Great Parenting Books for New Parents
I remember when my first child was born and both my husband and I were panicked at the daunting task of keeping her alive. I thought the key would be to educate myself and I read every baby parenting book I could get my hands on including books from friends that were 10-years-old and out of print. I made myself crazy. I read, like, 15 books. The books gave conflicting advice. Advice from “experts” also flip-flopped from decade to decade. I almost made up a spreadsheet to track the different opinions on the issues. OK, I’m anal-retentive, but not that anal-retentive. But only by a hair.
Finally, the theory that set me free: I realized that I am the parent of this infant and that my husband and I know her better than any of these experts. I decided to just match up the baby advice books to my own inclinations and opinions and go with that. “Oh, you don’t think I should co-sleep with my infant? … well, just following the advice of my baby-whisperer-guru Dr. Sears. ” That’s right, folks. JUST PICK THE BOOK THAT SUPPORTS ALL YOUR BELIEFS. This is a good strategy for anyone who gives you unsolicited baby advice. I’m not targeting in-laws here at all. Really! It’s a constructive way to say, “Butt out. I know what I’m doing. Read this book, too, so you can get with the program.”
These are my favorite parenting books but I also include some books other parent friends swore by, even if I didn’t agree with the advice.
The Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby from Birth to Age 2 (Revised and Updated Edition) by Sears and Sears. This is my go-to guru. But that is because I am a “family bed” proponent which is not for everyone. He writes this with his wife who is a nurse and they have 6 kids, including one with special needs.
What to Expect When You’re Expecting (series) by Heidi Eisenberg Murkoff. This is a classic series and very good. I bought this through age 5, I think. It’s wonderful! You can probably find this used somewhere so look around, particularly at yard sales held at preschools!
Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems by Dr. Richard Ferber. Other parents swear by it. If you MUST have your baby sleep through the night, this is a method that is difficult to implement, but once implemented, really does work. A caveat, you must duplicate the “method” 24/7 even when you are on vacation or it’s back to square one. It’s you vs. baby and if you have a strong willed baby, it might take up to two weeks to kick in, I’m told. “Ferberize” is now an actual word! Of course, it’s not your child who is necessarily having sleep problems, it’s you who has issue that your child’s sleeping patterns do you mimic your own. Here’s an interesting link from NPR about Dr. Ferber revisiting his theory.
Here’s an interesting link pitting my favorite Dr. Sears against Dr. Ferber on their sleep theories!: http://sleep-disorders.suite101.com/article.cfm/dr_ferber_versus_dr_sears
Girlfriends’ Guides by Vicki Iovine. These are the best; you need these to keep your sanity and sense of humor intact! Who knew a Playboy Bunny could be this funny?!
Touchpoints by Dr. Brazelton. 10 years ago, this was the well-known baby book. I do really like Dr. Brazelton and I wished my pediatrician made house calls like he seems to, but I have to say that I found it difficult to translate his book into advice to follow. If I recall correctly, his book is mostly made up of case studies, and while interesting, did not relate to me or my situation. And when sleep is scarce, I probably should have been doing other things like sleeping rather than reading this book. But it was a book that I kept in my library for all three kids.
Dr. Spock. He’s Dr. Old-School. I bought a copy and tried to plough through it, but I just couldn’t. Too long and boring.
The Paranoid Parents Guide: Worry Less, Parent Better, and Raise a Resilient Child by Christie Barnes
My neighbor grew up in South Africa during Apartheid and I had a discussion with about my irrational fear of my children being abducted. She thinks I am totally nuts, as statistically in our town, it’s quite unlikely. Another Mom Friend who is a school psychologist says that I should really stop worrying about the unlikely abduction scenario and focus on sex abuse as the stats are significantly higher. Great! Another thing to worry about! So, it was with great interest that I read The Paranoid Parents Guide because compared to the things in that book that parents worry about, I feel perfectly normal, and, in fact, relaxed and downright mellow. What I like about this book is that it gives actual stats for the likelihood of each parental fear which puts everything into perspective. This is not a parenting book that everyone needs, but if you are paranoid or know someone who is, it would be a kind gift to give them this book! And it might knock some sense into their heads. It helped me!
Making Babies: Stumbling into Motherhood by Annie Enright
“Much of the book is astonishingly funny; the rest would break your heart.” —Colm Tóibín
Anne Enright is one of the most acclaimed novelists of her generation. The Gathering won the 2007 Man Booker Prize, and her follow-up novel, The Forgotten Waltz, garnered universal praise for her luminous language and deep insight into relationships.
Now, in Making Babies, Enright offers a new kind of memoir: an unapologetic look at the very personal experience of becoming a mother. With a refreshing no-nonsense attitude, Enright opens up about the birth and first two years of her children’s lives. Enright was married for eighteen years before she and her husband Martin, a playwright, decided to have children. Already a confident, successful writer, Enright continued to work in her native Ireland after each of her two babies was born. While each baby slept, those first two years of life, Enright wrote, in dispatches, about the mess, the glory, and the raw shock of motherhood.
Here, unfiltered and irreverent, are Enright’s keen reactions to the pains of pregnancy, the joys of breast milk, and the all-too-common pressures to be the “perfect” parent. Supremely observant and endlessly quizzical, Enright is never saccharine, always witty, but also deeply loving.
Already a bestseller in the UK, Making Babies brings Enright’s autobiographical writing to American readers for the first time. Tender and candid, it captures beautifully just what it’s like for a working woman to become a mother. The result is a moving chronicle of parenthood from one of the most distinctive and gifted authors writing today.
Bilingual is Better: Two Latina Mamas on How the Bilingual Parenting Revolution is Changing the Face of America by Roxana A. Soto and Ana L. Flores
For years immigrants were told that the only way for their children to embrace American culture was to leave behind their heritage language and speak only English. But what if this advice was based solely on political motives and not the wellbeing of children? What if the truth was that all children in America, regardless of their cultural background, would actually benefit from learning two languages? The answer to this question has sparked a new Latino parenting revolution that is changing the face of America.
Roxana and Ana, founders of the wildly successful parenting blog SpanglishBaby, are part of a growing movement of Latino parents who are proudly reclaiming their language and cultural heritage for themselves and their children. Laugh and cry with them as they stumble through the ups and downs of raising bilingual, bicultural children in America and discover themselves in the process. This inspiring parenting memoir includes practical tips and resources to help parents from all backgrounds give their children the benefits of bilingualism. Bilingual Is Better debunks old stereotypes while shedding new light on hot topics like bilingual education, cultural heritage, and what it really means to be Latino. A perfect blend of hilarious anecdotes and solid research, this book is a fun, engaging read which is sure to spark conversation and positive change.
Roxana A. Soto and Ana L. Flores co-founded the popular parenting blog SpanglishBaby, which was recently named a Must Read Mom’s Blog by Parenting magazine. Both authors are well known, award-winning bilingual journalists.
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