids & one book that I found the most invaluable was Tresillian's "how to stay sane In your baby's first year" - just good ole common sense without the liturgies of diff routines,or programs. No baby fits any one mould so this gave me much peace!