This post may include affiliate links.
When Beckett was born, I suddenly realized that I had 8000 questions about what to do and when to do it. My cousin (who also recently had a baby) and I keep saying we wish babies came with manuals. We call each other frequently, bouncing questions off of each other and talking about what books we have read to answer our questions. Below, I have put together a list of the books that I have found helpful, many of which she suggested. I do find it important to be clear that I don’t follow any of these religiously. I take what I need from each one. I have found that if I get too caught up in doing exactly “what the book says,” it causes unnecessary stress, which isn’t good for me or for Beckett. So here is my list.
Ok, sleep. Figuring out sleep has probably been my biggest challenge as a new mom. Should Beckett sleep on me? Should he sleep in his crib? Should he sleep in my room? Should I rock him to sleep? Should I let him cry? What age do you start letting a baby cry? Do you ever let a baby cry? So. Many. Questions.
This book doesn’t answer all of them, but it is a great start. It’s helpful because it talks about sleep by age (because babies are constantly changing, which means that their sleep needs are constantly changing too). It also discusses the importance of sleep, and how to teach your baby to self-soothe. One thing that was very helpful for me was realizing that sleep is one of Beckett’s basic needs (I know, that should have been obvious, but it wasn’t), and it needs to be provided just like food, love, and diaper changes. For some reason, I had this guilt about putting him down to sleep. Like I was slacking on my responsibilities or something. Realizing that he needs healthy sleep just as much as he needs food was very eye opening for me.
I love this book. It goes over developmental leaps and mini-milestones week by week, and provides examples of how to play with baby and what toys are appropriate for those developmental stages. Secrets of the Baby Whisperer helped me realize how much is going on in my baby’s brain and why he might be more fussy/clingy/needy one day than he was the day before.
One thing so many people asked me in the first few weeks of Beckett’s life was, “So do you have him on a schedule yet?” I felt so perplexed by this question. It felt like, if I said no, people would think I was a terrible mother, like I had no idea what I was doing. I kept thinking, “Should he be on a schedule? Should I be feeding him at specific times?” My mom came over to babysit for a few hours and asked, “What time will he need to eat again?” I felt so embarrassed to say I didn’t know, but it was the truth. At that age, his feeding schedule was unpredictable, as was his sleeping schedule (or lack thereof).
Then I found Breastfeeding Made Simple and realized that a schedule was not what I needed, but a routine. Secrets of the Baby Whisperer lays out EASY structured routine, and much more. EASY stands for Eat, Awake, Sleep, Your turn.
Once I started this routine with Beckett, it was much easier (see what I did there?) to predict when he would need something. I knew that he would eat, be awake for 60 to 90 minutes (at that age), sleep for 45 to 90 minutes (during the day, different at night), and then repeat. This routine allows me to get things done while he slept, with some idea of how long I had. Of course, there were days that he woke up early, days that he had a hard time falling asleep, etc. There are exceptions to every rule. But this routine (not schedule), helped give me an idea of what to expect, and when to expect it.
If you have had a baby (and maybe even if you haven’t) you know that breastfeeding is hard. It should be intuitive, but honestly, it’s not. When Beckett was three weeks old, I confessed to my husband and my mom that I hated breastfeeding (more on my breastfeeding story later). I was going to continue to do it, but I hated it. I felt like I had completely lost my freedom. I was chained to my baby by the boob. Not only that, but I was constantly covered in milk, which goes sour by the way. Smelling like sour milk stinks, literally.
In a moment of desperation, I took to the internet and found this book. The explanation of the importance of breastfeeding alone was enough to make me keep going. As I continued reading, I gained confidence, I figured out what I was doing, and things slowly got better. I highly recommend this book to all new moms, and would recommend that you read it while pregnant (to help you prepare), and maybe again once your baby is born.
One of my many many questions after Beckett was born, and maybe even before, was how to raise him without gender stereotyping him. The topic of gender is so confusing and often controversial. I knew better than to buy everything blue, and I didn’t need to worry about all of his clothes having sports balls on them, because I hate sports. But I didn’t know much beyond that.
Parenting Beyond Pink and Blue taught me just that, and is written in a way that is not extremist. It helped me calm down about what other people were going to say and do with my child (which I can’t control), and focus on my own behavior (which I can). It actually has a section titled, “Five Ways to Minimize Gender Across Childhood.”
This one wasn’t really the answer to any specific questions, but was just for fun. It provides lots of information and research on why, how, and when to use signs with babies; a glossary of signs with pictures; and activities to do with babies that use signs.
I hope this was helpful for all you new moms out there! Remember, the fact that you are even asking these questions, or searching for answers, means that you are a GREAT parent. Even if you make a mistake, even if you lose your cool, even if you cry because your baby has two boogers (seriously, I did that), you are trying to do what you think is best for your baby. You can do it! You already are!