Every new mom is gifted a baby advice book during her pregnancy. Or maybe she crowd sources for recommendations and adds them to her library herself. Either way, “bringing home baby” books are quite popular. And for some, they can also be quite useful! But a new study suggests that for some new moms, these books can have an adverse effect.
Baby advice books might actually make some new moms feel LESS confident in their parenting.
A recent study conducted by Dr. Amy Brown, an infant health researcher and associate professor at Swansea University, found that over half of new moms felt worse about their parenting after reading advice and self-help books aimed at parents.
Of the 354 moms with babies from 0-12 months old who participated in the study, 53% reported feeling more anxious after reading these books.
Dr. Brown says, “In some cases these books might help new mothers but I think they may be working for babies who are suited towards a routine. Although some parents might be lucky and have a very easy-going baby, it is completely normal for most babies to want lots of interaction and will communicate their annoyance very loudly if they do not get it. Trying to go against these needs doesn’t work, not least because babies haven’t read the books!”
According to Dr. Brown, many of these types of books go against the natural and normal developmental needs of babies. Some books might tell you that your baby needs wait longer between feedings, or will be sleeping through the night after 4 weeks. Meanwhile, someone try telling a new baby that.
Reading baby advice advice books and then having a baby who doesn’t follow the “rules” can lead to feelings of failure and inadequacy. Says Dr. Brown, “almost half of mothers in the study ended up feeling frustrated and misled because they were unable to make the advice work.”
Dr. Brown stresses that we need to find more and better ways to support mothers.
“We were not designed to look after babies alone but many mothers are now isolated and lonely in caring for their babies”, says Dr. Brown. New moms (all moms, really) need support in the form of a community and better social and economic programs. Mothering is hard. We need to do better for us all.
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