Those of us who loved Nourishing Traditions and who are either planning a family, already have kids or are likely to become grandparents in the not-to-distant future will be happy to know that there is now a handbook of encyclopedic scope on prenatal care of mom and care of the newborn and child written by Sally Fallon Morrell and Thomas Cowan, MD of the Weston A. Price Foundation. It is called The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby & Child Care. For anyone with kids or planning a family this is a must read book.
The scope of what is covered here is truly breathtaking as you would expect from Sally Fallon! Pretty much every question that commonly comes up in raising kids is addressed either in detail or is touched upon so you can get Sally’s and Dr. Cowan’s take on the issue. The breadth of the book makes it a good replacement for the ubiquitous and dubious What to Expect When Your Expecting as a handbook for new parents.
Parenting books with wide scope are a great launchpad for new parents to come to understand some of the things that come up in parenting before they do come up. So many decisions come at you when you have a new baby. New parents are notoriously exhausted by new responsibilities and sleep deprived. Not the best state to be researching and deciding on important issues! This book can help by bringing the issues to mind beforehand allowing the new parents to think them thru before the child is born or is even conceived. Sally and Dr. Cowan note their considered and professional opinions and invite you to take them into account while coming to your own conclusions. Both Sally Fallon and Dr. Cowan have so much depth of knowledge and experience to share it would be a shame to miss out on this book.
I found it hard to come up with a way to summarize The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby & Child Care for this review … there is so much to cover! So I thought I’d share a very brief summary of some of the major sections of the book.
Preparing for Pregnancy
Traditional societies had special foods for young men and women who were likely to conceive in the near future. Often they went far out of their way to acquire these foods to ensure healthy births. Our culture on the other hand is generally very unconcerned with what women eat prior to conception and totally unconcerned with what men eat. This book goes into great detail on how to best prepare for pregnancy.
Nutrition and Care During Pregnancy
It’s no surprise to anyone that what you eat during pregnancy matters both to the child’s and the mother’s future health. This book provides a lot of detail on what makes up a healthy supportive diet during pregnancy. It also covers how you can help address problems in pregnancy with nutrition.
When I was pregnant eons ago 😉 I was told not to be too concerned about what I ate. No matter what the baby would take what it needed from my body and would be okay. I think this common understanding is somewhat misleading. Yes, the baby will take what it needs IF you have it to give. If not, well … And if the mother is stripped of nutrient reserves it can lead to health issues for the mother during the energy intensive task of raising babies and small children. Not a good thing!
The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby & Child Care covers it all right up through the birth of the baby.
A wide range of issues in newborn care are covered, the most controversial of which are immunizations, breastfeeding and formulas. In this book you’ll get the authors opinions on all these matters in the clearest possible way, much easier than hunting down snippets of interviews and posts on the internet. It’ll help you clarify your own opinions. You’ll want to know your own opinion clearly before the birth of your baby as the need to choose comes fast and furious with a newborn.
Sally Fallon has taken a lot of heat on the internet for speaking out about the difficulties many women encounter while breastfeeding their babies. The vast majority of women in the US start out breastfeeding their newborns but 6 months to a year later the numbers have dropped to about a third. There are many reasons for this, many that are well known and frequently spoken of. I won’t go into them in this short post. But in this book Sally talks about a few factors that are not so frequently mentioned and are quite controversial. Factors related to maternal nutrition, milk quality and supply. This is important stuff to discuss! And Sally is opening that discussion with this book.
A historical note on the issue of breastfeeding and milk supply is the mention of the need for wet nurses in classic fiction. We tend to think of wet nurses as being hired only by the wealthy to avoid nursing because it was unfashionable in some circles. But much more commonly wet nurses or surrogate nurses were called upon when a mother was too frail to nurse her own child or had died in childbirth. Personally, I’d love to find more information on the subject from historical sources.
Care of Babies and Toddlers
This book covers it all really, from diapers to teething to first foods to attachment parenting. Lots to think about and research. The authors cover a wide range of topics that come up in the first years of parenting and you’ll get their opinion on them all. They even cover a bit of historical thought on child rearing which I enjoyed tremendously.
This wanna-be Granny doesn’t subscribe to all traditional tools of child rearing like spanking, for instance, but I do appreciate the historical notes in this book. Even if you don’t like some of traditional parenting there is still a lot to be learned from reading about what people used to do. And for the record this book does not advocate for spanking.
And as you would expect from the author of Nourishing Traditions there is a lot of detail on exactly what to feed babies and toddlers. Lots on what to feed older children and teens too.
Birth Control and Child Spacing
Dr. Weston Price found that most if not all of the groups he studied practiced birth spacing as a means of ensuring good health to each new baby and preserving the health of the mother. An entire chapter is devoted to the subject. Birth spacing and birth control is always controversial. Here you’ll find the clearest presentation of the authors views on both interrelated topics.
I’d also like to note something from a historical perspective. If you’re a reader of classic novels and such you might remember some mentions of women being worn out from too frequent childbirth usually combined with poverty and poor nutrition. Child spacing was often mentioned as an issue as was lots of physical work and little calories/nutrients. Childbearing is very hard work and is hard on a woman’s body, but of course it is work a woman’s body is designed to do. It simply needs the best we can give it. Just a little historical support for the idea that women need to be well cared for nutritionally during their childbearing years.
Illnesses of Childhood
The last quarter or so of the book is devoted to discussing various common ailments in childhood and remedies for them. Lots of detail here on remedies both old and new. A must have reference!
Grandparents Take Note!
As a wanna-be Granny myself 😉 I’d like to invite all the grandparents and wanna-be grandparents to consider buying this book for their children. Young adults frequently don’t have the extra cash for little things like this but they could so benefit from it! So just buy it for them.