Parenting Books Mini-Reviews

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

I'm back! Kind of. With my new baby (seven weeks old already! I can't believe it), I haven't been blogging at all... but I have been reading quite a bit. And a main portion of that reading diet, both before and after he was born, has been books about parenting. With my type A personality, I really wish that babies came with step-by-step manuals that told me exactly what to do to turn out a well-adjusted, happy individual. Unfortunately, instead I have been sifting through many, many books, some of which are helpful and many of which are not. I thought I'd give you all a brief run-down on the parenthood-related books I have read lately, what worked for me, and what didn't.

Heading Home With Your Newborn: From Birth to Reality by Lara A. Jana and Jennifer Shu

This is actually the only book that was 100% awesome advice. Heading Home With Your Newborn covers a variety of topics, from how to bathe a baby to breastfeeding tips to information about various illnesses. The authors are pediatricians who also have children, so they have a solid background and know exactly what they are talking about. They also are careful to differentiate between their opinions and what is supported by science and the American Academy of Pediatrics. I recommend this book to any first-time parent for a wide range of advice and information about newborns.

Breastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers by Nancy Mohrbacher and Kathleen Kendall Tackett

While I was reading this book, pregnant and blissfully thinking that I wouldn't have any trouble with breastfeeding, I thought it was excellent advice. Mohrbacher and Tackett go through the logistics behind milk production, latching, the benefits of breastmilk over formula, etc. However, when I experienced problems after the birth of my son, I found that a) the book didn't really address the problems I faced, instead assuming that all women are capable of breastfeeding if they simply "stick it out" and b) I felt incredibly guilty that I had to supplement with formula because of this attitude. So in short, this is a good overview for someone who doesn't have too many problems, but doesn't address problems well for those who do.

The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp

This book presents five methods to soothe crying babies (once their basic needs, like dirty diapers and food, have been taken care of). To be honest, the book itself bothered me -- it was written in a somewhat childish, over-simplified way, and the ideas that Karp presents, such as the idea that prehistorically babies really were in the womb for a fourth trimester, are not backed up by science. However, the methods themselves are pretty effective and worked for my son most of the time. I've heard a DVD accompanies this book (I checked it out from the library) -- maybe that would be slightly less grating.

On Becoming Baby Wise by Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam

Countless people have told me this is THE book to get babies to sleep. When I read it while I was pregnant, I was skeptical -- it seemed too harsh to let babies "cry it out" and seemed too rigid. While there are still ideas that I don't agree with or follow in the Baby Wise method, I have, however, found many things it suggests to be effective now that I am actively parenting. I think that, like all parenting books, everything has to be taken with a grain of salt. No book is the true "user's manual" that will answer every question about babies. Like Happiest Baby on the Block, I also was at times irritated with the presentation of the ideas in Baby Wise. They present their ideas as if it is the only way to raise a well-adjusted child and that any parent would be foolish to do anything different. While I appreciate and use many of their ideas, I don't think it is the parenting gospel.

Your Amazing Newborn by Marshall H. Klaus and Phyllis K. Klaus

Your Amazing Newborn is an overview of newborns and their abilities. It was an interesting, brief read. It did leave me feeling a little cheated because it describes some of the amazing connections made between mother and baby when baby is placed on the mother's chest immediately after birth, and I had to wait almost an hour before meeting my baby for the first time after he was born. Still, that was a personal issue, and many things touched upon were interesting in this book.

Down Came the Rain by Brooke Shields

Postpartum stress, whether it is full-blown postpartum depression or a few days of baby blues, affects many women after childbirth, and I was no exception. I am feeling a lot better now, but with a very traumatic labor and difficulties in feeding my baby, as well as a hospitalization early in his life for RSV, adjusting to motherhood definitely took some time. I checked out Down Came the Rain out of curiosity -- I wanted to see what someone else was experiencing. While many of Brooke Shields feelings and experiences differed from mine, many also struck a chord with me and helped me to feel less alone with the stresses I was encountering. The book was also well written, something I don't usually expect from a celebrity memoir (although I haven't read many of those, so I don't have much to judge from). I think any new moms dealing with any measure of postpartum stress will find something to relate to in Shields' memoir. It was definitely a rewarding reading experience for me.

I am reading two more parenting books right now... you'd think I'd be an expert by now, right? What parenting books have you read and enjoyed? (And those of you who aren't parents, hope you haven't been too bored by this smorgasbord!)


  1. The postpartum depression one looks really interesting. I struggled with postpartum anxiety for a few weeks after Aubrey was born, and I literally felt like I was going crazy. And I can so relate on the breastfeeding stress... Aubrey hated nursing and preferred a bottle from day one, so when I finally had to give it up I felt so guilty. You really have read a variety of parenting books! :) We have What to Expect the First Year, and it's a nice overview or go-to if we have a specific question.

  2. Can't say I'm a type-A parent (try type-Z...) We let Will cry it out before he was 2 months old... hah. I really like Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Baby. I haven't read it cover to cover but refer to it whenever Will hits a rough patch sleeping-wise. We need to talk soon! That little man is so so cute.

  3. You have a great expert on raising children right in your own family (probably more than one but since I only know one I'll just talk about her)....that is your Mom! She really did a great job! Isn't it great that you can call her for advice any time!!!!

  4. Congrats! If I was a parent I might have a recommendation but, alas, I'm not.

  5. Some books I have liked and/or found helpful:
    What to Expect the First Year and What to Expect the Toddler Years by Heidi Murkof(which I found vastly more helpful than What to Expect When you are Expecting). The Girlfriends Guide series by Vicki Iovine. The No Cry Series by Elizabeth Pantley. The Sears Baby Book. Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind by Daniel Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson. Yep, I am a baby geek.

  6. I really enjoyed Secrets of the Baby Whisperer. It had lots of great tips that we used often. I found it a lot less rigid than Baby Wise. I didn't use everything in there but I still definitely recommend it.

  7. Parenting books were always stress-inducing for me, so I didn't read many, but I enjoyed reading your thoughts on this handful! Congrats (again?) on your precious blessing...the days may be long but the years are short. Enjoy!

  8. I read Heading Home with Your Newborn and Happiest Baby on the Block when I was pregnant with my son. I agree completely with your thoughts on those two.
    I have to tell you that my son is five now and I am still reading books about parenting! But I think so much of parenting has to be learned on the job. We can read every book out there, but we still have to see what works for our particular family.
    I hope you are getting some sleep and congratulations again!

  9. Lorren! I'm glad you're back, and that you and your baby are doing well!

  10. Yay for baby books! I think I've heard of most of these, but haven't actually read any of them. I really liked Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child for my oldest. But the ideas aren't working as well with my baby. Every kid is so different, I feel like I have to pick and choose whatever works.
    And that's too bad about the breastfeeding book. I had problems with both my kiddos, and don't feel like any book/consultant/whatever was much help. :(

  11. Somehow I missed your post in November announcing the arrival of your son - congratulations!


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