I remember when I was pregnant with Red, starting to make a to do list of all the things we needed to buy to add a baby to our family, and what I needed to do to keep myself healthy during my pregnancy. After multiple miscarriages I was paranoid about what could still go wrong, and read and considered every article or research paper that came out on what effects food, stress, medications, life, could have on the unborn child. I spoke to a couple of friends who already had kids, and their advice seemed odd at the time. ‘Don’t worry about the pregnancy, you’ll be through that before you know it. Read up about what will happen when the baby is here. ‘
I didn’t take their advice, I kept thinking about getting the baby here safely and that I would learn more about sleep and food closer to the time. Then he came nearly 3 months early (see this post if you want to here about that incredibly scary story) and I didn’t have time to read up on any of this. I called from labor and delivery to cancel my birth classes which hadn’t even started by the time I was pushing him out.
I wish someone had given me this book, Zero to Five: 70 Essential Parenting Tips Based on Science by Tracy Cutchlow, while I was pregnant. It is now firmly on my baby shower gift list. There’s a lot of evidence based advice in here, but it doesn’t read that way. It’s nice to know that it is backed up by scientific research, but it is also nice to be able to scan a page or two and get straight to the nitty-gritty of what you need to know, which is what on earth is going on with my baby and more importantly, what can I do about it right now?
I don’t read many general parenting books anymore. Not that I don’t need their advice, but I usually stick with what I have on my shelves, or I’m looking for something really specific to deal with a certain phase we’re going through. I was asked to review Zero to Five by the publisher, Pear Press, and I was interested to see what’s new in parenting books, so I was happy to review it. It came out in 2014 but is being released in paperback on March 13.
I loved the sections that author Tracy Cutchlow chose, the first being Prepare. This is definitely a book about being a parent, as well as about having kids. The Prepare section is ideal for first time expectant parents who know very little about what a baby will actually do. At the start of each other section (which have headings like Sleep,Eat & Potty, Play, Talk, Move) there is usually some advice for how parents of newborns can handle the transition from purely adult concerns to being responsible for a tiny human with many demanding needs.
This is more a book to flick through than to read cover to cover. I found it a little odd when I finished up a chapter reading about five year olds and then was bounced right back into baby activities at the start of the next chapter. Knowing how I read parenting books now; dipping in and out, making heavy use of the contents and index to learn more about a specific behavior, I don’t think this will be a problem many people experience. There is a great Age Key at the back that lists which connects pages within each section to the relevant age of the child. I will probably still use this as I’m dealing with issues with Smalls.
As the chapters progress, they usually deal roughly chronologically with different age and developmental stages. While the difference between a newborn and a five year old is immense, I think it is useful to have a book that shows the developmental changes that will happen in each area, and as each section is relatively short, it is not hard to find out a little more about what you are about to deal with, as well as what you are handling right now. All too often it can feel as a parent as if you are sucker-punched with some new behavior or issue, and you end up reacting in the moment. A book like this allows you to anticipate the developmental changes and makes it easier to prepare to act on them rather than react to them.
While I will definitely be giving this out to first time moms, I can see this book being really useful for parents who are expecting again, particularly if their oldest is still a toddler. They may not have parenting books about what they are about to deal with in relation to toddler and pre-school behaviors, and depending on how sleep deprived they are, they may have forgotten a lot of what goes on with newborns. Being able to skim through one book to pick up tips and tricks for issues happening with all your kids could be really handy, particularly as you get used to the style of this book.
It will come as no surprise to you that the section I was most interested in was Move!
Keeping kids moving is my wheelhouse, so I was interested to see how I would interpret the keep it brief approach in this chapter.
I loved the first page summary with some bullet points on why moving is so important, and that our ancestors probably walked 5 1/2 to 9 miles a day. A quick jump up and down in front of a TV show just isn’t going to be enough. It talks about what a parent can do to get enough movement and exercise for themselves, not just the kids, and as someone who loves to model desired behaviors for my kids, I really appreciate that advice. While I would love to see more focus on this section than the five pages it received, I understand that that the author was looking to keep the scope of the book broad, and I think she got the balance just right in the limited space available. The References section, however, gave studies and research about why exercise and movement is important to adults, and I would love to have seen some data that specifically related to the impact on children.
Overall, this is a great parenting resource that I would recommend to anyone with kids in the 0-5 age range, but particularly to expectant parents, either first timers or those with toddlers.
If you would like to win a copy of the book, please follow the blog either through wordpress or by signing up with your email address (if you are not doing so already), and comment on this post with the ages of your kids and the developmental issues that you are most in need of advice on at the moment! I will pick a winner at random on February 26, and the publishers should be able to ship the book out that week. Contest open to those over 18, and residents of the U.S. only.
Contest now closed. The winner, chosen at random in this highly technical manner . . .
. . . was Tabbi S! The publisher, Pear Press, will mail the book out to you this week. Congratulations!