A few friends have recently asked me what books I found most helpful while I was creating Remy, so I thought an annotated bibliography might be helpful for some of you out in internet land. The first half of the list contains mostly pre-natal focused books, the second half contains books mostly focused on your baby once he or she has arrived. Links are to Amazon.
Mostly Pre Natal
I’ve mentioned Origins before, so I’ll just briefly say that this was by far the best big-picture perspective book on pregnancy that I read. It helped me to think about ways to take care of myself and my baby without scarring me about the immense responsibility of creating a life.
I found the Mayo Clinic Guide to be straightforward and thorough. I used this book as an overview for each week as week and to answer more specific questions as they came up. There are also extensive sections on trying to get pregnant, the delivery process, and fresh-from-the-hospital newborns. If you like a good deal like I do, be aware that there are two editions of this book. While most of the information is the same, the first edition does not have all of the beautiful pictures and graphics that the second edition does.
This book gets a bad rap as being alarmist and over the top. I mostly agree. However, there were a few times when I appreciated it’s over-thorough explanation of everything that could be wrong with me or the baby. Even still, I usually cross referenced what I read with the Mayo Clinic Guide.
This full-color DK book was a favorite for both me and my husband. Each day there is a page with pictures and an explanation of what your growing baby is doing that day. It helped us gauge what was going on, and made me feel the most connected to our baby, especially in the beginning when it seems like not much is happening.
Tom and I opted to go to the 12-week Bradley Method class (an awesome experience and well worth it even though we did eventually end up with a C-section). Even with the class, this book was a nice overview/backup and went in-depth for some topics that were not fleshed out in the class or in the workbook.
I was concerned about nutrition when I was pregnant, and this was by far my favorite of the books that I checked out from the library and eventually purchased. It is only available on Amazon through the market place but is crazy inexpensive. I appreciated that this book had both big-picture diet explanations and easy to follow menus and recipes. The recipes took the guesswork out of meal planning but while also being very flexible.
Nina Planck’s book includes sections on food for women trying to conceive, soon-to-be moms, and for babies. I found this book to be useful for gathering general concepts and as a counter-weight to mainstream ideas. However, Nina Planck is a bit more extreme than I am when it comes to what counts as “real food.” I count myself a proponent of buying straight from your local dairy, but her crusade for raw milk doesn’t hit home for me. In the “baby’s first foods” section, she touts her blatant disregard for her pediatrician’s recommendations as if to prove that moms-know-best, but this only made me frustrated. There were a lot of good ideas that I got from this book, but many times I would read a section to my husband who would pause before asking, “does she cite any authority for that?” Too many times, she does not.
A wonderful dean at my school gave this book to me, and I so appreciated its straightforward explanations and advice. We had planned to have a natural childbirth, and part of the Bradley Method classes was understanding C-sections and being prepared and educated for the many choices that one might face during delivery. However, I was not really prepared for the long recovery and shock of what had happened to me. This book made a tremendous difference in normalizing my experience for me and I highly recommend it for anyone after an expected or unexpected C-section.
Honestly, I read this book twice while I was pregnant and then re-read sections after Remy came home. This book was given to me by a friend and the EASY schedule worked so well for Remy that we didn’t read any other books on helping babies sleep or get on a schedule. EASY stands for Eat, Activity, Sleep, and Yourself. The book also has handy charts to give you a rough idea of how your baby’s needs for each changes as they grow.
I’ve mentioned before that breastfeeding was no picnic at the start. La Leche League International has some great resources, and this book was definitely one I relied on in the first weeks after we brought Remy home. I bought an older used edition, and some of the commentary seemed quite dated (especially sections on going back to work and having dad help out) but the essentials of breastfeeding were helpful to have in one place.
The Whole Brain Child is meant for parents of toddlers and older kiddos. Siegel and Bryson discuss the different ways the brain is divided (left-right; “upstairs” and “downstairs” and ways to help your child access the other parts of their brain. However, I found reading it early on has helped me think differently about the way that I communicate with Remy, and the ways that he communicates with me. For example, now rather than say “you’re okay” when he is hurt, I try to meet his initial need to be comforted and then tell him the story of what just happened (“You were reaching for the laundry basket and pulled yourself over. I bet that was surprising.”) The strategies that the authors suggest make a lot of sense to me, and I am looking forward to reading the book again when Remy is a little older and I can put more into practice.
As I’ve mentioned before, Baby-Led Weaning has a great website with a lot of information. We were able to pick up the Cookbook at our library to supplement what we read online. At first I was disappointed that the library didn’t have a copy of the Baby-Led Weaning book, but the Cookbook has a nice introduction section with a lot of information, and I found it was more than enough to answer our questions and start us on an awesome food journey with Remy.
Joseph Garcia’s book has been a wonderful introduction on how to begin teaching Remy basic ASL signs. We took a community ASL class together several years ago, but this book is so straightforward that I think it would work well for parents with no ASL experience. Most of the book is an alphabetical illustrated dictionary of signs for children. However, I also enjoyed the first section, where Dr. Garcia explains the “why” and gentle “how” of introducing signs.