Friday, February 27, 2015

Baby Books I read (and didn't read)

Hapy #FridayReads Everyone! (Yes I know hashtags don't work like that. Humor me.) Here's a blog post I've been kicking around for a while about what books I've read (and not read) as a brand new parent. My baby is almost 8 months old now, so clearly I'm an expert. (Again, sarcasm.) But I am a librarian and a mom, so here it goes.

The TL;DR version of this: read Bedtiming and Headed Home with your Newborn if you only have time for two books and you are not a crazy crazy research obsessed librarian.

Books About Pregnancy
What to Expect When You're Expecting - I actually BOUGHT this book. I don't buy that many books; I check them out from the library. I bought it and barely looked at it. But it seemed like the thing to do, this was the classic one, so I got it. I also got it as an app on my phone. That I read every week. And shared with my husband. The app has kept going with updates about development. I still like it. Mostly used the book as a photo prop for announcement photo.

Pregnancy and Birth: Your Questions Answered - I skimmed and read bits and pieces of this one. It was okay.

Mostly I did most of my pregnancy reading online as symptoms came up. I understood pregnancy more or less. Plus I kept it a secret at work for the first trimester so I didn't want to check out too many books.

Books About Babies
The Sh*t No One Tells You: A Guide To Your Baby's First Year - I loved this one. A really good mix
of helpful advice and funny stories. Best pieces of advice I picked up: make other parent friends. (Might I suggest your local library's baby time as a great place for that?) Also each partner should get to keep one activity that is just for them (that isn't work) outside the house. And they should work together to make those happen for them both. My husband gets soccer and his MBA classes. I get to be on the board of a non-profit and have a knitting group.

Your Baby's First Year: Third Edition (American Association of Pediatrics) - I bought this one on the recommendation of my doctor. It is what he uses with his kids. What's great about it is that if there isn't the research to back something up, they just tell you the research is fuzzy in this area. This is unlike the internet which is full of blogs claiming to be experts. They also have a great website

Be Prepared: A Practical Handbook for New Dads -
This one we borrowed from a friend for my husband. She had bought it almost as a joke for him, but it was really helpful. I recommend it totally. (Also used as a photo prop for an announcement photo.)

The Baby Owner's Manual: Operating Instructions, Trouble-Shooting Tips & Advice on First Year Maintenance - Again I purchased this for my husband for Christmas. Surprisingly helpful. Fairly humorous. Really is owner's manual style.

Heading Home with Your Newborn: From Birth to Reality - I also really liked this one. Practical and
well done. One of the few books I read cover to cover instead of just skimming. Written by moms who are also pediatricians, it is good advice (research backed) with some humor and real life stories tossed in.

HappyBaby: The Organic Guide to Baby's First Months - I skimmed this one. And I didn't realize it until I just looked it up for this post that it was co-written by a "team" at a baby food company. Oh well. I really like that baby food company. There have been a couple brands of foods we have purchased for Annabelle, mostly I make her food, but HappyBaby is one. Also this is by Dr. Sears and I'm not totally on board as an attachment parent, but I'm pretty crunchy (though I vaccinate). So I read his stuff with a grain of salt.

Baby Led Weaning - I'll probably do a feeding baby post on my personal blog. This book was great. We are mostly doing baby led weaning and it is awesome. I also did a lot of research online for this. Again I rather skimmed this book, but I got the general idea.

Start Fresh: Your Child's Jump Start to Lifelong Healthy Eating - This book was a gift from a friend.
It's a cookbook for babies, starting with purees. Since we started with purees because she was hungry for food before she was ready to eat solids, this was really helpful. However I would like to contend that "steam sweet potatoes, puree" does not really constitute a recipe and shouldn't take half a page in the middle of a bunch of identical other one-ingredient purees. That said, the multiple ingredient purees and the recipes for solids are great. And I liked the intro, narrative, and general approach of this cookbook.

Baby-Gami: Baby Wrapping for Beginners - Another gift from a
friend. Really pretty pictures of swaddled babies and step by step instructions for swaddling babies. I was hugely pregnant so I mostly skimmed it and admired the pretty happy babies. I recommend borrowing a friends baby to practice swaddling. Please note that when you begin, your baby will probably not be as happy as the ones in the book. Husband and I practiced on a teddy bear (also how we practiced using the baby carrier) but it wasn't the same. We needed 2am refresher courses from the hospital nurses. He was much better at it than I was. I pretty much relied on the velcro swaddling blankets. Our daughter escaping from one of my swaddles is pictured on the book.

Our Babies, Ourselves - Another recommendation from a friend (who also recommended Bedtiming). This is really good look at different philosophies across different cultures about how we raise babies. It doesn't have as much practical advice, but if you're a nerd and you like big picture/psychological/anthropological/sociology stuff, you will like it.

I also did a lot of reading online. So much online reading and I took everything with a grain of salt. It is either the best or worst thing to be able to google stuff at 2am.

Books About Sleep
When I went back to work, sleep became a big issue. That also deserves its own post. Short version: she had been sleeping and then wasn't and I didn't know how to fix it. Everyday at lunch I would go to the parenting section of the library, choose a different sleep book, go to my office, hook up my breast pump, read the sleep book, try not to cry in exhaustion. I got REAL SERIOUS about sleep books. I took notes. I used post it flags to mark sections for my husband to read. I read over half that section and won't talk about all of it. (A personal blog entry at some point, maybe.)

Bedtiming: The Parent's Guide to Getting Your Child To Sleep At Just The Right Age - There is one
book that I recommend time and time again. I've recommended it to a couple of friends expecting a baby, I've lent out my copy (because I purchased my own). My copy was covered in notes and stickies. And when parents ask at the library for books on sleep training, I give them this one. It focuses mostly on WHEN not how to sleep train your baby. Some ages work better than others based on developmental things happening with your baby. And at the end it also overviews the different sleep training techniques. This book is solid gold. Read it.

Monday, January 05, 2015

Reading Goal 2015 - My Dirty Dozen

In early 2004 I started a spreadsheet to track what I was reading for a librarians read challenge. I kept going past the end of the challenge and past the end of the year. I kept that spreadsheet going until 2014 when pregnancy brain and baby brain caused it to fall apart.

I've had middling success with goodreads. I go on a tear for a few months and then abandon it again for the next 6 months. I'm going back to my spreadsheet again. If you ignore the last year, it worked for me for a decade and I know I can commit to it.

However I want to try a new reading challenge. There are lots of them floating around. Cannonball read (a book a week, 52 books), or two a month (24 total), or this one by category/feature is really cool. (ie a book more than 500 pages, a book by a female author). I also saw one group of people dedicating to reading books only by women and/or people of color this year. There are a lot of ways to do a reading challenge. I encourage you to choose one.

My reading challenge is to conquer my personal dirty dozen. In library school, my children's librarianship professor defined your "dirty dozen" as the classic children's books you are a little bit ashamed to admit you have never read. It is probably more or less than a dozen (probably more), but it is a good term.

This year I will read one classic children's book I've never read before a month.

Fair warning: many of them will probably be as audio books, that is how 80% of my reading gets done since the baby. (And before the baby it was still probably half of my reading. I love audio books.)

I'm also defining what is a classic. It may be a newer book that is an award winner. It may be 70 years old.

Some adult books may sneak in there, particularly adult books with teen/advanced child appeal. Today I helped a teen find To Kill A Mockingbird which she had expected to find in the teen section. She was a little bemused to be going to the adult section. I read that as a teen and adored it. In fact I was so excited about her starting that journey, getting to experience it for the first time that I almost hugged her. But I didn't because that is creepy. I just tweeted about it instead.

This morning I started Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White. So far it is okay, sweet, a bit didactic, but good. I'll try to blog about the books as I read them, but no promise.