The Modern Girl's Guide to Motherhood by Jane Buckinham (with Jen Furmaniak)

Monday, October 01, 2012

Title: The Modern Girl's Guide to Motherhood
Author: Jane Buckingham (with Jen Furmaniak)
Genre: Parenting, nonfiction
Publisher: Reagan Books, 2006
Source: Borrowed from my sister-in-law

As my due date creeps ever closer, I have been reading quite a few books about motherhood. Because let's face it, while I may be able to take care of an infant in a sterilized hospital setting, I have no idea what I am supposed to do with one at home (especially because in my experience, the CNAs are in charge of feeding and diaper changing). With The Modern Girl's Guide to Motherhood, I got about what I expected -- some practical advice about dealing with various situations, but not much scientific evidence and a little bit of ambiguity.

The Modern Girl's Guide to Motherhood has nine chapters, focusing on nine subjects. It discusses things to buy, what to do before baby comes (covering everything from labor to ordering birth announcements), how life is the first few weeks after the hospital, information about food for newborns through toddlerhood, sleep habits and training, basics of caring for newborns, teaching babies and toddlers (things like manners, sharing, etc.), breaking bad habits, and how to play with babies, infants, and other parents (in setting up playdates). Sound like a lot of information? It is -- and at times it isn't helpful, because it seemed as if the author was trying to include a lot of different perspectives.

The information that was helpful was the information on good brands to buy, what types of baby gear the author found helpful, and the anecdotes. While I appreciate a well-researched parenting technique as much as the next panicked mom-to-be, I think what really helps me feel most comfort is the knowledge that normal people are doing this every day, and that they don't usually produce sociopaths or monsters. I also appreciate the fact that while Buckingham highlights many different philosophies, some of which she adheres to, she also describes some practical tips and situations that have simply worked for her. I think this information can be really helpful (with the caveat, of course, that every situation is different and what works for one person may or may not work for another). I enjoyed the ideas and may find myself turning back to the book at times when I am in a bind.

However, I also found that much of the information was strict opinion, or was presenting opposing parenting theories. I haven't yet figured out what I think the best approach to parenting is, having never done it, but it seems that every well-researched philosophy out there has an equally well-researched opposing philosophy. I suppose having them all presented in one book gives the reader a taste of where to look next. However, many of these philosophies were mingled with the opinion of the author, so it was hard to know what exactly I was reading.

Basically, while I found The Modern Girl's Guide to Motherhood interesting and gleaned a few gems, I have taken every bit of advice with a grain of salt (which is probably advisable with any parenting book, to be honest). The writing style is fresh and readable, and there are several helpful lists on every subject, from things to buy for the baby to when to introduce appropriate foods (although I didn't see scientific references for these, so it might be good to double check them with an American Academy of Pediatrics publication or something). I think The Modern Girl's Guide to Motherhood was a good overview for the information that is available, but I will definitely be consulting some more scientific resources.

3 stars

Warnings: Talk about body parts, some innuendo. It's a book about babies, so all the parts involved with that...


  1. Parenting books are so hit and miss. It's hard to make a decision when someone is presenting contrasting views within one book.
    I think a lot of parenting has to do with your personality and your little one's and finding out what works best for your family. I hope you are feeling well during these last few months!

    1. Thanks! That is kind of the impression I am getting -- the books give a lot of ideas but every kid is different. I am definitely getting eager to know what kind of kid mine will be. :)


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