Parenting should just come naturally, right? Unfortunately, it’s not that easy (although it is in *some* regards). While we do have parental instincts, we are all carrying baggage from our childhoods AND we are surrounded by a lot of societal noise. This can lead to a lot of mixed messages going on within our brains *and* it often leads us away from our instincts. One of the things that has shocked me about parenthood is how connected our childhood is with our parenting. Even without realizing it, narratives from our childhood creep up and make us see things a certain way in our parenting journey that may not be true. You might be wondering: what the heck does any of this have to do with books? I’ll tell you: unfortunately we can’t rely on external advice from society and narratives from our childhood when it comes to parenting. Hence- reading to educate yourself!
I absolutely encourage you to rely on your instincts that are telling you to keep your baby close, respond to their needs, etc. But we are complex humans, so, mixed in with those instincts we have a lot of baggage, noise, and false narratives which all complicate our parenting. Add on ALL the advice surrounding us in the modern parenting world. We are often left feeling like we have no idea what to do or we may even feel like we are doing it all wrong. In order to help us show up confidently as parents and stand firm in the decisions we are making, is to educate ourselves.
Unfortunately, there isn’t one simple handbook on parenting. But, if we look at parenting as a marathon, we can understand that we can continually learn and grow alongside our children. I’ve done a lot of reading as a mother so that I can better show up for my daughter and as a professional who works directly with parents.
I’ve created a list of books that I think all new or expecting parents should read so that you can show up to parenting feeling educated and confident.
Okay, you might be thinking: “When do I have time to read?” Contact naps are great times to read or you could do an audiobook!
Sweet Sleep In my opinion, this book is a must-read for all mothers who are breastfeeding. It’s packed full of resources on what biologically normal infant sleep looks like, how breastfeeding and sleep are so intertwined, and how to work with your baby’s need to get sleep for the whole family.
Safe Infant Sleep Even if you don’t plan on bedsharing, this is an important book to read. It dives deep into who babies are, their biological needs, and why we as a species are designed to keep our babies close. In addition to this invaluable education, it also destigmatizes bedsharing and educates families on how to do it safely. A high percentage of bedsharing happens in the middle of the night *without* a safe bedsharing setup. So, even if you don’t plan on doing it, chances are it’s going to happen at least once in your baby’s first year and you want to make sure you know how to do it safely when that time comes.
Rest, Play, Grow This book covers attachment from your child’s perspective and also dives deep into how attachment develops in the first five years. It’s AMAZING in helping you understand your toddler and their brain.
Discipline Without Damage Vanessa LaPointe, the author of this book, is so knowledgeable and such a huge resource for parents. I love this book because in a society that is very concerned with discipline, this book educates on what discipline should *actually* look like.
Parenting Right From the Start Another great book by Vanessa Lapointe. This is the first parenting book I read after Lilah was born and I’m so glad I did. It is full of digestible and incredibly useful information for parents. It also touches on sleep, eating, and the potty with great tips and tools you can refer back to and keep in your “parenting toolbox”
The Conscious Parent My mind was blown when I discovered Dr. Shefali. Her work is so insightful and such a breath of fresh air (although sometimes hard to accept, in the best way). The books help you get in tune with yourself to better show up as a parent.
The Awakened Family Another great book by Dr. Shefali. Similar to The Conscious Parent this book does an amazing job of breaking down all of the mainstream parenting myths that are heavily engrained in our society. She walks you through how to move away from these myths and really honor and respect your child while supporting them.
The Whole Brain Child Our brains are complicated and even more so as they are growing and developing. A child’s brain works differently than an adult brain and as parents, it is imperative that we understand this. The Whole Brain Child teaches you all about how your child’s brain functions AND it gives you tools and resources to best work with your child’s growing brain.
Hold Onto Your Kids Co-authored by Dr. Gordon Neufeld & Dr. Gabor Mate, this book is so good. It breaks down why our attachment to our children is so important and how to work with their attachment in our modern-day lives.
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