Be prepared for baby with 10 easy ways to bond and create a powerful connection
Recently, I have noticed that the crowds (young, cooler people and E! Entertainment Television) are saying stuff like, “I’m there for that,” or “she is so not there for that,” to tell me whether or not Meghan Markle really appreciates the queen’s panty hose. It’s funny the way the in-crowd is always finding a new way to remind me (whilst I take to google) that I am an inexcusable D-O-R-K.
But here’s the point:
I am totally NOT “there for” overwhelming new and expecting parents with lists of things that they need to read + do. An expecting parent could endlessly study and prepare for baby. Like the proverbial serpent, for every head you cut off, another two grows. I totally get it.
My husband will affectionately tell you that I have a studying problem. I read and read and read and if life would permit, I would read until opportunity passed without ever actually “doing” anything. The greenlight, desk section of the library is my happy place.
Although my reading problem might have its drawbacks, it is an ABSOLUTE WIN FOR YOU. I have read it all, learned from the best, asked approximately one million questions of the brightest minds in America, and now I know really really what actually matters for pregnancy/newborn prep.
YOU DO NOT NEED TO READ EVERY BOOK ON THIS LIST. But…..if you start with my Ultimate Pregnancy Checklist, it will guide you through the most important steps to get your heart, your mind, and your home ready. And as you work your way through my list, at some point you might realize that you need a little extra support in one area or another. Hence this book list. So let's get to it.
10 Books Every New Mom Should Read:
Bring up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman
Part memoir, part instruction manual - this book will always be my number one. Her style is so easy, so gracious, and so funny. There is nothing authoritarian about her writing (i.e. - my way or the highway) despite the fact that I can tell that she has really done her research.
In the book, she discusses the ins and outs of her experience as an ex-pat, trying to raise children in a different (french) culture. To say the least, her experience was eye-openning (for her and me). It was also incredibly instructional and empowering. Reading her story gave me permission to loosen my constructs about “right and wrong” parenting and to see some of my cultural constructs about the whole affair. I dont know a soul that won't appreciate her wisdom and the way in which she relays it.
Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp
Again, this is a book without a shred of authoritarianism or shame-based instruction. Dr. Karp is a gentle and wise pediatrician with an easy way of relaying his powerful experience and research as a pediatrician. His ease and humility are particularly impressive considering he is one of the most successful pediatricians at one of the worlds more touted hospitals.
If anyone has the authority to tell us right from wrong, it is this guy. But he refrains. Instead, he just gives us a window into what works for him and the awesome research behind it.
His approach to the infant experience and infant soothing will change your life. I discuss his work in my own eCourse for expecting parents because I just dont think that his work is something that any new parent should miss.
The Seven Principles of Making Marriage Work by John Gottman
How many times have I belabored this point in private conversation? Psychologist and educators support new parents, teach them how to love their baby well, and then we forget that loving your baby’s “other parent” is equally important. I dont care if you’re aggrivated, divorced, or divorcing, finding a way to exhibit kindness and grace* toward your parenting partner is one of the most loving things you can do for your child.
This book bestows upon the reader several valuable communication strategies and relationship ideals that will support your partnership, regardless of your status. Maybe you’re not trying to “make a marraige work,” no problem - this book is still important because your partnership is important married or not.
*I do not advocate staying in an abusive relationship for the sake of your children. I do not advocate unending selflessness in the context of aggression, and neither does this book.
The Whole Brained Child by Dan Siegel
This book is a game-changer. Like my eCourse, he prioritizes the whole child and gives a lot of good advice. There is a lot more theory and fluff, but still - this book has a firm and powerful approach to parenting that I beleive can be effective no matter your particular temperament (or the temperament of your child). He is all about connection, mutuality, and responsiveness. Three things which are imperative to a drama-free, growth inducing relationship with your child.
Seigel is a name to trust and this book, again, manages to be gracious despite his authority. I will always and forever appreciate an author that can communicate best practices without making a parent feel lost in their own mistakes.
No Drama Discipline by Dan Siegel
Speaking of Dr. Siegel…this book is really really good. He will help you establish powerful habits that I have come to love and appreciate. My blog posts about toddlers and toddler discipline take a lot of their wisdom from this book. As someone that is familiar in child development and the emotional needs of a healthy adult, I was more than impressed when I first read this book.
His approach to discipline and redirection is so well balanced. He definitely doesn’t advocate for permissiveness, but isn’t authoritarian either. If any book can guide parents down the right path toward effective, careful discipline that respect both the child and the parent - it is this one.
Siblings Without Rivalry by Adele Faber
If you are bringing your second child into the home, this is the book for you. I think this book is generally considered to be the authority on early sibling dynamics. The author pays such close attention to the dynamics of the family system as it changes and grows. She is tender and careful, but confident in her research and approach.
I know many parents that use this book as their go-to manual - which is awesome because this book is very well done.
How to Talk So that Kids Will Listen by Adele Faber
Many parents struggle to find a balance between connecting with their child, respecting their preferences and personality, but also having firm boundaries and consequences. To those parents, I refer this book. Different skills come easier or harder for different parents. Its folly to think that just because you’re a parent, you’re going to intuit the best way to speak to your child, communicate your needs, and elicit a desired response. For most of us, that is a skill that has to be learned.
I appreciate this book because at its core, it respects the parent and the child. At it’s core, there is this wonderful message that you can be more effective and parenting doesn’t have to feel so impossible. Sometimes the reason things are hard - like so many other things - is because we are at the end of our skill or ability. We must learn new tactics and techniques so that we can have more positive, caring, and effective interactions.
The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman
You may remember from one of my webinars or Insta-Live’s that I am all about RESPECT. Respect is one of the five R’s of Brain Building Interaction, and it isn’t the same as permission. Respect is empathic listening and mutual recognition. It means noticing who your child is - their particularities, temperament, and differences. You can learn more about temperament recognition in my courses, as “recognition” is something I passionately consider to be the bedrock of good parenting. But if your new to temperament, or for those parents who might never think about their children in such clinical terms, the “love languages” has been a great entry point.
The love languages help parents appreciate the particular ways that their children enjoy being cared for so that parents can be more effective. Most of us think that other want to be tended to the way that we like to be tended to….but that isn’t true! Each of y our children probably has a unique preference and respecting these preferences is huge.
What to Expect the First Year by Heidi Murkoff
This book has taken a lot of heat. Regardless, I still think it holds a quintessential place in the market. It is necessary. Owning this book will save you a lot of time scrolling through googled resources that may or may not be misleading. Most of the knowledge in this book is considered “best practice” and “sound.” When it comes to learning the most effective ways to take care of your child’s physical needs, I think this book is the best. It is thorough and covers more bases than you could ever wish.
The Maiden Voyage by Tania Abei
This is not a parenting book. This is an inspirational masterpiece and memoir written by the first woman (and youngest person) to ever circumnavigate the globe alone…..ina sailboat.
It is one of my favorite books by a landslide. I put is on this list because it inspires courage, resilience, and persistence. Research tells us that having a backlog of stories about resilient others can actually help us be more resilient ourselves. We know that it is good to have tales of bravery to reference while you are in the midst of a difficult situation. Not only does The Maiden Voyage give me perspective on a regular basis, it also occasionally provides me with this e, “If she could rebuilt a boom in the middle of a hurricane, I can get out of bed at 3 am and change this diaper for the 4th time tonight…” We all need a gal like that in our pocket, amiright?
The ultimate pregnancy checklist has the sole purpose of consolidating all the newborn prep information that I have encountered into one place….so you should definitely download it. It’s ten pages of awesome-sauce. No fluff, no overwhelm - just readiness.
Compliment that with my Intro to Parenting course and one or two of these books and BAM - you’ll be one fully prepared, heart-open mama, destined for postpartum peace and joy. Who isn’t “totally there for” peace and joy?
Once a sleep problem has developed, and sleep training becomes necessary, things can definitely get difficult. Trust me, I have been there and it was BRUTAL. Because of a medical problem, one of my babies didn’t sleep more than 2 hours for the first 9 months (or more) of his life. It was terrible.
My guess is that if you’re spending time on this post today, you are already struggling to help your baby sleep through the night. You know it is important, you need him or her to do it for everyone’s sanity, but you just don’t know how to get started. Does that sound like you?
You have come to the right place.
If you are a very new parent or if you are expecting, I have a great blog post about preventing sleep problem. You should start there. The best intervention is prevention and seriously, 90% of infant sleep problems can absolutely be prevented with some smart steps taken early in a child’s life.
Even if you are already entrenched in the battle for sleep, I recommend starting with those preventative measures. They will provide you with a firm foundation that will make your sleep training successful.
>> FIXING PROBLEMS THAT HAVE ALREADY BEGUN
I am a junkie for good sleep training information because of my convictions about the importance of infant sleep. The evidence of the awesome developmental, intellectual, and mood benefits of a well rested infant are irrefutable. So naturally, I think sleep is worth fighting for.
I read arguments against sleep training, saying that it is brutal. But to those articles (none of of which seem to be written by child development professionals), I can’t help but emphasize the mountain of research in favor of infant sleep. Relative to the years of inconsistency, mood difficulty, and developmental delays that poor sleep can cause, a short period (often 3-5 days) of sleep training is far less brutal.
If done well, sleep training is a gift that the parent must plan well for so that everyone in the family can benefit for years to come. To those who say that the crying involved in sleep training is detrimental to the infant's health, I must remind us that infants who are sleep trained actually cry less than infants who are not. Plus, there is no evidence for long term social or emotional damage from a short period of extended crying during a well planned, intentional period of sleep training.
>> HIRING SOMEONE
If you are feeling at the bottom of a dark, sleepless well, and are needing to find someway out - a good sleep training coach is one of the most incredible investments you can make. Like I have said several times thus far, a well planned period of sleep training is far better than the damage of poor sleep. A sleep coach will do a thorough assessment of your particular situation and assist you with the lowest impact, easiest transition into solid sleep.
Consulting with someone will ensure that you are being healthy and considerate. It will increase your confidence during the one or two nights of intense crying. Having their support and expertise will help you rest in the difficult but important work of sleep training.
I would be happy to consult with you about your child’s sleep problems for a fee. I also highly recommend you to Dream Team Baby. As far as I am concerned, they are the best in the business. They will ensure that your infant gets the sleep they need in a way that is not harmful to your infant in any way.
They even have 10 really great sleep tips that you can read. You can get a sense for their wisdom, consideration, and gentle approach by reading their tips article. Their book Dream Sleeper is also full of helpful wisdom.
Still not sold about sleep training or pretty sure that you can do it on your own? That is a-okay and I absolutely you can sleep train on your own. But first, I recommend you read several very important books in the field of sleep research and sleep training. I recommend these books because of the good science and gentle respect for the infant. Here is a list:
>> Dream Sleeper by Conner Herman and Kira Ryan
>> Solve your Child’s Sleep Problems by Richard Ferber
>> Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth
A note about Dr. Richard Ferber: Dr. Ferber’s method has been sorely represented in the media and across the blogosphere. Thus, you might have been surprised to see that I have recommended it here. However, I trust that if you actually read Ferber’s method you will see that the method attributed to him (letting your baby cry for hours on end without checking on her) is categorically not what he supposes at all. His book is considerate and so respectful. There is a reason his name has made such an impact, even though he has recently become misunderstood and misrepresented.
**Although there are great books about infant sleep, there is no substitute for the insight, perspective, and guidance of a genuine infant sleep expert.
If you are struggling with sleep at home, there are some wonderful step-by-step programs that WILL get you and your baby the sleep that you need. You are not doomed, not do you need to believe that there is nothing that can be done. Infant sleep is critical to healthy development and is definitely worth fighting for.
That said, it is relatively easy to prevent sleep problems from occurring. In other words, the best intervention for sleep problems is prevention. Here is what I wish I had been told - if you do these things right, have good instincts, and ensure that you are supported by smart, watchful others, and then if your baby still doesn’t sleep, start making changes to your diet (or his) or see a medical professional.
Ok - So the name of this post is “sleep training.” I really believe in sleep training and would love to tell you all about how to do sleep training like a pro to successfully eliminate any problem that you have (Which is 100% possible, by the way). BUT, sleep training is typically something you begin after you have done all of the preventative work and laid the best foundation for successful sleep.
I have a problem with Sleep Training blog posts that dive right on in with remedial intervention, time intervals for crying, ways to soothe when doing intermittent checking, etc are all good and well. It just bothers me that so many don’t FIRST remind parents of the very easy habits that should be developed in order for sleep training to really take root.