When I was pregnant, I had lots of books to guide me through my pregnancy. They ranged from humorous to scientific to everything in between. Of course, one of these books was What to Expect When You’re Expecting—the pregnant woman’s bible. If I had to choose only one book to read during pregnancy, that would be the one. It had every piece of information I wanted and delivered it without scaring me—anyone who has ever been pregnant knows what I mean. Google is not your friend when you’re pregnant!

So naturally, after I had my baby, I was ready for the next volume. I didn’t know any more about being a mom than I did about being pregnant, so I picked up a copy of What to Expect the First Year
by Heidi Murkoff, Sharon Mazel, Arlene Eisenberg and Sandee Hathaway, B.S.N., and started reading.

HOW IT WORKS

The book takes you through your child’s development month by month. At the beginning of each chapter/month, it will tell you what your child should be able to do, probably be able to do and may be able to do.

The authors are careful to stress that every baby develops differently and these milestones are just guidelines. However, I found this section to be useful for a first-time mom who is unsure about her baby’s development. I get excited when my daughter hits some milestones early, but I also feel more relaxed about the ones she hits a little later. The “should, probably, may” explanation of the milestones is my favorite read every month.

Next, there is discussion about issues that may occur or be of concern in each month. For example, in the third month there is an in-depth discussion about SIDS. In the eighth month there is a detailed account of how to baby-proof your home. Each month is peppered with “questions” like, “I often hear my son grinding his teeth when he’s down for a nap. Is this harmful in any way?” or “Every time she cries, my baby’s navel seems to stick out. What does that mean?”

These questions are tailored to each month’s development and make the book feel relatable—like you’re chatting with a friend. I have been flipping through the book numerous times and stumbled on a question I didn’t even know I should be asking. I found the information about feeding and teething to be particularly helpful, but there are also tons of little details about your baby, like what type of shoe she should wear or how to handle diaper rash that are great.

MY FAVORITE FEATURES

• There are a few topics in WTE the First Year that are hit upon extra hard—nursing, weaning, vaccination schedules, and baby proofing to name a few. There is even a huge section on going back to work vs. staying home. It covers how to make the decision, whether to use a nanny or day care and what to look for in your child care provider. These sections are super helpful when you’re ready for these stages.

• Nervous about your baby’s doctor visits? WTE: The First Year explains what you can expect at each visit and even lets you know the months you probably won’t see the doctor at all. This section at the beginning of each chapter outlines any vaccinations your baby is scheduled to receive, the types of questions the doctor will ask and a description of the physical exam.

• Baby’s First Recipes: If you are currently nursing or formula feeding a newborn, worrying about feeding your baby solids is probably the furthest thing from your mind. Don’t worry, it’ll be front and center on your agenda soon enough. I love this recipe section in the book. Baby’s diet is somewhat limited the first few months of solids and having a few guidelines to go by is great, especially if you make your own baby food.

For a first-time parent, there’s a great newborn section. It guides you through everything you need to know about caring for a tiny infant and most importantly, will put many fears to rest. This section explains common newborn issues like startling, baby acne, thrush, jaundice and much more.

• I also love the little info boxes scattered throughout the book with “extras.” These feature little nuggets of information like a toll-free number for low-cost health care coverage, the importance of iron in baby’s diet and what to look for in a sunscreen. There is even a box on how to talk to a baby.

BEYOND THE FIRST YEAR

The second and third sections of WTE: The First Year focus on two things “Of Special Concern” and “For the Family.”

Of Special Concern: You’ll find everything in here from caring for a sick baby to treatment for special-needs babies to getting ready for an adopted baby. There is a lot of detail about baby illnesses, including first aid, fever symptoms and treatment, and even an info box on alternative medicine.

This section is a great reference for parents of preemies, too. There is a chapter devoted to the low-birthweight baby with information on feeding, the NICU and the emotional repercussions for the parents after going through a traumatic experience.

For the Family: Here’s where you’ll find a chapter on “enjoying the first year”—one of my favorite parts of the whole book! It covered diet for mom, how to handle exhaustion and postpartum depression, the return of your period, tips for losing the baby weight and much more. I devoured every word! Sometimes it can feel like you are the only person who has ever experienced the insanity of a newborn. This questions and answers in this part of the book are comforting and educational to a brand-new mom.

Although that section is just for mom, there’s another chapter in “For the Family” on becoming a dad. Your partner can read up on paternity leave, emotional upheaval, spending quality time with baby and more.

Have an older child already? In “For the Family,” there’s a whole chapter devoted to prepping your firstborn for his or her new sibling.

Reference Guides: At the end of the book, you’ll find charts on common childhood infections and on height and weight. Although you should always consult with your doctor, these charts are helpful in deciphering what’s going on with your baby quickly.

FURTHER READING

What to Expect has an online resource at whattoexpect.com as well as an entire series of books which includes:

What to Expect When You’re Expecting

What to Expect: The First Year

What to Expect: The Second Year

What to Expect Pregnancy Journal and Organizer

What to Expect Before You’re Expecting

Eating Well When You’re Expecting

What to Expect Baby-Sitter’s Handbook

 

*I personally own and love What to Expect: The First Year, and was not compensated in any way for this review.