After Stella was born (and let’s be honest, before) I bought and read A LOT of parenting books. I mean, like a lot of books. This time I pared down the list significantly. Why? Because before I read a lot of parenting books that, frankly, suck. To save you guys time, I’ve made a list of my favorite parenting books… you know, the ones that don’t suck.
So, why did I pick these 10 books as my favorite parenting books? Because they’re actually useful, easy to read, and offer intuitive advice. It’s that last one that’s most important to me. The books I read that I hated gave advice that went against everything my intuition told me to do. I read books that told me to fed my baby on a schedule, to only let the baby sleep in a crib, to let the baby cry x-amount of minutes before picking them up, to introduce solids to make the baby sleep through the night, etc. None of those things felt right to me. The books on this list reinforced what I naturally felt I needed to do to care for my baby and gave me confidence that I really needed as a first time mom.
From top down:
1. Baby Led Weaning, Rapley and Murkett, $8.44 at Amazon.
If you’ve never heard of baby led weaning and have an infant, you have to read this book. Baby led weaning is the easiest and least stressful way to introduce solids. The idea is simple: you follow the baby’s lead in introducing solids. First, you wait until baby is old enough to grasp pieces of food. Then, you give them age appropriate food and let them play with it/feed it to themselves. The overriding rule is “food before one is just for fun.” This book really helped me not stress about whether and how much Stella was eating… and it’s so much easier than trying to spoon feed purees. Basically, this is the lazy parent’s way to introduce solids.
2. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, La Leche League International, $12.55 at Amazon.
This is a new book for me this time around and I love it. I wish that I had had it when Stella was still nursing. It’s fantastic and addresses pretty much any question you might have about breastfeeding in plain language. Plus it has these tear out sheets with helpful information for the first few weeks.
3. The Breastfeeding Book, Sears and Sears, $14.37 at Amazon.
I got this one when Stella was about a month old and I wished I’d had it before. Like “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding,” it has all the information you need to have when you first start breastfeeding. As you can see from the picture, it’s shorter than “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.” The length makes it an easy read for the first time really exhausted mom.
4. Baby Led Weaning Cookbook, Rapley and Murkett, $11.07 at Amazon.
This is a companion book for the Baby Led Weaning book. I’ll be honest, some of the recipes aren’t great. BUT there are some good ideas for meals in here and a lot of the recipes can be made a lot better with a few alterations. The issue with the recipes that aren’t great is that they’re a little bland for an adult palette, so that’s an easy fix. What I really liked about this book though was that it had ideas for meals that I wouldn’t have thought of (like oatmeal sticks) that Stella loved.
5. Mother Food, Jacobson, $20.38 at Amazon.
If, like me, you spent several months worried that your milk supply was low this book is a life saver. It has lots of info about foods and herbs that are good for increasing milk supply and recipes that include those foods and herbs. Once you’ve read the book, it’s easy to incorporate them into your diet. Oh, and bonus, it has also has information about special diets while breastfeeding.
6. Sleeping with Your Baby, McKenna, $12.17 at Amazon.
I never intended to bed share, but it happened and is unexpectedly awesome. This book, which is a really quick read, tells you how to bed share or room share safely. It also includes information about the developmental benefits of co-sleeping (however, you choose to do it). The author, James McKenna, researches infant sleep at Notre Dame’s Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory.
7. The Baby Book, Sears, $16.14 at Amazon.
I literally can’t say enough good things about this book. It has so much information and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve consulted this book at 3 am to decide whether I’m crazily overreacting or if there’s an actual problem. (Spoiler alert: I’m always crazily overreacting.) It has everything from how to treat a fever to developmental stages to normal baby sleep.
8. The Discipline Book, Sears and Sears, $12.70 at Amazon.
This isn’t a baby book. It’s more for toddlers, but it’s been so helpful for me. It really helped me understand how toddlers think and why they do they things they do. Hint: It’s not just to annoy me. There’s a lot of information about discipline techniques in there too, but the best thing for me was learning why Stella does the things she does.
Not pictured but also don’t suck:
9. The Vaccine Book, Sears, $11.97 at Amazon.
Vaccines are a hot topic these days. If you’re on the “I’m so confused about vaccines” side of things, this is the book for you. Dr. Sears is very pro-vaccine (like most doctors), but the book includes plain language information about all vaccines on the CDC vaccination schedule. There’s a recommended alternative vaccination schedule that ensures kids get all the vaccines on the CDC schedule at a delayed pace. I don’t use the alternative schedule, but did use the information in the book to develop a different schedule with our pediatrician.
10. Beyond the Sling, Bialik, $12.88 at Amazon.
This is really a parenting memoir, not a parenting advice book. I really like it because it’s an honest portrayal of life, with some helpful tips, when your parenting style is not exactly mainstream. I’m not as far out of the mainstream parenting as Bialik is, but I do share a lot of her “crunchy” parenting attributes. It was really refreshing for me to read about how she deals with other people’s opinions regarding parenting choices. ‘Cause everyone has an opinion about how you parent and when you do things other people don’t (like nurse a toddler) the comments can be a little hurtful.
Hopefully this list will save you some time and book money. Comment with any additional parenting books you think are must reads!