Must-Reads for New Moms: 10 Books That Saved My First Year of Motherhood

6. How We Love Our KidsGrounded in years of research on parental attachment and bonding, this book by Milan and Kay Yerkovich is one I will read repeatedly for years to come. It’s definitely more a “parenting” book than a “baby” book, but I’m so glad I stumbled into a summer study on the book when Emerson was several months old. It covers five parenting “love” styles: avoider, pleaser, vacillator, controller and victim parent. Super fascinating, and showed me a great deal about myself and the approach I inherently take to mothering. Also, this book was so key in reinforcing to me the massive significance of loving my infant well, at a time when I really needed that message. Tending to babies can feel so tedious, and I needed a solid reminder of the privilege and task before me. How we love our kids in their first years of life literally serves to form the rest of their days.

7. Bread and Wine—The reason this totally-not-a-baby-book makes this list is because it represents the moment I discovered one of my all-time fave writers, Shauna Niequist. I read this book with a dinner club of sorts we banded together of women from our church. Each chapter is an essay that ends with a recipe, so we cooked and dinner-partied our way through it. What an amazing experience that I really needed during that time! The baby-free breaks were amazing, as was the beautiful book. Whether Shauna writes about faith, motherhood, body image, marriage, friendship or running, you can count on her to feel like your witty, cool, spiritually enlightened soul sister. And you can never have too many soul sisters.

8. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?For whatever reason, this little book was and remains key to my survival as a mother and person. Specifically the invincible cardboard edition. I don’t know what it is—the bright pictures, singsong verses or repetitive text—but this thing is just magic. I swear it helped soothe my small baby. And entertain her in restaurants. And distract her when it came time for shots. And now that she’s a toddler, it’s such a cute and effective tool for teaching her colors and animals. Every babe needs this book!

9. Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child—Dr. Marc Weissbluth taught me so many critical basics about infant sleep. As I mentioned in my last post, Emerson was a mess for her first several months, and her sleep patterns were no exception. Girlfriend was allllll over the map. This book informed me about super-helpful basics like: how long infants can typically stay awake before needing a nap; how to watch for signs of tiredness and act accordingly; and how life-saving early bedtimes can be, especially for little fuss-buckets like mine. While this is not the book I used when I decided to hardcore sleep train (see below)—though he does provide methods—I really appreciated the bounty of useful info. My copy is full of highlights.

10. The Sleepeasy Solution—Like so many women, I always had the vision of exactly the kind of mom I would be someday. I knew precisely what I would and wouldn’t do, since I knew so much (nothing) about kids. High among my “nevers” was sleep-training, and getting my baby on a schedule. Training is for dogs, not children, and schedules are for rigid weirdos, I thought! Insert four months of sleep deprivation and total mind loss, plus a miserable child who was equally suffering from a lack of good rest. That’s when I called up the MOST SCHEDULED mom I knew and asked what in the heavens she did to produce her sleep angel. She told me to read The Sleepeasy Solution and it changed. my. life. Emerson also became a sleep angel, and I surprisingly found much more freedom and ease in my life when my (MUCH HAPPIER!) daughter had predictable sleep patterns.

Important: There is no one right way to approach sleep. Our different approaches to child-rearing make the world go round and this is simply what worked for me. If you co-sleep, that is amazing! If you love Baby Wise, that is spectacular! If you don’t believe in reading sleep books at all, but instead you just trust in your instincts, I think that’s so wonderful. And, if you are simply desperate and open to some controlled crying, this is your book. The results were immediate and extraordinary. We started the sleep-training at four months, after our pediatrician’s specific approval. Emerson has been going to sleep independently and snoozing through the night ever since. She also takes awesome naps. This book is really the easy-to-read answer to the methods laid out in Dr. Ferber’s Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems, which I also love to pieces, but which can be a little dense and scientific for tired mamas.

And there you have it! That concludes the books I love most when it comes to sweet babies and mom life.


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Jenny Rapson
Jenny Rapson is a follower of Christ, a wife and mom of three from Ohio and a freelance writer and editor. You can find her at her blog, Mommin' It Up, or follow her on Twitter.