Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Parenting books

I thought I'd give some short reviews of pregnancy and parenting books I've read, recently and not-so-recently. (All links are to amazon.com, but aren't affiliate links... no referrals or kickbacks here!). There are so many books out there aimed at parents and parents-to-be; as with so many things it can be hard to wade through the woo to find information that's actually worthwhile!

Please note: I'm a parent, not a doctor. These are just my opinions. Please share yours in the comments!


What to Expect When You're Expecting: This is the classic pregnancy book. It's been around for years and years, and is probably one of the more popular books out there, if my parent friends are anything to judge by. It tracks the fetal development on a month-by-month basis, and is pretty thorough. Unfortunately, it also tracks the potential developmental mishaps and errors month-by-month, too. I also remember it being very prescriptive about the right way to do things - the right pregnancy diet, the right amount of exercise, etc. I had an earlier edition, so perhaps this has gotten better in later editions. Overall, I found it informative, but also irritiating and anxiety-provoking.

If you don't get a copy at your baby shower, you can probably either borrow it from a friend or find it used. I don't know if I'd buy it new.

Your Pregnancy Week by Week: Similar to What to Expect, but on a weekly basis instead of monthly. More emphasis on fetal development (yay!). I enjoyed reading this one weekly. I remember this one being less prescriptive and lighter in tone than WTEWYE.

For what it's worth, it's been years since I read either of those. I only read pregnancy books during my first pregnancy. During my second pregnancy, when I already had a toddler running around, there just wasn't as much time for gazing at my ever-expanding navel.


The Nursing Mother's Companion: I mostly read this one while I was nursing. It was useful for figuring out different holds when the baby would get fussy. I had a pretty easy time with breastfeeding, though, so I probably didn't need it. I had friends who really struggled to get breastfeeding going, though, and found it useful. Secondhand anecdata, for what it's worth!

The Dr. Sears Baby Book: hoo boy. This one was a gift from a friend with an older child, who's VERY into attachment parenting ("AP"). If you're not familiar with the term, the book's blurb describes AP as "a gentle, reasonable approach to parenting that stresses bonding with your baby, responding to her cues, breastfeeding, "wearing" your baby, and sharing sleep with your child." The blurb also says that "the Searses acknowledge that there is no one way to parent a baby," but that wasn't my experience with this book. My husband and I read it, internalized it, and then felt like failures when our daughter was clearly Not. Happy. with some of the AP practices we were trying to follow. Plus, hello! I am the primary wage-earner in our family; I couldn't wear the baby in a wrap and breastfeed on demand all day long; I had to go to work.

There's some good medical information here (like medicine dosages and the like), but it's mixed in with a healthy dose of working-parent guilt. Take it with a grain of salt.

Baby 411: LOVED this book! Very informative, very easy to use, written by a pediatrician (hooray!). My favorite section was in the back: a list of common ailments/issues, like fever, animal bites, rash, vomiting, etc. Each lists symptoms broken out into three categories: 1. watch/wait, 2. see the pediatrician tomorrow, or 3. go to urgent care/E.R. Super, super useful. I highly recommend this one.

Older Kids:

Louise Bates Ames' series (Your Two Year Old, Your Three Year Old, etc.): I like these books. They're short and sweet, and describe the 'typical' developmental milestones that take place, year by year. Plus, they have some hilariously apt titles. My favorite is Your Three Year Old: Friend or Enemy, which may seem harsh if you don't know any three year olds. :)

The Whole Brain Child: subtitled "12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind," this book is FANTASTIC. Written by a neuropsychiatrist, it's probably one of the best developmental books I've read. It takes the ideas in Thinking, Fast and Slow, simplifies them, and applies them to parenting. I highly recommend this book. It's useful for both understanding and parenting your child, helping your child understand herself, and understanding yourself as well. Seriously, all the thumbs are up for this book.

Parenting from the Inside Out: by the same author as The Whole Brain Child, I actually didn't like this one quite as much. It falls more into the self-help category - it's aimed at parents, but with the idea of understanding yourself better so as to be a better parent. Which is not to say that it's a bad goal! I just wasn't expecting a self-help book in the guise of a parenting book, you know? Solid advice, though.

Freeing Your Child From Anxiety: Finally, one of my new ZOMG THIS IS THE MOST USEFUL books. One of my children has some anxiety issues, and this has been really helpful for me.

The author (Dr. Tamar Chansky) is a licensed psychologist and the founder of the Children's and Adults' Center for OCD and Anxiety. She gives useful information that parents can use to determine whether or not their child's anxiety is normal, and provides tools parents can use to help their child overcome that anxiety. She also discusses treatments such as CBT and medication, and when they're effective and when they are not. The information is presented clearly and non-judgmentally, and is easily accessible even to a layperson like me. Really, really great stuff here.

So! Those are some of the parenting books I've read. Let me know your thoughts on these, and any of your other favorites or not-so-favorites!


  1. I am a mother of 4 and honest diapers always worked for my kids. You just go with what works for your child. I also have noticed that they work differently for different ages as well. Good idea to try a few out before you buy the jumbo packs.

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  3. Reading parenting books can help you a lot on how to deal with your kids and on how to communicate with them. It gives you the strategy on how to deal with their everyday tantrums.