17 Dec

Baby’s First Year, by Netmums with Hollie Smith

Having read the atrocious Netmums book on sleep, I had quite low expectations of Baby’s First Year. I was also looking at a 2009 edition, and presume that it has been modernised a little since publication. Nonetheless, I found it to contain a good range of highly practical tips, and a reasonably close representation of the evidence with regard to many of the subjects it covers.

Apart from the usual mythology about cabbage leaves and hindmilk, the breastfeeding sections are pretty accurate, although I was disappointed that breastfeeding is referred to as “extended” from seven months onwards. This easily-navigated little manual is also good on formula feeding, expressing, colic, and sex; but there is a huge gaping hole where the discussion of attachment and emotional development should be, which of course allows them to advocate the cruel and damaging practice of controlled crying. Tellingly, they refer to the “handful of child psychologists… [who] believe it could be damaging,” versus “a great many other experts” (none of whom are named) who think it’s fine. Nothing in the book is referenced, so really they can and do just say what they please.

The book is also quite poor on introducing solids, recommending waiting until six months but with only an aside about baby-led weaning (this being one of the topics which they may have updated, to reflect its increasing popularity).

Personally I am left cold by the many quotes pulled from Netmums message boards, but I guess that is their USP, and you can always skim them like I did. For a manual of the basics, Baby’s First Year is good on the first six months, but the second half is probably too general to be useful to most new mothers, who I expect would be figuring things out for themselves by that time, or seeking out more specialised guidance for the issues they might be experiencing. I’d tear this book in half before giving it to a friend, and wrap it with a copy of Sweet Sleep.