Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My Favourite Childcare Book

The Australian Baby and Child Care Handbook, by Carol Fallows, is the book I keep coming back to.  It is full of commonsense and pragmatic information and advice.  It isn't filled with silly, overexaggerated, attempting to be funny anecdotes about one person's pregnancy experiences (a la Kaz Cooke's Up the Duff, which I acknowledge is very amusing).

This handbook does deal briefly with pregnancy and birth,however, as its title suggests, its main focus is on childcare.  Topics covered include preparing for babies on a budget, (and how refreshing to read a book that does not encourage you to buy all sorts of unnecessary gadgets and gear for the newborn!), stages of development and how to play with your baby, (again, without encouraging parents to buy heaps of things - Fallows is adamant that for the first six months, a baby's favourite toy is his or her parents.)  There are also  lots of ideas about what sort of games children at different ages like to play.  I often dip into it for inspiration about activities to play outdoors, or using music, or ways children can help with household tasks.  (I have also found it invaluable for ideas about dealing with behaviour issues like whinging, sibling rivalry and dawdling!)

Some of the features I like in The Australian Baby and Child Care Handbook are the developmental tables which indicate what most children should be able to do by ages in terms of motor skills, language and cognitive development.  There is a comprehensive and easily understaood section about first aid and common childhood ailments, as well as a long appendix of support services available state by state. (Although because I have the second edition, which was published in 1998, many of these resources don't have a website listed - it may be time for an updated edition....).  There are brief but unobtrusive anecdotes from real parents on the sides of most pages, which you can read if you want to.  They do help the reader gain perspective and realise that raising children is a 'the same but different' for everyone.

Breastfeeding and weaning are covered, as is preparing first foods and dealing with fussy eaters.  There is some very sensible advice about adjusting to new parental roles and relationships, as well as organising one's time and home, and creating a safe environment for babies and toddlers.

I love this book's comprehensiveness and its sensible, friendly and supportive language.  I would recommend it to all new and expectant parents as an invaluable family resource. (I just wish it had a sequel that dealt with school aged children!)

Buy or Borrow?  Buy buy buy! Worth its weight in gold!

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