As the mother of a 9-month-old, there are books that I have found to be invaluable these past few months. Funny how I can be a professional counselor who once handled crisis cases that walked into my office on a regular basis, but when it came to being a new mom, the simplest things could cause panic to rise up in me.

“Is she crying? Is she in pain? Why is her eye oozing yellow stuff? Do I need to take her to the doctor?

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Is she getting enough to eat? She hasn’t pooped in four days? Is she ok? Is it ok that she isn’t sitting up yet?” The questions have gone on and on. Thankfully, mothers before me knew the perfect books to buy for me to get me through this time of learning and questions.

They are books I have referenced often these past nine months, and if asked, are the ones I would most highly recommend to any expectant mother.

What to Expect the First Year

I had already fallen in love with What to Expect When You’re Expecting during my pregnancy, so I was excited to receive What to Expect the First Year at a baby shower, even though it wasn’t on my registry list.

Like its predecessor, What to Expect the First Year starts with a couple of introductory chapters and then separates into a chapter-by-chapter account of what to expect each month of the first year of your baby’s life. At the beginning of each chapter is a section entitled “What Your Baby May be Doing”.

This section is then further broken down into three additional sections, titled, “By the end of this month your baby should be able to”, “… will probably be able to”, and “… may possibly be able to.”

The format of the remainder of the chapter follows a question-and-answer style, with some of the most commonly asked questions in the first year and extensive answers. The end of the book has additional chapters which address topics like taking care of baby in the different seasons, infant first aid, what to do when your baby is sick, and special needs babies.

Your Baby’s First Year

Another informative and helpful book is Your Baby’s First Year, by Steven Pl. Shelov, M.D., M.S., F.A.A.P. This particular book contains chapters which address topics ranging from breast feeding to formula feeding, choosing a pediatrician, and vaccinations. The chapters are then broken down into different phases of a baby’s life, including the first month, one month to three months, four months to seven months, and eight months through twelve months. Each section contains information pertaining to baby’s growth and development, possible parenting issues, potential health concerns, feeding, and behavior.

The book wraps up with information on miscellaneous topics ranging from stay at home fathers to adoption issues.

It is a small book, but extremely comprehensive and informative, and has probably been my most referenced book to date.

Baby and Child care

Although Baby and Childcare is put out by Focus on the Family, a religious organization, the book is not religious in nature (although there may be references periodically throughout the book that do reflect the Christian faith).

Written by a medical doctor, this book, too, is comprehensive and informative in its approach. It is split into chapters highlighting the major growth periods of a baby’s life, including the first three months, three to six months, six to twelve months and twelve to twenty-four months.

What I especially like about this book is that it is not just geared towards babies, but also addresses all of the stages of a child’s life, including two-year-olds, three- to four-year-olds, five- to eleven-year-olds, and the adolescent years.

In addition to the major life periods in a child’s life, this book has chapters that pertain to issues such as sexual identity in childhood, ADHD, eating disorders, education issues, divorce and its effect on children, family conflict, and death.

The appendix of the book includes several colorful photographs and graphics for further education on certain topics. This book will certainly be a parent’s companion until the child finally leaves the house, and though it is a bit pricey as far as parenting books go, it is worth the investment.

Touch points

Touchpoints, by Dr. Berry Brazelton, takes an approach to parenting that is different from the other parenting books previously mentioned. Coming from both a physical standpoint as well as a psychoanalytic standpoint, Dr. Brazelton touches on key physical, cognitive, emotional, and behavioral points in a baby’s first year. As the back of the book states, “Touchpoints are the universal spurts of development and the trying periods of regression that accompany [babies] through childhood.

Dr. Brazelton uses them as windows to help parents understand their child’s behavior and prevent future problems.” This book is a great reference tool for parents to go to when they sense an unexplained change in their baby and are at their wit’s end trying to figure out what is going on.

I would read certain parts of this book and have an “ah-ha” moment with my own daughter, as I realized that a new developmental milestone was about to appear, thus causing her to seem to regress in her behavior.

breastfeed your baby

If you choose to breastfeed your baby, the how-to manual I would recommend is Breastfeeding Your Baby, by Jane Moody, Jane Britten, and Karen Hogg. Not only does this book contain helpful advice and sections that address every new breastfeeding mother’s questions and concerns, it also includes personal stories and practical advice from over 200 women. It is a book that a new mom can read and feel surrounded by support in this new venture of breastfeeding.

Being a new parent is both exhausting and exhilarating, exciting and confusing. Don’t try to wade through these first months, and even years, alone. Instead, employ the support of friends and relatives who have been there before you.

And when those friends and relatives aren’t able to get to the phone when you call with the question, “My baby just shot vomit clear across the room! What do I do?” having a book or two on hand that addresses every scenario known to new parents is a great help.

Pic of the Day: My dog HATES having his picture taken

My dog HATES having his picture taken