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Book Review: Bon Appétit, Baby!

By Elaine Moran
Treasure Chest Publications, 1999 Hardcover, 252 pages
Available from LLLI, No. 901-7 $24.95
Reviewed by Shelly Sutherland
From NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 18 No. 2, March-April 2001, p. 70

If a pregnant friend or loved one already owns THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING, I can't think of a better gift book than Bon Appétit, Baby! This beautifully designed and well-written "kit" is part breastfeeding manual, part journal, and part baby's growth-tracking system. The kit has a durable design so it can be read often and written in, with a lovely, durable hard cover, spiral-bound pages (cookbook style), plastic covered section tabs, and a dual-colored pencil.

The first section of Bon Appétit, Baby! is a practical and supportive guide to the early weeks of breastfeeding. The first chapter, 'Breastfeeding Benefits for Mother and Baby," offers strong breastfeeding encouragement for the new mother, concluding that 'by nursing your baby you are laying a strong foundation for all future development--during infancy and throughout fife." Other chapters offer practical information on preparing to breastfeed, latch-on and positioning, "warning signs" for when to call a lactation specialist, expressing and storing milk, and more. This includes many suggestions to use La Leche League as a support system.

While the manual generally reflects up-to-date and accurate breastfeeding information, there are a few exceptions. For example, Moran states that "it is normal for babies to lose up to 10 percent of their birth weight," while the BREASTFFEDING ANSWER BOOK states that "a weight loss of approximately 5-7 percent is normal ... While a weight loss of 10 percent is considered acceptable by some medical professionals, it is usually a sign that the mother needs additional help with breastfeeding management". Also, in an effort to show latch-on, the drawings have the baby lying on his back in the cradle position while nursing, rather than tucked in tummy-to-tummy with the mother. Aside from these few exceptions, "The Practical Breastfeeding Manual" section is helpful, up-to-date, and well-written.

The second section, "Nutrition and Weight Loss for the Nursing Mother," discusses the importance of gradual weight loss, offers a list of food exchanges based on the USDA Food Guide Pyramid, includes a discussion of foods to limit or avoid, and concludes with a section on gradually incorporating exercise into your postpartum lifestyle. This section, paired with the "Nursing Mother's Daily Nutrition Diary" in the following section, which helps new mothers record their daily exercise, food, fluid, and supplement intake, is a wonderful addition to a breastfeeding handbook.

The third section of Bon Appétit, Baby! presents the "Nurse-N-Track System," a unique, trademarked system for documenting the first six weeks with baby. On the facing pages of the mother's nutrition diary, Moran includes a page for every day of the baby's first six weeks called "The Nursing Baby's Daily Diary." Each page has two key components, a 24-hour "Nursing Wheel, which is designed to keep track of abyss nursing, sleeping and awake times, and a 24-hour "Diaper Wheel," which keeps track of wet and soiled diapers. There is also a section on each page to indicate abyss weight, notable behaviors, and questions for the baby's doctor.

Moran states that "recording your nursing progress on paper will help put some order back in your life and will set your mind at ease knowing that both you and your baby are healthy and flourishing." Some mothers will never want or need to use this section, but others who want the reassurance of a written record, or dads who want a concrete way of helping in the early weeks, will find this a helpful tool. If breastfeeding problems do occur, this is a clear and easy way of tracking the abyss nursing, elimination, and growth patterns. Mothers of multiples will also appreciate the charts to help them keep track of their babies' growth.

The fourth section is a "New Mother's Journal" with a section on the birth experience and lined journal pages for each day of the baby's first six weeks. For those of us who can never get around to filling in those extensive baby scrapbooks, this provides a more succinct and manageable way to remember those early days.

All in all, Bon Appétit, Baby! is a beautiful, well-written, and unique book combining many useful sections in one "kit" format. Expectant mothers in the nesting phase will love the organizational help. LLL Groups that choose to include it in their Group Libraries may wish to have plenty of extra copies for sale, because the women who borrow it will be sorely tempted to start using it!

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