Now that I have a newborn in the house again, I decided to check this book out of the library: The Essential First Year by Penelope Leach. I had certainly heard of Leach before - she's a baby guru, particularly in the UK. However, I hadn't actually read one of her books.
Let me start by saying that one of the nicest things about having baby #2 is that it's a much calmer experience. Yes, the sleepless nights are still in place, yes, the feeling of "oh my god I am completely responsible for this utterly helpless little thing" is still there, but there is none of the second guessing that new moms do - from feeding to diapering to patterns, it all feels like, "oh yeah, I've done this before. I can handle it".
And this is where I really got ticked with Leach's book. Or shall I call her Penelope Preach instead? She has a way of dispensing baby advice (some of it that I did NOT agree with, either), in such a preachy, negative tone that I was tempted to toss the book at the wall on more than one occasion.
The biggest advice that I give my new mom friends is to read everything you can get your hands on - all the books, all the magazines, all the websites. Talk to all of your mom friends and hear their experiences. THEN... do not take any of it as gospel truth. Promptly file it all away in your head for when (if) you might need it. Because every baby is different, every family is different. You don't know that your newborn is going to need what your best friend's newborn needed. You don't know if your baby is going to do what all the books say. Heck, my 2 sons couldn't BE more different in some ways!
Which is why I am so ticked at Preach. It's clear from her writing that HER way is the RIGHT way, the ONLY way. And that makes me furious. The last thing any mom needs is someone telling her that her first instinct isn't right. Or that what she's doing could be harmful. Preach is solidly in the breastfeeding camp, and when she acknowledges that it doesn't work for everyone, her tone is so condescending, it's unprofessional.
At times her advice contradicts itself! She goes on and on about how you cannot put your baby on your schedule, it's all about what the baby wants, when the baby wants it. (meaning if you're breastfeeding, you should take a week off of work to just lie in bed feeding the baby on demand, if that's what the baby wants. Try telling that to any minimum wage retail worker, Ms. Leach.) But a few pages later, she advocates waking your baby up to feed him instead of waiting for him to wake up on his own, if you want to get him to sleep through the night. ??? Make up your mind, lady.
This is a book that I would NOT recommend to anyone, particularly new moms who are already likely feeling insecure enough. There are MANY more good newborn books out there. (Heading Home with your Newborn: From Birth to Reality is one of them. I promise to review shortly!)
Apparently, I'm not the only one who's a little annoyed with Leach Preach - this article from the UK newspaper The Independent starts off by saying, "Penelope Leach is struggling to feel sympathetic. The scourge of my mother’s generation is at it again: making parents feel bad.". Although unfortunately, the author of the article goes on to praise Leach's new book.
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