If you are anxiously anticipating the arrival of your new son or daughter as a first time dad, you will probably start to notice that your wife will start to borrow/buy/steal new mom books (like the New Mom Handbook). The pile will start to grow as her obsession grows. She will start to visit and frequent a lot of online forums and blogs, like theBump.com. This is a normal occurrence, and is an indication that she is interested in what to expect, how to cope with different setbacks, parenting tips, etc.
Unrealistic Expectations and Contradictory Information
But we have all seen the movie Knocked Up. Maybe not all of us, but some of us. There is a scene where Kathryn Heigl’s character buys a ton of baby literature for Seth Rogen’s character to read before the baby comes. He doesn’t follow through, and she is absolutely devastated, so much so, that she decides at that moment to have the baby without him. Talk about lofty and unrealistic expectations!
Here is my take on all of the baby/daddy/mommy/new parenting literature out there: it’s mostly a bunch of garbage. Except for this blog of course. Here’s the problem – there is so much contradiction between what so and so doctor says about how to put your new born to sleep and what so and so ‘expert’ says. One book will tell you that they need to sleep on their back for the first 6 months. Another says a year. Another says that your baby will die of SIDS if they sleep on their back because they could vomit and choke on it. Another says they should sleep tethered to their momma for the rest of their life to avoid sudden death and dismemberment. That last one escalated quickly, but you get the idea.
Every facet of raising your baby is questioned and contradicted by so many books and blogs and ‘experts’ and doctors that it is crazy trying to find the source of knowledge. Now, add onto that pile of rubbish all the tips and ‘help’ you will receive from friends and family members (especially your mother-in-law). Holy mother, now we’re talking about all sorts of confusion.
Sifting Through All The Noise
So who is ultimately right about how your baby can safely sleep? Or what they should eat at 8 months? Or how to sooth their cries? My wife got a little carried away with all the literature studies, like most expecting new moms. She wanted to read books with me, and she expected me to read some of it by myself, like the movie example above. But when I found contradicting information from two books, I put my foot down and told her to take it easy with all the book reading. The fact is, did our ancestors have mommy help books? Hell no! They didn’t even have basic medicine let alone a website that tracks the size of your wife’s embryo as it grows from a mustard seed to a watermelon. They managed. And so can you.
I told my wife that we can listen to tips from others, and she can read a suggestion from a book or blog, but that we can make decisions based on the merits of those ‘suggestions.’ Because that’s all any of this is. Every baby is different. If they were the same and came with an owner’s manual, I can understand following the directions. But your baby might sleep fine by itself, without any sleep aids or night time ritual or anything. My baby most certainly doesn’t. Basically, the stars have to align for mine to sleep without screaming for half of the night. My baby had bad acid reflux as a new born and the doctor told us that she needed to sleep mostly sitting up or reclining in a car seat to keep from choking on her vomit. That is quite different than what the consensus sleep knowledge of newborns these days is.
Use Your Head
There is a lot of good advice out there, I’m not knocking the good sources of information. The problem is that pretty much any Joe Shmoe can write and publish a book or an online article or blog without any expertise whatsoever. There are a lot of so-called ‘experts’ who proclaim to know what is best for your baby, when you should use your head to decide what is best for your baby. Does that expert know him or her? Nope. Not even close. Take any advice with a grain of salt and make sure to decide what to do with your wife. I will add that if you trust your baby’s pediatrician, then listen to them and trust their advice as well. They have a huge advantage over the other ‘experts’ out there because they will meet and check up on your baby regularly with you. They can be a great source of answers to your many questions. My wife always rights down questions to ask the doctor on our next visit.
So when your wife gives you a stack of ‘first time dad’ books to read, what are you going to do? Chuck ‘em in the trash? Light ‘em on fire? Read them eagerly like the time you read The Notebook (don’t deny it)? My advice to you (and take it like you take all advice from a stranger) is to give an honest try to search for good information and seek out good parenting advice. I didn’t say to read them or not. You read my opinion of these books above.
What will you do about your wife’s runaway obsession about her literature studies? Light her books on fire? Cancel your internet connection? Good luck-
Just for fun, here are a couple of first time dad books you might enjoy!