Review: My Child, nice choice for new mums
My Child magazine editor Lise Taylor was 41 when she had her first baby. "I was a typical 'older' woman who was used to being in control of her life – and control flies out the window with kids!" she says. "I receive letters all the time from readers thanking me for helping them."
It's little wonder. My Child is a nurturing, caring companion magazine for expectant and new mums with no "Get Your Hot Body Back!" motives, nor motherhood-is-a-dream fantasies within: just informative, expert advice and women's stories that cut through the clutter of medical and scientific knowledge with old-fashioned common sense and real-life anecdotes. It paints motherhood as a challenging but delightful endeavour and ultimately has the best interests of mother and child (and dad) at heart.
The book is evenly paced with longer-form features interspersed with one-page news pages and product showcases (what would a commercially viable mum's magazine be without the latest and greatest in nappies, prams and other nifty childhood product innovations? Motherhood is an industry onto itself). Its colour palette is one of soft, muted tones (yellows, blues, greens, beige, orange, lilac) and a gentle tone permeates throughout the content.
Spring features include a story written by GP Dr Evelyn Lewin on the often controversial subject of vaccinations flagged by Taylor in her editor's letter, where she states her personal opinion ("I freely admit that I am pro-vaccination"). The spread depicts a toddler with sores on her body and face, along with the headline, "Injection or infection?", which supports the magazine's editorial line, though four medical practitioners tackle 18 reader questions with the view to producing a balanced piece from which readers can make up their own mind.
In 'Home sweet home?', Laura Jackel writes of moving in with her parents, with husband and baby son in tow, and the pros and cons of communal living; Jo Hegerty's words on surrendering to the vagaries of parenting on any given (bad) day are uplifting; Paul McFarlane's column urges us to ask how dads are holding up, too; and Felicity Lenehan's report on bringing up babies (particularly girls) in India is a wake-up call with its statistics on infanticide, though the culture of joint families does "provide a great deal of emotional security to a child".
Broken up into three sections – pregnancy and birth, infancy and early childhood – other features look at caring for children with special needs ('An incredible gift'), teaching children the value of money, taming temper tantrums, the importance of rough-and-tumble play and solutions for post-traumatic stress caused by birth. The A-Z guide for looking after new bubs straight out of hospital is a simple but valuable resource.
The disposable nappy dos and don'ts story ('Nappy no-nos') does cast aspersions on mums who neglect to flush the poop and/or pop the nappies in plastic bags, though 'The History of Disposable Nappies' breakout box is ripe with interesting factoids to share: Marion Donovan, a former assistant beauty editor on US Vogue, patented the Boater in 1946, which led to the successful marketing of her cloth nappy with a cover of parachute material and then the inclusion of absorbent paper instead of cloth. She sold her invention circa 1950 for $1 million.
But the most comforting stories are those first-person insights into motherhood, including Dr Lewin's own tale of turning from a stressed-out supermum into one who enjoys her children, as well as the last page, 'Life Lessons', where 2010 Bardardos Mother of the Year Kaye Worth, 69, passes on her parental advice: "New mothers today are often too hard on themselves. They think they have to be super mum – perfect baby, perfect house, perfect personal appearance, perfect employee – all from the very start. Enjoy your children, spend time with them, play their games and give lots of hearts and love, and don't forget to set the all-important example, because they grow up so fast."
Produced from Taylor's home office, the quarterly My Child is 22 issues in, with an audited circulation of 21,402 and estimated readership of 100,000, and it appears to have hits its stride. Volvo occupies the front inside pages and a healthy 45 full, 1/2 and 1/3 page column ads for baby brands, health products and maternity wear filling out the remainder of the 148-page book.
There is a lot of product, and one reader laments in the letters pages that the price points are too high, but this is a magazine more about substance than style. I'd be happy to recommend it to any mums or mums-to-be on the basis that it is, for the most part, a judgement-free magazine with no unnecessary burdens for mum and bub.
Girl With a Satchel