Do Parents Have All the Time in the World to Read?
Of course not. If you do, more power to you. I used to be an avid reader. Since I became a parent almost 4 1/2 years ago, I have amassed a mountain of books on parenting - books about how to talk to your kids, how to discipline your kids, how to feed your kids, how to throw your kids a birthday party, how to get your kids to sleep... I can't say that I've read all the books I have or have had, but I've certainly found my favorites in the stack and have been recommending a few to friends for years.
Now I'm certainly not the type that feels that all I need to know about parenting I can find in my favorite parenting books, but I know some parents who obviously have never read a single book on parenting and boy, is it obvious! I'll leave that at that. I don't think that I've ever read any parenting book cover to cover. I browse, then pick and chose what's interesting or what I feel may help me at that moment. I tweak any parenting advice I take from these resources to my comfort zone. It works for me. In the process I have definitely formed strong bonds with a couple of my books.
Children don't come with manuals, as much as we sure wish they would, but there are many books out there to help you figure it all out. With a bit of love, intuition, gut feeling, reading, and a whole lot of patience, we can all write our own parenting manuals, day by day.
The Sleep Lady Shuffle
Without a doubt, my favorite book of them all. Sleep, and how to get your child to do it, is such a huge stress for most new parents. This book is great for several reasons - the way it is organized is such that you should really read the first chapter for introduction, then you choose the appropriate chapter(s) to your situation, be it by age of child or sleep dilemma. The "technique" used, the Sleep Lady Shuffle, mayinvolve some crying, but you are in the room with your child which is much more doable than the torturous cry-it-out methods.
We did everything wrong with our first daughter when it came to her sleep, then I discovered this book when she was near 11 months old and life changed. My life was defined as before Sleep Lady Shuffle and After Sleep Lady Shuffle. When #2 came along I had to pick up the book again for a refresher and we implemented this at around 6-7 months old and she, now almost 3, has been a great sleeper since then.
How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk
This book is a great tool for learning how to properly communicate with your kids. Throughout the book are 'reminder pages', along with exercises designed to help you learn the techniques to problem-solve with your child. I found that it was helpful to photo copy some of the reminder pages and post them in a prominent place, like on the refrigerator, as just that, a "reminder" of how to deal with a situation when it arises - easy and quick to go to in the heat of the moment.
Vicki Iovine writes with the tone of a best girlfriend talking to you, one of the things I loved about all her "guides". She is frank and honest and hilarious; her books are a joy to read. She tell mothers, straight-from-the-hip, what they need to know from someone who's been there - several times. These guides will help you figure out everything from how to get your body back - what you can and what you can't fix - to coping with competitive mothering and saying "no" and act like you mean it to when to switch from crib to big bed and who decides it's time to potty train.
Descriptions on the covers of the books say it all: Wise and witty advice ion everything from coping with postpartum mood swings to salvaging your sex life and fitting into that favorite pair of jeans (from The Girlfriends' Guide to Surviving the First Year of Motherhood) and A survival manual to the "terrible twos" (and ones and threes) from the first step, the first potty and the first word ("no") to the last blankie (from The Girlfriends' Guide to Toddlers).
Although mine are two and four, these books, along with two additional Girlfriends' Guides (...Guide to Baby Gear and ...Guide to Parties & Playdates), sit prominently and within easy reach on my bookshelf. Love these books!
The Happiest Baby & Toddler on the Block
Harvey Karp is a pediatrician. He offers up a calming and soothing method for crying babies that works! At least I can say it did for me. What some call colic, he refers to as the "fourth trimester". He explains in a clear, concise manner the steps to take to sooth your crying baby. He also describes in detail (and with pictures) how to properly swaddle - I could never figure out how to do it properly until I read it in this book.
In the toddler book, he explains how to deal with the undeveloped brains of toddlers - he refers to their communication skills as "Toddler-ese" and explains how parents need to understand "Toddler-ease" to effectively deal with them. He also discusses ways of positive discipline, like losing privileges and using time outs, and guides parents through milestones. A very interesting point of view, very common sense - although some parents skip right over common sense and make things too difficult at times. This book is a great read.
The Baby Book
William and Martha Sears, a pediatrician and a registered nurse respectively, team up with two of their doctor sons to bring to parents this excellent resource guide. They do preach attachment parenting, but those parents who do not follow such a philosophy can get a wealth of great tips from this, as well as the over 30 other books authored by Dr. Sears. I was blessed with the opportunity to meet Dr. Sears last year, and he really is an incredible man and a Doctor with such a wealth of knowledge. This book covers everything you need to know for the first two years of your child's life.