In my first and second trimester, I read a LOT of pregnancy books. Then, once I got closer to my due date, I started reading newborn baby care books and parenting books. And I continued to reference books over and over once he was here! As a first-time mom, I felt overwhelmed by how much I didn’t know about babies, even though I have 18 nieces of nephews and grew up around a lot of babies. (I was raised in Utah and nearly all my friends came from big families!)
While nothing could have truly prepared me for being mom, and I had to learn a lot “on the job” (often through trial and error), these were good resources to at least know some questions to ask your friends, your pediatrician, your doula or your sleep coach. It’s nice to have answers to some things before the baby arrives. So when something does come up, you know what to do! Like my baby won’t stop crying, what are things that could cause it? Or, what’s considered a high enough fever to warrant a call to the doctor? And how do I even TAKE a baby’s temperature??
I feel like some women just KNOW all these things… or maybe that was just my perception! But I certainly didn’t feel super knowledgable so I liked being armed with a lot of information and then navigating the new-mom-waters as my intuition guided me.
Okay, let’s dive in!
Newborn Baby Care Books
One downside of reading so many books was the conflicting information… there is so much advice from various experts that it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. I especially felt that way when it came to sleep. Thomas was NOT a good sleep from the get-go and we eventually hired a sleep consultant to help us since none of the approaches in the books seemed to work. Plus, I was so sleep deprived that I wasn’t really absorbing any information I read at that point, ha!
So, all that to say, read some things, but don’t feel like you need to read everything. Then, learn as you go along! It’s kind of like a baby registry or a nursery – you don’t need everything and you certainly don’t need everything at once! If you want a resource that’s online rather than a book, I’ve heard Williams Sears is a great resource! I just discovered that website myself so haven’t spend a ton of time on there.
This book has really practical advice about how to calm your baby and help get babies to sleep. It’s broken down into 4 parts:
- The Fourth Trimester: Why babies still yearn for a womblike atmosphere
- The Calming Reflex: An “off switch” all babies are born with
- The 5 S’s: Five easy steps to turn on your baby’s amazing calming reflex
- The Cuddle Cure: How to combine the 5 S’s to calm even colicky babies.
I found the information around the fourth trimester super interesting and somewhat helpful. Harvey Karp is deemed the “baby whisperer” by some with his 5 S’s and he’s also the creator of the Snoo. While we didn’t like the Snoo, I did find the 5 S’s helpful!
This book focuses on naturally synchronizing your baby’s feeding time, waketime and nighttime sleep cycles, so that families can sleep throughout the night. It’s a #1 best seller because it works for a LOT of babies. This method did NOT work for us. But I appreciated that it’s a more flexible approach and feed when your baby is hungry vs. others (like Mom’s on Call) that say “DO NOT FEED until X time.”
Cribsheet is all about debunking parenting myths and helping parents make decisions for their family. It’s a guide for navigating the chaos and misinformation in the your baby’s first year and beyond. Similar to her pregnancy book, Expecting Better, this felt like real-life information that’s backed by data. I liked this reading this book since it was quick and more conversational than others. It’s also good resource to reference specific topics later, like potty training.
The author of Bringing Up Bébé is an American journalist who spent time in France researching why French children could sleep through the night, play alone, and were still creative and strong. I listened to this book on Audible and absolutely LOVED this book. Most of it is geared towards slightly older babies and kids. It felt like practical, more laidback advice that was much less overwhelming than so many other books I read. It felt like more tips and tricks from parents rather than experts telling you exactly what to do.
I like structure so I was surprised the parenting style in this book resonated so much with me. But what I especially liked was the approach to explain everything to your kiddos, let them have choices and to have a little more flexibility in enjoying things as a family vs. super strict rules. I guess it kind of aligns with my approach to food – enjoy all the things, but not too much and not too often.
This book from the American Academy of Pediatrics covers a LOT of topics from resolving common childhood health problems to detailed instructions for coping with emergency medical situations. It’s not a book you’d sit down to read cover to cover, but it’s a super helpful resource as needed.
Moms On Call is a book of advice from two pediatric nurse moms with over 20 years of experience. This book includes everything from step by step guidelines for getting babies on a routine hour by hour schedule, feeding instructions for breast, bottle, or both, what symptoms warrant a trip to the emergency room, how to get your baby to sleep all night, and more.
I found this book a great resource for basic baby care, but the schedules outlined didn’t work for us. Our kiddo needed to eat a lot more often than the book prescribed and my approach with breastfeeding was to feed on demand for the first few months. But, SO many of my friends love the Moms on Call app and schedule that progresses with your child. I have heard that moms who are doing bottles or formula tend to find more success with MOC and developing healthy sleep habits with the Moms on Call sleep training method, but that’s just anecdotal.
I listened to this on Audible and then also bought the hard copy because I found it so helpful! It covers all things breastfeeding, from preparing for breastfeeding during pregnancy to feeding cues to from nursing positions to expressing and storing breast milk. It also includes helpful illustrations. So I think having a hard copy is valuable. And when I was troubleshooting specific scenarios, it was nice to be able to turn to a specific topic, which obviously isn’t easy with an audio book. Of ALL the books I read before Thomas was born, I found this one the most valuable! I also found taking a breastfeeding class and working with lactation consultants at the hospital after I came home incredibly valuable. Breastfeeding is HARD, so it takes lot of learning and support, but this book is a great place to start.
I didn’t read The Baby Book by William Sears, but hear that one is packed with good information too.
What pregnancy book(s) did you find most valuable? Also, if you disagree with my commentary, please share what you liked/disliked since every baby and every mom’s experience is so different!! I would also know to know what children books you’re planning to ready with your baby!
I’ve written tons of post since becoming a mom on things like breastfeeding, running with a stroller, returning to running all-together after having a baby, how to help transition my baby to solid foods, and lots more. See all my baby post here!
Books in this post