Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Ali's Annals: 1.0 Essential References

It is now time to create an archive of Ali's Annals: my unedited, biased, review of what you need for the first 8 months with a baby. Why 8 months? Because it has taken me an extra 2 months to get this darn thing started, so my 6 month review is slightly outdated. My goal is to post every 2 days in my Ali's Annals different subject areas of my review/recommendations (e.g. Essential Nursery, Essential Feeding, Essential Pumping/Breastfeeding...).

My reviews are pro bono (although, anyone from any companies I tout are more than welcome to contribute to Miles's college fund). Additionally, consume the information at your own risk. I am a first time mom of an 8 month old who has endured quite a few rookie hiccups along the way. Anyway, would you place a lot of stock in a woman whose New Year's resolution is to maintain a shower a day?

If you know of any ladies ready to pop, please feel free to share this. I will include the obligatory Mee-lez photos as I download them, but I am sorry to report that I will bore you with review text as well. Finally, if any post-popped moms (or dads!) have 2 cents to throw in, please feel free to comment.

Back to the annals (I really just like using that word. It's naughty sounding.)
The first, and most powerful essential reference I recommend:
  • Mother's Intuition. Trust it. Something biological happens to your body when you give birth (besides increased blood volume and for some, an uncomfortable tear. TMI?), and you find yourself clairvoyant. There is more power in a mothers' intuitions than I think we know. We are primed to think that all of these "experts" exogenous to our personal experiences have authority. While others may offer insight, I hope every mother believes in her own inherent capabilities as a mother.
Anyone with access to the Internet knows that there is a virtual endless supply of information regarding anything from elimination communication to safe baby product reviews. Google is a new mom's best friend, but it can also be her frienemy, stealing hours away from her nights as she searches for "signs of teething," or "4 month old sleep regression." Blogs also exist as fodder for life as a parent. If I showed you my Google Reader selection, you would have a myocardial infarction. Here are my tippity top Websites/blogs that I recommend:
  • Kellymom's Breastfeeding site I love this site. I have mentioned it before. Anyone who plans on opening her own dairy farm should bookmark this site.
  • Dr Sears This is the site I refer to for general baby questions. My warning is that there is a spin toward attachment parenting--a style of parenting that I have a figurative membership for. I have visited and revisited the sections on high needs babies as well as sleep.
  • Baby Cheapskate and Baby Steals Who doesn't like a good deal? If you want to keep your finger on the pulse of some hot baby steals, these are 2 great sites. Warning: there are about 3,459,611 other blogs/sites dedicated to baby deals. (I counted.)
  • Eco Childsplay One of the zillion (yes, I counted again) green parenting sites I subscribe to. I particularly like this one.
  • Singing in the Bathtub and In the Nick of Time BLATANT nepotism, but damn my brother brings children's music to the 21st century. :)
  • Schlotty Couture Mrs Schlotty's new site for her wicked cute footwear. (Soon there should be some great product shots from a Schlocks photo shoot over Christmas). Miles wears his 2 pairs weekly.
  • Happiest Baby on the Block Worth every penny. Dr Karp is on to something (although, I am sad that they use Mr. McGraw's name for promotion. I cannot even use the title "Dr" with him). There is a book, too, but I was in no shape to rely on my bachelor's in English in those first few weeks. If Miles hadn't decided to make his appearance close to 2 months early, I would have watched this daily prior to his birth. I have included a picture of Miles doing his best "Happiest Baby." He's happy inside; I swear. Apologize for the half naked father--that was when our house was totally clothing optional in those first few weeks.

  • Sign With Your Baby We didn't start using signs until 7 months, but I really liked this DVD/Book. So far, we are signing: more, eat, milk, mom, dad, change, bath, walk, run, duck, ontological proof for God and categorical imperative (Eric made his own ASL for the last 2). Miles has yet to sign back, but I have a feeling it is coming (along with his upper teeth).

  • The Vaccine Book I promise that I am not related to the Sears family. Vaccinating children is a hotly discussed topic, and I have no interest in starting a debate (I have a hard enough time reconciling my public health persona with my neurotic first time mother persona). Given Miles's premature status, this book was more general reference than guidance given that I really felt that it was in his best interest to keep with the traditional schedule, but if there is every Mee-lez #2, I will re-read.
  • The No Cry Sleep Solution Almost as debated as vaccines is babies and SLEEP. Here is where the "follow at your own risk" is emphasized: Miles still gets up multiple (and I didn't say couple, because that would suggest only 2) times a night. But, I liked this book for its background on sleep, and do find myself endorsing the general philosophy. Please also note that this is coming from someone who is on the brink of trying a modified crying it out...last night the Heintz parents got a whopping 3 hours of sleep.
  • The Baby Book Again, those darn Searses! I actually don't have this book, but Mama D has it, and it is one that may just need to find itself in my home library. I recommend it solely on the basis of her judgement along with the reviews I have read from numerous sites. (Shouldn't I be a professional book reviewer? My standards are gold.)
  • Healthy Child Healthy World A quick and easy read on creating a less toxic home. It has little excerpts from celebs who have "gone green" with their parenting. I don't like it because of that reason, but provides those of us who have been known to find herself on perezhilton.com with some fun celebrity insight. (I'll go into specifics on some modifications we have made in our own lives in a later Ali Annal.)
  • So Sexy So Soon: The New Sexualized Childhood and What Parents Can Do About It Truth be told, I have not read this one either, but it is making its way down from MA to GA from MomA. From what she has told me, this will be an intriguing read--and have implications for those of us raising boys. One more admission, this probably has no bearing on the first 8 months of childhood, but I threw it in there because one always needs a break from the expected! As an early childhood educator, my mom has provided me with some great reads, including the ones below.
  • Raising Resilient Children I just started this one, but it really is a seminal parenting work!
  • The Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature Deficit-Disorder One final great read from MomA. For so many, long gone are the days of running around outside, exploring the earth without the fear of strangers lurking around every corner, or the temptation of Playstation and MTV.
Truly, the last three books I have included are not so much beginning parenting books as they are general parenting books. Sometimes it is nice to read parenting literature that don't focus on fontanels, diaper blow outs or RSV.


  • Parents and Mothering For those preggos and "ex" preggos, you know that you can always slip away from the OB office with quite a few mother/baby magazines. There are so many it is hard to sift through them and find the few that will make it to your bathroom's magazine rack. Truthfully, I have only subscribed to 2 parenting magazines. The rest show up in my mailbox from some mailing list I have been added to (no doubt from some of the websites I frequent). The reason I am picking these 2 is because I think they offer a great balance between the traditional and the ultra liberal. I have not found too much conflicting information between the two, and after reading both magazines, I find myself sitting somewhere between the homemade candy Halloween decorations and the tattooing a world breastfeeding logo on my left boob to be exhibited when nursing in public.

**Random interruption: Thank you for all of the birthday wishes, donations and gifts of dinner! Sharing a birthday with your hubby is no fun after the first year novelty wears off, and with a baby, our birthday has all of a sudden becomes obsolete. We were flooded with messages, and numerous people made thoughtful donations in our name (including DUCKS for the Heifer project!). Additionally, we received a couple of "date night" gifts that included baby-sitting. Eric and I cannot thank everyone enough. We cashed in on our first date night and saw Slumdog Millionnaire. See it. We also gorged on Rathbun's and were ready to sleep by 11pm.We live on the edge... It was the first year we did not throw ourselves a 1/11 party, but we are going to plan something big next year as one of us will find herself in a new decade. Thanks to Mama D and Frank-o Sarto for their services of childcare. The favor will be repayed...in a few months!


  1. Alison-
    Where do you find time to do all of your reading you do? You are so organized and do so much - the only question I have is HOW DO YOU DO IT ALL? Between breastfeeding and sleepless nights-I am lucky if I find time for a shower-I will have to adopt your new year's resolution as well----
    I am excited to check out some of the books you recommend...Also, love the pics of Miles - TOO CUTE!!!

  2. Wow! This is very comprehensive! I heartily endorse mother's intuition. I remember reading myself silly (thank goodness I didn't have access to the internet) and realizing that it could be both overwhelming and dangerous. I also think that you may need to do some modified crying at night thing to get some sleep. Mean me - I ended up doing that with each of you kids (when trying to get you to sleep just wouldn't work), and I think you turned out okay...

  3. Hi Alison! If you are interested in doing more signing with Miles and not opposed to DVDs you might want to try Baby Signing Time by Rachel Coleman. I didn't start with the DVDs until LG was almost 1 but as soon as I did she started signing herself (prior to this I had been signing for over 6 months and we had taken a class). LG had over 100 signs in her vocabulary by the time she was 18 months and now that she can talk she likes to play 'school' and teach her dolls to sign. Good luck!