What to Expect the First Year

Book Review by

What to Expect the First YearWhat to Expect the First Year

I checked this book out of the Public Library to review it. When I received it at the call desk I was immediately struck by how tattered, stained, worn and well-used it was. It was the shabbiest-looking book I've ever checked out! Clearly this book has been heavily relied upon by untold numbers of anxious, sleep-deprived parents, flipping pages in the middle of the night with one hand while comforting an unhappy infant with the other.

The first year of your child's life is like no other -- for him or her, and for you. Particularly for first-time parents there are a million questions and concerns. One of the best features of this comprehensive book (671 pages!) is its reassuring tone, its easy and practical way of imparting not only useful information, but doing so in a way that builds confidence in your ability to successfully care for your baby.

The book takes a month-by-month approach to the first year, with chapters devoted to each month. As you look at the book, it's easy to feel that you're in good hands, with the authors helpfully anticipating questions. Each chapter contains a section 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 it's Important to Know.

In addition early chapters help you to know how to get ready for your baby -- making crucial decisions about whether to breast- or bottle-feed; circumcision; naming the baby; selecting the right physician; furnishing the nursery and much more.

Later chapters address many special concerns for your baby including dealing with winter and/or summer weather;what to do when your child is sick; first aid do's and don'ts; taking proper care of your low-birth weight baby; dealing with the most common birth disorders; and bonding with your adopted infant.

A special strength of this book is how much attention is paid to the parents' emotional responses to parenthood, such as postpartum depression, fears and worries, feelings of inadequacy, changes in the marital relationship, and changes in the family with the new baby.

The book seems primarily addressed to mothers, and in fact has the confidential over-the-back-fence consultation tone I remember witnessing in my mother and her peers as they pondered the mysteries of motherhood and helped each other solve daily challenges. Yet fathers will feel at home in this book, with its no-nonsense practicality and reliance upon current medical knowledge. There is also a special chapter for dads, Becoming a Father.

This book is encyclopedic and comprehensive, yet not daunting. Information is easily accessible; the book is designed and organized to be very user-friendly, possibly with those late-night perusals in mind.

What to Expect the First Year is the Velveteen Rabbit of guides to caring for your infant -- well loved, well used -- a book to hold on to. Highly recommended!