Friday, January 10, 2014

Bea Reviews Calm Mama, Happy Baby by Derek O'Neill & Jennifer Waldburger

Publisher: Health Communications
Format Read: egalley
Source: the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Release Date: October 1, 2013
Buying Links: Amazon* | Book Depository* | Barnes & Noble

Blurb from goodreads:

Every parent of a newborn feels overwhelmed by the enormity of the tasks at hand: Suddenly responsible for feedings, diaper changes, and trying to sleep, parents are stressed out and anxious. Since babies today are born even more aware, awake, and attuned than previous generations, it's easy to see why parents--especially moms--are frazzled.  

The good news is that the cause and effect between parents' mental and emotional states and their baby's mood and behavior works both ways; when parents are calm and centered, their children are calm as well. From consulting in Hollywood's poshest nurseries to leading sold-out workshops with sleep-deprived parents, Jennifer Waldburger and Derek O'Neill share their proven arsenal of methods to calm parents and their kids, often in seconds. 

With an eye-opening blend of neuroscience research, personal stories, and cross-cultural insights, "Calm Mama, Happy Baby" empowers moms (and dads) to be proactive about how they are "feeding" their babies energetically, choosing calm over stress. While many well-meaning parents spend money safety-proofing their homes, they fail to learn the most important thing to safeguard their baby's emotional health, which is to maintain peace within themselves and within the home. "Calm Mama, Happy Baby" shows parents how to:

     Stress-proof the baby's room with a paint color that soothes instead of stimulates and learn how certain music affects your baby's mood and behavior. Stop the Mommy Guilt and turn negative "Mama mantras" into positive ones. Discover why becoming a parent brings up unresolved fears and insecurities and how to put them to rest. Use the proven CALM technique to diffuse any parenting situation, from feeding problems and sleep disruptions to separation anxiety, teething, and fussiness.   

Yes, a happy baby is paramount, but when you have a happy Mama, too, then the entire household thrives. "Calm Mama, Happy Baby" paves the path from chaos to calm.

Bea's Thoughts:

I chose this book as it seemed like one that might be useful even though I teach young toddlers, one and two year olds, and not infants, and it was successful in that regard. To be honest, much of the information provided was either already known to me or seemed obvious. Re the latter, I had to remind myself that, while I'm not a mother, 20+ years of teaching experience and and attendant trainings gave me a leg up on much of the material. Still, the book is not particularly complex and it is an easy read. O'Neill and Waldburger want to help mothers, both new and experienced, to be more calm and relaxed and they discuss how a mother's emotional state affects their child's emotional state. Again, for me, there was nothing new there. The trainings I've taken and my own experience matched well with their information. The science behind their reasoning was interesting and I enjoyed reading it.

O'Neill and Waldburger have an easy, relaxed style that comes across as if they are chatting with you. One of the messages they emphasize is that each mother is the expert on their child and that external sources of advice and information, even their own, should not override a mother's instincts. If advice or information seems off to you, feels wrong, then don't do it. They suggest picking and choosing what seems right and if something doesn't work, then dump it and move on. I really appreciate the emphasis on mother's listening to their instincts and that is one of the other purposes of this book - to help mothers listen to and trust their instincts. At this point, the book moves away from science and psychology and into yoga, visualization, and meditation. I don't mean to say that yoga and meditation are not valid practices but while they are more common than they used to be, they still have an out-there feel (says the woman who wants to try yoga for her health). I did have trouble buying into the visualizations but others may find them helpful. Many of their suggestions are useful and not just for mothers dealing with infants but for anyone who is stressed or has trouble trouble trusting their instincts.

The book is less successful at living up to it's promise to calm sleep problems, teething, etc. Basically, those solutions, according to this book, derive from mom being calm enough to listen to her instincts and she'll find the answers that way. Not exactly the practical instructions that are implied in the blurb. My other problem with the book was the repetition of information and basic points of their message. Repetition is essential for young children whereas most adults don't need as much. I was able to skim much of the latter half of the book due to the heavy repetition. If you can ignore that, you may find this book useful. While some of their calming suggestions are off the wall, many are useful and practical. It's definitely worth a read.
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4 comments:

  1. I'm going to take a closer look at this one--I know several prospective parents and this might make a nice gift for them.

    Thanks for visiting my blog.

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  2. i remember someone buying a book like this when my son was born. Unfortunately, I was too wound up to read it. I settled down when my mother helped me out for a few days and got me on the path.

    If you want to read books about newborns do it before you have one. Your right. The stress can be incredible if you don't know what you're doing.

    Anna from Shout with Emaginette

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  3. I think I might have to look into this one some time, the Mr. and I are thinking about trying for a family this year or next year.
    -Kimberly @ Turning the Pages

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  4. Sounds like a great book for new parents. I particularly like the "trust your instincts" advice. While suggestions can be very helpful, there's no point in doing something you sense will not work for your child, or sticking with something that isn't right for him/her (or you) because an expert told you to.

    It must be very rewarding to work with little ones as you do, Bea. You must love it! I taught older children (grade, middle, and a little high school) and enjoyed it -- but I was lucky to work in a private school with small classes. I stopped teaching when that school closed; I knew I wasn't cut out for the large classes in public schools.

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