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Cook's Nooks - Oh, Baby!

So you're having a baby - congratulations! But watch out - you're entering a whole new world with new knowledge to gain and new skills to master. There's a lot to learn about being pregnant and becoming a parent. If you're lucky, you've got a friend, family member or understanding doctor you can learn from. If you're like most of us, however, there's no one to show you the ropes.

This doesn't mean you're alone in your struggle. There are a lot of books out there about pregnancy, childbirth and babyhood. Some of these books contain a lot of useful information, including things even your doctor probably won't tell you. The problem is that a lot of books on the subject are woefully incomplete, out of date or just plain inaccurate. When you're faced with an entire bookshelf of baby books to choose from, how can you be sure you've picked the gem and not the junker?

When my wife and I were expecting our first child, we asked ourselves the same question. Because there weren't any good reviews out there, we had to find the good books and ditch the useless books through a painstaking, time-intensive trial-and-error process. If you're like most new parents or expecting parents, there are lots of other things you'd probably like to do with your precious time. That's why we've provided you with some reviews of baby books based on our own experience.

As you read the reviews below, which are organized into handy categories, pay attention to what the book's about. There are a lot of great books out there, but not all great books are great for everyone. Ask yourself, "is this the kind of book I need?" If you find you are interested in a particular book, click on the graphic of the book's cover and you'll be taken to Barnes & Noble, where you can buy the book and have it sent right to your home. Happy reading!

We have reviews of books about:

Baby Names


What to Expect When You're Expecting
by Arlene Eisenberg, Heidi E. Murkoff and Sandee E. Hathaway
Bottom Line:Affordable, comprehensive and useful. It's popular for good reason.

What to Expect When You're Expecting is perhaps the most popular pregnancy book, and for good reason: it's a well-written, useful book. While it's not as packed with information as the more expensive Mayo Clinic Complete Book of Pregnancy and Baby's First Year, it's certainly got the information most expectant mothers need. The book is handily organized on a month-to-month basis with information on choosing a caregiver, prenatal diagnosis, exercise, childbirth options, second pregnancies, twins, making love during pregnancy, having a cesarean, and practical tips on coping with those quirky pregnancy problems. There's also a section devoted to fathers-to-be, which I appreciated. The book also sports a warm feel without sacrificing detail. This book is a positive contributor to both you and your new baby's well-being.

Baby Names

The Very Best Baby Name Book In the Whole Wide World
by Bruce Lansky
Bottom Line:If you need a name, it's got it!

Best in the Whole Wide World? A strong claim, perhaps. Still, this is a really good baby name book for very simple reasons. First, it's got a *lot* of names in it. Second, the names have related spellings and nicknames associated with them. Third, you can find out what the meaning of the names you like are. The organization of the book is intuitive and allows for quick and easy access to specific names or leisurely browsing through many names. If you're expecting a baby but need some help naming your little one, this book makes a worthwhile buy.

One of the selling points of this book that doesn't work so well is the section that lists the most popular baby names. It's a nice idea, but the list is already dated. Besides, you can access a more updated list for free. Click here to review an updated list of the most popular baby names.

The Baby Name Survey Book
by Bruce Lansky and Barry Sinrod
Bottom Line:Interesting idea, but poorly done.

The Baby Name Survey Book is a book to avoid. Naming a baby isn't a joke. It's reasonable to want to avoid names with negative connotations and seek out names with positive connotations. This book sells itself as a guide to those connotations. Unfortunately, it doesn't deliver. Too few names are covered in the first place, although the authors try to cover up this fact by using very large type.

The descriptions under the names that are covered are presented in an overly simplistic manner that is not only condescending but uninformative. The authors point out with pride that they engaged in a thorough study involving a probability sample of the entire United States. That's nice, but when the findings of such a thorough study are boiled down to one or two vague sentences per name, what's the value to the reader? It would have been nicer if the authors hadn't underestimated their audience, and had instead included some detailed information beyond proclamations like "Claudettes are clumsy."

The good news is that if you're expecting a baby, there are a lot of great books out there. The bad news is that this isn't one of them.


Sleep: How to Teach Your Child to Sleep Like a Baby
by Tamara Eberlein
Bottom Line:It's an inexpensive book because it's cheap.

This one peeked out at me from the bookshelf, and I bought it because it was inexpensive and it's got a good subject matter. What parents of a two-month old wouldn't like to get more sleep? Unfortunately, I forgot that inexpensive books are often cheap. That's the case here: while the information provided is generally valid, it's overly general; you could learn as much by picking up any issue of Parenting magazine. You could learn even more by reading What to Expect the First Year. Save your money and skip this book.

by Paul Reiser
Bottom Line:Entertaining humor, not how-to technique.

If you're looking for an informative how-to book, this is not the one for you. On the other hand, if you're looking for a good laugh and some funny recognition of what you as a parent already know, Paul Reiser's book is worth a read. Reiser himself says it best:

"I'm going to be totally honest. This is not the kind of book that can help you. It's not a "how-to," a "when-to," or a "what-to-expect." Let's compare: Those "know-it-all" books tell you how to have a happy, healthy pregnancy. My book mentions a squirrel. Those books tell you how to care for a newborn child. My book describes how tired I am. Those books give you essential information you can use in a life-threatening emergency. My book has some very amusing anecdotes about poop. So really, it's up to you. If you want to be prepared and well-informed, I understand. But if you enjoy seeing the words "pterodactyl" and "uterus" in the same book, you've come to the right place."

Especially now that Reiser's book is available at a great discount through Barnes and Noble, you're sure to get more than enough laughs for your money.