Three Must-Read Books for New Moms

Last night we attended what we thought would be a low-key birthday party for our longtime friend, Uncle Lee, who is not actually anyone’s uncle. He and his wife, Mandy, pulled off a quick little last-minute shin-dig at the Davenport Lounge. After hugs, kisses and a few high-fives, Lee whipped out his phone and showed us a favorite picture… a sonogram of their first child. This wasn’t just a birthday party. More kisses, more hugs, more high-fives and few added tears of joy.

Lee and Mandy are that couple everyone prays will be parents someday because everything they bring into the world is always good.

While I’ve learned over the year to offer parenting advice only when asked, there are a few things new parents don’t typically think about while marinating in gestational bliss.

There is a reason you hear so many mothers joke/lament about the last time they actually read a book. And since you have some time before baby arrives, try to get in as much reading as possible because you will soon be tired and hormonal and your brain will turn to mush.

Here are three books every new parent should read before giving birth.

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child

The most valuable thing you can wrapped your head around before baby arrives is the importance of sleep and it’s direct impact on the cognitive development of the young, developing brain. Sleep training is the first real parenting mountain that you must climb because it involves allowing your child to be uncomfortable (cry), albeit only temporarily, so that healthy sleep habits are established. Healthy sleep = happy child. Every child is different, of course, but if you understand the science behind sleep as it relates to babies and children, you will be ahead of the curve. This is one area you don’t have to learn as you go. Arm yourself and start thinking about how you feel about all this sleep training stuff. And be warned: sleep training is a hot topic in the parenting jungle. You will find very strong opinions with every approach… and there are many. Take the time to figure out where you might fit into the conversation.

bright from the start

Bright from the Start: The Simple, Science-Backed Way to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind from Birth to Age 3

Again, we’re talking brain development. If you don’t think screen time directly impacts your kid’s long-term ability to think, learn, focus, sustain, communicate, relate, or stimulate, think again. For the “normal” child, apps and videos are babysitters, not educational tools. They do not help your child become smarter no matter how you slice it. Accept that and move on. This book with help you set your kid’s brain up for success.

belly laughs

Belly Laughs, 10th anniversary edition: The Naked Truth about Pregnancy and Childbirth

Long before launching a worldwide crusade against vaccinations, McCarthy actually used to make us moms laugh so hard we’d pee, which, by the way, happens more and more once you have kids. So do your kegels. If you can’t laugh about it, what’s the point? Find the humor and enjoy the ride.

the art of discipline.

Discipline can be a downright dirty word that stains the canvases of our parenting masterpieces. A scream, a scribble or a sleepy time battle, may create splatters of red rage or depressing blues.

Every move you make as a parent is an opportunity to add perspective to the bigger picture, so take a moment and think about what the word discipline means to you.

Does it result in a cascade of thoughts imbued with visions of time out, favorite toys being taken away, or restricted time on the Nintendo DS?

Is discipline something that you do TO your children or something you do WITH your children?

Quite often disciplining children turns into a dynamic of throwing our weight around as parents and disciplining children because their behavior is inconvenient or annoying, not because it is morally wrong. With bold strokes we punish children because of what they are doing wrong instead of teaching them good ways to act.

Dr. Justin Coulson writes in his book What Your Child Needs From You, that true discipline helps a child discover his or her own reason for making good choices, rather than forcing them to behave out of fear or promise of a reward.

True discipline takes the management of our children’s behavior out of our hands and puts it into theirs. Children then internalize correct ways of behaving and see how problems can be dealt with in a mature way, feeling a sense of competence because they are the ones doing the thinking and talking.

Does this mean you should adopt a parenting style remiss of consequences? No.

The research urges parents to consider prioritizing relationship above behavior. Become the coach, not the parenting police. By teaching your child good ways to act, the instances of needing to manage behavior will decrease.

Here are some ways to get started:

1. Induction. How will children know how to act correctly if they don’t know what is expected of them? Set some ground rules with your children and discuss them frequently. Choose three to four rules for the family based on your values and do this collaboratively when your children are old enough to contribute. If respect is an important value, you may brainstorm ways in which you will show respect.

Here is an example of a ground rule:

In our family, we show respect to one another in our words and in our actions.

  • We speak in a kind tone and keep our voices calm.
  • We wait our turn to speak if someone else is talking.
  • We solve our problems with words.

2. Perspective Taking. Find opportunities for your children to take the perspective of someone else. When a conflict arises , encourage them to play the part of the other person and then ask open-ended questions like,

“What was it like when ____happened?”

“How did it make you feel?”

“How could (insert other person) help you feel better?”

3. Understand your child’s development. You will know what your child is capable of handling by understanding where they are developmentally.

Did you know that a two-year-old is not capable of fully understanding the consequences of his/her behavior and a child isn’t capable of following multiple commands until the age of six?

4. Gentle Reminders. If your child has forgotten a rule, do the following:

  1. Get within arm’s reach of your child and call her by name.
  2. Look at her and quietly remind her of the issue with as few words as possible. Brief and calm. “Your backpack” or “Brush teeth”. Sometimes nonverbal cues, like pointing to the dish at the table, works as well.
  3. Say please and smile kindly.

Discipline, when shared WITH your children, can be a vibrant yellow that adds incredible dimension to the big-picture of parenting.

What will you add to your parenting palette today?

Skip to toolbar