When our oldest daughter was born, I have to admit that her arrival initially felt like a bomb had dropped on my life and ruined everything. (I can now look back and see that this is common, check out these hilarious Yelp reviews on newborn babies from The Ugly Volvo here). When I feel out of control, I start to read for information about how to make things better. Thus led me on a year-long reading binge about everything related to motherhood and parenting. I became a walking encyclopedia of research and tips, and looking back, this was actually stressing me out big time. I felt like I was never “doing it right” as a mother. Looking back, I now know that I was overdoing it in the advice department. When our second baby was born, eradicated all the books from the house except for the most helpful. Here I share my top five parenting reference books for new parents (in no particular order). Please note that this post contains affiliate links.
- “Your Child’s Health” by Barton D. Schmitt. I give this book to every new parent that invites me to their baby shower. See, when your kid is sick and you are a new parent, it is REALLY hard to determine when to go to the doctor and when to stay home. For our family, we have high deductible insurance, but we almost never meet the deductible, so a simple office visit can set us back hundreds of dollars. I use this book as a resource for EVERYTHING, as it addresses common illnesses and warning signs, breast and formula feeding issues, healthy sleep habits, and discipline. It’s concise, straightforward, and incredibly well researched.
2. “The Nursing Mother’s Companion” by Kathleen Huggins. Breastfeeding was a HUGE struggle for me with both of my girls. I had initially turned to The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding as a resource, but it made me feel constantly inadequate as a mother because, while breastfeeding was what I wanted to do, I wanted to do it without being constantly attached to a baby (be through wearing or co-sleeping) because that triggered my postpartum depression. The Nursing Mother’s Companion provides straightforward advice on common feeding habits, broken down by week. It gives an easy overview of pumping, and extensive Appendices that includes a table to help determine baby’s milk needs by week in the first week for mothers who combination feed with bottles.
3. “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child” by Marc Weissbluth. After keeping the child alive and fed, I believe the most important gift that parents can give to their children is consistent uninterrupted sleep in order to maximize brain development. This book is dense, and I actually agree with the author that it should be read at least in parts, before baby is born. However you read it, it has helped us to teach our girls how to sleep independently. Weissbluth includes typical sleep schedules by age, as well as common sleep problems and solutions. I also love his inclusion of case studies from struggling parents. This book is a must read for every parent who values sleep (and wants smart babies!)
4. “The Happiest Baby On The Block” by Harvey Karp. After we brought Big Sister home from the hospital, the crying began. We had no idea how to soothe her. This book was a salvation not only because the information that it provides works (instantly) but also because it is organized in a way that an exhausted parent can open it and find a solution for the crying without having to read the whole thing. Enough said.
5. “Bilingual Is Better” by Roxana A. Soto and Ana L. Flores. As soon as I found out I was pregnant with Big Sister, I knew that I wanted her to be raised bilingual. A career Spanish teacher who taught native speakers, I knew exactly what bilingualism looked like in the classroom, but had very few personal friends who had achieved bilingualism with their own kids. Luckily Soto and Flores teamed up to write this incredible resource that not only outlines the top three most common methods for raising bilingual kids, but also provides cultural context for raising Spanish speaking children in the United States. This is the best bilingual parenting book out there.
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