Oh the joys of brand new motherhood! Nothing says "I don't know what I am doing" more than when you can't seem to get your fussy baby to sleep no matter what you try and it's 3am and you're exhausted and five days out from giving birth and your whole world has been turned upside down and you just want sleep and you just want them to sleep and any shred of control you thought you had is now gone. Yes, that. Because we all know along with the new mom glow can come some new mom self doubt. Sometimes a LOT of new mom self doubt. I was one of those moms when I had my first child. I did NOT know what I was doing and being a slight control freak that really threw me for a loop. I needed to get a grip, but I didn't know how or where to start. This one book saved my sanity and helped me feel like I had a grasp on what I was doing and actually made me feel like yeah, I can do this whole motherhood thing.
I can't remember how I stumbled on this book, The Baby Book: How to Enjoy Year One by Rachel Waddilove, but I bought it and furiously flipped through it like it was a boat repair kit and I was on a sinking ship.
Rachel has over 30 years experience as a maternity nurse and nanny from England, working with families all over the world (including Gwyneth Paltrow who writes a glowing recommendation), politicians and royalty. The book is packed with practical and straight-forward advice which centers around how to establish a routine for your baby, something I seriously needed. She even breaks it down into time chunks for you, I am not ashamed to admit that in the early weeks of motherhood I typed these little schedules, printed them out, and put them up on the fridge so I could reference them. Yes I was that rigid. But I needed that, I really did. It helped me establish a routine with the baby, when to put him down for a nap and how long, what kind of bath and bedtime routine might work, how to swaddle, all of those little things you think you might just know as a mom but realize maybe you aren't quite so sure.
The printed schedules helped me plan out my day, I was also a brand new stay at home mom and the days with a newborn seemed to stretch out endlessly sometimes, especially with the lack of sleep. Keeping the baby on his little schedule kept things running smoothly, and I felt more centered and grounded and just more together knowing okay, it's time for a little walk and then we'll start the bedtime routine. It sounds sort of silly now, but trust me, in those early days sometimes that is all you need to just keep going forward. There was room for flexibility too, it wasn't just sticking to a schedule, it was about teaching parents how to establish the basic schedule and go with that new flow. I firmly agree with her too that when babies and children have a basic routine that is followed they are happier and healthier individuals.
And the thing is, it really worked. Worked like a charm actually. He slept through the night at like six weeks, and he has been my champion, number one sleeper ever since (yes I still call him this, we all know how important sleep is as parents, SO IMPORTANT I LOVE SLEEP OMG).
Throughout the book Rachel's tone is so soothing and comforting too, you can just picture this sweet British nanny helping you through some of the more rocky moments of new motherhood. My own mom, who has a bazillion years of experience both as a mom and grandmother and also a pediatric nurse, was still living in NJ when I had my first born, so I didn't have the benefit of her being on hand to help out (like I still do now, shout out to Nina). Rachel filled that gap perfectly for me, explaining all the little details and offering little bits of advice. To say this book was my Baby Bible would be an extreme understatement. It gave me a sense of confidence as a mother I didn't have right off the bat, which was invaluable to me.
I mainly only recommend this book to a brand new first time mom, because by the time a second or third one comes along you've got most of this down. Finding it really was like being thrown a life preserver for me, and I will always be grateful to Rachel for writing it and sharing her knowledge. If you are a first time mom to be or know someone about to have baby #1, pick this up for them just to have on hand. xoxo