Top critical review
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Somewhat lacking, but has some great tips and ideas
on April 10, 2012
Bought this for my husband and we read the whole thing cover to cover. It's not all bad, but I would only give it 2 stars.
First, the good:
Amazing ideas, easy to read, and sometimes pretty funny without being overly cheesy or lame.
Some ideas include a list of stellar excuses to keep those "difficult" relatives and friends from holding the baby (things like, "His rash is contagious" or "projectile diarrhea" for instance, page 11), how to identify different cries, how to keep fit while watching the little one, tips for sleep deprived dads, and so forth. The jokes are pretty funny at times but there is still a ton of useful information for every stage of development.
Many of the suggestions in this book are for couples who are in a certain income bracket (read: if you want a baby on a shoestring budget, this book isn't for you), and the suggestions on how to deal with a spouse who has just given birth are a little juvenile and reminded us both of the 1950's. Other negative points are that this book doesn't leave much room for parents who might want to go against the norm in terms of television exposure and sleeping arrangements. For instance:
This book suggests that dads decorate and essentially take possession of a room of their own. For those who don't have the space in their homes, the author suggests that apartment dweller use a "walk-in closet" (p.89). Really? Does he expect every parent to have access to spare rooms and walk in-closets? Plenty of families live with neither and dads do just fine. While I agree that an "escape from baby" is something many new dads might need, the authors offer no alternatives for families who live in a lower income bracket or simply don't have the space. He also suggests buying all kinds of things, like multiple (over 5) pacifiers, and other nifty baby-gadgets that might not be in everyone's budget.
Some other suggestions are a little questionable, such as bringing your baby to a race track or a dog run (p. 154-155), dosing your baby with medicine on a plane ride (p.197), serving liquor at a child's 1st birthday party to supervising adults (p. 213), filling an old sock with apples and giving it to a teething baby (p. 108), and my personal fave, what to do if you're camping with your baby in "bear country" and you encounter a bear (p. 210-211).
If that doesn't beat all, the opinion of women in this book is a little insulting to say the least. My personal fave here is the suggestion that a man drop "subtle hints" to his partner, such as "I read somewhere that sex has been shown to reduce stress and ease back and neck pain. Not only that, but it can also help your skin retain elasticity and retard the aging process. Isn't that interesting?" (p. 93). Is this guy for real? Is there a woman on earth that would either find that subtle, let alone be turned on by that? I can just see it now, "Hey sexy, I've been feeling a little saggy and old-looking, and my neck is killing me, think we should head up to the bedroom?" Yes, after pushing a baby out of one's body, one's libido might come to a crashing halt for awhile (understandably so), but to suggest "a high-speed internet connection" (p.92) to the man who is still waiting to get some seems a little unnecessary (if a man is watching porn, or playing World of Warcraft to get through the post-delivery slump in his sex life, he certainly doesn't need to be reminded of this option, not to mention the many men out there who don't think looking at porn or playing video games is the wisest thing to be doing when their partner is recovering from delivery). Seriously? A high-speed internet connection? Seems like something a teenage boy might resort to, not a new father who is sleep deprived and genuinely interested in helping his partner recover. Another great opinion of women can be found on the section on bottle feeding. Apparently one's partner "may start sobbing, seeing the bottle as an early symbol that your baby is leaving the nest" (p. 59). Maybe I'm not as irrational as some other mothers, but a baby bottle is hardly what I'd call a symbol of "leaving the nest." A box of condoms and maybe a college application, but not a baby bottle.
Another thing my husband and I found somewhat immature was the first place ribbons on a picture of a woman's breasts (p. 18) to show that breast milk is best. Now, I get that this is meant to be humorous, and cute, but seriously? Most people know that breast milk is best, no need to slap a couple of first place ribbons on a woman's chest like a pig at the county fair to make this point.
Finally, if you're among those couples that might have various opinions on co-sleeping, or television exposure, or the "cry-it-out" method of having a child stay in his own crib at night, don't expect much variation on the pros and cons. The authors seem to be pro-co-sleeping, pro-television, and pro-"cry-it-out". They're also pro-pacifier, which many parents disagree with, because like another reviewer said, God help you the day you don't have one available!
The book itself isn't a total loss, but I would suggest you read this in addition to other books, and to really question the authors' positions in terms of what is best for you, and your family. There are some great ideas in terms of baby-proofing the house, games to play, ways to ease baby, and other neat tips, but go out of your way to read up on certain issues and don't take this book as the final authority on fatherhood. And for the love of God, don't assume your partner is going to be a weepy, saggy, irrational mess of tears and runny snot every minute of the day. Some women out there are tough, ready for motherhood, and understand the hardships that many new fathers face. Remember, not every woman will call you names and attempt to bash your face in with a bedpan during and after delivery. Some of us just love our families and accept that certain pains (and recovery from those pains) are just the unavoidable part of parenthood.