Even before I had Bowe, I read every single book on parenting. You name it, I read it. I combed blogs for what books they had loved. I had a lot of time and I considered it my responsibility as a nanny to be informed of all the best practices. I felt it was my job to learn the best practices so I could provide the best care, and I wanted to know what to do when I had children. So when I got pregnant, I reread a bunch of them and added even more to my booklist. Now, two kids later, my time is a lot more limited. Gone are the trips to the bookstore when I could leave with $100 worth of books and be able to read them all within a week or two. What I do do now, is read more short synopses of the books I am interested in, and I have to weigh whether or not they are worth my time. And as for re-reading the ones that I found to be the most useful, I go back to my notes and my highlights. Occasionally, I will reread specific chapters.
Since all of us could use a little more time on our hands, I summarized the main gist of each of the following books. You are a busy woman, you don’t have endless amounts of time to spend reading, what may not be useful books. So below, I have listed my favorite books. These are what I consider the best books right now and they form the foundation for how I parent my kids. I don’t only listen to one but I take my favorite parts from each and make my own parenting philosophy, which is what is working now with my kids. It might not for you, but it is what works for me and my closest mom friends.
1.) Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman
Ok, coming from me, an exclusive breastfeeding mom and mama who gave natural child birth twice, this recommendation might surprise you with France having not being necessarily known for either their breastfeeding rates or their natural births. But, I truly think that it is one of the best books on keeping a balanced outlook on raising your children. The French preach patience and discipline. What I come back to time and time again, is that the French don’t believe that your world should revolve around your child. Although you are a mother, you are not only a mother. I try to keep this in my mind as I go through the day. Although, mothering my children, I believe, is my main purpose in life, I don’t think that it is my only purpose. All of my attention should not be spent entertaining them, cooking for them, etc. I cook one meal. Everyone has to eat it. If Bowe doesn’t want to eat it, well she goes to bed hungry. I play with my kids but I am not an entertainer. They are responsible for amusing themselves and have become very good with keeping themselves occupied. This is a practice I have valued all along. As a stay-at-home mom and household manager, I have other duties beyond mothering them. I need to keep the house clean, get meals on the table, do laundry, shop for groceries, oh yes, and keep them alive. It is a full time job. This book preaches moderation in terms of parenting. Children should be treasured but not spoiled. I love it and constantly think when I am doubting myself, what would the French do?
2.) Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Dr. Marc Weissbluth
Ok, hear me out on this one. This book is awesome and but also might freak you out. It is packed with information; however, some of his case studies might worry you if you are the type to think “oh my gosh, that is my child! They will never be intelligent because they don’t sleep enough!” Take a deep breath. This book is still incredibly valuable but can be a little severe. Listen to me: your child is going to succeed no matter what. You are an amazing parent! I know that because you are taking the time to read this post, and are a proactive parent who will do what is best for your kid. Kids are lucky to have parents like you. Your kid will be fine.
Alright then, freak out abated, onto the review: This book is a very scientific but an easy read on the importance of sleep and what to expect at each age. It is broken down by the age of the child. This is an awesome aspect, because let’s be honest, when you are a sleep deprived parent you don’t have all the time in the world to read about your child’s sleeping problems. Hell, if your child isn’t sleeping, you probably are probably trying to sleep whenever you have a free moment! In the book Weissbluth breaks down what are healthy sleep habits, what common fussiness is, and what to do. You can get a really good idea of what to expect for each age including how much sleep, how much fussiness, and what to do about it. Although his healthy sleep requirements are a bit strict (no movement as in no swings and no car rides) and is very strict about nap times (which is totally unrealistic with a second child!) his premise and message is solid. Sleeping is important for your child and you should work to establish the best routines that you will want. He neither vilifies or praises sleep training. He tells you what research says is effective and what to expect at each age. It is up to you to decide what you want to do. As I spoke about above is that as I sometimes freaked out panicking that my child was getting “junk food” sleep because she was sleeping in the swing, and that she would be have long lasting behavioral problems associated with it. NEWSFLASH: She doesn’t. She stopped sleeping in the swing at 14 weeks old and has never had true sleep issues. She still falls asleep in the car on car rides and we all live. She is an awesome kid. Enough said.
3.) Happiest Baby on the Block by Dr. Harvey Karp
If you are going to read one book about newborn care, read this one. It tells you all about why your newborn is the way it is and how to make your newborn or infant happy. Essentially, Karp’s theory is that newborns really should stay in their moms an extra three months. Due to evolution, we push the babies out three months early so they can fit through the birth canal. And thank god we do! This leads to us having to take more care of them than other species’ newborns. Unlike monkeys or horses, whose young are mobile when they are born, our babies are 100% reliant on us to move, feed, and keep warm for a long time. Because they come out early, the babies really truly want to be back in the womb. So to make the babies happy, we should create a “womb like” environment by employing the five S’s: Swaddle, Shh (white noise), Swing, Suck, and Side. Swaddle the baby so it feels warm, cozy, and enveloped. Shhh! Make white noise so it sounds like the womb. Swing the baby, so it is like when you walked around with it inside. Suck! Give the baby pacifiers or your nipple to foster self-soothing. And hold sideways (Side) to make the baby feel more comfortable; however remember, always lay a baby on its back! This is a great book to give your husband to read so they can feel like they too can comfort the baby.
4.) Touchpoints by T. Berry Brazelton
This is one of my favorites, and I don’t hear it referenced all to often and I am not sure why. It gives a good unbiased view of each of the ages and common problems that parents deal with at each. What I like is that it doesn’t push a certain type of parenting. I think that this book used to be more popular than it is now, which just proves to show what a classic it is! My mom actually had one of his earlier editions! It is a gem!
The rest of these books are in my opinion are good but not great: I learned something from them but I don’t go back to them.
The Sleepeasy Solution: I bought this book and thought it would solve my baby’s sleep problems. Although it is an easier read than Weissbluth’s I don’t think it is as good. The author does talk a bit more about sleep training, and makes some good recommendations but when practiced in real life (or at least mine,) they fell short. Her suggestion to set your alarm 10 minutes earlier than the baby’s typical feeding time to avoid the association of the child waking up and getting fed and then falling back asleep, is great in theory but fails in execution. First, my children never woke up at the same time night after night; furthermore, am I not awake enough to start recording the exact times and duration she fed. Second, you are so dead tired already that you are not going to want to get up for a stupid alarm and wake up your child.
This is a great book, but is a bit lengthy for what can be described as the following: early on when the baby is young, shoot to keep them awake for 90 minutes at a time. After 90 minutes, your baby is going to start fussing. If you keep them up too long, the stress hormone will kick in and what you will get is a tired kid who is acting hyper. Also, if you kid wakes up from his or her nap after 30 minutes, most likely you are not going to get them to go back down. The moment is gone. Good for knowing the science behind why your child gets hyper tired and can’t calm down; but, not an essential in my opinion.
The Baby Book by Dr. William Sears
Unless you are gung-ho about attachment parenting (and props to you if you are! it is just not for me!) I felt like this book was a mixed bag. I have not referenced it once since B was a baby. Instead of comforting me, it made me have anxiety: Is my child going to be permanently damaged by my letting her cry it out? Because I don’t want to co-sleep is my child going to have issues? What about babywearing? It hurts my back like hell when I do it all the time, is my child going to feel like she is never held. Guess what?! We all turned out normal. Our mothers didn’t hold us 100% of the time and they taught us to self-soothe. If you are into this, that is absolutely awesome and power to you! I like sleeping too much. I do limited co-sleeping with the babies when they are very young; but, only out of pure necessity. I don’t sleep well with them in the bed and don’t want it to be a thing when they are beyond the newborn stage. It isn’t for my family. On the other side of the coin, the book is very good cumulation of knowledge regarding normal problems that you might experience with your kids from birth to age two. However, I didn’t really consult it at all for this.
Mom’s On Call (Moms on Call Parenting Books)
Although their books are perfectly good, and I have no problem with early sleep training, I wasn’t in love with this book. I felt like a lot of the stuff was what I already knew. They do have a section entirely on sleep, and their own methods; but, I didn’t find it to be earth shattering. Unlike other experts who say that a child needs to be a certain age before they sleep through the night, MOC think that babies can sleep through the night at an earlier age. A lot of what they said has been said before–don’t let the baby fall asleep on you or while nursing, establish good sleep routines, etc. I did really like their practical care tips and their schedules. But to be honest, they never worked for my family (I have a serious cat napper who falls asleep EVERY time no matter how short the drive to preschool); however, they might work for you. They even have a book on parenting a toddler and a baby at the same time, which has helpful schedules as well. Where this book did excel was the practical real life advice.
Please tell me, did you like this? Would you like to see more posts like this? I could do one on how we feed our children as well. I know that moms are time-pressed and need good information fast. Would you want to read my in-depth notes, summaries, and more from these books in the format of an E-Book?