Book List

Thursday, July 30, 2009
Please see end of post for a note about "On Becoming Babywise"

Since so many of you have requested a book list, here it is. These are just the books I'd recommend, not the books that innocent trees unjustly lost their lives for. And since Amazon has such extensive reviews on almost all of these books, I've just included an IMO blurb on each one. Yes, I've read all of these books. And my Wish List has 20 more books on it. But like I've said, I'm an information person. I love this crap.

My advice is to gather as much information as you can, mix it all up, try it on, see how it looks and keep what works. While each of these books contains sound advice, none of them are 100% spot-on, at least not for me. Each child is different, each parent is different, and each combination of the two has it's unique dynamics. I've learned to take what resonates with my personality and parenting style and dispose of the rest. The last thing you want to do as a parent is to go against your instincts.

And as a warning, in case you haven't already figured this out, as soon as you become confident in your abilities, as soon as you get all "hell ya, I'm getting good at this. Look at me go,"... something changes. And hopefully you'll be able to roll with the punches and you'll have enough tools in your toolbox to adapt. And if you're lucky, some day, in the way far-off distant future that's so small it's just a spec on the horizon, you'll outsmart your kid. And if you're really, really lucky, someone will be there to witness your shining moment and they'll have the camera all ready and the battery will be charged. But if I were you, I wouldn't pin my hopes on it.

Please feel free to ask me (via email or this blog) about any of the books because as much as I love reading them, I love talking about them.

* denotes books I recommend from birth

The Wonder Weeks. Eight predictable, age-linked leaps in your baby's mental development characterized by the three C's (Crying, Cranky, Clingy), a change ... and the development of new skills Currently available at I borrowed this book from a friend since at times it can be impossible to get a hold of, and I bought it for when B is born as I know I will enjoy re-reading it with a new baby. I wish I'd had my own copy when E was a baby so that I could have taken notes in the margins and seen how the two compare. I know, I know, you're not supposed to compare your kids. Which is why I also recommend the next book...

Siblings Without Rivalry: How to Help Your Children Live Together So You Can Live Too As you're reading this book, most of it seems really obvious, but it's not until you actually read it that it all makes sense. I think it's worth a quick scan in the early years and I know that I'll come back to it when B & E are older.

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk Again, nothing earth-shattering but a necessary read not only for the children in your life, but also for the adults. It teaches you the skills to be a better listener, and most of us (and by "us" I mean "me") can benefit from this lesson. It can help you be a better parent, a better friend, a better spouse, a better sister, a better, well, you get the point.

Good Night, Sleep Tight: The Sleep Lady's Gentle Guide to Helping Your Child Go to Sleep, Stay Asleep and Wake Up Happy As a veteran parent (ha!) I have come to the conclusion that sleep training is a big pile of donkey shit. I developed an ulcer trying to train my child to sleep. Guess what. He's not a sleeper. We tried everything, and then one day he decided he was going to start sleeping through the night, and what I did had no bearing on his decision. That being said, of all the sleep training books I read (and I at least scanned them all) this one has some really good suggestions. Because while you can't make your kid sleep, there are things you can do to create a healthy sleep environment and routine, and sometimes the illusion of control can go a long way when you're a parent.

Raising Your Spirited Child Rev Ed This book is very important for parents of spirited children. If you think you have a spirited child, then you probably do and this book will offer many aha! moments, not to mention tips and consolation. I recommend this book Living With the Active Alert Child: Groundbreaking Strategies for Parents for the same reason.

* Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood: Practical Parenting from Birth to Six Years I really appreciate the Love and Logic Series and subscribed to their general philosophy as a teacher but there are a few things I do not like about this book. I can't stand how it's written, but I've gotten used to the stupid voice parenting books seems to tend towards. As far as the actual philosophy of the authors, I don't agree with the section where the Fry suggests that if your child is upset or worked up, you should isolate them in their room, and keep them in there until they calm down, even if you have to lock them in there for a long time. To me, this seems a little harsh and might not work for your child. There's a lot of research on withholding love and the potential damage this can do, and even if I didn't believe in all that, I have discovered that this tactic simply does not work with a child like E. He only becomes more upset and worked up when left alone. Instead, we take a time-out together and usually, I need it as much as he does. However, there is a lot in this book that is positive and good.

* The Vaccine Book: Making the Right Decision for Your Child Regardless of where you stand on the whole vaccine issue, I think we can all agree that when it comes to the health and safety of your child, it's better safe than sorry. This book is not anti-vaccine but instead offers a compromise. It covers all the vaccines and explains why you might choose to delay certain ones.

Playful Parenting While this book is written with older children in mind, I'm glad I read it when E was approaching two. There's tons of really enlightening information in here and can be very useful even in the early years. I find myself practicing a lot of the advice in it already and will continue to refer to it as the years go by. Definitely consider this a reference book.

Unconditional Parenting This book really resonated with me because when E was born, I realized that I didn't really know how to be the kind of mother I wanted to be. Sure, I knew what I didn't want to be...don't want to be a hitter, a screamer, a non-believer, an over-compensator, etc. I could visualize the kind of mother I strive to be but I didn't know how to make the connection, what things I needed to do to become that mother. This book definitely helped me bridge the gap and although I found it a bit idealistic at times, I do believe in a lot of what the author discusses and took a lot of mental notes that I hope to be able to amalgamate. I've actually made physical notes and posted them in my medicine cabinet, but that's a topic of discussion I'll save for another day.

* The Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby from Birth to Age Two (Revised and Updated Edition) A good reference book when you can't find anything online or when it's 2am and you're out of ideas and your eyes burn and the last thing you want to do is go all the way downstairs and sit in front of a bright screen and page through a bunch of useless webpages that are only going to make you feel worse.

* The Breastfeeding Book: Everything You Need to Know About Nursing Your Child from Birth Through Weaning Again, a good reference book by the ubiquitous Sears family.

Nurture the Nature: Understanding and Supporting Your Child's Unique Core Personality This book will come in handy later. While it addresses early childhood, I think that this will really be relevant in a year or two. My favorite aspect of this book? It's not written in that stupid voice, like some of the other books. And it encourages parents to tune into their children, ignore the idiots at Safeway who have a million and one opinions on what you should and shouldn't be doing, and listen to your maternal (or paternal) instincts.

Motherstyles: Using Personality Type to Discover Your Parenting Strengths I loved this book, as you well know. Definitely best read once you've been a mother for a while.

* Parenting from the Inside Out This is in the self-help sub-section of my parenting library. When E was very young and very refluxy, I had a really, really hard time dealing with the crying when it was something I couldn't fix. Really hard time. Not like "oh this is so annoying I wish he'd stop" hard an all-body physical response. I was basically having mild panic attacks. My blood pressure would go through the roof, I'd get all clammy and frantic, not to mention the normal new-mother physical responses on top of it all. I understood why they have "Don't shake the baby" commercials. It's for women like me who want! to! shake! the! baby! And while I knew that I never would, just the fact that it was an impulse I had to quell was enough to scare the living bejeezus out of me. So in typical me fashion, I researched the crap out of it, tried to get to the bottom of the issue and solve it, which brought me to this book. And it's worked. Not that there aren't other things that need a'fixin', but this book was definitely a gate-way and I will be forever grateful to the person who suggested it.

I originally fought the urge to add a note at the bottom of my list about books I would never recommend, and Babywise is at the top of that list. I recently posted this link AAP News on FB about how the AAP has linked Babywise to failure to thrive and dehydration in infants. There is some really, really bad advice in this book* and it is not couched in a way that encourages parents to respond to and respect their children. It promotes a parent-led feeding and sleeping schedule and while a consistent routine is important, responding to your newborn's cues are of foremost significance. While I agree that there are some useful tips in the book and I have known parents to safely and successfully incorporate some of the philosophies detailed in this book, some parents, in their ignorance and desire to do what's right, end up doing a lot more harm than good. This book plays on the fears and vulnerabilites of new parents. It is damn near impossible, when you are sleep-deprived and suffering from the deer-in-headlights syndrome, to make sound decisions. You will do anything to get. your. kid. to. sleep. I know, because I was one of those parents. I tried the CIO method, even though it went against every fiber of my being because everyone SWORE it would work. Well, it didn't. It was probably the worst three days of our lives as Evan basically cried for all three of his nap times and then got so overtired that he couldn't eat or sleep at all. He was a disaster. I came close to taking him to the doctor because he seemed beyond help. It took us forever to undo what we had done and while I had had the best intentions, I went against my instincts and against what I knew in my heart to be true - a newborn, or even an 11 month old, is not acting hungry or tired to manipulate you. And if your child is crying and showing signs of hunger (rooting or mouthing, for instance) then for heaven's sake, you need to feed him/her. Any book that tells you otherwise is wrong and in my opinion, cruel.

* From my understanding, the editors recently published a revised edition, and this edition is very different from the 1st and 2nd. I have not read the newest edition but have read reviews and those reviews state that the latest issue is much more flexible and has reversed many of the more controversial statements in previous editions. I hope that this is true and will keep an eye out for the 3rd edition so that I can speak to it from personal experience.

3 comments to Book List:

Stephanie Leach said...

Just wanted to add to the list (not that you need it) On Becoming Babywise. It's a little hokey, and I definitely don't agree with everything it says. BUT, I attribute some of the theories in that book with Spencer's sleeping through the night from 12 weeks on. And by sleeping through the night, I mean from 8:30pm-6am at 12 weeks; now he sleeps from 7:30-6:30 solidly!

njula said...

@Stephanie - I am glad you were able to find parts of Babywise that worked for you. I know that you are certainly intelligent enough to pick and choose the advice that works for you (stupid people don't pass the bar, right?!?) I hope that you don't take offense to my statement regarding the book as it was not in any way directed at you, but was without a doubt, triggered by your post.

Stephanie Leach said...

I hear ya and I'm not offended. I definitely picked and chose what worked for us and wasn't about to take an all or nothing approach to raising my kid. I never let him cry it out - ever. Mostly because I never had to because he caught on super early. But, I will say that the most important things I took out of the book were to make sure that Spencer got full feedings from the get-go. I think making sure he was eating for a solid 30 minutes at each feeding was key to him getting all of my milk, thereby filling him up and teaching him to go longer between feedings. That, and "eat, play, sleep" instead of "eat, sleep, play" were integral to getting us on a system. Oh, and the last piece of advice that was useful: if he's not eating his full morning meal, he's probably ready to ditch the middle of the night feeding. OK, ditch the book, that was the most useful advice from it :)

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