The Best Baby Books

Monday, November 10, 2008

I have been surrounded by babies lately, not to mention my own incubating right now. (I'm at 20 weeks right now--halfway through!) With that in mind, I thought I'd share my thoughts about baby books. I have some strong opinions, as you'll see below....

I spent most of my pregnancy reading and researching all things baby. At one point, I had to cut myself off because I was reading too much and stressing out. I don't want my anxiety to be wasted, so here are some highlights of what I found. When you have a baby, you don't want your precious free time spent reading mediocre books.

First: avoid What to Expect When You're Expecting. I think it's over-rated. I had to stop reading it because I was starting to freak out about all the risks, complications, and possible nutritional deficiencies. I much preferred Your Pregnancy Week by Week. It's written by doctors and is much more reasonable. Plus, the readings are divided into weekly sections, instead of monthly, so the information is more digestible.

Second: avoid Babywise. What a terrible book, especially for someone claiming to be a Christian author: bad science, outrageous claims, faulty reasoning, no footnotes or references, and at one point, I had no idea who the author of one chapter was. Despite being so frustrating, I still read it twice, once before Violet was born and again when I was pulling my hair out because she wasn't sleeping. There is good information in there, but you have to sort the wheat from the chaff.

Okay, I'm done being mean. Here are the books I recommend:

The Baby Book, by the Sears family. This is the authority on attachment parenting, which is a child-focused parenting style. It was a total contrast with Babywise, which was very much focused on the parents. While I disagree philosophically with the Sears' worldview, they give practical ways to love your child and give him security. I thought the sections on nutrition, babywearing, feeding babies and toddlers, and developmental stages were especially helpful.

A good compromise between the above two books is Secrets of the Baby Whisperer, which despite its goofy title, is very good. It's a compassionate view of babies (who need their parents to be their advocate), while emphasizing their need for structure, routine, and familiarity. I wish I had read it before I had Violet, as I think it would have reduced some of my earlier mis-steps.

So who should be the focus of your parenting? The cheesy answer is to say "Jesus! We should focus our parenting on Jesus!" But it's true. To that end, I highly recommend Shepherding a Child's Heart, by Paul Tripp. The point of discipline isn't to merely change behavior, and the point of Christian parenting isn't to get your child to pray the sinner's prayer. Our goal is to produce adults who love God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength and their neighbor as themselves. The book is soaked with Scripture, and Tripp has really practical applications of what shepherding might look like during different stages of childhood. I am planning on re-reading it soon, because I feel like I need all the direction I can get during these toddler years.

And here's a super practical book: Signing Smart with Babies and Toddlers. I can't recommend it enough. A hearing-impaired coworker gave it to me, and I love it. Unlike other books, which tend to just focus on simplistic vocabulary, it teaches you how to initiate conversations with your child and invite him to interact with his world. I think Violet uses about 30 signs and it is so helpful, for both of us.

I hope this helps, if you were looking for some baby books. Babies are so amazing--enjoy your little one!


Barbara said...

Well. I expected, based on the blog title, that this was a post about books FOR babies. Imagine my disappointment. I can't use ANY of these! Well, maybe the Tripp book, but I think I'll leave that to the parents and just give in to my grandmotherly urges: "Of course you can have another scoop of ice cream,Violet. Right after you finish your cake!"
So, my recommendation today is:
"If You Give a Mouse a Cookie." One of the best books ever.
Love you lots,

Laura said...

This is a great post and thank you very much for your opinions on baby books, Rachel! I am planning to read "Secrets of the Baby Whisperer" first and maybe hold off on finishing "Babywise" which I had started reading a few weeks ago.