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on January 9, 2007
I absolutely hated What to Expect When You're Expecting. Hated it. So when a friend gave me this book as a gift when I was pregnant, I kind of put it to the side, never expecting to use it.

Well, I surprised myself. I actually refer to this book a lot in caring for my now almost-6-month-old son.

What I like about the book is that the questions that it addresses are very much like real-life questions people ask about their babies. Some of the questions are word-for-word questions my husband and I have asked each other. That makes the information very accessible and I think, reassuring. You get a sense that "Oh good, my five-month-old is not the only one in the world who seems to be coughing just to get my attention."

There's a really comprehensive amount of information about nearly every parenting topic you can think of. In particular, the section about infant illness is invaluable. Great charts of symptoms and treatments for those symptoms, explanations about how to do home treatments, etc. My son has gotten a couple of colds, one of which brought on a croupy cough, and the book's advice about steam treatments and a quick trip outside helping were right-on, and exactly what my mom and grandma had told me worked to help croup. Without the book's specific description of what croup and stridor sound like, and how to treat it, I probably would have ended up in the emergency room with my son.

That being said, here are the things I don't like about this book.

- The information is supposedly unbiased, but the author comes down firmly on the pro or con side of an issue and there's not a lot of doubt about what the author feels you "should" or "should not" do. The author is against pacifiers, against co-sleeping, is much too cautionary about babywearing, and advocates CIO as a way to get a baby to sleep - there's a whole section about how to do CIO in the six-month chapter. The book is also very, VERY pro-breastfeeding. I breastfeed, so it didn't "bother" me, per se, but if a mom has to or chooses to formula feed, the constant references to breastfeeding and questions about breastfeeding that are found over and over and OVER in the book's pages would probably be a big turnoff. There's some lip service paid to "well, formula feeding is an OK choice" but there's a VERY clear and VERY strong message that you should breastfeed until your child is a year old, period. I know a lot of women who tried valiantly to breastfeed and just could not, and I have had my own challenges with it. I am all for breastfeeding advocacy and I consider myself an advocate for breastfeeding, but the tone and the repeated admonishments to breastfeed for a year were over-the-top even for me.

- The aforementioned section about CIO was pretty terrible. There were no discussions about ways to avoid CIO other than extended family bedsharing (which the author was lukewarm about recommending, at best), and there is a middle ground between the two. There was also no discussion about the fact that CIO doesn't work for all children - some kids are crying escalators, they don't calm down after crying for an extended period but instead get more upset, and trying CIO with a baby like that is going to be traumatizing for all involved. There's a pretty terrifying section that talks about how to deal with the noise of CIO, by notifying your neighbors, trying to muffle sound, etc. I just have to say, if your baby is crying that loud, that piercingly, and that long when you try CIO, you should consider the possibility that CIO is not working and is actually scaring or harming your child. CIO is a great tool for some kids, but not for all kids, and the book treats CIO like it is the cure-all for sleep problems. You get a sense, reading that section, that there really is no alternative to CIO other than having your baby sleep with you until they're 10, and there are other options (the No Cry Sleep Solution has some great suggestions about the sleep issue). There's also no discussion of the idea that nightwaking, especially for breastfed babies, is a developmentally normal and appropriate thing and will get better with time even without resorting to sleep training measures.

- The developmental milestones are treated as gospel truth and there is some alarmist information about "if your kid doesn't do X by Y month there could be a BIG PROBLEM." There's no discussion about what developmental milestones really mean in terms of development or the idea that babies can have developmental strengths in one area and weaknesses in another. My baby has always been WAY ahead in his gross motor development and lagging in his fine motor, which is a totally normal thing. But there's really no allowance for that, or explanation for why that would happen, in this book.

Overall I think this book is good and I don't think it's nearly as guilt- or panic-inducing as the Expecting book, or the Sears Baby Book (which is a whole other review). I think it's a worthwhile addition to the library of any new parent, if you can take some of the information in it with a grain of salt.
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on February 27, 2007
I wholeheartedly agree with the reviewers who found this book alarmist and overly one-sided on many issues. My pediatrician agrees, and instead recommends the American Academy of Pediatrics' CARING FOR YOUR BABY AND YOUNG CHILD, REVISED EDITION, BIRTH TO AGE 5. What to Expect is a great book as long as your child does everything exactly as the authors prescribe. Otherwise, you're up a creek. Today's example: My 8-month-old isn't incredibly interested in finger foods yet, and this book makes it sound like she's doomed to eat Gerber purees for the rest of her life as a result. It also suggested that I was setting her up for a childhood of poor eating habits. A new mom, of course I called my pediatrician and he said I had nothing to worry about! Go with the other book instead. Rather than month-to-month guidelines which make you feel like your child is "behind" if he doesn't do something "on time," the AAP book wisely speaks about 4-7 month-olds, 8-12 month-olds, etc., at once. The authors recognize that every baby proceeds at her own pace. (What to Expect puts in its disclaimer that every baby is different, but its tone on many topics suggests otherwise).
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on May 25, 2005
The problem with the previous reviewer's comments is that she's looking at the older edition of the book. THe 2nd edition, published in 2003 clearly states on page 437:

"The AAP recommends that breastfeeding continue for AT LEAST a full year and then for as long as baby and mother both want to keep it up..... Many women choose to continue nursing into the second year and beyond, and that's fine.... Older children who breastfeed are just as likely to be secure, happy, and independent as those who wean early."

PLUS -- there's an entire chapter dedicated to breastfeeding... with tons of reasons why it's a good thing. So I don't get why so many reviewers here keep on blasting this book for not being pro-breastfeeding. This book is so well balanced on so many issues -- like co-sleeping and baby wearing, etc. Looking at a ten year old version of the book that's been passed down from friend to friend and then REVIEWING it here -- instead of actually going out to the store or library to get the actual current book is unfair.

This book has been so helpful to me. As a first time parent, this book had all the answers I needed. Sure, I may not agree with everything in the book, but I'm intelligent enough to not take everything I read and treat it as gospel. I'm able to make my own decision when it comes to parenting, and not only does this book give me the tools to do that, but the authors even encourage that parents ultimately do what feels best to them.

I highly recommend it!
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on May 25, 2004
I bought this book as a resource for my first child. Although it has some useful information, it is very "middle of the road" and I felt it didn't go in depth enough with research and information I felt to be important. One *huge* area that is lacking is the breastfeeding information. They do not adequately explain the differences between breastfeeding and formula, and recommend weaning a child at 9mo. The AAP recomments nursing for *at least* a year, and the WHO (World Health Organization) recommends at least 2 years. In WTE, the authors indicate that if you don't wean by 9mo, a child will almost assuredly not wean at all or until much much later. This simply is inaccurate at best. Throughtout the book, the book is obviously biased towards a "doctor knows all" point of view. I suppose it's a good book for anyone who would like to know what the average doctor would tell her to do, but it's not a good book for anyone who likes to have a little more information and make her OWN informed choices. No one is perfect, and doctors certainly don't have *all* the information that makes them experts on childrearing in general. This book to me seemed like doctor propaganda.
Although there is definitely some good info in there, I feel that the biases (especially with regard to nursing) outweight the good that is in this book. I'd save your money on this one and look into other books for specific areas you are interested-- a nursing book for nursing, a child development book for child development, a medical guide for medical issues.
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on November 6, 2006
I read this book after reading "What to Expect When You're Expecting" and was very disappointed. I liked "Expecting," most likely because while pregnancies differ, the biology is pretty much the same for everyone, so it's hard to miswrite pregnancy. However, after reading "First year" I have found myself overly concerned for no reason simply because a lot of what is in this book has not accurately described my child's behavior or abilities. I know the authors put out the disclaimer that every baby is different, but I'm not talking about when kids will walk or talk. I'm talking about their claim that babies can feel embarassment at the age of ten months or understand that I want my son to help clean up if I hand him a paper towel. Additionally, the book does not always offer a good answer to a question...the answer usually comes in the form of "some babies will, some babies won't." How is that helpful?!! After noting a string of inconsistencies and claims that are simply false, I finally had to put the book down or drive myself crazy. In long, I do not recommend this book to anyone, particularly a first time mother.
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on February 4, 2006
This book has everything. Now I do not suggest reading it prior to baby coming. I was scared out of my mind after reading parts of it, but once my son was here, I was no longer overwhelmed with the new responsibility, I loved the new responsibility - then it was good to read. This book goes over everything you need to know, things you need to look for, new parent checklists, how to pack, what to pack, what to do in case of emergencies, it goes over EVERYTHING!!! I love love love this book!!! Oh, and this book is for ALL new parents, including adopting new parents.
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on May 12, 2008
If you want to begin your adventure out as parents constantly feeling like your child is not achieving the over-generalized "milestones" in this book, then buy this book.

In all honesty, while this book has some value, the negativity you are going to feel welling up because your four month old isn't doing pushups or rolling over or eating solid foods or whatever the book says is supposed to be happening isn't worth it.

My advice: Enjoy your baby. Talk to your doctor if something seems very amiss. Otherwise, let your kid grow up. Chances are pretty good things will turn out OK without consulting this book.
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on January 10, 2005
This book was a waste of money. Although you might think you're buying a guide to baby care, the bulk of this book is devoted to infant development broken down month by month, just like the format of "What to Expect When You're Expecting."

That month by month format makes sense for a pregnancy book when things happen at fairly predictable intervals (i.e. the heart starts beating, the lungs mature, etc.) but is next to useless for a baby's first year of life, when growth and development of all kinds occur on a much looser schedule.

Each month the book tells you what your baby "should be able to" do, will "probably," be able to do, "may even be able to" do and "may possibly be able to" do. The first ("should") category might be worth knowing--although there is usually a footnote telling you that if you're baby can't do such and such, it's still probably ok, just call your doctor-- but what is the difference between what your baby "may even" or "may possibly" be able to do?

I get the strong impression these categories for baby "skills" were simply created to make the book look more like the pregnancy best seller because they seem completely nonsensical. A certain achievement, say "understands no," will sometimes appear in the same category for two or more consecutive months.

Clearly, baby development doesn't happen in neat 4-week intervals. If you want a baby care book, almost anything on the market will be better than this. If you want an intelligent book on infant/child development (based on science instead of book marketing schemes!) try "What's Going On In There" by Lise Eliot.
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on February 22, 2005
I would not recommend this book or the What to Expect series to anyone. It is written in a condescending tone, as if their methodology is surpreme. Any deviation from their model puts your child at risk of not learning to survive in the world.

In fact, much of what they have written is not based on research but on what they feel. As a breastfeeding mom, for example, I have learned from experience (and reliable info from La Leche League) that it is normal for my baby to go through phases of waking at night to nurse frequently. She needs the nutrition for growth spurts. If my husband and I were not the "softhearted and week-nerved" parents that the authors have called us, we'd have a baby who cries all night and feels abandoned. Instead, I do respond to her needs, 24 hours a day. We have a friendly and happy baby that is easy to take places and enjoys life (even going to the opera).

For as many pages as the book encompasses, it just doesn't tell you very much (as other reviewers have noted)! For a truly helpful and informative book, refer to the Mayo Clinic's Complete Guide to Pregnancy and Baby's First Year. (My ob/gyn recommened it to me.)
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on January 4, 2016
This was a must for us and an excellent resource for a first time parent. I referred to it often and enjoyed the month by month format. It contains information about scheduling, milestones, feeding and health concerns. I had so many questions throughout the first year and the book addressed almost all of them. I would also recommend giving this as a gift to first time parents.
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