The “What to Expect” Series

The “What to Expect” Series

by Arlene Eisenberg, et al

  comments by Kelly Bonyata

The “What to Expect” Series includes the books What to Expect When You’re Expecting, What to Expect the First Year and What to Expect the Toddler Years (plus some related books like What to Eat When You’re Expecting, and so on).

Update: I’ve just looked through some of the breastfeeding information in the Third Edition (2002) of What to Expect the First Year. All in all, the general breastfeeding information is significantly better than in the first edition, but quite a number of inaccuracies and misinformation remain scattered throughout. The authors seem to have pushed their comfort level for breastfeeding up to around a year, but they continue to perpetuate myths such as breastfeeding being “exhausting” for mom, particularly when it comes to breastfeeding past a year. In addition, the moms whom I have worked with continue to mention that they go to the book with a question and come away feeling worried, inadequate and guilty.

The book What to Expect the Toddler Years (which has not been updated since the first edition) is very negative when it comes to breastfeeding a toddler, with many comments similar to the ones quoted below from the First Edition of What to Expect the First Year.

The first editions of the books (I’ve read through the pregnancy, first year and toddler books), give lip service to breastfeeding in the early months (though much of the info is quite outdated), but gets less and less supportive of breastfeeding as babies pass 6 months. Weaning is suggested well before 12 months. The authors also advocate letting baby cry (to do otherwise is “cowardly”) and are very much against co-sleeping. Here is a quote from What to Expect the First Year (first edition):

By the end of the first year, however, scientists tell us that breast milk ceases to be adequate–not only is its protein content is insufficient for the older baby, but it suffers from a decline in several vital nutrients including zinc, copper, and potassium. In the second year, infants require the nutrients in cow’s milk, and the mother who is still breastfeeding should recognize that although both she and her baby may still be enjoying the experience, breast milk can’t be considered a major source of nutrition for her baby. Nor do babies past a year appear to need the sucking breast feeding provides. In spite of much speculation, there’s no solid evidence that nursing past the first year–or even well into the second or third or beyond–hinders a child’s emotional development. But it does seem that prolonged breastfeeding, like prolonged bottlefeeding, can lead to dental decay.

These statements are so full of misinformation, it’s hard to know where to start! See Extended Breastfeeding Fact Sheet for referenced infomation on the nutritional and many other benefits of breastfeeding during the second year and beyond… Cow’s milk is certainly not needed for anyone but baby cows… Some babies have breastmilk as their main source of nutrition well into the second year… There are many studies that show that the sucking need (as exhibited through continued pacifier, finger or thumb sucking) persists for several years in many children, with most stopping by age 4-5… There is good evidence that nursing into the second and third year (and beyond) has psychological benefits… There is no evidence that there is a link between extended nursing and dental decay

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