As the adage goes, parenting doesn’t come with a manual – but Kaz Cooke’s new book Babies & Toddlers comes pretty close to it. The follow up to her ubiquitous 90’s book Up The Duff with its iconic animated cover, Babies & Toddlers is a meticulously researched, yet friendly and easy to read guide covering everything from the first few days with your new baby to how to look after a toddler with gastro.
A highly respected and award winning writer, Kaz has consulted over 30 medical experts and specialists to incorporate only the most accurate and up to date information in Babies & Toddlers. This attention to detail has been a real labour of love over the past few years, especially given it’s an update of her original book Kidwrangling which was first written when her own daughter was five, some 15 years ago.
Not just the title has changed since then. Medically speaking there have been advances and changes to what we know about paediatric health, but also the advent of the internet has brought with it an avalanche of information that can both overwhelm and confuse a new parent during an incredibly exhausting and vulnerable point in their lives. Babies & Toddlers outlines the essential information while also expertly navigating the plethora of new parenting trends to contend with – “the way-bonkers stuff,”as Kaz likes to call it.
“I wanted the book to be almost like a secret thing that people could have at home and be the kind friend that you can get all the information you need from and you know it’s the right information, you know you can trust it,” explains Kaz.
This information overload, much of it opinion-dressed-as-fact, often espoused by some parenting websites, forums, bloggers and Instagrammers is rife. And, while not all opinions dished out either on the internet or from well-meaning relatives are harmful, they are sometimes misguided at best and dangerous at worst. All in all, it seems there’s never been a more complex and confusing time to be a parent.
“I also think that there’s just so much perfectionism that is being encouraged by Instagram…it’s not real, it’s a constructed story for social media. It’s fun to look at, but it’s often not at all helpful for you as a parent, and that’s why I wanted to provide an alternative,” she says. “Use the internet for connection, but don’t use it for information. Use it to make connections with other parents, but don’t use it to tell you what to do,” she adds, especially when it comes to medical and health related issues.
Impartial and factual, Babies & Toddlers is designed almost as a reference book, with a special focus on a comprehensive index and a wealth of up to date resources a parent might need to access. Her guiding principle in structuring the book was ensuring it was easy to get the information you might need fast – sometimes in the middle of the night – keeping it jargon-free and easy to understand.
“It’s very clearly outlined that these are the services you ring for medical information and these are the services for counselling. It’s actually really important to know whether you’re ringing the maternal healthcare nurse or someone who’s going to speak to you about how you’re feeling and refer you, when you might need to know really quickly if you need to take your infant to hospital,” explains Kaz.
A lighthearted read, anchored by facts, Babies & Toddlers is an essential read for any parent to be, instilling confidence and providing connections to good sources of information so that parents and carers don’t feel isolated.
“I wanted [the book] to be – more than anything else – reassuring, because it’s giving people the buffet or smorgasbord of suggestions. Very often, individual people can say ‘try this thing because it worked for me’, but there’s never a guarantee that it will work for you. Plus, what worked for your first child might not work for the second – so parents deserve not a hard and fast theory….people need enough choices to find what works for them,” says Kaz.
Sprinkled with humour and her trademark cartoons, Babies & Toddlers manages to cut through all the noise and get back to the essentials, providing clear and concise information backed up by experts and packaged up in an accessible read that enables parents to make their own decisions.
Purchase the book here