What I'm Reading: Pregnancy, Baby & Parenting

In the past few years, I am ashamed to admit I have not read a lot of books (magazines and blogs are another story, I've read many many of those).  As a young girl and teen, reading was probably one of my most major hobbies. My idea of a fun weekend was going to the library by myself and coming home with a bag of books. I used to read the Babysitters Club and Sweet Valley books like they were going out of style.  I also read the Full House "Stephanie" books. Laugh all you want, they were awesome. I would also get passionate about new subjects seemingly each month and read books about those too (I once read books all about the history of doll houses for a month straight).

As I got older and the internet became more and more part of everyday life, I definitely noticed my reading began to decline.  Plus, working full time, blogging and other responsibilities left little time for reading.  

When I found out I was pregnant though, I knew I'd get back into reading because I wanted to learn all there is to know about pregnancy, babies and parenting.  I'm especially interested in books about parenting in various cultures and on baby's brain development.

Mayo Clinic- Guide to a Health Pregnancy (buy it here)

This is the first pregnancy book I got---someone wonderful actually sent it to me before I even got pregnant!  I like reading the weekly summaries and refer to it each week. It seems to have a lot more detailed information on labor, birth and newborn care than the week-by-week development, so I'll do a full review once I've gotten to that point.

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chau (buy it here)

A co-worker lent this book to me and I am so glad she did.  I think Chau's story was totally over-hyped in the media to make her out to be something different than what I read in the book.  Don't get me wrong---some of her parenting methods are definitely extreme, but the book reads more like a memoir of her own experiences raising her two daughters and not a parenting guide.  

Though guidance is exactly what I came out with as I read the last page.  I 100% agree with Chau's overall, underlying premise: that as a parent, you must invest in your child and push them to be the best they can be---because no one else will do that for your child.  How can a child reach their full potential if their own parent doesn't encourage and push them to achieve what they never thought was possible?  If you want your child to be great---show them they are capable of doing incredible things---even things they never thought they were capable of.  Another part of her book I appreciated was that she admits that being a strict parent, as she was, is hard.  It's much more difficult, time consuming, and heart-wrenching than being a parent who is more passive.  I was raised by very strict parents and though I do not agree with a lot of what went on in my childhood (the same way I don't agree with all of Chau's parenting experiences), I do believe that I am a more confident and motivated individual partly due to the way I was raised.  The bottom line/takeaway from Chau's book for me--- invest time in your children, even if it's not "easy" and push your children to achieve what you know they can---because no one else will do it for you and if you instill in your children that they can be great---they are more likely to rise to the occasion.  Let me know what you thought of the book if you've read it in the comments!

Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman (buy it here)

I am 81 pages into Brining Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman and I absolutely love it already.  The author didn't like Paris when she first moved there but she noticed that French children and babies seem so clam and well-behaved.  In the book, she explores the reasons for this and breaks down several of the concepts French parents follow, seemingly naturally or instinctively.  I cannot wait to finish this book and provide a full review.  Truthfully, I find myself more drawn to non-American parenting theories. I think every parent needs to do what works best for them and their child(ren), but for me, these more structured and disciplined parenting styles are more appealing.

The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp, M.D. (buy it here)

I have not started to read this one yet, but it came highly recommended by many friends and bloggers. I believe it's considered to be a must-have book for any new mom.

Dad's Pregnant Too! by Harlan Cohen (buy it here)

A friend of mine who is well into her pregnancy recommended this book to me. She originally bought it for her husband, but she enjoyed it so much herself that she told me I should get it for Kevin and we should read it together. That's the plan!

Baby Bargains (buy it here)

This book was another book I saw popping up on all of the mommy blogs I read. I look forward to checking out the money-saving tips and deals :)

What books would you recommend I check out and why?  Please leave your recommendations in the comments below and thank you!


  1. Wow, look at you getting super prepared with lots of reading! I have 3 children (a 2 year old and newborn twins) and I haven't even read half of the books you listed :) It's definitely not a bad thing to be prepared though!

    I love Baby Bargains...and along the same lines (one of the same authors), you HAVE to pick up Baby 411. It is the absolute best book I've found on caring for a newborn through the first year. I read most of it prior to the birth of my first son just so I was familiar with different things that would come up. Skip over What to Expect the First Year.

    The other book I absolutely loved during my first pregnancy was The Girlfriends Guide to Pregnancy. It is HILARIOUS and, to me, more helpful than all of the medical books that present a lot of "facts."

    You've probably already seen it, but if you haven't, check out the Pregnant Chicken blog...the most popular posts are listed on the top. It's so funny!

  2. Thanks V! I have read excerpts from "Bringing up Bebe" and I too identify more with non-American parenting methods. I will definitely have to order that one. Hubby and I are TTC and on month 3 of trying. Let's hope third time is the charm xo Hope you're feeling well!

  3. Wihtout a doubt, the BEST book I read was "Baby Proofing Your Marriage."

    I read it when I was pregnant, read it again when he was born...honestly, we read it multiple times the first year. It does a wonderful job of helping parents not "keep score" (which is SUCH an easy trap to fall into) & encouraging us to communicate through sleep depravation.


    These were the ones I loved when working through postpartum depression (although I hope you won't need them!):
    Pregnancy Postpartum Workbook
    Beyond the Blues
    Down Came the Rain (Brooke Shields)
    It Sucked & Then I Cried (Heather Armstrong)

  4. I used to be pretty much obsessed with The Babysitters Club too! I haven't read any pregnancy books, but that Bringing Up Bebe one sounds really interesting!

  5. A "Girlfriend's Guide to Pregnancy" is so funny. You will get a good laugh out of this book. It tells you how it is in reality. I am so glad I read that book I had alot of AHA moments.

    Another great read. I read after I had my son. "Baby Wise." I just following their general concepts on putting your baby on a schedule. I definitely needed help with that since I was going to go back to work and he was going to our daycare provider. I didn't follow the book word for word, but their main concepts they preached. it worked for us!! My son is an amazing sleeper and he loves being on a schedule. It great for mommy and daddy.

    A parenting book I am read "Love & Logic." I too was brought up with very strict rules. I love the concept of this book. Very loving and smart. I tried it a little bit on my almost 2 year old toddler and it has worked some. This book is definitely a book to read once your LO is older.

  6. Thanks for sharing those books. I don't have any children yet, but I picked up a copy of Taking Chage of Your Fertility on your recommendation. It has lots of great info. I'll be making a note of these books for the future.

  7. This is a great list- thanks!! I've been looking to buy a few pregnancy and baby books myself, since I found out a few weeks ago that I am expecting! I've also heard that Baby 411 is a great book for learning about newborn care.

  8. This is a great list- thanks!! I've been looking to buy a few pregnancy and baby books myself, since I found out a few weeks ago that I am expecting! I've also heard that Baby 411 is a great book for learning about newborn care.

  9. Happiest Baby on the Block is a great book 100% recommended. The Father's Pregnant too I find weird though. Theres a bit in there that goes like "don't cheat on your pregnant wife!" My husband thought the book is assuming men are stupid or something :/

    My fave book to read during pregnancy was "Pea in the Pod". It covered pregnancy and early infanthood and also focused on labouring techniques for ladies trying a natural birth which was very helpful to me.

    Enjoy the pregnancy and baby books but also take some time to yourself. I found though I read a tone, nothing prepared me much for the baby hahah! And now I wish I had slept more ;)

  10. Looking forward to your final review of the "Bringing Up Bebe" book. I am American, but my husband is from France and even though a baby is a few years down the road for us, I know he is going to be an excellent father. He has a gift with babies/children -- he is the "child whisperer" if you will LOL -- and definitely has that disciplined/structured style you mention that was no doubt passed on from his parents.

    Happy reading and CONGRATULATIONS! :)

  11. I just had my first baby on Halloween, and I read A Girlfriend's Guide to pregnancy. The author basically tells it like it is and speaks to you like a friend. I've recommended it to so many friends who ended up saying it was their favorite. There are even sections that you're supposed to show to your husband and some of them are pretty funny yet totally accurate. :)

  12. How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm is one I would highly recommend. It looks at multiple areas of parenting, contrasting different parts of the world with American Parenting. I couldn't put it down, it was such a good read!

  13. You are going to be such an amazing mom! :) It is the best thing in Life! :)



  14. I read the big book of birth and the nursing mothers companion. They are factual books but I really thought they provided good information and made me feel better prepared.

  15. I am going to have to get that Bringing up Bebe one. Sounds good.

    I read Happiest Baby on the Block, What to Expect When You're Expecting, Your Pregnancy Week by Week, Baby Bargains and am now reading What to Expect the First Year PLUS The No Cry Sleep Solution.

  16. I have a copy of 'Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother' and although I do believe that it's important to raise your children the best that they can be (especially in the world that we are living in) it's not good or wise to go overboard. I think the most important thing is to show your children love and affection. I'm only saying this because I have a close friend who grew up with extremely strict parents who never let her do anything and she felt suffocated all the time. Well, as soon as she turned 18 she started becoming very rebellious. Since then she has calmed down and actually turned out to be a pretty successful and hardworking person, but she told me her parents were the ones who made her resort to going through that rebellious stage in her life.

  17. Secrets of the Baby Whisperer and Baby 411. My hubby gave me the first book you mentioned for my birthday last year when we found we were expecting. I recommend the Happiest Baby On the Block DVD, good for showing you the techniques that he talks about.


  18. Oh and one more thing, read A LOT about baby sleep. I think that is the one thing I wish I had done more research on. I had no idea how complicated it is! While you might change your mind about sleep training your baby and if you believe in crying it out (CIO) do all the research when you are still getting sleep, it sinks in better that way and then you can make the decisions of what is right for you guys when it comes to that time. Ferber has a book and also Weisblueth and the No Cry Sleep Solution should round out all the perspectives.

  19. Thanks for the recs! I have a 9 month old and the only books I've read from your list is the Mayo Clinic Guide to Pregnancy and Baby Bargains. I recommend both. I like the Mayo Clinic guide bc it is endorsed by medical professionals/organizations, and gives you more of a technical/medical perspective. Like a few other commentators, I've read The Girlfriends Guide to Pregnancy and thought it was hilarious. It's a fun, light read. I used the Baby Bargains book to pick out many of the bigger baby items (car seat, stroller, etc) and loved their ranking system.

    I haven't read any schedule/sleep training books, but Ferber is usually highly recommended, as is Baby Wise. It definitely depends on your baby and your parenting style, but those two recommend a more schedule oriented approach, so I think you will like them!

  20. For a fun book on pregnancy style and advice I really enjoyed this book:


    The best book in my opinion on sleep training is this book:


  21. The best book I read was Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Twins (or child) by Dr Weisbluth. It really goes into the science behind sleep and hels with methods for sleep training. We had great success with our kids, so now I swear by it.

  22. We still aren't pregnant so I don't have any recommendations, but I totally forgot about the Stephanie books! I loved those too =)

  23. Another recommendation for Baby 411. I now have the Toddler 411 book, and it has been very useful as well.

  24. It may not be your chosen path or ideal way of parenting, but the best books I read were the Dr Sears books. I took a lot of information from the attachment parenting style - to me it felt like the most natural way. I think you have the best idea though, read as many books that deal with as many different styles of parenting and glean the bits from each that suit you and your personality...but most of all, the personality of your baby.
    It may sound crazy, but I felt I 'knew' my son way before he was even born. His personality shone through even in the womb and the first time I held him in my arms, just minutes old, it was confirmed that attachment parenting would suit him and would suit us as a family.
    Just remember your instinct will kick in and you will know what is best for you all.
    Best of luck to you for a healthy, happy pregnancy and birth! xx

  25. I just ordered The Happiest Baby on the Block from Amazon. Be sure to let us know what you think of the other books.

    I've been reading a few breastfeeding books, as well as skimming through What to Expect (though to be honest-I haven't been that impressed with it).

  26. Great recommendations! Would you also be able to rec the top pregnancy/mommy blogs out there?

  27. Congrats! (a little late :( I was so happy to find your blog a few months back especially since you are from my home town and since having to move away several years ago, I love anything to do with "home"..and your style is so spot on!

    As a Mama of two, I am so excited for you join the best "club" in the world: Motherhood! It is wholly life-changing, awe-inspiring, and challenging. And you will LOVE IT!

    The books that really helped me were the Baby-Wise books. I look at it as a buffet, I picked and chose what I wanted to use from it. But it really helped me with some of the sleep trouble-shooting I encountered. My son followed it really well.

    My advice on books though..umm if you want "advice"? Don't get discouraged if your baby doesn't respond to it. Some things are trial and error. Give yourself ALOT of grace as you are getting to your baby.

    (I learned this the hard way after my daughter proved to want to do things completely differently than my son!)

    Ok..sorry, this is super long. Maybe it should have been in message form ;)

  28. Next on my list is Bringing Up Bebe- everyone I know loves that one! I also have heard a ton of new moms rave about Baby 411, I'm thinking that might be a purchase pretty soon. Not a book- but I started using the What To Expect App on my phone, I get daily tips and advice- its the first thing I look at every morning!

  29. thank you SO much for your suggestions, I just ordered some more books!

  30. Another rec for healthy sleep habits happy child. I like Dr. Weisbluth's approach to sleep training in that you should do what you feel comfortable with and he gives you many different ways to help understand what is going on with your child's sleep habits throughout their first 5 years. Happiest baby on the block was amazing for the first 3 months. Also a good book to have is caring for your infant and young child. It is a great reference book for when your baby gets sick.

  31. Hi Veronika (Veronica is my daughter's name!)

    I have a wonderful 12 month old baby girl and the best tip I can give you is just to not get too wrapped up in trying to read every book ever written on being pregnant and having a baby. If I'm honest, women have been having babies for ages and your body knows what to do and so will your instincts once baby comes.

    I have read both "The Happiest Baby" and "Bringing up Bebe". The Happiest Baby offered tips that I thought were going to be really useful and I never ended up using them once. My baby girl hated being swaddled! Bringing up Bebe is a great story and while reading it you find yourself thinking - of course, if only we could all do it like the French! They seem like they've really got it figured out - babies "doing their nights" at 3 months...haha. The author offers a nice story, but in the end I think you will find that when baby comes, you'll have an adorable, tiny little boss on your hands who now calls most of the shots, and you really wouldn't have it any other way ;)

    Congratulations and Best Wishes!

  32. I totally read those Full House books too! I had forgotten about those. I definitely want to read that book about French parenting as well. I'm really interested!

  33. The only pregnancy/parenting books I read were Belly Laughs by Jenny McCarthy and Great Expectations: Baby's First Year by Sandy and Marcie Jones.

    Belly Laughs was not necessarily informational but it was pretty funny and made me feel better about a lot of the nonsense that comes along with being pregnant. Baby's First Year I thought was really great because it really gives you a ton of information about exactly that: your baby's first year of life and then some. I felt much more prepared after reading the first few chapters to care for my son as a newborn. I still read it as my son is only 8 months old and I am very happy that I invested in it vs the What To Expect Books (I borrowed a copy of What To Expect/Expecting during my pregnancy and was disappointed with how the book was put together - just mainly a compilation of questions with answers. I found it frustrating to read in that format and wanted something that read more like a textbook if you will than the advice column page in Seventeen magazine).

  34. Definitely Baby 411! I read this prior to having my daughter and have referred to it again and again. It was a very practical guide to what to do with a newborn/baby for those of us who are first time parents. If you read Baby Bargains, check out Lucie's List (online) - it is a very straightforward guide to what you need to buy and also has some helpful information on what to expect after delivery. Finally, I have really enjoyed The Wonder Weeks - you might need to get it from Amazon or online as it is a print on demand book but I really enjoy its take on baby's brain development. I find that type of reading interesting and it is a good book to refer to as your baby grows and develops.

  35. I'm sure you have enough to read, but I'll give you another (after baby is born and when you're ready to sleep again! - Dr. Richard Ferber, Sleep Training. My twins sleep so well thanks to that book! And I agree with Chau that being strict with your kids is worth it - it has to be equal discipline & LOVE :)
    XO Lulu

  36. Jenny McCarthy's Belly Laughs was one of my favorites. It's so funny and tells it like it is.

    My feeling on books though is use it only as a reference. Each child and family and situation is different. There is no "one-size-fits-all". My SIL read every book out there when she was pregnant and then stressed herself out when she had a situation come up with her son and the books didn't "tell" her what to do.

    Good luck! You're going tube a great mom! Don't stress, as long as your little one is loved, he/she will be just fine. ;o)

  37. Ina Maes guide to breast feeding and also the nursing mothers companion are ones I highly reccomend for closer to birth. Breast feeding is natural but a learned process for both mom and baby and even though the books can't convey what a true challenge it is demand wise it really is good to read up on it. Also about the sleep books, do t read them till baby is 3 months old and even then don't stress about it. Your baby will sleep and on their own eventually but sometimes it's hard to see the forest thru the trees if that makes sense when it comes to sleep. Melissa, mom to a 4 year old and 1 month old boy

  38. Baby 411- essential.

    Other crucial books: Look into watching the Moms on Call online training seminar. It's only $30, but they "guarantee" your baby will be sleeping through the night by 12 weeks. Other bloggers have raved about it, so I'm going to check it out this time. I didn't know about this with our first daughter, and Happiest Baby on the Block saved us, but we did end up having to sleep train her at 4 months. We used the SleepEasy Solution for that, and now she sleeps 12-14 hours a night and takes two naps - it's awesome! Sleep is SO IMPORTANT for mom and baby, so anything you can learn about it now is critical.

  39. Just a helpful hint if you don't get through the happiest baby on the block book - there is a one hour DVD that you and your husband can watch together and it is exactly the same thing, just condensed down (I have the book and the DVD)! But the techniques in that are great - I would just wait til the end of your pregnancy to watch the DVD/read the book.

    Also -- Breastfeeding Made Simple is the BEST breastfeeding book. I have made it a year nursing Kennedy and this book is definitely part of my success. I also did a big blog post on my breastfeeding journey.

    Sleep Books - No Cry Sleep Solution (if you aren't into cry it out) is great, and Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child as a happy medium between CIO and not (I don't like CIO so I adapted it to what I do). Baby Led Weaning is great for starting solids.

    I liked all the iphone apps during my pregnancy, especially the baby center and what to expect apps.

  40. Hi there, I have a 7 year old and the only book I bought was The Baby Whisperer. It is perfect way to get your little on on a relaxed schedule. I did not follow the book to the letter but the Babywhisperer forums have been a total lifeline and you will make some great friends. They are all about working with your baby so that you are all happy. While I could not follow it all for my child when they were a baby they are a great guide. I truly feel going with your gut is crucial too. You can read loads of books but baby's are individuals and sometimes you just need to do what you need to do!!

  41. I am a 4th year medical student, I am 29, and I have a one year old son. I HIGHLY recommend The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer. Good luck!

  42. I was JUST talking about those Full House Stephanie books the other day, they were my favorite. I don't know anyone else who has read them, too funny! :)

  43. I've been following your blog for awhile, but never commented. First, Congratulations! I would have to agree with others who have read Belly Laughs, by Jenny McCarthy. While it's not a "medical" book, there are some sound truths about you and pregnancy which no other books will tell you.
    Best of luck to you these next months!

  44. Hey, Veronika!

    I did read and enjoy Bringing Up Bebe, The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, and Happiest Baby on the Block. I actually reviewed the first on my blog (http://1000thvoice.wordpress.com/2012/08/01/book-review-bringing-up-bebe/) and will be reviewing the second one soon.

    I also found Amy Chua to not be as bad as she was portrayed in the media. She made some good points in her book that really made me think about how I'm raising my daughter. Chua's advance praise for Bringing Up Bebe is on the back cover and makes a really good point. I think all of us (Western, French and Tiger mothers) can learn from the successes and failures of other cultures.

    Also, my daughter is almost three, and I still do some of the things I learned in Happiest Baby on the Block. The follow up, Happiest Toddler on the Block, is also good for understanding your kiddo.

  45. I went to the store to check out "Bringing Up Bebe" after reading your post and stumled upon another book which I bought and am now reading - it's called "The Happiest Baby Guide to Great Sleep", by the same author as "Happiest Baby on the Block", a book I read and really liked! My little man is 5 months so here's hoping this book gives us some good advice!

    I look forward to reading your full review of Bringing Up Bebe once you're done :)

  46. I couldn't even finish "What to expect when you're expecting". Everything I read that could go wrong just started freaking me out.I ended up being pregnant with identical twin girls, all I wanted to do was sleep, sleep, and sleep some more. They are now 8 and I have yet to read their "First years" and we are doing great!!


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