My wife and I just had our first baby almost 4 weeks ago (Haley Jane, if you’re curious). Obviously, going into this whole thing, we had all kinds of questions, and felt like we needed to get some good guidance on how to make sure we don’t screw up this little human that we’re bringing into the world.
Over the course of the 9 month journey toward parenthood, we read three books that have made these first 4 weeks so much easier than it could have otherwise been. Just last night, our daughter slept through the night for the first time…at 4 weeks! So, without further ado, the three books that we read, that I think every parent-to-be should read. The piece of mind and confidence that these books give you is priceless.
Babywise, by Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam, is all about getting your infant to sleep through the night, by way of getting them on a predictable feeding and napping schedule throughout the day. The authors discuss the different approaches to feeding: Child-Led feeding, Clock Feeding, and their approach, Parent-Directed Feeding, which is a blend of paying attention to hunger cues, to the clock, and parental assessment.
They cover in depth the science behind sleep and how feeding affects sleeping, and offer detailed schedules for feeding and sleeping from 2 weeks through a year. Their approach uses “merges” to merge separate feedings at night until you’ve merged all the middle-of-the-night feedings out, and are sleeping through the night.
This book goes pretty deep into some of the science, and certainly offers a deep explanation about the why behind their schedule-based approach.
Moms on Call
Moms On Call is another book that’s based around the notion of scheduling, but is far more of a handbook than an exhaustive resource in the science of feeding and sleeping. Thus, this book makes a perfect companion to Babywise, as the two compliment each other quite nicely.
Moms On Call is brief, with short little “chapters” covering everything from sleep, to feeding, to dealing with sick kids, to skin care. It’s quite exhaustive, but brief on each of the topics. This format is awesome. It’s the perfect reference book for those early weeks, since you can easily turn to a section and quickly get up to speed on the basics for almost anything that would happen with your baby.
This book also features detailed schedules, and we found ourselves following their schedules more than Babywise, simply due to the detail they go into (while the rest of the book is brief, the schedule component is quite detailed). The authors also have a website (and service, based in Atlanta) where they feature videos about how to swaddle, diaper changing, and other important items. A fantastic resource.
The Happiest Baby on the Block
Harvey Karp’s book is one of the books that I get recommended to me most often. His book is about soothing crying babies (particularly those with Colic), and goes into detail about crying and how to settle little ones down. His focus, like the other two, is on helping them calm down so they can sleep better as well.
Perhaps most famous in Karp’s book is the 5 S’s, which is his framework for how to calm a crying baby: Swaddle, Side/Stomach Position, Shhhhhhing sounds, Swinging and Sucking. These 5 techniques are based in recreating the atmosphere of the uterus, which leads into one of central theses of the book: that babies are actually missing a fourth trimester, which is, in his view, the true cause of colic.
Just for the 5 S’s alone, this book is a must read. These little tricks have saved us (and our daughter) from hours of misery.
Becoming a new parent is a shock to the system, to say the least. It’s a huge period of adjustment for you and your little one, and any help you can get from folks who’ve done it before and know what they’re talking about is worth seeking out. Of all the resources and tips we’ve gotten over the past 10 months, these books have been elevated in our household to absolutely critical status.
If you’re a new parent, about to be, or just want to figure out how to calm your baby and get them to sleep through the night, don’t miss these books!