The Best Parenting Books : For New Parents

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When I was pregnant with my first child, I had a couple of books on my bedside table that I read throughout my pregnancy that served as helpful reference guides for me, but were pregnancy specific. And then I had my son and thought, you know it would have been useful to have read some parenting books while I was pregnant and had the time! One month into new baby and I was struggling and therefore scrambling to figure out what books could help me. I wish I had had a list of books that I knew about pre-baby so I could have been better prepared. After reaching out to my friends and our pediatrician for help, these are some of the books that were recommended to us – my personal editorial for each is included below.

POST-PREGNANCY BOOKS:

Books for Sleeping:

Secrets of the Baby Whisperer : How to Calm, Connect, and Communicate
by Tracy Hogg with Melinda Blau

The sleeping books were my go to books. These women are like the SuperNanny but for sleeping babies. This in combination with Babywise (below) helped me get my son on track and gave me a sense of structure and control that I had been wanting, but lacking. I thought this book was great and I loved their common sense approach and calming voice.

On Becoming Baby Wise: Giving Your Infant the Gift of Nighttime Sleep
by Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam

For some reason whenever I mention to people that this was one of my go to books I get a very negative response and I’m not really sure why. I actually didn’t read the whole book so maybe there are parts in there that are somewhat controversial but no one has been able to articulate to me why they feel so negatively about it. So, I chose to ignore them and do what worked best for me. In this book I followed the feeding guidance and sleep guidance and it worked amazingly well. Both of my kids were sleeping through the night by 3 months. I opted for the cry it out method (please don’t judge, we all do what we can handle) my sister did not, and we both had the same results, infants sleeping through the night by 3 months. If I had to pick one book as a reference guide, this would be it.

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child
By Marc Weissbluth

I didn’t read this entire book either (due to lack of time) but instead pulled chapters that I felt were relevant to me. Dr. Marc Weissbluth is actually based out of Chicago and I have had some friends that have gone to see him for help with their children’s sleep habits with great success.

Calming Fussy Babies:

The Happiest Baby on the Block: The New Way to Calm Crying and Help Your Newborn Baby Sleep Longer
by Harvey Karp

This is a video and a book. My son was a screamer for the first 3 months of his life. The doctor never said it was colic just that babies cry (really helpful, thanks). My husband and I watched the video in hopes of calming our fussy baby. It offers great tools that almost work like magic tricks. After watching the video we went upstairs to where my husbands’ parents were trying to soothe our screaming baby and tried two of the tools we learned in the video and instantly my son stopped screaming. I won’t say from that point on it worked every time, but it certainly gave us some great tools to use to calm him. Having only seen the video I would recommend it over the book because it clearly demonstrates how to apply the tools.

For Dad:

The Expectant Father: Facts, Tips, and Advice for Dads-to-Be
by Armin A. Brott and Jennifer Ash

My husband read this book and one night looked over at me while I was pregnant and said, ‘this book says you’re going to be crazy’ – I laughed and said, ‘does it say to not mention that to me and just roll with it?’ he said that it did, so that is enough for me to give it a two thumbs up. But he said it had good information for dealing with (my choice of words not his) both pregnant wives and new babies.

Be Prepared: A Practical Handbook for New Dads
by Gary Greenberg and Jeannie Hayden

This book is pretty funny and makes a great gift for any expectant dad or new father. It is written as if it is a Boy Scout manual from the 1950’s but with current information and comical illustrations. It is a light hearted book with very practical information, everything from how to perform CPR on an infant to how to construct a diaper out of available materials including duct tape.

For Raising a Son:

Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys
by Dan Kindlon and Michael Thompson

My husband read the whole book and I read the first half. It is a great book that I think will be good to keep handy and refer to on occasion as my son gets older. You can tell it is written by psychologists, and reminded me of being back at school. But if you can get past the dryness of the writing style it has some very useful information on connecting to the emotional intelligence of boys.

References for Parents:

Caring for Your Baby and Young Child, 5th Edition: Birth to Age 5
by American Academy Of Pediatrics

This book is like an encyclopedia of developmental milestones and common issues by age. I have used it as a reference tool a number of times and it has helped me in deciding when to call my pediatrician and when a call isn’t necessary. A lot of this information can be found online but I prefer the book because it is written by the American Academy of Pediatrics and therefore a trustworthy source.

And then of course if you’re pregnant and looking for books, here are a couple that my friends and I all read.

PREGNANCY BOOKS:

What to Expect When You’re Expecting
by Heidi Murkoff, Arlene Eisenberg and Sandee Hathaway B.S.N.

I think it is generally accepted that this is a must purchase for any expectant mother. It gives a month by month summary of physical changes to both you and your baby, what you can expect from doctor’s visits and a comprehensive list of any issue that could arise during your pregnancy with guidance on what to do about it.

A Girlfriends’ Guide to Pregnancy
By Vicki Iovine

I didn’t love this book, but a lot of my friends did. I read it while I was pregnant with my first child and I may have found it more amusing if I read it during my second pregnancy when I was a little more relaxed. During my first, I really just wanted facts instead of anecdotes. It literally is a book that is written as if your girlfriend is telling you about pregnancy and the author does a good job of keeping it light and funny.

I’m always looking for more book recommendations – what books have you found useful?

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