I'm a bit of an autodidact.
Rather than ask someone how to do something (What!? Talk to another human being?? Why do you think I'm a freelance
writer?), I will instead read every single book on a topic that exists. For
example, I read approximately three trillion books on freelance writing and
business building before making the leap. Since becoming a yogi, my shelves
have filled up with yoga-centric reads. And when I became pregnant, of course I
picked up several books on pregnancy.
About two months before my due
date, as I was paging through the final chapters of one of my many
pregnancy-related books, my mom asked, "Shouldn't you be reading about how
to take care of a baby?"
I shifted gears, did some speed
reading and, by the time Emily popped out, I was "ready." (Ha.)
For all the rest of you new moms
out there, here are the five books I use (and still refer to repeatedly) in
order to keep my child—and myself—alive and kicking:
1. "One Year to An Organized Life
I'm still finding this one useful.
book, by Regina Leeds and Meagan Francis, is technically meant to be
started as soon as you get pregnant. Which obviously I did because I am nothing
if not eager to learn. But after prepping for your baby by organizing your
files, cleaning out your closets, packing your hospital bag and more, this
book continues through 20 weeks postpartum, guiding you through thank you
notes, sleep planning (for yourself, not your baby), other forms of self-care,
diaper bags, etc. As someone who requires at least some semblance of
organization in order to maintain my sanity, I'm still finding this one useful.
2. "The Baby Owner's Manual"
What I really needed was something that covered all the basics.
A lot of the books I stumbled upon when searching for the best motherhood
how-tos were in-depth dives into specific aspects of parenting: soothing; sleep
training; discipline. What I really needed
(because I knew literally nothing about how to keep another human being alive;
I could barely keep myself alive) was something that covered all the basics.
And I mean the most basic of basics. I knew this
tongue-in-cheek book by Louis Borgenicht, MD, and Joe Borgenicht, DAD (teehee), fit the bill as soon as I saw the subtitle: Operating Instructions,
Trouble-Shooting Tips and Advice on First-Year Maintenance. I ended up
dog-earing pages on swaddling techniques, breastfeeding tips, "diaper
installation," giving baths and "medical maintenance." Should I
be admitting this?
3. "Eat, Sleep, Poop"
Cohen takes any worry I could possibly have and casually dismisses it.
would like to hunt down the author of this
book, Scott W. Cohen, MD, FAAP, and hug him for a really, really,
uncomfortably long time. I still think about sending him fan mail, but I worry
that would be awkward. Much like "The Baby
Owner's Manual," this book covers all the basics of baby's first year. What
makes it especially brilliant, though, is how Cohen takes any worry I could
possibly have and casually dismisses it. Sneezes? Don't worry. That's normal.
It'll pass. Baby acne? Don't worry. That's normal. It'll pass. Does she sound
like Darth Vader when she breathes? Don't worry. She is definitely not struggling to survive with every breath. It'll
pass. Dr. Cohen: I love you.
4. "Parents Need to Eat Too"
Debbie Koenig's recipe are both simple and delicious, meant to be put together during baby's naps.
disclosure: I actually know the author of this
cookbook personally (and just found out she also writes for mom.me!). But that doesn't make the fact that this is THE BEST
COOKBOOK I HAVE EVER OWNED any less valid. I am not talented in the kitchen.
Never have been. Add an unpredictable baby to the mix and things become UTTER
CHAOS. Debbie Koenig's recipe are both simple and delicious, meant to be put
together during baby's naps or while holding one's child one-handed. There's
even an entire chapter that breaks recipes down into parts that can be done
throughout the day over the course of several naps. And on top of that, each
recipe is accompanied with tips on how to use the aforementioned ingredients to
make a meal for your child as well, assuming they've been started on solids.
Debbie Koenig: I love you, too.
5. BabyLit books
Though I don't think Em was a fan of "Romeo and Juliet."
This final suggestion is actually something you
can read to your baby, so you can train him or her to be a raging book nerd just like you. I found out about these BabyLit books when a
relative gave several of them to Emily as a gift. They're a way to introduce
baby to the classics that's more palatable to them. Many of them, for
instance, are counting primers, teaching baby how to count up to 10. So in "Jane Eyre," we learned there was one
governess. In "Pride & Prejudice," we
learned there were two "rich gentlemen." And on and on. I actually
squeed when I unwrapped these. Though I don't think Em was a fan of "Romeo and Juliet." When I let her hold
the book, she actually slammed it closed and started crying. You're never too
young to be a critic.