Posted in Blog, Featured, Just for you, Posts for mommies-to-be, Shawna

Building your mama library

When I was pregnant, I accumulated all kinds of parenting books. I got the usual onslaught of “Just owning this book will make your baby sleep through the night”-type books, as well as about 10 copies of “What to Expect” and several scary baby training books that appeared to be written during the paleolithic era (most of those were gifts).

In the early frantic weeks (OK, months), I found that a lot of those books made me feel bad about myself. I’m sure it’s not what the authors set out to do, it’s just that it turned out that I needed a very, very gentle touch at first  (OK, I still do).

I remember reading a passage in that “Baby Whisperer” book that said something to the effect of “Of course you will be in your PJs for the first few weeks, but if your baby is five weeks old and you still find yourself in your PJs at 10 a.m., you have a problem.” My baby was seven weeks old, I was in my PJs and it was noon. Of course I burst into tears immediately. Now, I realize that chick is just crazy. I’m still in my PJs at noon some days and there is NOTHING wrong with me.

There were also a lot of books that weren’t particularly useful from a reference point of view (I’m looking at you here, “Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.”) You’d try to find specific help on a certain topic and find yourself wading through a series of semi-related boosterish anecdotes instead. Thanks for the breastspiration, but can we just skip to the positions and the troubleshooting here, ladies? I’ve got a screaming newborn and a leaking boob.

Then there are all of the “hilarious” new mommy books written by ladies who have “been there.” When you find one that actually makes you laugh, let me know. Seriously. I was so desperate for comic relief in those days, and for some reason tearful accounts by celebrities that had to wear a size 4 in the two weeks following labor really didn’t do it for me.

I’ve mostly whittled down my mama library to those books that I find useful and that don’t make me hate myself or other moms. So, here are my recommendations:

The Baby Book–either you love Dr. Sears or you don’t, and I just wuuuuv him. He and wife Martha write clear reference books that treat new parents and their babies well. You will get useful advice on tons of things, but you will also be told (often) that all is well, and to go cuddle your baby. This book is one of several in the Sears library, and all are kind of like having your sweetie-pie grandma over for tea: She gives you some kickass advice on teething, earaches and naps, and then tells you that there’s no such thing as holding a baby too much.

The Happiest Baby on the Block— For me, this book wasn’t the godsend I initially hoped it would be, but I still owe Harvey Karp at least a small portion of that left arm I initially swore to him. It’s got some great advice for soothing a fussy newborn during those crazy so-called Happy Hours (around twilight or just after dark when your newborn inexplicably screams for one to six hours), and Karp has lots of reinforcement for treating your newborn lovingly while remaining calm. A must-read, though don’t expect it to be the all-cure he promises.

The Breastfeeding Question and Answer Book by Jack Newman– This was my favorite go-to book when I had a breastfeeding problem, and boy did I have me some breastfeeding problems. Well-organized with an awesome index and glossary and just the right amount of sugar-coating, this was the perfect companion for those first frantic bloody-nippled weeks.

Making More Milk–My second-favorite breastfeeding book, and I actually never had any supply issues. This book has an awesome (up-to-date) description of how breastfeeding actually works, with some great advice on setting yourself up for the best outcomes possible. If I could do it all over again, I would have read the first three chapters of this book when I was still pregnant, or at the very least very early on in my new mommyhood.

A neighbor did actually lend me a hilarious cartoon book on new mommyhood called Diaper Diaries which I HIGHLY recommend. That book had me laughing hysterically at 4 a.m. in a good way. Jessica, I swear I will get that back to you. I just still need it some days…

Bringing Out Baby— The second edition of this book is just a few years old, and it has great ideas for what to do with a new baby in the Seattle area. It’s organized by neighborhood and activity, and has helpful hints like where to nurse in certain spots, and which activities are best for certain age groups. This book is awesome for when you come out of your haze about two months in, realize that this is your new life and not a phase, and want to go have some fun with your little one.

If Your Kid Eats This Book, Everything Will Still Be OK–This book is like having a totally cool pediatrician who you can actually reach the second you need to talk to them. It helps you determine which baby injuries are emergencies and which can wait until morning or don’t need to be addressed at all. The best part of this book is that you will no longer have to google stuff like “newborn fell off changing table screaming head injury drooling” at 4 a.m. And that is a very, very good thing.

I love The Vaccine Book in the Sears Library. This is the only truly neutral book I’ve read on the topic, and it will allow you to educate yourself and make the best decision for your family. This book is written by the Sears’ son, also a pediatrician. I honestly don’t know how the author managed to keep politics out of this book, but he did it. You’ll find out what’s in each recommended vaccine, ow common and treatable each disease is, and how common and dangerous any vaccine side effects are. Whether you’re getting all of the vaccines, getting none of the vaccines, delaying vaccines or doing an alternative schedule, this book has all of the information you need, with none of the vilification.

I also liked The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley, though those actually looking for some help sleep training their babies should look elsewhere. Think of this book as more of a reference on baby sleep habits and norms, with helpful advice for steering your baby toward sleeping better. It’s not really a “solution” to baby sleep issues in the way that say, the passage of time, is a “solution” to baby sleep issues.

There is also a No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers, which I am wading through right now, along with Happiest Toddler on the Block. I’m planning to do a post soon with more details on toddler parenting books, just as soon as my toddler gives me enough time to read the books and then write it ;)! I will also definitely be recommending Love and Logic in the Early Years, which has lots of great advice for dealing with tantrums and defiance without losing your cool.

Oh, and for those expecting baby No. 2, I have to give a quick shout-out to Siblings Without Rivalry. Read it now, while you can!

Happy reading, and I hope you all find the parenting books that work for you!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
  1. Angela Robens says:

    Hey Shawna!!! Just wanted you to know I discovered your blog via the PEPS newsletter that I still get on occasion. Good for you! What a great resource for new moms and dads in Seattle and otherwise!!
    I can’t believe Quinn is getting to be so big! You guys are great. I hope this finds you well…Hello to Todd and a big hug for all!
    P.s. Maybe You will be the one to write the humorous new parent, need to know book 🙂 I will be looking for it!

  2. Rebecca says:

    Hungry Monkey by Matthew Amster-Burton is my favorite.

    It’s about a food critic/stay at home Dad’s adventure in giving his daughter first foods. It has tons of recipes that are unique and it’s really funny too. (and he lives in Seattle so the grocery stores he references are ones we can actually go to!)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *