Reading List Erased

June 25, 2013

I was going through my Kindle app the other day (long time, no see!) and saw that I still had lots of books on baby sleep and breastfeeding. And then I realized I would never read them. How amazing that we are on the other side – success! So I deleted them with joy.

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Several people have asked me for a recommended reading list, yet I always pause without much to say. The books I read were OK but they didn’t really help much. Other than the Happiest Baby On the Block’s soothing techniques, I didn’t find any of the books I read very helpful.

As I’m sure most first time moms do, I spent many hours researching breastfeeding and sleep in those early days. I was desperate to take away just one good bit of advice that would change things for the better. Now that I’m on the other side – meaning we have a baby who sleeps through the night, naps well and nurses like a champ – I can say that none of the books provided any answers that led to our success. The books, as I’m sure they are designed to do to increase sales, make you think there’s a formula to success. Few, if any, of the techniques I read about actually worked. (I didn’t read Ferber’s book, but I did use his sleep training method at the advice of friends). My success came from real advice from friends and TIME.

The lactation consultants told me Mazen’s latch was perfect. Yet I still experienced pretty bad pain for 6 weeks or so. The only thing that I think helped was time – for his mouth to get bigger, for him to learn how to latch himself, and for my body to desensitize.

The sleep experts told me to put him down awake, read cues, etc. yet Mazen never slept well despite doing everything they recommended. What eventually did get him to sleep was teaching him that it was OK to wake up and go back to sleep at an appropriate age for both of us.

But when you’re doing something for the first time, nothing makes you feel more helpless and out of control then when someone else says “Just give it time.” You are desperate for a plan – anything – to make even the slightest improvements. So I’m not here to tell any other first time moms not to read the books or try your darnest to get your baby to fall asleep ‘drowsy but awake.’ Reading will make you feel better.

But I will say – you’d probably have more fun reading novels or watching TV or SLEEPING during your spare time and you’ll probably figure it out yourself with just as much success in time.*

*Please remind me of this when we approach the terrible two tantrums, potty training and more!

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Renee King June 25, 2013 at 10:28 am

you are very right Kath. I of course am not a mom yet but have many years experience working with kids of all ages. The most important thing I have to say is find out what works for you, listen to advice for other moms and friends, and not to read to much. Sometimes information overload can be bad. You have to figure out what works for you as a mom and figure out what works for your child. As I always say parenting is a hard job, it doesn’t come with a guide book. You learn what works and what doesn’t. It gets easier as time goes and when you learn what baby likes. It also gets easier when they can tell you what they want and need. Parenting is hard work but it my opinion it is well worth it. You are doing a great job and you guys are setting up a great foundation of learning and fun for Maze

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2 Alissa June 25, 2013 at 11:01 am

Very valid points. I read all the books I could get my hands on. I was a big fan of The Baby Whisperer for implementing a structured routine, and Weissbluth for insight into the science of human sleep. In the end, like you, I found there was definitely an element of “wait it out” as well as my baby’s own distinct personality to contend with. Different things work for different kids! I don’t regret reading as much as possible to better inform my own decisions (even the ones made based on gut instinct).

I am cringing though, that you state “Other than the Happiest Baby On the Block’s soothing techniques, I didn’t find any of the books I read very helpful” and yet there’s affiliate links for some of those books in your sidebar under “baby favorites”. Huh?

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3 KERF June 25, 2013 at 11:20 am

I think you’re misunderstanding my point a bit…I still recommend the books I read if you’re going to read! I didn’t think any of them were bad at all – they just weren’t as life changing as I had hoped as much as the passage of time. You don’t have to buy them from my shop if you choose not to.

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4 Alissa June 25, 2013 at 12:19 pm

Respectfully, I don’t believe I misunderstood the point of your post at all. You said you were not here to tell anyone else not to read the books, but that they didn’t help you and you deleted some of them from your Kindle without even reading. To me it seems disingenuous to then suggest your readers – if they *do* want to read the books you just deemed unhelpful – click on over to Amazon via affiliate link. I’m pointing out the discrepancy between the context of your blog and the means you choose to monetize said blog. I think you get a TON of undeserved flak, but responding to a longtime reader with a flip “you don’t have to buy them from my shop” instead of acknowledging my point rankles me, sorry. Maybe not a big deal to other readers and that’s ok.

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5 KERF June 25, 2013 at 1:46 pm

and therein lies our misunderstanding: I did read all of the books I have in my Amazon store. I can see why you would think it would be dishonest to feature books I had not even read. I don’t think that they are bad books and if you need more information on the topic by all means go to them. My point of this post was just that they didn’t solve our problems like time and real advice did.

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6 ashley June 25, 2013 at 11:05 am

Thank you for this. This is what I needed to hear. That there’s no formula. I’m 20 weeks pregnant with my first and really starting to get nervous thinking about what to do when baby gets here. I get so much advice with the “right” way to do things and the “right” books to read. It’s nice to just hear that there’s not a right way even though I know that in my head. I just need to hear it sometimes.

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7 Jessica June 25, 2013 at 11:28 am

I also wanted to add that the books are often unhelpful because it all goes back to “every baby is different”. No baby exactly fits the pattern of the books, and so, along with time, you also have to learn what works best for YOUR baby. And your family. :)

My example is naps. My son transitioned to 2 naps much earlier than the books/websites said is the average. It helps to read, but don’t get too obsessed with the books statistics that you ignore your own baby’s cues/signals as to what they need.

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8 Allyson Smith June 25, 2013 at 12:30 pm

Thank you for this! I have 7 weeks til our first is due, and your advice is very reassuring to me.

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9 katyrenee June 25, 2013 at 12:49 pm

The best thing I did was get rid of the books. I am grateful for the ones I read while preparing, but got so overwhelmed with very conflicting points of view after my LO arrived that I just got rid of all of the books. I still do a google search now and again, but only devoting 5 minutes to a question rather than hours of reading was such a sanity saver.

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10 Kristi June 25, 2013 at 1:11 pm

I haven’t read too many books either but instead use my friends as a sounding board. I agree that giving it time is sometimes the only answer as babies grow and change so fast – what failed one day may be the magic answer next week.

For me, the ‘put down awake’ and not associating nursing with sleeping have been the most important tips. I’ve been super consistent in that sense and have very rarely found the need to leave my baby to cry. He’s 7mos old and still wakes to nurse at night but I know he knows how to fall asleep so I trust that when he wakes he does need something. And of course I remind myself that these days are limited!

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11 Angelica June 25, 2013 at 1:17 pm

Two books I’m glad to have for reference are The Baby Book (Dr. Sears) and The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (LLL). But by no means have I or do I ever plan to read them cover to cover. I remember being at dinner seated next to two women with babies younger than mine. I remember their smugness and feelings of my own inadequacy as a mom when they went on about how much a certain book worked for them in terms of a nursing and sleep schedule. It was like their Bible. They must’ve been lucky, because pregnancy and infancy was so hard for me. Nothing worked. I’m starting to wonder if I was depressed and didn’t realize it. Anyway, good for you for being patient and flexible. I think it gets easier and more fun as they get older!

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12 Jennifer June 25, 2013 at 1:34 pm

Thank you for this post! I’m due with our first in September and haven’t picked up the first book. I was beginning to think that maybe I should, but I truly believe that until baby boy gets here and we get to know what he’s like, that reading every baby book on the market will only make me crazy. And this post confirmed my thoughts! I have taken the same approach with pregnancy. I started to read “What to expect” and put it down 1/3 of the way in. I did not care to know what may or may not happen to me in the 8th month of pregnancy!

On a separate note, I love both of your blogs and Baby KERF has been one of my favorites lately as we get ready for the baby. I definitely used your Must Haves link several times when we were registering. Thanks for publishing such helpful posts! :)

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13 Lindsey June 25, 2013 at 7:24 pm

This is so helpful! I am 35 weeks along and I’m starting to get nervous about how I will get through these first few months. I hope I can remember “give it time” when it’s 3am and I’m exhausted :) I don’t plan on reading books- just going with what works and advice from friends and blogs like yours! Thanks Kath!

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14 K June 26, 2013 at 5:03 am

I think at the end of the day what the books can’t do is account for temperament or the fact that babies can’t actually read. And most of them are really just glorified opinion anyway…

To any new or expectant mother I say go with your gut and instinct and if the book makes you feel bad then stop reading!

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15 Courtney Kaminski June 26, 2013 at 9:13 am

I got bored and overwhelmed just flipping through my baby books when pregnant, so I spent those nine months reading novels. I was happy and relaxed, my daughter nursed like a dream, and starting sleeping through the night at eight weeks. (And I have absolutely no experience with children!) If the books interest you, then enjoy them, but most women could benefit from relaxing, trusting their instincts, talking to other mothers, and taking their cues from their children.

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16 Hope June 26, 2013 at 9:23 am

I hope you are knocking on wood over there. ;) At 18 months I still feel like I can’t brag about good sleep because the second that I do it might go away!! Lol, I’m a bit superstitious about it. I’m glad that things are going so well for you guys!

I didn’t read much at all about having newborn. Just a few things on the internet here and there. Most of my advice came from friends and family.

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17 Melissa June 26, 2013 at 10:15 am

I’m right there with you. I got all these books to read(which I hardly did) but every baby is different and you start to just figure things out on your own! I think sometimes we rely to much on “helpful” books and then get upset when things don’t go the way the book says. :)

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18 Kate @ Smart Eating for Kids June 26, 2013 at 11:31 am

hahaha! love this post:-) I’ve been perusing the “potty training in a day” section for a few weeks now, but I know Hailey isn’t going to miraculously be trained in a day until she is good and ready. What a predictable world we’d live in if everything operated by the book.

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19 Lisa @bitesforbabies June 27, 2013 at 6:06 am

I have one to add on…for the future ;-)
“You’re Not The Boss of Me” by Betsy Brown Braun

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20 Jessica June 27, 2013 at 2:29 pm

I couldn’t agree more. I didn’t read the first book with my first child. Aside from occasional googling about a question, I just rolled with it. Now, my second child is 4 months and we are just riding the roller coaster again. My two children could not be more different, so I feel even more certain now that there can be no one-size-fits-all manual out there for raising the perfect baby.

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21 Sarah June 27, 2013 at 3:46 pm

Off topic a bit, but just a comment in response to the last line of your post – don’t be surprised when the “terrible two tantrums” start around 18 months. That actually seems to be the developmental norm, but takes a lot of us first-time parents by surprise because we’ve heard so much about 2. :)

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22 Amanda June 27, 2013 at 6:54 pm

This post is brilliant! I feel the exact same way!!! I read EVERYTHING I could before my 7 month old was born and especially in those early days where (your right) I should have just relaxed or slept or read something else!!!

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23 Tyla June 28, 2013 at 12:52 am

I could not agree more. My son is nearly 8 weeks now, and I made myself completely crazy by frantically reading and searching through books. The books I found the LEAST helpful were the ones that were the most ‘preachy’ and/or claimed to have a system that would solve any baby’s problems (ahem…baby whisperer!). The book I found the most useful was the Healthy Sleep Habits book- it seemed the most balanced, realistic and lacking in “here is the magic tactic/if you could just do X he would sleep.” I also found it provided lots of information and I am an information junkie, and luckily for me, the tactics discussed were quite successful with my son, when we sleep trained at the RIGHT time for him. We tried it earlier and it was a disaster. But, after waiting a couple of weeks and trying again it was really successful. Not painless, but successful. At one point though, I had to ban myself from books, so I think your advice is SO good, and I completely agree about talking to other moms. I had two friends who also had little ones and were up in the night that I texted with – this was a lifesaver!

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24 Jen in MN June 28, 2013 at 12:42 pm

I agree with you to a certain degree. I’m an info/preparation junkie, though, so reading some of the baby books helped me feel better. So I did!

As a mom of 2 daughters, ages 4 and 1: I feel Health Sleep Habits (Weissbluth) was pretty helpful. Not as a straight-through read, mind you – that’s way too much, varied info at once. But it’d be a good one for new moms to maybe check out from the library and read the intro + age-based section most relevant to their child.

Also thought the 5 S’s from Happiest Baby were pretty key. We do white noise (fan running) to this day with both our girls. Heck, the whole family sleeps with white noise. That, plus room-darkening curtains, falling asleep on their own, and an age-appropriate schedule – are the makings of 2 really good sleepers. I’m grateful because I know it’s certainly part temperament – but a little good guidance along the way has sure helped me out, too.

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25 Lisa C. June 28, 2013 at 3:04 pm

Very wise, Kath. I enjoy your blogs very much,!

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26 Ako July 12, 2013 at 5:41 pm

This post eased me so much. I have 2 weeks old boy. Breastfeeding is harder than I pictured and gives me some pains. Knowing you also experienced the similar matter made me realize that it is not only me going through these new challenges. Also, I read some books, but they did not do much to improve either. You are right! A baby’s mouth is so small at this point, so perfect launching might be harder. Again, thank you for sharing your personal experience.

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