While I was pregnant and during the first six months of my daughter’s life, I read a lot of books about pregnancy and parenting. Most of the books either started or ended with everything that can go wrong if you don’t do the right things. One book I read stood well above the pack in regards to giving practical advice without fear-mongering. My little sister recently specifically mentioned it as a helpful book, too. This book is the first book I would recommend to fist-time parents, or first-time grandparents.
Heading Home with Your Newborn: From Birth to Reality is written by a couple of pediatricians who give very practical advice about how to care for a baby. They go through how to give an infant a bath, how to dress an infant, how to change diapers, and how to feed a baby. Although the book does discuss, say, breast-feeding and formula-feeding, it takes a practical how-to approach, rather than attempting to convince parents to do a specific thing. There’s definitely a place for books that attempt to convince parents to do certain things (feeding methods, sleeping methods, etc.), but this is not one of those books.
One thing I appreciated about this book is that it summarizes changes in child care during the last fifty years or so. Besides the well-known “Back to Sleep” campaign, there are some new recommendations that many grandparents might not know. Apparently, back when I was a baby, the “proper care” of umbilical cord stubs was much different from today. Also, car seats are quite different from what I was strapped into as a child. After I finished reading this book, I gave it to my mom. She has been a little confused when her daughters–brand-new, inexperienced mothers–have corrected some of her grandmotherly efforts. As she showed us how to give our newborns baths, we yelped, “No, don’t get out rubbing alcohol for that baby’s belly button!” and other random things. She was a little confused about where we got these ideas, since she knows her way around babies much better than we did. This book covered what some of those random changes are, which helped me understand where my mother and I would have different ideas.
Heading Home with Your Newborn is a handy guide on how to take care of a newborn. It’s not a guide to making parenting decisions, but I highly recommend it to first-time parents, particularly those with little experience taking care of newborns.