Sunday, May 31, 2009

Baby & Pregnancy Books

For Moms/Dads and Soon-To-Be-Moms/Dads,

I hope we can share our lists of favorite pregnancy/baby books. I've read only a few so far, but the one I very much enjoyed was What's Going on in There?: How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First Five Years of Life, by Lise Eliot. I read it during my first pregnancy in April 2008, so I am planning to re-read it to remind myself of all the fascinating information the book contains. As the title indicates, the book focuses on the baby's brain development and discusses several studies that reveal how babies think at certain stages of their development. One of the interesting parts I remember is that in some of these studies, babies expressed their preferences by adjusting the speed at which they sucked on their pacifiers. By this method, the researchers learned that babies prefer to listen to songs they heard when they were in the womb and in particular, songs sung by their mothers, and to eat foods their mothers ate while pregnant. Absolutely fascinating.

So, I'll keep a running list of books I go through (with asterisks by books I recommend), and I hope you'll leave comments with books you found particularly helpful.

Mayo Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy, by Mayo Clinic* - Standard and reliable book to guide you through pregnancy week-by-week, labor, and possible complications during pregnancy.
The Girlfriends' Guide to Pregnancy, by Vicki Iovine* - Hilarious and sassy straight-talk on how to cope with pregnancy, including weight gain, sex during pregnancy, delivery, etc. She doesn't hold back on anything, and it's reassuring to hear it all from someone who's been through four pregnancies. (Note: Don't look to her book for medical advice. Check with your doctor on whatever she says.)
A Child is Born, Lennart Nilsson and Lars Hamberger -- Amazing photographs of the gestational process. Just a warning that some of the photographs may be TMI, but you'll see photos you would not have believed possible.

Post-Partum Issues
The Girlfriends' Guide to Surviving the First Year of Motherhood, by Vicki Iovine* -- A much needed sanity check after delivering. When I was pregnant, I thought reading a whole book on caring for myself seemed overly self-indulgent. When I picked up this book after delivery, I realized how much I needed this book. I felt like I was overtaken by hormones, and this book helped me to learn to give myself a break and put my behavior into proper perspective. Highly recommended for all moms!
Operating Instructions, by Anne Lamott - Lamott's memoir of her mothering a colicky baby. Sometimes, it helps to read about another mom's journey to find the right perspective for yours.

Newborn Care
Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care (8th ed.), by Benjamin Spoke and Robert Needlman - Reliable how-to-guide on caring for a newborn and children. The book tries to cover too much and is not as detailed as I would have preferred, but it was a good starter book on what I'm facing for the next few years.
The Happiest Baby on the Block: The New Way to Calm Crying and Help Your Newborn Baby Sleep Longer
, by Harvey Karp - Karp argues that the baby's first 3 months after birth is really the fourth trimester and suggests ways to replicate the womb to comfort your baby. For this, he lays out five steps (or 5 s's): swaddling, side/stomach position, shhh sounds, swinging and sucking. The whole book could have probably been written as a 10 page pamphlet, but my friends swear by Karp's method. Some friends have said that the DVD is very helpful to watch to nail down the techniques.
Secrets of the Baby Whisperer, by Tracy Hogg*** - This book has THE BEST succinct advice on how to deal with your newborn when trying to put him/her to sleep. It also has sections on feeding, bathing, and playing. We used Hogg's advice to sleep train our baby, and by 3.5 months, he was sleeping 12 hours a night. I kid you not!
The No-Cry Sleep Solution, by Elizabeth Pantley - I did not read this book myself, but my husband did. We incorporated many of her helpful tips on what to do (i.e., establish a regular bed time early on) and not to do (i.e., rocking the baby to sleep or allowing him to fall asleep while feeding) while sleep training.
On Becoming Baby Wise, by Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam - This book is apparently helpful for getting your baby on a schedule. I just perused this book to get a sense of a possible schedule for our baby, but we did not feel the need to have a strict schedule for little T so did not rely on this book too heavily.
The Nursing Mother's Companion, by Kathleen Huggins** - For anyone nursing, this book is invaluable. I first read the sections on what to expect when first starting to nurse, and believe me, you need someone to tell you what to expect because you have no idea. Your body goes through so many changes preparing to feed the little one, and one morning, you'll wake up to find your breasts raging out of control. After learning about the initial changes, I used it as a reference, and you may find yourself reaching for it every time you experience a plugged duct or heavens forbid, something worse. Very important book to have.
The Complete and Authoritative Guide Caring For Your Baby and Young Child, by American Academy of Pediatrics* - Our pediatrician gave us this book, and we used it as a bible during the first few months. It gives you a detailed description of what to expect each month of your baby's development.

Super Baby Food, by Ruth Yaron** - This book has suggestions on what foods to first feed your baby, how to prepare them (she has an appendix on how to prepare each type of food, like vegetable, fruit, or cereal), what kinds of storage containers are helpful, what to look for in a high chair, etc. Fabulous book for wading through the initial stage of feeding solids.

Potty Training

Diaper Free, by Ingrid Bauer - A friend of mine gave me this book after she successfully potty trained her baby before age 1 by using the guidelines in this book. I am hoping to follow in her footsteps.

Baby Signing
Baby Signs Parent Kit, by The Baby Signs Institute** - This isn't just a book, but a class on how to teach your baby sign language. I took an intro class and received this very handy book, which contains a glossary as well as research on the benefits of signing. Linda Acredolo and Susan Goodwyn are the pioneers of baby signing and they run this institute. They have other books available on Amazon and other bookstores on how to teach your baby sign language.

Baby Development
What's Going on in There?, by Lise Eliot** - Fascinating studies of how the brain develops. Provides guidelines on how to take care of yourself during pregnancy and your child during his/her first few years to maximize the child's mental potential.
Becoming Attached: First Relationships and How They Shape Our Capacity to Love, by Robert Karen** - Great introduction to attachment theory. Provides a historical overview of various parenting approaches that had been fashionable in the past. It makes you realize how little we know and how parenting can be one big social experiment - sometimes, to the detriment of the children.
The Wonder Weeks, by Hetty Vanderjit and Frans Plooij* - Apparently some weeks in a baby's development are more critical than others. Who knew. This book focuses on weeks 5, 8, 12, 19, 26, 37, 46, and 55 of a baby's growth and explains why the baby may be fussier during those weeks and what you can do about it. The book does a good job of explaining how the world looks through the eyes of a baby, although it is repetitive at times. I would also have appreciated a little more science behind their claims, but still, it is helpful to be alerted to certain stages in the baby's development.

Baby Gears
Baby Bargains, by Denise Fields* - I've been using this book as the bible on baby gears, following her guidelines on what to look for in cribs, strollers, car seats, etc. With all the choices out there, I'm finding the process of buying baby gears very daunting. The book is very educational on safety requirements, something we knew very little about before picking up this book, and provides good recommendations on different brands. We've only ordered the crib so far, since it takes about four months for delivery.

General Parenting
Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child, by John Gottman** - Fabulous book about being more in tune with your child's emotional states. So much of what Gottman says makes common sense, but it takes reading this book to remind you how important emotions are in our lives -- and in our children's lives. I'm so glad I read this book.


  1. Three recommendations:
    1) Baby 411 (excellent baby care advice for the first year...we used it all the time. Now we've moved on to Toddler 411)
    2) The Happiest Baby on the Block (the accompanying DVD is especially helpful)
    3) Baby Bargains (great advice on baby gear, what to buy for the nursery, etc.)
    Happy reading!

  2. I just placed an order for What's Going on in There? based on your recommendation. :D I also have the Mayo Guide.

    The other books I have are:
    * The Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby from Birth to Age Two (Revised and Updated Edition) by Dr. Sears, the big name in attachment parenting
    * The Diaper Free Baby: The Natural Toilet Training Alternative
    * Infant Potty Training: A Gentle and Primeval Method Adapted to Modern LivingI like Diaper Free Baby better than Infant Potty Training because it seems better organized. I picked it up based on two factors: 1) my mom had told me repeatedly when I was younger than all 3 of the kids who had been born in Korea were out of diapers by age of 7 months, which I later assumed was grandiose hyperbole, until 2) my college friend told me that he & his wife hadn't changed a dirty diaper on their 9 month old since she was 4 months old, which made me revisit #1.

    And it turns out I have a couple of other friends from the college days that have successfully done the "elimination communication" thing, so I've decided to try reading up on it to see what the deal is, and it jives really well with stuff my mom had told me, so we may give it a shot. And if it doesn't, so be it. :)

    I'm really excited to get my shipment from Amazon of What's Going on in There? :) Thanks for the recommendation!

  3. This isn't a book, but this website is awesome for exploring baby name data:

    I love her blog as well -- it is so data-driven and analytical, which I enjoy! ;)

  4. Thanks for the recommendation for Lise Eliot's book - sounds like exactly what I was looking for! I'm due in a few weeks, so I switched from birthing prep books to breastfeeding/baby care books.

    I just read Martha and William Sears' book on Breastfeeding and thought it was really helpful to get into a positive mindset and learn some tips beforehand so I'm not too freaked out by everything I'm feeling and seeing those first few weeks:

    For birth prep, I enjoyed Ina May's Guide to Childbirth for a positive, empowering view of natural birth - It's definitely far off on the hippy side of the fence, but considering everything else you see in the media and TV shows, it's an important perspective. Same with Ricki Lake's documentary "The Business of Being Born" - it made us switch from our ob/gyn to a midwife practice for what we hope will be a more supportive experience.

  5. Thanks to everyone who've commented or emailed with recommendations. Can't wait to read them!

  6. Thanks for posting your reviews of books you found helpful.

  7. Thank you for this post. It is amazing for every parents. Twin Baby Stuff books keep them updated for kids.