It might seem like there is no time to read when you are a new parent. Well, while there definitely is a lot less time to read, it’s still possible to do so, especially during the first few months, when breastfeeding takes up so much of your time. For the first time in my life, I prefer using an e-reader or a laptop over a physical book—I just can’t figure out how to juggle breastfeeding, drinking water, and holding a book, any tips?—and that has given me the opportunity to read a lot more than I had thought possible.
There are a lot of great books out there, but there are a few that stood out to me, the ones that I am glad I had the time to reread, and the ones I suggest making the time to read, even if you are not a reader (or consider listening to the audio version if it is available?)
My husband and I purchased this book not long after we got married. We knew we wanted children, so we decided to start researching—and loved this gem from the moment we started reading it. It was written by a journalist when she discovered she was pregnant, and reads like a series of great conversations I would have had with her, had she been my friend (in case you are reading, Linda, I’m still totally up for that coffee. Maybe to discuss your next book?) Fun, friendly, and fresh, yet serious and filled to the brim with great details, it was a wonderful first foray into the literature we are now finding ourselves swimming in as parents.
This book is another must-have for parents eager to help their newborns navigate the big, bad world for the first two years of their lives. After years of research, authors Rijt and Plooij noticed that all normal, healthy babies seem to follow the same pattern when it comes to fussy periods and behavioral and sleep regressions. As they explain in this book, it’s during these times that our babies are learning something new about the world, something so big for them that their whole perception of reality changes—making a world that was starting to make sense become scary all over again. I read this one as “just” an aunt and it helped me a little bit understand what my nieces and nephews were going through; but reading it as a parent who had now the pleasure and opportunity of being with her child day in and day out was incredibly fascinating. Knowing what was to come made my husband and I look for the signs and miss out on a lot less than our sleep-deprived selves would have, had we not had this book. (I linked above to the edition I purchased, but since then, a new edition has been released, which you can find here.)
On the one hand, no one wants to recreate the almost dictatorial way parents would rule over their children a few generations ago. But on the other hand, no one wants to have a home ruled by a miniature overlord. It’s common sense to say that a balance between the two extremes is needed, but it is a lot harder to put it into practice. Enters Robin Berman, a psychiatrist whose kind, gentle, yet direct and firm advice comes in handy throughout one’s parenting experience. Backed by scientific evidence and anecdotes from a host of parents, this book is helping my husband and I find the balance (well, we hope…) again and again. Our copy is going to be very tattered by the time we have adult children, that’s for sure!
I have to admit that I haven’t read this one yet, but I have listened to so many of her podcasts and read, quite probably, every post about parenting newborns and toddlers on the author’s website, so I feel quite confident recommending it pre-reading. Janet Lansbury is all about respecting your child while respecting yourself as a parent and person, as well. It is, in a way, the same philosophy at the basis of Berman’s book. Lansbury however also has a fantastic website and podcast series in which she not only discusses theory, but, again and again, applies them in the various situations that are presented to her by parents from all over. It helps my husband and I adjust our own understanding of how to parent respectfully through the experience of others, as well as, sometimes, to simply remember that this parenting this is hard—which, as all parents know, sometimes is all you need to keep your cool.
It might seem like you will never have the time to read a book when you are a parent, but if you can fit in even a handful of minutes a day and manage to get through these or any other highly recommended parenting book, your perspective will be so broadened that it will have been well worth the while. And, at the very least, you’ll get a little bit of respite from the insanity of it all!
What are the books that you were completely dependent on when you were expecting and navigating the first two years with baby? If you are not a parent, have you read any books that helped you be more positively involved in the lives of the children in your family or close circle of friends?