Wednesday, November 9, 2011

parenting books.

I intended to review Whistling in the Dark today -- a book I totally adored and that you should start reading right.this.second. But fate has intervened in the form of a basement full of standing water so that I had absolutely no time for writing up a review today.

So, like any good parent, I'm rolling with the puddles punches.

(image 1, 2, 3)

Instead, I thought I'd tell you a little bit about the parenting books I've read over the past several months and give you the quick run down on what's good, what's bad, and what's worth spending your hard earned pennies on. Ready to jump with me?

Here's the list. (Yes, I read each and every one of these.)

The Nursing Mother's Companion -- amazing guide for breastfeeding. I have read and reread so many sections of this over the past several months. I love that it covers everything from your first latch-on to what medications are safe for the baby when you're nursing to introducing solids to how to wean. Probably the only book that I can recommend to you with no caveats or hesitations.

The Breastfeeding Book -- one of the Dr. Sears' series. Informative and helpful. It does emphasize attachment parenting practices and it can be hard to tease out what's medically factual and what's opinion based on parenting preferences, but overall a pretty helpful guide.

Heading Home with Your Newborn -- pretty basic stuff. This comes from the American Academy of Pediatrics, so it's good and reliable information, but you won't find anything too groundbreaking here. Most of it is contained in other books, and it only focuses on about the first month, so it might not be worth spending money on -- we got it free from the hospital.

What to Expect the First Year -- if you liked What to Expect When You're Expecting, you'll like this one. Same basic format of Q and A on the basics, and it also gives you a list of common milestones for each month so you can check to see if your baby is on track. It has handy medical references in the back and a "how to" guide for your newborn that covers diapering, bathing, and all the other stuff you freak out about at first. Again, nothing groundbreaking here.

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child -- I have mixed feelings about this book. It's definitely useful in providing scientific information about sleep and giving you a general framework for helping to teach your child to sleep well. However, it's not a guidebook -- and even if you try to do exactly what it says, your baby may not fit with the normal sleep patterns described within. For example, the book says that babies develop a regular nap in the morning between the 12th and 16th week. L has just started doing a lengthy morning nap -- and it began in week 22.

Secrets of the Baby Whisperer -- Funny (a little cheesy) and warm. A little on the fluffy side. It advocates gentle scheduling of your baby, so if you're an attachment parenting type, don't bother checking this one out. Some good practical suggestions, especially for setting aside "you" time to keep yourself sane. Don't expect the E.A.S.Y. plan to work perfectly for every baby.

On Becoming Babywise -- The opposite of Dr. Sears. Advocates putting your baby on a pretty rigid schedule. I read it cover to cover because I wanted to be informed. It probably works well for some easy babies. It won't work for all, and it may cause significant issues for breastfeeding if you have supply issues. My big objection is in the background of the authors -- I'd like to have more confidence in their medical training, and it's simply not there. One aspect that does make a lot of sense: babies cry. A lot. And you need to get used to it!

The Happiest Baby on the Block -- good, sensible advice for dealing with fussy babies. A little long-winded at times, and the jokes are kinda stale. But you'll learn some pretty useful techniques here even if you just skim it.

The No Cry Sleep Solution (and the Nap version) -- My biggest objection to this book is that the author is just "some lady" -- not a nurse, not a doctor, not a child development expert. That aside, she has done her research and testing, and she sets forth some reasonable guidelines and lots of worth-a-try suggestions. However, your baby is going to cry no matter what, so don't think this is a magic pill. Also frustrating: in the section that describes L perfectly (short napper), it says that if you do this one specific technique for a week, your baby will suddenly start napping well. I used that technique for 9 straight weeks and it never ended up helping her nap any better. Again, take everything with a grain of salt.

Your Baby's First Year -- Useful medical advice. Straightforward. The developmental information is fascinating. Good tips and ideas. A little general when it comes to feeding and sleeping. We got this one for free from our pediatrician.

The 90 Minute Sleep Solution -- Lots of people said this book was perfect for them. It didn't work for us at all. I think for some babies, aiming for the 90 minute mark during the first few months to help you figure out when your baby might need a nap is a good ballpark amount of time, but our baby just needs waaaaaaay less awake time than that. She still struggles to make it to 90 minutes at almost 6 months! Any book that promises you "follow my three step plan and your baby will never cry/sleep whenever you want her to/become a genius" should be approached with some caution -- I'd recommend borrowing it before you pay for a book that describes a plan that doesn't fit your baby.

I know there's more than this, but these are the books I can remember off the top of my head -- the rest are in a bin next to my nursing rocker in L's room where she's fast asleep for the night (or until an hour from now when she wakes up crying!), so I'll have to save them for another post.

I'm currently working on Baby Led Weaning and Child of Mine to learn more about starting solids. I'll let you know what I think of those when we start that next month (gulp!).

How does this compare to your own list? What would you recommend? I'd love to know!


  1. I don't have kids but am fascinated by parenting books. It seems that children do in fact come with manuals, contrary to public sentiment.

  2. You'd think so, right? If only said manuals actually matched the product you received at the hospital. It seems like mine must have been written for someone else's kid! ;)