The Daily News

LFCA Latest Issue: Friday, September 25, 2009.

Latest Post on BlogHer: Parenting after Infertility.

My Status: Fed Josh's almonds to the squirrels. They needed them very badly.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Book-y Sort (Children Mentioned)

I am a book-y sort of person, the type who likes to get a lot of books when I'm about to embark on a new experience. I am a fan of the travel guide, the cookbook, the home improvement book. When I started trying, I bought every pregnancy and baby book I could find. When I started wondering if there was a problem, I bought every infertility book I could find. You get the picture.

I'm excited because I get to go book shopping today for Lindsay! There is nothing quite like living vicariously through friends.

I know I usually write about infertility, adoption, and loss books, but today I'm going to write out a list of newborn, baby, and toddler books that worked for me and hopefully, you will add a few that worked for you or for people you know. This may be a post that you don't feel like reading now but want to bookmark for the future (and it is labeled "read me" so you can find it in the future). I can promise you that I'm working on a fun sex question for Barren Advice for tomorrow's back to infertility then?

Since she will have a lot of time to read without visitors during her stay in the adoption state, my plan is to get everything I liked and everything I know other people liked and let her sort it out herself. These are my picks for baby books and you can add your own below if there are ones that you liked that either (1) were helpful or (2) gave you confidence.

In no particular order:

I have never heard someone say anything bad about Harvey Karp's Happiest Baby on the Block. I am not certain we would have made it through the first few months without it. His 5 S's were so good that I typed up an executive summary for Josh that I still mail out to people who announce they are at their wits end. I'm sure someone will say in the comments section below that it didn't work for them, but as I write this post, I have yet to hear someone say that this book wasn't the most useful thing item a new parent can own.

I read the book when the twins were in the middle of that crying stage that lasts from about week 6--week 8. Josh was at work and when he came home, I set one of the twins down so they would start crying. Then I picked them back up and quieted them in under 15 seconds. After 2 weeks of crying (that was so bad that I wore a construction worker headset because I couldn't handle the constant noise) it was like magic. The off switch.

His next book for toddlers didn't work as well for us and by "as well" I mean "not at all." But his first book was gold. And actually, in the grand scheme of books out there, his second book was bronze.

For most things, we turned to Elizabeth Pantley. She will be happy to know that we still use our key words before bed and the twins are now 4 1/2 years old. They have literally heard the same words every night for about 1460 days. The first book we used was her No-Cry Sleep Solution. We waited a long time to actually do any sleep training, but we accomplished it in two nights with this book and our kids have never had to relearn sleep habits. Plus, they go down and stay down until morning.

She now has a new book that is specifically for naps called the No-Cry Nap Solution. I actually got a copy of it even though we are past the nap stage. It focuses on newborns and babies, explaining how and when to drop a nap, how to lengthen naps, etc. All I'm saying is that our kids took a 3 hour nap until quite recently--I mean, when they were three, they were still taking a monster nap in the afternoon and going to bed from 7 pm to 7 am. Have I mentioned that I love Elizabeth Pantley?

I know every child is different, but her techniques really worked on the twins. We potty-trained with only one accident or so per child with her potty-training book and I like one of her books, Perfect Parenting, right now because it is organized by problem and gives an explanation for the behaviour and five or six solutions.

We were not a Weissbluth or Ferber family, though I'm picking those up today in case they work for Lindsay. We were also not big Sears and Sears sorts even though we own a bunch of their books. I liked the What to Expect series, though they sort of freaked me out a bit too.

The Baby Whisperer was fantastic for us. Not her first book, but the follow up one that explained more, The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems. She didn't actually solve all our problems since, you know, our biggest problem was the whole premature thing. But she did help us figure out how much to feed them and other sorts of things.

I love Marguerite Kelly for her straightforward advice. We have the Mother's Almanac, Father's Almanac, and the Family Almanac. There's a lot of overlap between the books, but she always makes me feel better when things are going to shit. She's like a cup of hot tea.

We didn't get to breastfeed and I got rid of all the breastfeeding books I bought in a moment of anger. But we did make all of our own baby food (the twins only ate from a jar once) as our comparable-pain-in-the-ass-feeding thing and the book we thought was the easiest was Mommy Made. I wish the "Daddy too" in the title wasn't an afterthought because Josh spent a lot of time peeling apples and chopping string beans. But there you go.

We had a few twin books, though none that impressed me completely. A few preemie books, though none that impressed me completely.

What else have people found that have really worked for them? Which books would you give a second recommendation to on the list?


Jamie said...

I really liked BabyWise and Secrets of the Babywhisperer. And now, Secrets of the Babywhisperer for Toddlers.


Ellen K. said...

I agree that "The Happiest Baby on the Block" is just wonderful.

For children's health books, our pediatrician recommended the AAP's "Caring for Your Baby and Young Child, Birth to Age 5" and B.D. Schmitt's "Your Child's Health." I have found them very helpful and nonalarmist.

Mandy said...

I couldn't agree with you more about Karp's first book. I read it when my daughter was 7 weeks old, so you know I was in the same spot you were in! Also agree about his second book.

I'm going to buy the no-cry sleep solution today, actually, had been planning it. My son needs some help in the sleep department.

OH! I also really like Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Weissbluth. A friend and I joke "what would Weissbluth say?" all the time when it comes to sleep.

Jen said...

Now I need to go out and buy all those books!

loribeth said...

Not that I have ever had reason to use them :( but I love Ann Douglas's "Mother of all..." series of pregnancy & parenting books. She has separate editions for Canadian & U.S. audiences, and uses the "parent panel" approach to writing, so her books are filled with quotations & advice from real-life parents as well as medical authorities. (She's a fellow dbm too, which is how I met her.)

Jenny said...

I never bought Baby 411, but I LOVE Toddler 411 by Denise Fields and Ari Brown, MD. They give great advice from a doctor who is also a parent. The book is informative and covers every topic under the sun. I imagine Baby 411 is just as good as the Toddler version.

Another book that was SO helpful to us was Baby Bargains. It helps you decide what you REALLY need once Baby comes and it has reviews of everything from cribs to baby monitors to high chairs to baby gates, etc etc. They come out with a new version every year.

Anonymous said...

I second Happiest Baby on the Block. Mel I think I survived solely on the excerpts you emailed me when my twinnies were newborns.

I also like Healthy Sleep Habits Healthy Child (Weisbluth). It works with all different parenting styles and focuses on routine and the baby's need for sleep and biological rhythms that make sleeping/napping so much easier. I swore by this for the 3-12 month stage.

areyoukiddingme said...

I didn't read a whole lot of books, but I did find "The Happiest Baby on the Block" to be useful (if somewhat repetitive).

Elizabeth said...

The only sleep books I've read are the Baby Whisperer's first and Solves All Your Problems. It's totally working for us right now. But I'm going to run out adn buy all the other ones you cite too, immediately. It's like I finally have HOPE and it's lighting a fire under my tail.

Karp was also v. helpful for us; someone gave us his CD of industrial-soothing sounds which we continued to use until very recently.

I've been reading the Super Baby Foods book although it's almost too much - an overwhelming amount of information. But that's better than knowing nothing at all!!!

You are like the queen of girlfriends, you know?

serenity said...

Another fan of Dr. Karp. (And I shall be picking up a copy of the No-Cry Sleep Solution as well, since we're embarking on some sleep training to get Baby O to sleep LONGER at night without the help of a bottle...

For BFing - I'm not sure if Lindsay will need this, but I want to put it out there, because I went through three very annoying BFing Nazi books before I found one I really liked. The Nursing Mother's Companion by Kathleen Huggins was a good one - covers all the early (and later!) issues without being in the realm of the La Leches.

And yes, I'm with Jenny - the Baby Bargains book has been FANTASTIC for us in terms of deciding what to buy and when. Huge fan.

Anonymous said...

We are Dr. Karp lovers as well and I have to say that Lindsay MUST get a miracle blanket to go with Dr. Karp's book. They are amazing swaddling blankets and the only ones that work, IMO.

My favorite baby read was "Baby Bargains" because it not only demystified the "baby stuff" overload we were suffering, it also has great product safety advice, a la Consumer Reports. It was the only place I ever heard that 1. white noise machines when used too much can damage baby's hearing and 2. putting baby in an exersaucer for more than 15 minutes a day can delay his/her crawling and walking milestones...stuff like that.

Aurelia said...

I liked all of those, but honestly, med on the what to expect series. Drove me crazy with all the stuff they said would wreck your kid if you didn't do it precisely THEIR way, like cookies will make them only eat sweet foods, etc....stupid.

Reality is that we all make mistakes and kids turn out fine.

For bfeeding, Dr. Jack Newman's book is simply the best, cause it's all based on his zillion years of clinic experience and is scientifically backed up and it has a chapter on adoptive moms who want to try to breastfeed if they can. (Just in case, no pressure)

In the end, books were good, but the two best places for info for me, were the internet, and fellow moms. They had ideas and support and helped in a real tangible way. So yes, buy books, but everyone should have a mother's group for real life and some buddies who can listen to you rant.

Tash said...

Well, I'm odd person out because I didn't like any of the sleep based books (and I read them ALL) because none of them worked. (In fact, I had quite the moment when I threw Babywhisperer against the wall.) But that's likely my child and not the books.

I also liked "Super Baby Food" (as per above comment) and am a big fan of "Three Martini Playdate: A Practical Guide to Happy Parenting."

battynurse said...

Since I've never gotten past the infertility and name books I have no opinion but these sound like possible good choices.

Delenn said...

I like Baby Signs. Also like Penelope Leach.

I also like some humor:

Safe Baby Handling Tips by David and Kelly Soop

The three Martini Play-Date by Christie Mellor

I have heard good things about the Happiest Baby...but did not use it.

Bea said...

The Wonder Weeks.

I haven't decided whether it's The Answer Why or whether it's just the most brilliant bullshit explanation to have on hand when you can't explain the sleep problems and crying any other way coupled with activities to keep you occupied (read: sane) until it all blows over by itself, but it really doesn't matter. Buy it. Read it. Repeat its wisdom to yourself in your darkest hours.

In case anyone is here looking for breastfeeding books: Breastfeeding Made Simple. Best for people in average situations - they do have references for people who are eg adoptive breastfeeding, breastfeeding after reductions, etc, but I'd probably go straight to the source if I was facing one of those situations.

Yes to HBOTB. I don't care what you say - I am buying the followup anyway. Heck, it might work.

Also a fan of Pantly, and hoping to expand that collection soon, too.

Cadjan's Baby Signing, although we haven't used it much. But I can understand it very quickly, and that's important.


Bea said...

Annabel Karmel, for recipes. She has many books - just choose one. She has meal planners, too, but I tend to ignore those.

Ok, that's it.

Meghan said...

I HATE the Nursing Mom's Companion. I found it to be horribly repetitive and any time I am stupid enough to pick it up, it somehow makes me feel like I am the worst mom out there. Newman's book is the most commonsense b-feeding book I've found

Carmen of Baby Books Guide said...

I love your list and it reads just like my own personal list of favs....I have to say like you also I have read a lot of books on pregnancy, birth...having a toddler the stages have fitted me. I even turned my passion for such books into a website:
I'd love to include your list of favs with a link back to your site...please let me know if you would be happy with this,