You probably know who Dr Dawn Harper is. She’s the dark-haired female doctor from Channel 4’s Embarrassing Bodies, and she’s also a resident doctor on ITV’s This Morning.
I think I’d quite like it if Dr Dawn was my GP. She seems sensible, no nonsense and generally pretty approachable. Yes, she’s quite glamorous, but then, you’d expect a TV doctor to be glamorous.
Anyway, Dr Dawn has written two parenting guides: Dr Dawn’s Guide to Your Baby’s First Year and Dr Dawn’s Guide to Toddler Health. She’s a mother of three herself, but freely admits that when her first baby was born, she had no idea what do do.
Dr Dawn’s Guide to Your Baby’s First Year
In Dr Dawn’s Guide to Your Baby’s First Year, she outlines the basics in the first half: from feeding to teething. Her tone is no-nonsense and sensible. She’s obviously extremely well-informed and bases her writing on experience.
However, in my opinion, the book misses some crucial aspects of parenting a baby.
Let’s start with the good stuff. In the second half of the book, she focuses on the baby’s health. She writes about vaccinations, infant ailments, first aid and development checks. This is where Dr Dawn’s medical expertise really shines through. The vaccinations list is comprehensive, and the vaccinations schedule is really helpful.
Similarly, the A to Z of infant ailments is also very good. She doesn’t just write about the typical ailments that you may encounter, but also considers more serious or rare ailments. I was surprised that Dr Dawn didn’t discuss reflux of any kind, as that, in my experience, is one of the most common ailments in babies. I also love her attitude towards paracetamol: use it if the child is in discomfort.
Now, the first half. (Yes, there’s a reason I’ve written about it backwards!) Well, I like the fact that her first chapter is called ‘Let’s start with you.’ I think this is crucial for new mums, and it’s great to hear a GP saying the same. However, the focus of this chapter is about dressing well and getting some ‘me time.’ I do agree that this is a priority, but I was really surprised that there is no mention of things like Post-Natal Depression, support for birth trauma, or even how many visits from the midwife you can expect.
Following this, we move into ‘Feeding and Weaning.’ Dr Dawn is clearly following NHS guidelines and is very, very pro-breastfeeding. She lists the benefits and explains how to keep up your supply. There are lots of helpful diagrams to help with positioning, and she devotes 15 pages to this topic. In comparison, bottle feeding gets a page and a half. Now, I’ve breastfed both my babies, and I’m happy to have been able to do so, but not everyone can. Not everyone wants to (Imagine breastfeeding twins or triplets!). I wish there was more support out there for those who choose to bottle-feed, or for later, when you want to move on to bottle-feeding.
The other chapters (bathing, sleeping, travelling and teething) are very brief but they do give sensible, and usually practical advice. Dr Dawn’s advice on vaccinations and travelling is helpful and informative. You trust her advice, which is the most important thing.
Dr Dawn’s Guide to Toddler Health
The structure of the toddler book is very similar to the baby book, but it does really focus on health. I think this does play to Dr Dawn’s strengths and expertise.
Again, her no-nonsense, sensible approach really works, and I found a lot of her advice very reassuring. This is particularly true of the chapter on toileting, and also when she suggests things that might be due to underlying anxiety.
As with the baby book, the best chapters are on vaccinations, ailments and first aid. Her list for the toddler’s medicine cabinet is excellent, and I’m definitely taking it with me when I go to stock up!
I think these books would work well as part of a collection, if you like parenting books. I do, and I like to be able to dip into them, so that works well for me. I know I’ll definitely be referring to the vaccinations list and the ailments list too. I actually think the toddler one is more successful, but that might be because I’m in the middle of the baby phase and I keep wishing for a definitive book on babies!
If you’re looking for a no-nonsense, fact-based parenting, these books are great. Lots of information about health and sensible advice, and the best first-aid kit list I’ve ever seen.
We were sent a free copy of each book for review.