top of page

Pregnancy, Childcare, and Parenting Book Reviews

Long before I ever got pregnant, I read lots of books about pregnancy and parenting. They were just topics I was interested in, and I figured I wouldn’t have time to read all the books I wanted to during the nine months I was actually pregnant. Here are some of my top recommendations. (Remember audio books are always an option when you’re crunched for time!)

Pregnancy/ Birth

by Emily Oster

We’ve all heard of (and perhaps read) What to Expect When You’re Expecting. My own mom commented on what an abundance of pregnancy related resources I have at my fingertips now. “When I was pregnant with you in the ‘90s,” she told me wistfully, “it was What to Expect and that was pretty much it.” While technically scientifically accurate, many moms for decades have found that book to be anxiety inducing and information overload.

Emily Oster is an economics professor at Brown University, an author of books about pregnancy and parenting, and a mom. She aspires to create a world of more relaxed pregnant women and parents. When Oster was pregnant with her first child, she was in search of a resource that would provide her with information without scaring her to death about all the terrible (but uncommon) things that could happen to her unborn baby. So she began sifting through what the science had to say.

In her book, Expecting Better, Oster cites reputable scientific studies to provide readers with evidence surrounding many topics of interest for pregnant women. Such topics include what foods and beverages are safe to consume, exercise, and weight gain. This book provided helped to set my mind at ease around many issues about which I was fearful. Science is empowering!

Partner Relationships

by John M. Gottman and Julie Schwartz Gottman

John Gottman and his wife Julie founded the Gottman Institute, “a research-based approach to relationships.” Together they have written numerous books and articles and led workshops and retreats addressing how to develop and maintain healthy and mutually satisfying long-term relationships. This book addresses key issues to discuss before baby arrives so that an expecting couple can be better prepared for how to keep their relationship alive and well even with all of the changes and challenges that comes with welcoming a new baby into their lives.

This book focuses on maintaining intimacy, how to appreciate your spouse rather than constantly criticize, awareness and treatment for postpartum depression, and developing a nurturing and loving environment for your child that will help him thrive physically emotionally, and cognitively. A key take-home message from this book is that, if the parents have a healthy, satisfying relationship, they will be better parents who are able to provide a consistent, loving atmosphere for their child.

Parenting/ Childcare

by Emily Oster

After Oster had her first daughter, she felt similar to how she’d felt when she was pregnant: in search of evidence to help her determine what was best for her little bundle of joy.

Should she sleep train? Co-sleep? What about breastfeeding versus formula? When was the best time to introduce solid foods? What about common allergens? So much uncertainty! She delved into the research and wrote a book summarizing her findings to provide new parents with evidence surrounding these common topics, empowering them to make decisions that feel right for their families.

by Robin Kaplan

When I was pregnant, I was surprised how many women asked me flat out if I was planning to breastfeed (or just assumed that I was and gave me their unsolicited advice). Although I was planning to, I believe this is a deeply personal and complicated decision. Mothers choose to breastfeed or not for a wide variety of reasons, and some mothers who wish to are unable to.

Latch provides judgement-free, practical information and tips for how to get started with breastfeeding and maintain a healthy breastfeeding relationship for as long as it is mutually beneficial to both mother and child. Kaplan addresses topics such as strategies for getting baby to latch, establishing a milk supply, dealing with over and under supply, pumping, various breastfeeding positions, and nursing multiples. She also offers resources to utilize if you encounter difficulties, such as how to connect with a lactation consultant. I found this book to be a great resource to get me started with a solid foundation for my breastfeeding journey.

byLaura Hunter and Jennifer Walker

Laura and Jennifer are pediatric nurses and mothers of several children each with many decades of experience between them. Their three-book series addresses how to care for babies during the newborn through toddler stages and how to establish healthy eating and sleeping schedules and habits. All three books address signs and symptoms of common illnesses for children of specific ages, as well as first aid information.

Their first book, Basic Baby Care, offers guidance on suggested sleeping and feeding schedules for babies at various age ranges, as their sleep needs and the amount of time they are able to stay awake between naps rapidly changes as they grow. This book was a life saver for our family when we were floundering, trying to distinguish our son’s sleepy cues and keeping track of “wake windows.” This book has helped us to establish healthy eating and sleeping habits from early on. The predictability of the schedule helped us to tune into his needs more readily and accurately, and offered us more freedom to determine when would be the best time to plan activities during the day.

Moms on Call books two and three, Next Steps and Toddlers, similarly provides practical advice for sleeping and feeding schedules as well as addressing topics such as temper tantrums and potty training.

by Maryann Jacobsen

For about the first six months of life, feeding babies is quite simple: breast milk or formula every few hours, repeat. However, we begin introducing solid foods to our babies between four and six months which become the bulk of their nutrition by around age one and there is a lot more to consider! I wanted to prioritize helping my son develop a well-rounded, healthy approach to food, to become an adventurous eater, and for him to view food in a neutral light -- not holding some foods high on a nutritional pedestal and others as “forbidden.”

I had read quite a bit about intuitive eating for my own information and wanted to model that approach for my son. We were naturally born intuitive eaters which, put simply, is eating when you are hungry, stopping when you are full, and tuning in to your cravings. However, many of us lost that ability along the way when we were fed the message that we should always “clean our plates” or -- on the other end of the spectrum -- eat as little as possible, avoid sugar and carbs, or any other number of prescribed methods of eating.

This book outlines a method for offering a wide range of foods to your child in a way that eliminates the pressure for them to eat certain foods or a certain amount of foods. Jacobson highlights the importance of using Ellyn Satter’s division of responsibility in feeding. This concept suggests that it is the parents’ responsibility to provide well-balanced meals at reliable and consistent intervals throughout the day, and it is the child’s responsibility to determine what food they will eat and how much. Jacobsen offers suggested menu items for children of different ages, as their nutritional needs change.

by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

Faber and Mazlish outline strategies for talking to your kids in a respectful way from the very beginning, even before they can respond with words. They provide a framework for understanding how kids perceive the world and common situations and struggles they come across.

Faber and Mazlish also show us how to help kids identify and name their feelings as well as validate those feelings for them. Many of us were brought up with a be tough, “sticks and stones” mentality, but what we’re discovering now and many of us are addressing through therapy and self-reflection, is that’s not the best way to raise emotionally intelligent individuals who are in touch with their own emotions. Individuals who understand it’s not only permissible, but encouraged to experience and express those feelings.

After reading this book and applying the strategies to students in my classroom for practice, I’ve found them to be extremely helpful. They work well with adults, too! There are helpful comic strips throughout the book, too, that provide an overview of each strategy in a quick visual format if you want to suggest the book to a friend of family member who is short on time. This book is certainly for older toddler-aged kids and beyond, but I still found it a great read and a good resource to help me start wrapping my brain around this way of interacting with my son even while he’s still quite young. I’m sure I’ll go back and re-read this book in another few years.

by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson

If you like How To Talk… you’ll probably also like The Whole-Brain Child. Siegel and Bryson present many very similar concepts surrounding helping your child to understand their emotions and their brains so they can better process their feelings and life experiences.

Their idea is that if kids can understand why their body is feeling a certain way, for example, their stomach hurts when they are anxious, we can help them unpack the emotion and discuss the root cause. This allows kids to experience a complete emotional cycle, rather than fighting an unpleasant emotion, burying it, and then having it resurface later and they have no idea why they’re feeling the way they are. I wish my parents had read this book when I was little!

31 views1 comment

Recent Posts

See All

1 Comment

Unknown member
Oct 27, 2021

These are great! Thanks so much Calesse. 😉

M, ~c

bottom of page