Review by SHARMILA RAJAH
WHAT TO EXPECT
The First Year
By Heidi Murkoff with Sharon Mazel
Publisher: Pocket Books
What to Expect - The First Year is my personal bible. It was my go-to guide as a first-time parent three years ago, and today it’s still my obvious choice as I scramble about changing diapers, checking stool colour and wondering about my newborn’s sleeping patterns.
It is a comprehensive and up-to-date book designed with the parent in mind. This is the new second edition. The information in it is packaged in a user-friendly way, which means answers to all your queries are easily accessible. Therefore, saving you, the parent, plenty of time.
The guide is all about parenting babies from birth to 12 months; with a little extra for mums and dads. While the book devotes a chapter to each month of a baby’s first year, it also does not neglect the role each parent plays before and after birth, the array of emotions experienced, and the how-to on maintaining and nurturing a relationship with your partner.
It is one of the many positive aspects of this book – that is the focus the authors have given to the parents’ emotional response to parenthood (such as fears and worries, feelings of inadequacy, changes in the marital relationship, postpartum depression, and changes in the family with a new baby). The authors recognise these as valid feelings and concerns parents typically experience with the arrival of a new baby.
There are entire chapters dedicated to breastfeeding, newborn care, becoming a father, first aid do's and don’ts, the low birth weight baby, baby’s first recipes and more.
Early chapters equip the parent-to-be with information on how to get ready for the arrival of the new baby - by helping parents decide about whether to breast or bottle feed, circumcision, naming the baby, selecting the right physician, furnishing the nursery and more.
Later chapters dwell on special concerns for the baby that include what to do when your little one is sick, dealing with the more common birth disorders, bonding with your adopted infant and sibling relationships. There’s even a very useful third part of the book, which highlights recipes for babies and toddlers, recommended home remedies, charts on common childhood illnesses, height and weight, and the thorough index. Careful attention has been given to diet and nutrition of mother and baby.
Each “baby” chapter is neatly categorised into sections on “What your baby may be doing”, “What you can expect at this month’s checkup”, “Feeding your baby this month”, “What you may be concerned about”, and “What is important to know”. In these different baby sections, you will learn about what to expect at scheduled doctors’ visits, the milestones your baby will be reaching during that month and how to handle common concerns.
The authors, mothers themselves, have thought of everything – answering a multitude of questions from stool colour, and types of cries to the first-year diet and sleep patterns.
The question and answer format is undeniably easy to read, providing parents with the right dose of assurance, confidence, and accurate information you will need … in a jiffy. The tone is mostly clear and encouraging – especially great for first-time parents. The information is presented in a conversational style, which makes reading and comprehending a breeze for busy parents.
However, there are biases that are evident through their writing – for example, the strong opposition of the use of pacifiers which is supported by a set of reasons plus their championing of breastfeeding.
Though primarily targeted at mothers as they enter motherhood, fathers won’t feel left out – it has a chapter dedicated to dads, exhibits a no-nonsense approach and practicality, and a heavy reliance on medical knowledge that will keep dads interested.
What to Expect - The First Year proves to be, without a doubt, a treasure trove of information that comes packaged in the form of tips, advice and suggestions. It’s no surprise that this book won the 1994 parenting hall of fame award. Its hefty 804-page guide is rather cumbersome to carry on travel. Therefore, all reading and research needs to be carried out before hand.
If you only have one parenting book during the first year of your child's life, this is the book to have. It is well written and thorough; and you will refer to it often. You know you’re in good hands when you have What to Expect - The First Year accompanying you on your journey into parenthood.