Susan sent us an email a while back asking about parenting books for babies. She's interested in laying a good foundation for her six month-old daughter and would like some guidance dealing with sleep, independent play, and other issues. However, she's noticed most books are geared towards toddlers, which leaves her wondering, "How do I handle these and other issues with a baby?"
In my library, I have three books that I think are particularly helpful. The first is Touchpoints, Birth to 3 by T. Berry Brazelton (links to this and other books are provided in our sidebar!). According to Brazelton, touchpoints are those times just prior to a growth spurt in motor, cognitive, or emotional development when the child's behavior becomes most challenging (to say the least!). He describes the behaviors parents are likely to see at these times, and he breaks them up into categories such as feeding, sleep, learning and play, etc. I've turned to this book on numerous occasions and found his advice helpful and the descriptions of the behaviors comforting. Development, after all, is not linear, and a book that honestly describes regressions or difficult behavior is a nice reminder that what you're seeing in your own child is normal.
The second book is Becoming the Parent You Want to Be -- A Sourcebook of Strategies for the First Five Years by Laura Davis and Janis Keyser. The first part of this book very nicely provides a framework from which to parent. It realistically describes the struggles parents deal with and puts those struggles into positive perspectives, turning them into nine principles from which to interact with our children. Additionally, this fairly comprehensive book gives brief overviews of a child's physical, emotional, and social development and provides great strategies for managing issues that arise in these areas. This is definitely a must-have reference.
The third book I recommend is Positive Discipline: The First Three Years -- Laying the Foundation for Raising a Capable, Confident Child by Jane Nelson, Cheryl Erwin, and Roslyn Duffy. Unfortunately, I loaned this out to a friend who (ahem) has not yet returned it, so I'm going by pure memory here. Like the others described above, this book also provides an overview of development and gives some insight into determining your own child's temperament. As I recall, I found this book very helpful, but I remember not agreeing with all of it. (Of course, that's actually the case with most parenting books. Very rarely do I agree with everything. I take what I perceive as useful and leave the rest!) In any case, the friend I loaned it to claims it has helped her tremendously in dealing with her very active 2-year-old daughter!
There are, however, other books written for toddlers and older kids that I think every parent should read when their children are babies. These include, Parent Effectiveness Training: The Proven Program For Raising Responsible Children by Thomas Gordon and How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. Reading these books when your children are babies will get you into the habit of perceiving your kids as people with their own feelings and perspectives and teaches you how to speak with them as such while still implementing appropriate boundaries. This is a perspective and a habit to begin as soon as possible!
What books do you recommend?