I am Type A. When I’m excited about a topic or jumping into a new venture, I like to research the shit out of it. So when I got pregnant, my nightstand looked like a library. I have a few amazing people in my life who are expecting babies right now so I put together this list of what I found to be the best and most useful books. I call this list “Don’t Panic”. As in, “yes, I know it’s a long list but it’s organized in the approximate order you’ll need the info so just start wherever you are in the journey and DON’T PANIC!” Also, some of these books won’t be for everyone so I tried to give an idea of what I found helpful. That way if you’re like “No way, hippy! I’m demanding the best and most high tech drugs as soon as I walk in the hospital door!” you can skip the books that don’t apply to your needs.
Expecting Better by Emily Oster: A look at pregnancy conventions in America and the studies that back them up (or don’t). This is a great read for pre-pregnancy or early in pregnancy to help you effin’ chill about many of the dos and don’ts. (Ignore the kitty litter part. Your partner should still take over scooping the box. Cuz you’re fuckin’ pregnant!)
The Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy: Written from the “childbirth is natural, your body is capable” angle, this book is less fear-based than “What to expect when you’re expecting”. It covers all the pregnancy basics from the medical standpoint.
The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin: This is essential reading for partners with everything from how to remain calm during a hospital delivery to how to deliver a baby in an emergency situation. My husband read and highly recommends this.
The Thinking Women’s Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer: This book details what can happen when one medical intervention sets off another. If you’re one who wants to show up and take the delicious drugs as soon as they can get them, thank you very much, then this is not the book for you. If you want medicine-free delivery and to be involved in the medical decisions during your birth, check it out. You’d be amazed at the variety of interventions that can come up. In the midst of contractions is not the time to be hearing about them for the first time.
Birthing From Within by Pam England: This book is a bit woo-woo. But honestly, so is natural childbirth. If you’re not depending on drugs and the doctor to lead you by the hand, then you’re depending on yourself and your amazing body. So you’d better have faith in it. The art stuff in this book was not for me but there were enough things in here that rang true (and made me tear up because of it) that I sought out a Birthing From Within class in my city. It’s about letting go, trusting your body, and realizing the rich storied history of women that you are becoming a part of. It’s kind of magical. And again, so is childbirth.
Baby Bargains by Denise Fields: This is basically a book about how not to spend a bajillion dollars on your baby. I found it handy.
Lucie’s List: Great site for baby stuff reviews. This is the first place I look when I’m shopping for a new item. There’s also a “crib sheet” on here that gives a decent jumping off point for what you actually might need to buy for baby. I used that, and another from a friend, as well as my own nanny experience, to fill up my registry.
Baby 411 by Ari Brown and Denise Fields: We referenced this book, like, weekly during ABC’s first year. Health, growth and development, when to call the doctor, how to bathe and swaddle. It’s all in here. Their Toddler 411 is great after the first year.
Baby-Led Weaning by Gill Repley and Tracey Murkett: We loved this method for starting solids. Baby feeds herself and eats what you eat (modified early on). It made more sense to us than doing the “Stage 1 – 2 – 3” foods.
The Happy Sleeper by Heather Turgeon: We were lucky. We got a good sleeper. I know some people read a million books before they find one that helps with a baby who struggles with sleep. This one worked for us immediately. It’s somewhere in between the “cry it out” method and the “go in whenever they peep” method and I felt it was a perfect happy medium. Lots of other good info about sleep stages before you get to “sleep training” age, as well as up to school age.
DEVELOPMENT: It is invaluable to understand what your kid is going through and WHY they are so crabby (or clingy, or won’t eat or won’t sleep) some weeks. Seriously, understanding this stuff is what keeps us sane and empethetic. These 2 books track different leaps in an infant/toddlers development. I highly recommend them both.
The Wonder Weeks by Hetty van de Rijt and Frans Plooih: Ok, so this is actually horribly written, but the info is good. There is also an app available with less info but better than nothing if you can’t stand to read the repetitive writing.
Touchpoints: Birth to Three by Joshua D Sparrow: This thing is great. Well-written and from a pediatrician’s perspective.
I know, I know, It’s A LOT! But these aren’t all cover to cover readers. Many are reference or ones that you work your way through as the kid progresses through the first year. Stick ’em on your book shelf and pull them out when the questions come up (oh my lord, the questions that come up. “Is that blood in my 3 week old daughter’s diaper?! (See Baby 411))
But guess what. The information is out there. You’ve got this! Just love them hard, know the learning curve is steep but not impossible, and DON’T PANIC!
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