Friday, August 22, 2008

Book Review: Be Prepared

Many thanks to Travis & Juliet for passing along a copy of Be Prepared to me last week. This Eagle Scout enjoyed the "Boy Scout Handbook" theme and the laugh out loud humor. And what's more, this handbook for new dads really does have lots of practical, helpful reminders about babyhood. It has been 10 years since Meg and I first brought home a baby (sweet little Anna is now in 5th grade) and with 6 weeks to go until baby #3 arrives, I feel like I can use all the help I can get.

The authors of Be Prepared approach fatherhood with both the ingenuity of MacGyver and the lightheartedness of a stand-up comedian. This results in helpful sections on:
  • Newborn party tricks. From page 8: "Let's face it: when you're spending time with your newborn, you've got to find ways to make your own fun. Conducting a field test on his reflexes is a perfect way to to just that...Though he looks helpless, your newborn comes pre-programmed with a complete set of reflexes that help him search for and secure food, avoid danger, and extricate himself from sticky situations. Now if you could just get him to change his own diaper."
  • The Joy of Burping: "Burping a baby is a great task for a dad because, unlike most early baby care, it is results-oriented. You perform a specific series of maneuvers and almost always get a pay-off. And when you hear that magical rumble, you can't help but think: 'He's one of mine.'" (Page 22)
  • Germs and the Third Child: "As one dad put it, 'When our first dropped the pacifier, I'd run it under soap and water before giving it back to him. With our second, I'd wipe it off on my shirt. With the third, I just kick it back to him.' Yet these third children seem to turn out just as healthy and robust as their more sanitized siblings." (Page 101)
  • Sections on constipation, effective diaper disposal, and removing foreign objects from the VCR/DVD player are also extremely helpful.
  • My favorite bit of advice was about how to create a decoy drawer full of old wallets, remote controls, and cell phones to throw baby off the scent of your real gear.
Packed with helpful diagrams and detailed instructions, and delivered with a wry sense of humor, Be Prepared is a great guide for sleep-deprived, applesauce-covered fathers everywhere.

Greenberg, Gary and Jeanne Hayden, Be Prepared, (Simon & Schuster: New York), 2004, 229 pages, $14.00

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