On-The-Job Training


Some people become experts by delving into a subject, doing research and learning all there is to know. Others gain their expertise by doing. New York mom, Samantha Ettus, is a bit of both.

Author Ettus with baby Ella

Ettus is the creator of The Experts’ Guide series of books. She conceived her third, The Experts’ Guide to the Baby Years: 100 Things Every Parent Should Know (Clarkson Potter, $19.95) before she was pregnant, and completed the first draft the night before giving birth to her daughter Ella, now one.

The book, which gathers together top experts covering subjects from choosing a pediatrician to teaching a baby to self soothe and handling unsolicited parenting advice, offers essential topics for the first two years of parenthood. Ettus, who edited the book after giving birth, notes that it changed significantly after she had her baby. “I edited with the eyes of a new parent,” she says. “It’s hard to imagine how much you’ll care about things like breastfeeding, how to organize your life, how to bathe your baby, keep away from germs.” These issues “took on a new meaning when suddenly brought to life; I went back and asked for more information.”

Ettus consulted women around the world before embarking on the book, using a network of friends and friends of friends to find out what they cared about. She was surprised that so many new moms were concerned with ways to retain intimacy in a marriage, to not feel isolated, and how to get back in shape after childbirth. So the book includes information on parent care as well. There are chapters on returning to work, staying home, and meeting other new moms.

Now that she has the book, and is “living through it”, Ettus says she consults the guide constantly. When Ella started on solid foods, she re-read the advice of nutritionist Linda G. Hsieh. She learned how to pack a diaper bag from Kate Spade. For advice on how to calm a crying baby, she turned to Dr. Harvey Karp. Ettus notes that one of the most challenging aspects of having her name on the book is that people assume she’s the expert, but, she says, “I need expert advice as much as the next person.”

And she admits to using the book in a “self-righteous way” at home. When Ella had separation anxiety, her husband wanted to sneak out of the house. Ettus relayed the contradictory advice in the book from Martha Farrell Erickson, director of Infant and Toddler Development at the University of Minnesota. Now, she says, when she and her husband disagree on an aspect of parenting, they turn to her book. “It’s the great mediator,” she quips.

Ettus also compiled The Experts’ Guide to 100 Things Everyone Should Know How to Do and The Experts’ Guide to Life at Home.