Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Review: The Christian Mama's Guide to Baby's First Year by Erin MacPherson

Title: The Christian Mama's Guide To Baby's First Year - Everything you need to know to survive (and love) your first year as a mom
Author:  Erin MacPherson
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Format:  Paperback or Kindle
ISBN:  978-0-8499-6474-9
Price: $15.99

It's been two years since I reviewed Erin MacPherson's first book in the Christian Mama's Guide series, The Christian Mama's Guide To Having A Baby.  I wasn't pregnant at the time I wrote the review, but when I got pregnant with baby B, I pulled the book out to read.  Yes, it was my ninth baby and I've read multiple pregnancy books, but I wanted to read Erin's Christian Guide version while actually being pregnant.  It helped me keep my sense of humor about morning sickness, weak bladders, and fatigue in those early months to re-read her book. To be honest, it was the only pregnancy book I read cover-to-cover this time, though I did look up a health issue in other books once or twice.

Until recently, I didn't realize that Erin had written parenting books to go along with her pregnancy book, but she now has 4 books in her Christian Mama's Guide series.
  • The Christian Mama's Guide to Having A Baby
  • The Christian Mama's Guide to Baby's First Year
  • The Christian Mama's Guide to Parenting a Toddler
  • The Christian Mama's Guide to the First School Years
If you're like me, and you've read other pregnancy and parenting books, you know that some of them are very medical and factual, some are organized by topic, some by alphabetical order, and some are organized month-by-month.  The Christian Mama's Guide to Baby's First Year takes a topical approach, rather than a month-by-month or medical format.  The book begins with information on the postpartum period, and  newborn care. It then moves on to the topics of sleep, feeding, diapering, baby gear, medical care, playing with baby, and traveling with baby.  The book ends with chapters on taking care of Mommy, losing the baby weight in a healthy way, and two chapters on taking care of Daddy.

With so many parenting books out there, you might be wondering what The Christian Mama's Guide to Baby's First Year has to offer. My first response is humor.  Erin keeps a friendly and slightly sarcastic tone throughout the book. The humor helps keep the book interesting, because not everyone can focus on reading factual how-to manuals -- either because of their personality, or their new-mommy fatigue.  Erin doesn't gloss over the negative aspects of having a newborn (like diaper blow-outs) but she does laugh at them.  She takes the fear out of having a newborn.

Erin's book also offers us a synopsis.  She takes all the information out there (and you know there is a FLOOD of information out there for new parents to wade through) and she summarizes it.  She helps new parents survive the information overload, and get down to the essentials.  Rather than trying to sort through 5 different online lists, 2 magazine lists, and 3 book lists of things that baby needs, you can look at Erin's summary of things baby actually NEEDS and the things that make life a little easier for Mom and Dad.

Erin offers us camaraderie.  She laughs at herself and lets us laugh at her (and her friends) too. She even gets her husband and her friends' husbands to open up a little and offer their viewpoints.  Reading The Christian Mama's Guide books feels like having a conversation with your friends, the type where you share embarrassing confessions and laugh hysterically with each other while eating chocolate ice cream and wearing yesterday's sweatpants and a messy pony tail.  It helps to know we aren't alone as we find ourselves pouring coffee on the counter instead of into our coffee mug, while holding a wide-awake baby at 4 am.

Lists.  Erin MacPherson is a list-maker.  She likes to have a plan, and she likes to check the little boxes off.  The Christian Mama's Guide to Baby's First Year is full of lists.  Not overwhelming lists that discourage you, but helpful lists to help organize information.  Occasionally, she even offers two lists - one for the type A moms and one for the type B moms.  Which brings me to another benefit that Erin gives us ... acceptance.  Every mom is different, and every baby is different.  Erin helps us celebrate the differences rather than try to fit ourselves, or our baby, into someone else's "box".

The Christian Mama's Guide to Baby's First Year also offers us faith.  Most chapters include a "Time Out For Mom" blurb.  These brief devotions include a Bible verse and a prayer to remind new moms where true wisdom and strength lies. Her chapters also remind us that God has given our children to us, that we have a responsibility to teach them about Him, and that He will equip us to raise them.  However, Erin doesn't try to spiritualize every little thing.  She doesn't try to find spiritual applications or implications in diaper bags, leaking milk, or sleepless nights. Her book is well-balanced, and the faith aspect is there, but not so overt that it's going to turn readers off. 

The Christian Mama's Guide to Baby's First Year is a refreshing change from most baby-care books.  It's light-hearted, encouraging, and helpful.  The topical approach actually makes it easier to find information than when it's buried in snippets in a month-by-month format.  It may not include every single thing you COULD know about raising a baby, but it does cover what you NEED to know. It's the perfect gift for a new mom, trying to make sense of all the information out there ... as well as the experienced mom who can use the lists, the laughs, and the camaraderie offered in the book.

April E.

This book was provided free to me, by BookSneeze, for review purposes.  The opinions shared here are my own, and no other compensation was received.

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