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Written by Karli Steenkamp 

Kaz Cooke, journalist, cartoonist, author and mother. She is the writer of the best selling pregnancy book for the past 20 years, Up the Duff. In addition to that book, Babies & Toddlers, the sequel from Up the Duff, was released in November this year. Kaz Cooke’s does not see herself as a parenting expert but rather someone that translates all the knowledge of the experts. She is funny, down to earth and humble. She shares her inspiration for Babies & Toddlers with a spark of humor and also a sincerity that makes her a trusted author by her readers.

Kaz started her career as a journalist at The Age in Melbourne and wrote her first book by the age of 25. “I think of myself as an author, but also as a journalist. I could not have written my non-fiction books without the training and experience as a journalist. One of the things journalism taught me was the ability to be fearless. I can phone any expert and ask for advice.” Kaz’s books undergo yearly updating to bring to light the newest modern technologies and the newest information on parenting.

Babies and toddlers is a big book full of everything. It is laid out in a way that is easy to use with information that is up to date and carefully checked with experts. It is a full time job for Kaz to update her books to make sure that it has the newest and best advice for parents from green poo to cradle cap. Every section is well-thought of which explains every aspect of that section with advice on what to do and where you can find further help. The book is funny and takes you back in time by giving blast of the past snippets on parenting advice many years ago. At the back of the book is an index where you can look up what you are looking for.

“When my editor, designer and I started to put the book together we kept saying that it is 3 o’clock in the morning. And what that means was a parent might be reading this, completely sleep deprived at 3 o’clock in the morning. They need to understand it and get to the section that they need,” Kaz states. “There is so much information on the internet and as a parent when you Google something you can get lost in it for hours and not come out of it any wiser. I wanted to cut through that so they can look at something quickly and present them with lots of options and information.

Her inspirations for her books comes from her own experiences as a mother. Kaz can relate to the challenges and wonderful times of being a parent. “Sometimes parents are told that they are failing at something when actually they just haven’t found the balance –  the thing that works for them. I wanted to give them as much of a choice to fit in with their philosophy and their baby.”

Parenting is a tough job, Kaz agrees. It can be overwhelming when you become a parent. “I think the most important thing to understand is that you don’t have to get everything right all at once and there is no such thing as perfect. You actually just have to get through every day. Just keep remembering to be kind to yourself as well as the baby. The baby doesn’t care if the house is a mess.

Toddlers have their own challenges and as parents it doesn’t necessarily get easier. Kaz included a toddler section for parents.“Toddlers don’t know how to express their feelings and that’s why I’ve put into the section about teaching them because they love to learn words. They learn new words every day, so if you can teach them words for why they are feeling a certain way, they become less frustrated and try and communicate with you better. The section on toddlers and emotions helps parents teach their kids to talk about their feelings.” There are developmental milestones in the book where you can measure your child’s development and know what is normal and what is not.

One of the fears that Kaz as journalist and writer has is that people will get the wrong information. Information is constantly changing and so is each edition of her book.

Babies and Toddlers is a great gift for mothers-to-be. It is easy to understand and covers everything. Dads would find this book helpful too. She addresses sensitive issues like immunisations, as well as children with special needs. The book is honest about how new parents feel, so that you can relate and know that you are not alone. A book like this can help you feel a little more connected to other parents.

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