Q&A: Five books for parents

Mireille tweets:

"What 5 books would you recommend to a new parent? And do you have any "mom" blog suggestions? Thank you!!"

Good question. I often half-jokingly say that you should either read all the parenting books or none of the parenting books, because the likelihood that your specific child will happen to match up with the philosophy in any one book is slim. But that really just means that I think people will feel better if they avoid books that tell them what to do, and instead stick to books that tell them what's probably going to happen and present them with options.

In that vein, the book I recommend for pregnancy is The Big Book of Birth by Erica Lyon. (Full disclosure: Erica taught my newborn prep class, and also my sibling prep class when I was expecting my second child.) What I love about this book is that it covers all the different stuff that can happen during birth in an even-handed way, so you can find out what the real deal is with homebirth, schedueld c-sections, emergency c-sections, epidurals, etc. and not be treated like a moron or a criminal for wanting to know. It's also the only birth book I've seen that has truly useful stuff for partners (like how to figure out during labor if you need more support even if you can't talk).

Now, for the 5 books I recommend for new parents:

1. The book I'm writing. (You know I had to say it.) Now that my exams for this semester are over (thankfully!) I'm kicking it into high gear so it will be available before we all know it.

2. Either Your Baby & Child by Penelope Leach or The Mother Of All Baby Books by Ann Douglas. You probably want one of these day-by-day guides to eating, pooping, sleeping, etc., but you want one that's mostly descriptive and not so prescriptive. Both of these will tell you what you need to know without guilt-tripping or telling you you're holding the baby too much or too little, etc. And they both provide a sense that your child eventually will grow out of whatever it is that's going on now, so there's a little hopefulness, too.

3. The Wonder Weeks by Hetty van der Rijt and Frans Plooij. This explains when your baby hits mental and emotional developmental spurts, and therefore why they're crying more or not sleeping as much. The feedback I get on this book is always something like "It made me know I wasn't nuts" or "I'm not worried there's something wrong with my baby anymore" or "It was freaky how dead on the book was." They also have an iPhone app you can download if you want the weeks without the narrative.

4. Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year by Anne Lamott. The book is just so real about what it's like having a newborn. Her story is kind of crazy, and if you're a big fan of George H.W. Bush you'll need to turn your head a few times, but I go back to the story of the futon every time I do something inadvertantly bad to my kids STILL now even though mine are 10 and 7. Also perfect for reading in the middle of the night while feeding a baby.

5. The other books I really love are not for babies, per se. So I'll give the number 5 spot on this list to either Haim Ginott's Between Parent and Child, which will help you stay in a team-based frame of mind with your child (which can be very hard during that first year), or NurtureShock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, which will help you start to look at the things we all assume are true about having kids and be a little skeptical.

And now for the momblogs. Well, I don't know, as I don't have new babies anymore, so I tend to read things about older kids. What do you all read about new parenthood that you think are helpful and encouraging? Extra points for funny but not dogmatic.

58 thoughts on “Q&A: Five books for parents”

  1. Between Parent and Child and Your Baby and Child were two of the ones I liked the most as well. Maybe that’s why I almost always agree with your advice :).Other books I enjoyed: Becoming the Parent You Want to Be by Laura Davis & Janis Keyser, Armin Brott’s books on fathering (The Expectant Father, The New Father, Fathering Your Toddler, and more), and John Holt’s books about education.

  2. I’d have to say “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child.” It helped us understand J’s sleep needs and get him in a good routine that has served us well these last (nearly) three years. We did a brief, modified version of CIO when he was 16 months, but that wasn’t the focus of the book or why we loved it so much.Oh! And Dr. Sears “The Baby Book.” That was actually in our lactation room and I would read it all the time when I was pumping. It had great info about high needs babies, sleep, milestones, breastfeeding, solid foods, and just good advice about lots of little things that new parents worry about that helped put my mind at ease. The tone is very gentle, and while he is very pro-attachment parenting and we were only half-attached, as it were, it was still really helpful.

  3. My wife and I are reading “Your Baby’s First Year” by the American Academy Of Pediatrics. It’s really good in covering the developmental stages of each month, what we should look for, etc… I highly recommend it.

  4. Hm, I think YMMV on Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. I found it to be one of the most offensive documents I had ever encountered – so prescriptive, patriarchal, and wrong for my kid; I passed it on to a friend with “you should read this for perspective but warning it’s horrible” and she found it saved her parenting life. If you don’t have a child who is both high sleep need and routine dependent, it will just make you feel angry and/or inadequate depending on your self-esteem situation.I agree with all of the above – I read several others that fit my personal philosophy and child, but those are the best general ones.

  5. I loved “An Innocent, A Broad” by Ann Leary (comedian Denis’s wife). Not really a how-to, but reading about how she was trapped living overseas after going into labor four months early, and what it was like dealing with the NICU scene in a foreign country made me feel better about my own situation. Plus, she’s funny.

  6. I give Dr. Sear’s “Baby Book” to as many new moms as I can, with a note to ignore the attachment parenting parts if that’s not their thing. It’s the book I found myself desperately flipping through in the middle of the night when I couldn’t figure out WHY our oldest wouldn’t STAY asleep as an infant. It helped me out tremendously then and on many, many other occasions. From labor and delivery to breast feeding to developmental milestones from birth to 2 yo — the book covers it all, and I also found his tone (and his wife’s when she would jump in) to be SO encouraging.

  7. I formula-fed from the beginning and Penelope Leach’s Your Baby & Child was my BIBLE. She states — very non-judgmentally, I might add, thanks for that, Dr. Leach — how mixing formula is very important so that you’re not giving the baby too many or too few calories. And how you should treat the bottle like the breast – always hold the baby, no propping, and when baby is older, make them sit on your lap while they eat. (Neither one of my boys ever held their own bottles, and they were weaned to a cup by 1 year.)I liked how she assumes you know nothing, and even shows you how to change a diaper and give a bath. I wore my copy OUT.

  8. People get very attached to the book or system that worked for them. There will always be people who say, “OMG, that book was awful and the author is evil” which is why I think the most important thing to remember is that regardless of what books you choose to read or disregard, your baby WILL sleep, eat, and develop into a wonderful child. Find what works for you by trying out a lot of different things and don’t be put off by people saying one author is bad, or the approach will hurt your child. You don’t know what your kid will respond to until you try it. Don’t worry, you won’t break your baby.

  9. Parenting Experts, by Jane Rankin. More for skimming than reading, to really drill home how much of what you read is *personal opinion*, completely NOT based on research or science. I found it enormously comforting, though boring (it’s very academic).And for more practical advice, Nurture Shock, of course.

  10. In terms of momblogs – everything that Amalah writes, either at her own site (amalah.com) or her advice column on Alphamom (http://alphamom.com/tag/advice-smackdown/) manages to be both DEAD ON TRUTH but also hysterically funny and non-judgemental. Some topics are maybe not as relevant to moms with newborns, but there is a LOT of parenting advice interspersed in the humor.In terms of books – I read The Happiest Baby On The Block and Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child (which I loved because even if you don’t want to follow his recommendations, it’s the only place I’ve ever seen such detailed data on typical bedtimes, how much sleep kids typically need, and at what ages most kids change their sleep habits. It obviously won’t apply to every baby, but I found it helpful to at least have a ballpark idea of what to expect and when).

  11. I fall into the “read everything” camp. My kids are 5 & 3, and I’ve read upwards of 40 parenting books. I’m actually kinda sick of it, now that I think about it. . .My faves are: (in no particular order)
    1–You Are Your Child’s First Teacher
    2–Protecting the Gift
    3–The Wonder Weeks
    4–All the Ames & Ilg books (the old photos are sweet, funny, priceless and the perspective timeless)
    5–Parent Effectiveness Training.
    BlogS?? I haven’t read any parenting blog other than this one for ages. Oh, maybe Parent Hacks.
    I agree with Julie, relax, trust yourself–it will be fine. When each baby was new, my pediatrician used to praise praise praise my baby, then say “don’t do anything different s/he is perfect. Just relax and have a beer!”

  12. My kids are in their 20s (I have a 20 month old grandson!), and although I read all the pregnancy/childbirth books I could find at the library while pregnant, whatever parenting/childcare books I may have read do not stick in my mind. I *did* however enjoy picking up reassurance from Dr. T. Berry Brazleton’s TV show (“Your Baby Knows” or something like that). I expect any books he’s written would echo his same fundamental message.Penelope Leach also had a TV show (and of course there were others, but I’m not suggesting one go watch early-80s TV).
    As for blogs, I’d like to be the first to suggest “Honest Toddler” (http://honesttoddler.wordpress.com/). All “advice” is tongue-in-cheek from the child’s perspective, but when your child is “HT”‘s age, you may appreciate its humor.
    Jen (http://herewegoajen.com/) has an adorable, yet “spirited” 3 year old, is due with child #2 in October, and is connected to a nice community of commenting moms. With a psychology degree, many years in childcare as well as teaching, I like her approach to most things, and she has some good info on cloth diapering and cleaning.
    Another blog I like, both for entertainment as well as helpful information is “It’s Not All Mary Poppins” (http://daycaredaze.wordpress.com/). This woman has made a career of caring for toddlers in her home, and is a whiz at all things toddler-related, like getting kids to eat (you don’t, you just offer over and over), to get along, to learn manners, and to take naps.

  13. I read “everything” but oddly nothing that Moxie put on her list. My main issue was sleep so I read those.I didn’t have the heart for any kind of modified crying but I read Weisbsluth, Ferber, and No-Cry Sleep Solution. Of those, Weissbluth was by far and away the best. The details on how much sleep a child should get at various ages, etc, is still priceless. I always started with “my child is average…why would I think anything else” to start and then I adjusted as I learned more about my kids. No-Cry was a waste…no tips on how to get teh kid to sleep and as near as I could tell, the idea was to get your child to sleep through the night by age 1 or 2…heck, I did that on my own (or rather, the kids did it on their own without me doing anything other than offering consistent bedtime and routine).
    Since I was going to be the first woman in my family in a couple of generations to breastfeed, I also read all of those (Womanly Art, LLL book, etc). There is one book which I absolutely hated but that had one nugget in it that made the entire book worthwhile: Babywise. That is the ONLY book that said that in certain circumstances for some children, the newborn might only want to and need to nurse 7 times per day (everyone else said 8-12 always). I had a kid who nured 7x per day from day 1 to day 300. And he was FINE. Just peachy. But having read every other book on nursing, I was trying to get him to take an 8th feeding and it just wasn’t working. Whew. One nugget from an otherwise worthless book proving that evey book has an audience.
    I also like the internet (duh) for things like when to call the doctor for a fever or acetominophen dosages in mL/kg or other info that I need to know now or info where the opinion is changing over time like vaccine schedules or car seat safety. Learn to google well and you will be well-rewarded.

  14. Maybe these are too obvious, but I really liked Baby 411 and Toddler 411 as well as What to Expect the First Year as general resources.

  15. Moxie waw my go-to blog! Moxie made me feel so much better about everything. From Moxie, I found Hedra at Hands Full of Rocks (and in the comments at Moxie) and even though she doesn’t post there anymore, much of what she said was so important to putting me on my parenting path!Right now (for my 2 and 5 year olds) I am loving The Whole-Brain Child by Daniel Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson. It is simple brain science to help you know what your child’s brain is like and how to help them integrate the different parts of it. Love it. I do wish I had read it a bit earlier.
    I have heard Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves by Naomi Aldort is good. I am going to check that out next.

  16. See, it’s funny, I think Moxie did a great job of picking the books that people don’t need to argue about. @SarcastiCarrie, I love you, but I’d give the exact opposite ratings to Weissbluth and No Cry. I think we tend to think the books that fit us are neutral and useful to everyone. But with a late-sleeping family, a low-sleep-need kid, and a tension-increaser, Weissbluth was useless, and his patronizing, judgmental tone made him worse than useless *for me* (and also for many of my friends – we voted this the book most likely to traumatize new moms – except for the one who loved it). No Cry, on the other hand, offered techniques that actually worked and were kind to both mom and child. The “Pantley Pull-off” was brilliant for us. And it downplayed the Dire Danger Of Not Getting Enough Sleep, which the sleep-industrial complex keeps trying to ramp up in all of us. I loved it. But that’s why in my initial post I said I had several other go tos that were specific to my situation. I really do think Moxie’s list is most of the ones that are safely neutral; and without meaning to offend anyone, I think that if you think Weissbluth is neutral, then you probably have the happenstance of a better fit with him than many people have.

  17. I’m a new mom of a 3 month old and, have basically read nothing. I would go to the library and nothing I read seemed like it related to my particular situation, so I have been trying to trust my own judgment.The one blog I found and love is troublesometots.com

  18. Yes to everything you recommended, Moxie– Penelope Leach and Haim Ginott taught me how to parent, which is not something I learned by example from my own family.You know what was the real godsend when my son was little: this blog and this community. I recommended it (and still recommend it) to countless women over the years. The Q&A format, the community response, the non-judgemental problem-solving approach– all of it helped me so, so much. The first year was hard but this blog made it survive-able. I’m SO glad you’re writing a book, so I’ll be able to give that to my friends from now on, too 🙂

  19. If I only had to recommend one book for a new mom it would most definitely be Momma Zen by Karen Maezen Miller. I never go to a baby shower without it.

  20. Well, I have to say it too, I would recommend my book, Stop Reacting and Start Responding. I know it’s not a year one book, but there will come a time when you’ll be looking for what I offer in the book.My book is for 2-10 year olds. The application of the concepts needs to be changed slightly for older kids, but it works.
    My book is all about how to remain connected to your child as you correct behavior and deal with daily life.
    I actually wrote the book I wanted to find when my kids were little. I wanted a book that actually shared a modern perspective to parenting and gave you sample conversations, that “truly” represent daily life, so you had a blueprint to guide you.
    You can find it at http://www.proactiveparenting.net.

  21. Our Babies, Ourselves: How Biology and Culture Shape the Way We Parent by Meredith Small. This anthropologist’s take on childrearing practices around the world was super interesting and more important, it made dh and I step back and question our assumptions and how we came to have them.

  22. For the first year, The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. For the second year and beyond, Mothering Your Nursing Toddler.

  23. The book I tell all new parents to read (even though it doesn’t apply until they’re a little older) is Free-Range Kids by Lenore Skenazy. I like it because it brings a down to earth perspective to our fear-crazed parenting generation and helps you think through WHY people react the way they do and why we might want to focus more on world-proofing our kids instead of trying to baby-proof the world. It helped me not think all crazy-like about everything (“oh my goodness I didn’t sterilize that bottle and now she’s going to die!”)As for blogs, I have to second Honest Toddler. So good! I love it just because it’s a fun perspective. And since I have kids near that age I know the author totally gets it!

  24. I agree about the ‘read everything or nothing’ approach, (though simple practical books that explain health and pooing are useful regardless). Parenting books all seem a bit like diet books: the promise the world provided you follow their advice, with the underlying threat that you’ll fail miserably if you don’t follow it.As for blogs, came across this one recently, and am really enjoying it
    http://nurshable.com/

  25. Raising Your Spirit Child by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka- It brought tears to my eyes… my daughter is not alone! It helped me understand her world and how I can help her.

  26. Awesome, thank you so much everyone! I only read one of the books Moxie suggests (Wonder Weeks) so I’ll check out the other ones.Amy, Mary Sheedy Kurcinka was also a big win for me with Sleepless in America, even though it’s meant for kids a bit older than my 8-mo. I loved reading it, and I also loved that it validated a lot of my night-time responses.

  27. I wasn’t much of a reader (of books). Count me among those annoyed by Sears. I did find Happiest Baby helpful, less for its specific advice (which was of mixed value to me) and more for its point that really, it’s only the evolutionary awkwardness of our large heads that leads to human babies being born so early. Figuring that (except for the whole maternal/child mortality thing) my son (and all human babies) really needed a fourth trimester to get to some tolerable stage of development (for him, for us) was a tremendous relief in those early months (and for the record, he was an easy baby. But man are human newborns dependent little things.).More recently I’ve enjoyed two I don’t see here — Don’t Shoot the Dog and Have a New Kid by Friday. Neither directly relevant to the baby stages, more toddler and beyond.
    I’ve also heard very good things about Our Babies, Ourselves, but I haven’t read it (yet, though I am interested to). I love, love, love Sarah Blaffer Hrdy’s Mother Nature, but it looks at childbearing and -rearing across much of human history, and thus, contains a lot of information many new moms and moms to be would (appropriately) find deeply disturbing (e.g. that many cultures have practiced infanticide and/or abandonment in various ways and for various reasons). I didn’t read it as a new mom (or mom-to-be), but far previously, and unless you’re into academic tomes, it probably won’t be your thing. But wow, does it lay out an compelling account of the challenges involved in raising a human baby to adulthood (independence), and the ways that maternal and child interests can conflict — an awareness of which has (truly) made this whole mothering thing much, much easier for me to wrap my head around.

  28. Tried to sign up for your newsletter to follow you via email, but received a message stating that your mailing list is not active. Is there another way I can follow you?

  29. I wouldn’t recommend it to new moms, but I read “What’s Going on in There? : How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First Five Years of Life” by Lise Eliot pre-pregnancy and during the first few weeks and thought it was fabulously informative. It’s neuroscience, so not necessarily appealing to everyone, but I found after the baby was born that I was able to answer some of my husband’s “Why does she do that” questions. Also, the section on different chemicals/drugs/viruses and their potentialeffects on the growing baby were great and presented in a neutral rather than alarmist manner.
    I don’t have any particular book recommendations for new moms that haven’t already been said. Some advice, though, would be don’t read anything cover to cover, especially not at first. I found that I would start a book and inevitably get to a point where it didn’t apply to my kid (too young, too old, we weren’t experiencing that problem, whatever) and reading it felt like a waste of time. I made great use of indexes and tables of contents, though, to troubleshoot problems. And any books I did start at the beginning, I’d just put down once they no longer gave me that “Oh thank God it’s not just me” feeling.

  30. I think any and all of the advice books can be frustrating/alienating depending on your situation.I want to second the recs for Waiting for Birdy and Momma Zen. They are both real, funny, and heartbreaking and will make you feel less alone rather than more (which is what the advice books did for me).
    Blogs: Moxie, Ain’t No Mom Jeans (great mom style blog) and Crappy Pictures (hilarious).

  31. I’m in the “read them all” camp, and my hands down favorite is Between Parent and Child. But I’ve also loved all the Ames & Ilg books, and I wouldn’t have survived the infancy of my first (colicy) son without The Happiest Baby on the Block. We make sure every expecting friend has a copy of the DVD.

  32. The hands down best non-judgemental book about sleep for me was ‘Bed Timing’. I wish I had gotten it earlier. I personally ended up getting something from Weisssbluth – mostly the 2-3-4 thing & the amount of sleep that generally is needed. BUT I also found it very patronizing as well (overall). Which means that I skipped a lot and mostly grabbed info about sleep for my highly routine-oriented little guy.With regards to sleep books, I think new parents need to tread lightly. The majority of them will chew you up & spit you out if you haven’t heard the pros and cons about them first. Which is why I tell everyone to come here first. For me, reading here about the variety of experiences & solutions around sleep gave me the confidence to read my chosen sleep books with a grain of salt, and the freedom to reject advice I didn’t agree with or think would work for us. Conversely, reading here first also helped me consider options /methods I may not have if I’d just read them in a book.
    Reading Between Parent & Child now, and I love it. When DS was a baby, Wonderweeks was by far my favorite book.
    As for blogs, Ask Moxie was the only one I felt that gave me confidence as a new parent.

  33. I read a ton. way too much, in fact. Probably did more harm than good.The good.
    Happiest Baby on the Block-for my husband. He aced the soothing test-so important when I had a long tricky recovery and we had the wailer. He still picks up small creatures and bouce-rock-shushes them out of habit.
    Baby Book-for me. soothing and earthy, but with clear instructions. when to worry about a fever, how to swaddle, etc.
    from there, it really depends on your kid.
    My close friend hated weissbluth, I found him very helpful in small doses. She fully embraced co-sleeping, we had a snoring baby and are light sleepers.
    I did love Sleepless in America, but I think it would be better for older kiddos.
    most of all, ask trusted friends. Have a collection all set up as an e-mail group. I had the super well-read friend, the earthy, AP friend, the non-nonsense friend, the doctor friend, etc. Of course these are all just stereotypes thrown together, but I did have a collection of moms who I trusted and who I knew had different beliefs. It was wonderful to see their dissimilar and sometimes eerily consistent remarks.
    Oh, and there was the time when my daughter was just a few weeks old and I thought I would never make it, and that I was the only mom who ever doubted. And then I found Moxie and cried a lot and knew it would get better. and it did.

  34. Loving the recommendations and experience (pro/con).I’ll add for multiples, Mothering Multiples and The Art of Parenting Twins.
    Mothering Multiples is an Attachment approach, but so incredibly practical and realistic (required for anyone with multiples!) that there’s no room for judgment. Instructions on pumping, supplemental feeding (‘both’), breastfeeding two or more, formula feeding, feeding preemies, feeding special needs, etc., etc. HUGELY helpful for my mom to read, as it helps set the reality of what life is like with multiples, rather than ‘oh, you already had two kids, this will be easy’.

  35. Came back here to recommend Lise Eliot and saw Rbelle had already taken care of that. Although I would recommend it to new moms, if you’re going to be nursing a lot and need something to read.Eliot’s Pink Brain, Blue Brain is also great, but more controversial. I am really hostile to generalizations about boys and girls, so I loved it, but if you’re not, you probably won’t appreciate her take-down of MRM stuff.

  36. @Rosemary,YES YES YES to hands full of rocks by Hedra. I still go there. She is my parenting idol, if there is such a thing.I read Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves; I issue a note of caution. If you can handle a very extreme way and writing by someone perfect, and can tone it down and/or take it in context FWIW etc, then it’s great. I know parents to whom it was just overwhelming and made them feel inadequate and angry. My experience only.

  37. Happiest Baby on the Block. I give it to every pregnant friend. Seriously, it was magic. I would never have made it through the first three months without it. I questioned some of his theories about *why* some of the techniques work, but they sure do work. To his credit, he was very up-front that they were just theories.

  38. Becoming the Parent You Want To Be: A Sourcebook of Strategies for the First Five Years (Laura Davis, Janis Keyser)Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting (Kabat-Zinn)
    Mommy Mantras: Affirmations and Insights to Keep You From Losing Your Mind (Casarjian)
    How to Avoid the Mommy Trap (Julie Shields)

  39. I think these comments show just how, sometimes, it’s not the book’s content but the reader’s mindset that affects how helpful the book ends up being. The books that I *did not* like were the ones that say, or infer, “if you don’t do x, your child will become a [insert undesirable character trait].” I became so stressed about my child’s sleep after reading Babywise, yet some of the most gracious, most wonderful, most relaxed parents I know have found Babywise to be super helpful. Why does the same book have such different effects on different people? I think we also need to look at the sorts of expectations that mothers start with when they begin the parenting journey, and the mindset with which they read the books and the expectations for how helpful they would be for their child.

  40. And 😮 thanks on the Hands Full of Rocks comments. I am getting back to where I can start posting again, job-wise, so hopefully in the next couple of months you’ll start seeing more there again.

  41. On Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves, I think the best place to be is ‘adding tools’ rather than ‘seeking answers’ or ‘desperate for anything that might make this less overwhelming’ or ‘seeking reassurance’. If you can take it as ‘just another toolset’, it works. I may need to note that on my bookshelf reviews (I think it is on there).

  42. Dr. Spock’s advice to be companionable with my son, rather than playing with him or entertaining him every second really helped me raise a child who can entertain himself.Momma Zen by Karen Maezen Miller helped chase a lot of,the parenting anxiety away.

  43. Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne with Lisa M Ross has really shaped our parenting/life style. I actually think that altho’ it’s not “religious” at all that it worked really well in my integration of my theology and my parenting.Healthy Sleep Happy Child–for the sleep science, not the tone! The 2-3-4 nap patterning was really helpful to me (I paired it w/ No Cry Sleep Solution and found that a middle ground between the two worked well for my family)
    Happiest Baby on the Block–DS was colicky…need I say more?
    The Baby Book–I find Dr. Sears to be incredibly patronizing and it was hard to get past the heteronormativity of his language, BUT, it was our baby bible during the first year (once we were able to get past what appeared to be a fairly narrow vision of what parenting/mothering should be like)
    Baby 411–I appreciated how ridiculously practical it was…when I wanted quick info I went there.

  44. If there is one single book every new parent should read it’s Momma Zen by Karen Maezen Miller. It will help you contact your inner light and learn to trust yourself and your child. Isn’t that what being a Mama is all about? If there is one book NOT to read it’s What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Stay away, for you and your baby’s own good. Whew, full of TMI and too much information you don’t need.

  45. I liked the ‘Hip Mama Survival Guide’ and ‘The Mother Trip’ by Ariel Gore. They made me laugh and it was good to be reminded not to take everything too seriously.

  46. I had problems nursing my first child, I could never get it right, and I didn’t have a lot of experienced breastfeeding friends to help me through it.When I found out I was pregnant with my second, I scoured the bookstores until I found The Nursing Mother’s Companion. http://amzn.to/MBZ6GP
    It was a lifesaver, and helped me to successfully nurse my daughter for a full year, and my 3rd child even longer.
    I give this book as a shower gift for new parents who are planning on breastfeeding.

  47. I would not recommend Leach or anything by the La Leche League if you are a single mother. Possibly more recent editions of Your Baby and Child have gotten past this, but the 1997 edition in my library has a three-page section on single-parent families (which, to begin with, assumes that you can only become a single mother via death or divorce) and then goes on to discuss how children “dream of partnership with their opposite-sex parent and of replacing the parent of the same sex.”The 7th edition (from 2004) of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding begins by saying that breastfeeding begins best in a household with a husband, wife, and child or children.
    Neither of these instilled me with great confidence as a single mother. I expect that they slide by if you are married, but if you’re not, they can cut deep.

  48. Too many books can make new parents NUTZ but I thing these are gold:Baby 411
    Happiest Baby on the Block (book is good, DVD is better)
    Ferber or Weissbluth (really they’re similar but you’ll want 1 solid sleep book on your shelf)
    Books to AVOID:
    Babywise
    What to Expect (I find them very alarmist)
    For Older Kids:
    Nutureshock
    How to Talk so Kids Will Listen
    Duct Tape Parenting (this is a local parent teacher but I luv her)
    I like my own baby sleep website (it’s probably wrong to plug yourself but here it is):
    http://www.troublesometots.com

  49. ‘How Not To Be A Perfect Mother’, by Libby Purves. Wonderful common sense, superbly humorous and well-written, and generally the perfect antidote to preachiness.

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