Books for the First Year of Parenting

With Hudson, we read (skimmed) so many different baby books. Some were borrowed from friends who would pass them along to us, dog-eared and filled with promise; many were devoured while swaying in the parenting aisles in Barnes & Noble—usually frantically hoping for a golden-ticket to sleep.

We’ve barely glanced at the accumulated pile this time around (so far, at least), but Rachael’s post on sleep training last week had me thinking about which books (and which promises) I’d pass along to friends, if asked.

The books I used most:

The Happiest Baby on the Block

It almost goes without naming. We watched the DVD first and were pretty convinced about reading the book. Besides, everyone will tell you about Dr. Karp and the “five S’s,” so you may as well know what they’re talking about. Even though we don’t have this book (we borrowed it), we are totally reliant on its techniques.

The American Academy of Pediatrics New Mother’s Guide to Breastfeeding

My sister-in-law passed this one on to me, and I’m really glad I read through it before the baby arrived. It’s not the sort of book I found myself referencing much once I’d finished, but I felt like it started things off really well and gave me some great tips. In other words, borrow it or check it out at a library.

What to Expect the First Year

and The New Basics: A-to-Z Baby & Child Care for the Modern Parent

I lump these two together because both are very searchable by issue (as opposed to being something you read through). I really enjoyed WTE‘s monthly breakdowns: it was nice to see which milestones were right around the corner and to feel pride at things Hudson was mastering on the early side. And it helped me come up with questions before visits to the pediatrician. The guidance felt very straightforward, with little that could be seen as controversial. Each chapter—each month—is structured into Q&A format, and I would usually pick it up and just read through to see what other questions were typical around that time. I think it’s superior to the WTE When You’re Expecting guide. This is the first one I’ve pulled out to look at again.

The New Basics is a bit more unique to Michel Cohen—who runs a pediatric practice in Tribeca, and is often described as “very French.” (The “Frequently Bought Together” book on Amazon is, tellingly, Bringing Up Bébé

.) I really appreciate his no-nonsense approach (though I think the book is best paired with another source). It’s also a Q&A, structured in alphabetical order by issue (e.g. Colic, or Pacifiers).

Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems

Ah, the controversial classic. I read most of it at the bookstore, and then realized that just about every other book/plan I was considering buying/committing to was essentially an abbreviated version. So if you’re of the mind to teach your child to sleep/self-soothe and are open to leaving them to do that (crying, with checks at intervals, hopefully briefly) then I think it’s worth reading the original, often-updated Ferber. It’s a tome, with lots of sleep study info, but I felt so much more confidant about making a plan with all of that information to back me up. It gave us the tools and the confidence we were looking for, with plans I thought were compassionate and reasonable (and it worked). My two cents: if you’re going to try the ill-coined “cry-it-out,” the only way to do it kindly is to think it through ahead and be consistent. It’s the inconsistency that tends to accompany (the very familiar) impulsive desperation that seems unkind to me. But honestly you also have to trust your gut.

The Sleepeasy Solution

This is actually one of those books that owes completely to Ferber, as it basically tells you to do exactly the same thing, but it is much less dense. I’ve probably actually used it the most, because once I’d read Ferber and we’d successfully done our three nights of initial sleep-training, I’d reference this book for things like sample nap schedules (so handy) and tricks for getting back on track after a cold.

I also occasionally referenced:

Heading Home With Your Newborn

and Jo Frost’s Confident Baby Care
for a sort of primer on things like general diaper practices and bathing.

For sleep, the other books recommended to me most frequently: 
The No-Cry Sleep Solution

On Becoming Baby Wise: Giving Your Infant the Gift of Nighttime Sleep

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child

Secrets of the Baby Whisperer

The 90-Minute Baby Sleep Program

All of which Aron and I, no doubt desperately, skimmed at one time or another. (Something I’m sure will happen again soon… as those “witching hours” are getting tougher every day!)

Do you have favorites? What would you add?

P.S. Remember this fascinating TED talk? I’d like to read her book.

[Thank you, Giggle for sending Skyler her own Mr. Scrapoctopus (aka “Scrapopulus” in our house)]

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