I’m going to be transparent here: I live for data. And data combined with critical baby decisions? For this journalist and postpartum doula, it’s a match made in heaven. So, bias established, let’s talk about why this a must for anyone about to welcome a new baby into their lives: This isn’t about what Oster thinks. Rather, Oster is a pro at picking up on data’s scent and tracking it down to make the most sound, analytical decision. Added bonus: The Bottom Line, a short, bulleted list of takeaways at the end of each chapter. Excellent for thumbing through when in the throes of postpartum exhaustion!
It's Never Too Late to Sleep Train
Craig Canapari, MD
“Sleep debt is cumulative. That means the cost to your mood and attention increases the longer your sleep is disrupted.” Cue the need for Canapari’s book. In my postpartum research, I don’t think I’ve come across a sleep training book quite so succinct or delightfully conversational. While this book is targeted to sleep-troubled toddlers and their zombie-esque parents, new and expecting parents will also benefit. I encourage everyone, actually, to read the chapter “The Biology of Bedtime,” which covers sleep-wake cycles, sleep norms, and basic recommendations with surprising—and welcome—clarity.
Try, try, try. Train, train, train. If your child has an inkling of talent, it is up to you to laser in on it and make it their crowning achievement. It’s the way to be a success, right? Not necessarily, David Epstein reports. He provides a fascinating counterweight to everything “Tiger Mom” stood for. Read this, and it’s hard to argue: dabblers and late bloomers may have had it right all along.
Finding Magic in the Mess
Are you and your children overbooked? Take a beat and read this book (and then Epstein’s). Data is pouring in about today’s over-scheduled, college-bound kids who can outperform academically but struggle to self-regulate. As a response, free play and downtime are coming back in vogue again. It’s something Fonso, as a holistic chiropractor and father, wholeheartedly supports. “Children tend to experience and remember the emotion of life, more so than the content,” he writes. His book encourages us to be where our feet are—preferably chasing little ones around for fun versus shooing them out the door to their next responsibility.
Baby Food Maker Cookbook
If you’ve got a baby food maker and a penchant for going the DIY baby-food route, Philia Kelnhofer has a bulletproof recipe for you. Her range is extensive, with 125 recipes spanning from the simplest fruit and veggie purees (6 months and above) to transitional chunky purees (the Berry, Avocado, and Coconut Milk Puree is a must) to aromatic solids for the 1-year mark and beyond. Many recipes handily transform into adult food with a little extra salt, like Ginger-Tomato Chicken and Sweet Potatoes, Tuscan White Bean Soup, and a quick-fix Alfredo Sauce with Cauliflower that’s spot-on.
How To Raise A Boy
Michael C. Reichert, PhD
If you’re struggling with how to raise a boy, take heart. You are not alone. Millennials, more than any other generation, are shying away from traditional hyper-masculine tropes in favor of, well… TBD. It’s complicated. And that’s where this book comes in. Boys are up against some very real things: stiflingly-gendered toys and clothes, gaming addiction, increasing rates of narcissism, and a new surge in symbolic masculinity. What do we do? While Reichert doesn’t have any hard-and-fast answers, there is one thing his data has led him to believe: “Adults must strengthen our commitment to helping boys find love and closeness.”
This Is Your Brain on Birth Control
Sarah Hill, PhD
There are too many holy sh*t moments in this book to count. Regardless of your contraception decisions and family-planning status, you’ll want to snap up this mind-boggling book. Hill’s explanation of the endometrial lining, fertilized egg implantation, and monthly hormonal feedback loop is worth the ticket to admission alone. “…The pill influences pretty much everything that matters when it comes to love and sex.” Digging into Hill’s research on existing research, there is so much more at stake than just the biology of getting or not getting pregnant.
Do One Fun Thing Every Day
According to the back flap, this little journal is meant for ages 6 to 9. Pffft, I say. I’ve embraced it as my summer playlist. I like to fill it out—answering “My Top 5 Foods,” purposefully scribbling on doodle pages, and writing must-haves for summer parties—as my toddler colors next to me. Then, as she gradually and inevitably shifts onto my lap, we fill it out and scribble in it together. I enthusiastically recommend you do the same.
Raising a Screen-Smart Kid
We know—and are learning more every day—the myriad ways digital life is changing our brains and bodies. Teens in particular. So if you have a kiddo and are worried, Miner gets it. She’s there, too. As a mother, blogger, and Gen Xer, she has been shaped by all things digital and struggles with how much to let her children consume. As a result, she’s bundled a beautiful mix of personal experience, data, and detailed reporting to explore the issues and offer potential solutions. It’s direct and to the point, while (thankfully) never seeming alarmist or reactive.
Bless This Mess
Rev. Molly Baskette and Ellen O'Donnell, PhD
Conflict, body image, sex, fear, empathy, shame—they all get a turn in Baskette and O’Donnell’s graceful and honest book on living and parenting. Whether or not you consider yourself spiritual, the authors provide a calming approach to the big topics in life without any “thou shalts.” Reading it is like taking a dip in a hot tub of kindness and intentional living. Optional: trying their signature move of creating a family tree diagram (called a genogram) to track intergenerational tough stuff, like divorce and addiction, in order to see patterns.
The Wonderful Things You Will Be Growth Chart
Emily Winfield Martin
And now for something lovely just because. I have all of Martin’s books and have read them to my daughter since she could hold herself up in a Bumbo chair. Martin’s illustrations are vivid and rich, awash in intimate charm. Now, we can tack them up to track Baby’s growth starting at 1-year-old. It’s a decidedly more chic alternative to craggy pencil marks on a doorframe.
Maybe you’ve just had a baby. Maybe you’re considering it. Maybe you’re knee-deep in the wild thicket of raising tiny humans. Wherever you find yourself, one thing is for sure: you’re doing it differently than the generations before you.
As a postpartum doula, I see this in action all the time. Parenting is incredibly intentional now. It’s one of the most beautiful hallmarks of child-rearing today: we are more informed than ever, and have more choices than ever. On the flipside, we are more informed than ever, and have more choices than ever. It can create unwelcome anxiety and pressure to “get it right” (and frame it right on social).
Enter this round-up of books, which—as diverse as they may be—are welcome resources to inform, entertain, and inspire your choices.
Featured Image: @matthewevs/Twenty20