New mothers get lots of advice. Everyone — from our pediatrician to our mother-in-law to the lady standing behind us in the checkout line — seems convinced that they know best how we should raise our baby. And when we challenge the status quo and do something radical like give birth at home or consider co-sleeping, the advice (and criticism) gets even louder.
But a new book from first-time authors Megan McGrory Massaro and Miriam J. Katz just might be a catalyst for change. The Other Baby Book: A Natural Approach to Baby's First Year challenges many of our culture's mainstream parenting practices, and more importantly, champions a notion that we don't hear nearly enough — the idea that every mother is the expert on what is right for her own baby.
The Other Baby Book: A Different Approach
As the title implies, The Other Baby Book is not your typical parenting manual. It is written in a casual and conversational style, and is filled with research that supports a more natural, back-to-basics style of mothering. Massaro and Katz — known throughout the book as Megan and Miriam — share information on everything from breastfeeding to babywearing to the realities of postpartum sex in a balanced, upbeat, and non-judgmental manner.
"Today's moms are pressured (know it or not) to believe that a crib, disposable diapers, formula, and sleep-training books are baby essentials," they write. "We've been overwhelmed by the volume and popularity of books that reinforce the status quo, touting baby-care practices that make mamas harden their hearts to their babies' needs in order to get the job done. We've compiled some other practices for you."
Some of those other practices that Megan and Miriam talk about include:
- Delaying eye drops, cord clamping, and the first bath after birth in order to allow mother and baby to reap the benefits of early bonding and skin-to-skin contact.
- Responding to your baby's cries and cues (and ignoring advice to let baby "cry-it-out") in order to develop the close attachment that infants need in order to survive and thrive.
- Co-sleeping to ensure better, safer sleep for all. (The authors cite extensive research from Dr. James McKenna, one of the world's foremost authorities on the benefits of safe co-sleeping.)
- Learning to "go with the flow" and adapt your priorities to meet baby's needs, instead of trying to force baby to live up to unrealistic adult expectations.
- Babywearing as an alternative to strollers and elaborate carseat systems that separate mother and baby, and baby-led weaning as a way to simplify and enjoy the process of starting solids.
- Practicing elimination communication (also known as EC) instead of using disposable or even cloth diapers.
YOU Are the Expert on Your Own Baby
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to parenting. As mothers, we each have our own goals and priorities, and we're also raising children with their own unique personalities and individual needs. Megan and Miriam openly acknowledge that the ideas in The Other Baby Book may not work for every family.
"If you forget everything else you read in this book, there's just one message we want you to take away. You are the mother ... It means you're fully loaded: you've got all the internal resources you need to raise your child in the way he most needs."
Not every mother will breastfeed, or co-sleep, or choose to give up diapers completely, but every mother deserves to know that those options are on the table.
And thanks to The Other Baby Book, now more mothers will.
I received a complimentary, advanced copy of The Other Baby Book for the purpose of review. I'm a bit of a parenting rebel who loves to think for myself and challenge the status quo, so I'm always excited to discover books and authors who encourage other parents to do the same.