Books about Parenting

Archived Q&A and Reviews

General Parenting Books Parenting a Baby Parenting a Toddler (1 & 2 year olds) Parenting a Preschooler (3 & 4 year olds) Parenting a School-Aged Child Books about Being a Parent Specific Topics Related Pages

General Parenting Books

Books about Attachment Parenting

Nov 2012

Lately, I have been hearing a lot about Attachment Parenting. I looked on line to find more information but just found one site. I would love to know more about it and also would like some recommendations of books and a place in Berkeley where conferences, workshops and all kind of AP events take place. Thanks! New mum interested in AP

Check out ''The Attachment Parenting Book'' by William and Martha Sears. It was our bible for attachment parenting for many years. Happy Attachment Family

Attachment parenting means different things to different parents. But if you're interested I'd check out Dr. Sears' Baby Book for a start. He's known as one of the main forces behind the ''movement.'' L

I'm sure you'll get lots of replies to this! The first books I read about attachment parenting were ''The Continuum Concept'' and ''The Magical Child'' - both are more cultural comparison books, which give you a good context for AP. I also got a zine called The Compleat (sic) Child'' from Canada - which was really good. Dr. Sears is the acknowledged living expert on AP, and he's got a great website. Second, you don't have to go all in, you can choose the elements of AP which work for you. That being said, I think the biggest bonuses come from breastfeeding and co-sleeping. There is hard science on the benefits of co-sleeping - check out the Notre Dame Mother-Baby Sleep Lab Third, people will tell you to let your baby ''cry it out'', get them on a schedule, don't let them sleep with you, blah blah blah. They'll say that there's all sorts of reasons why this is better. But I know that my kid is better for the way he was raised. Trust your instincts as a mom. AP is not as easy in infancy as the scheduled, crying babies, but giving your infant what they need really helps them in the long run. My son is confident, smart and considerate, all the kids I know who were AP raised are great. It makes sense that secure babies who trust that their family is there for them become secure people. Attachment Parenting WORKS!

Agree with the previous posts on attachment parenting books and would like to add two more resources:

1) Dr. Laura Markham offers attachment-friendly tips for parenting at all ages. She has an excellent list of the best books on on her website.

2) Hand in Hand Parenting, a local resource with a co-counseling approach, offers classes online and in the Bay Area. suzanne

Need 1 or 2 really good parenting books

May 2011

I am the mother of a 10 mo old son. He is a good baby and I guess pretty ''normal'', whatever that means. He definitely has strong opinions and I wonder what the next few years will hold with regard to parenting challenges (terrible twos, tantrums, etc). I would like to be prepared and am wondering if you can recommend any parenting books that have been particularly helpful to you as you navigate these first few years of childhood.

I don't have a ton of time to read so I am just looking for one or two really good books, that are straightforward and chock full of good advice. I would also love it if I could convince my husband to read them too. Advice on that? Thanks! Jessica

My two favorite books, after 3 kids are:

The Bates/Ames series ''Your One Year Old'', ''Your Two Year Old'', etc, and ''Your Spirited Child'' by Mary Kurchinka.

Both are fairly quick reads, to the point. I always give them as baby shower gifts with my favorite board books. Book Lover

We read a bunch of parenting books, but the only one that really worked was ''1-2-3 Magic'' by Dr. Thomas Phelan. If we remember to use it consistently (that's the hardest part!), it almost always works.

One thing, though... the book is for kids 2-12, and I would definitely stick with that guideline. Even early 2s is probably a bit young; I don't think my middle child 'got' it until he was pushing 3 years.

Hope this helps! Monica

I highly recommend ''Becoming the Parent You Want To Be''. I have tons of parenting books and this one is the only one I've actually read cover to cover and continue to use as a resource. Parent

Hi Jessica, I would definitely recommend Gordon Neufeld's ''Power to Parent'' DVD series. It is 24 1-hour videos and is amazing. He takes the long view -- trying to help us support our kids in becoming more mature at every step of their develoment rather than using short-term parenting ''techniques'' that end up making our kids more defended and less likely to listen to us as they approach the more difficult years. I also will be coming out with a new page on my website describing what I call ''Loving Discipline.'' This will be practical advice for how to help your child grow into an autonomous, responsible adult without ruining the relationship along the way. has many posts that will give you a feel for this approach. The Aware Baby is also really great. Chris

We loved The Portable Pediatrician: A Practicing Pediatrician's Guide to Your Child's Growth, Development, Health and Behavior, from Birth to Age Five by Laura W. Nathanson We got it from the library and then bought our own copy. our kind of doc

I liked the What to Expect books for a heads up on illnesses, sleep patterns, etc. And I really loved the ''Your one year old'', ''Your two year old'', etc. The latter series are a bit dated in outlook (assume Mom is primary care-giver and stays at home, etc) but are right-on developmentally. My youngest is now 12 and I still refer to the ''Your 10 to 14 year old''. Mom of 3

If you want to rethink parenting, try Alfie Kohn's Unconditional Parenting. It provides a kind of blueprint for raising thoughtful, aware children. It talks about how to think about parenting as a long-term proposition: what kind of person do I want my child to become? Rather than as a short-term fix-it: ''how do I stop this behavior now?'' If you think of yourself as someone who is interested in more progressive ways of raising children, this book will make you think. -anon

I'd like to recommend Alfie Kohn's ''Unconditional Parenting.'' His perspective, to me, is very sensible and intuitive, yet it belies a lot of conventional wisdom (widespread, unchallenged presumptions about the value of punishments/rewards and time-outs). It struck a deep chord in me about essentially respecting children as human beings and having this as a starting point, in contrast to a ''how can I best get my child to be who I want him/her to be'' approach. My two cents. Best wishes. anon

If I could have had just one book for the first four years of my daughter's life, it would have been Becoming the Parent You Want to Be: A Sourcebook of Strategies for the First Five Years, by Laura Davis and Janis Keyser. It deals with children's feelings, bodies, difficult behavior, social learning and play, family relationships, etc., all through the developmental process. The focus is on coming up with ways of doing things that are right for your family -- not a once size fits all approach -- but with enough concrete information and suggestions that you are able to choose a course of action. I am a big reader and have read many parenting books at various stages of my daughter's development, but I kept coming back to this one. The authors have a nurturing, empowering and egalitarian approach, and you will be shocked at what one book covers, from sleep issues to potty training to eating to tantrums to separation to learning to share, and it also focuses on parents' reactions to childrens' developmental stages. It contains bibliographies for if you want to explore a certain area further, as well as bibliographies of children's books on different issues, so you can help your kids work through whatever it is they're trying to master through stories and vocabulary that is at their level. It gave us new ways to look at certain behaviors, new strategies and ways to cope, ways to talk about things with our daughter, and certainly a greater ability to empathize with our daughter and help her develop a meaningful vocabulary to discuss her feelings, etc. It was given to me when I was pregnant, with the advice, ''this is the only book you'll need for the first five years,'' and I thought, oh, come on! But it's been a terrific resource for more than four years so far and I can't recommend it highly enough. Anonymous

As a mother (and psychologist), I found the ''Positive Discipline'' series to be excellent: You might want to start with Positive Discipline The First Three Years, a good primer. They also have books for preschoolers, teens, etc. I have found this series to have a good explanation of basic principles and practical, respectful, good advice. MK

Our bible when our kids were babies and toddlers was the Dr. Sears Baby Book. It covers a wide spectrum from parenting, child behaviors, rashes, fevers, siblings, discipline, etc. Check it out: We survived babyhood!

One of the lesser-known greats is The Winning Family by Dr. Louise Hart. It was one of the first books to examine the dynamics of self-esteem in families, and is still one of the only ones that looks at parenting as its own transformational process. It helps sort out your own style from your parents' - and understand the complexities of communicating with kids. The author is local, too - she gives workshops for schools and agencies, and is really good. Her website is and you can get her book there. There's tons of quotes by people who have turned their lives around and become better parents. #winning!

Gender specific parenting books

April 2009

I'm looking for recommendations for books on raising girls specifically and boys specifically. Like everyone else, I want to raise my son and daughter to be caring, confident, resilient, polite, etc, and there are a plethora of parenting books out there. Two that were suggested to me are ''Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys'' and ''Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls'' but I'd like to know about other good ones. My kids are toddlers now so I'm interested in books that address young children as well as adolescents/teens. Thanks! anon

I recommend the books written by Don & Jeanne Elium. They have one called ''Raising a Son'', the other ''Raising a Daughter''. I remember this couple from graduate school. Another one for girls is ''Cherishing Our Daughters'' by Evelyn Bassoff. ymansell

Why Gender Matters by Leonard Sax, M.D., Ph.D. This was a great book! Sharon

Favorite parenting books?

Dec 2008

Favorite parenting books? Why do you like it? Do you actually find time to read it? janine

It really depends on your parenting philosophy or outlook, in terms of what you will enjoy in parenting books. Folks who desire obedience or adult-style cooperation really like 1-2-3 Magic, and Positive Discipline, because they provide somewhat compassionate tools for achieving that goal. For me, hands down, the best book I ever read was Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves, by Naomi Aldort, because it gives you the tools to achieve awareness about why you are needing or wanting certain things from your children, and how deeply that is a reflection of how you were raised and whether or not your needs were met. It allows you to reach out to truly know your children for who they are, rather than using them to meet your own personal needs (which is what the ''discipline'' books are mostly about, and that may be ultimately what you want, but this book allows you to be honest with yourself about what you are doing, and ultimately, to grow along with your children). Loved it! I won't lend out my copy because I feel like I need to have it close at hand at all times! A quick read that is also a very useful awareness tool is Connection Parenting, by Pam Leo, and Playful Parenting., by someone else, whom I forget. There is also: Respectful Parents, Respectful Kids, also very useful from the perspective of knowing and growing with your kids. Mom of 3

Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn - this book changed everything for me. It's all about truly respecting children. No threats, no bribes, no rewards, no punishments. He advocates working with your children to come up with solutions, which often means parents letting go of some control and trusting their children. It's hard! But totally worthwhile. If you want to be challenged, buy this book. rn

Between Parent and Child by Haim Ginott - readable, enjoyable, intelligent and helpful. And it's a short book (yes, I find time to read it). Check out Two of Ginott's students wrote 'How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk,' also a useful book. Ginott fan

besides the first few chapters of ''what to expect: the first year,'' i didn't read anything else. i checked out dr sears' ''the baby book'' and one of the ''baby whisperer'' books, but didn't have time to read through anything. instead, if i have any questions, i rely on the awesome BPN website and newsletters, along with other websites. thankfully, i have a normal family with a healthy kid, so i'm just going with the flow. (we are a pretty relaxed household though.) BPN fan

I recommend Playground Politics, by Stanley Greenspan. My partner and I have found it thought-provoking and useful. He addresses child development during the elementary school years. He's written books about early childhood development, too. Mother of a 10-year-old

I really like Playful Parenting, by Lawrence Cohen. I read most of it when my son was an infant and liked to be held while he slept, so I had lots of time to read. Cohen talks about how children act out because they feel powerless or disconnected, and gives ways to connect and give power through play. Talia

The Ultimate parenting book?

Sept 2007

What parenting book most impacted your parenting your infant, toddler, and/or young children? Feel free to choose something general, from a particular approach(attachment or mindful parenting, etc.) or specific (sleep issues,etc.) Thanks!

Hands down: Scream-Free Parenting by Hal Runkel

The basics are: you can scream by using your voice or walking away - You can have scream-free parenting by allowing yourself to calm down about parenting and life; give your children and yourself physical, emotional, psychic and intellectual space, see your children for the individuals they are not as extensions of yourself and get a life so your children can have one too.

Absolutely the best way to parent - We have resolved conflict with our daughter by 85% - 90%, enjoy spending time with her and her self-confidence and self-control has increased and the entire family's flexibility has increased. Scream-Free Mom

''Unconditional Parenting'' by Alfie Kohn! Liz

My favorites are Between Parent and Child, by Haim Ginott, and a book that was inspired by Ginott, How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk by Faber and Mazlish. A Mom Who Likes Books

Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves, by Naomi Aldort. Compassionate parenting, real guidance Raissa

Well, I read at least one Parenting Book a month for a year, and here are the best ones:
Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child - John Gottman Healthy Sleep, Happy Child (disorganized, which makes it tough when sleep-deprived, but some good stuff like what to do when traveling) What's Going on in There? - Lise Eliot Child Care and Child Development: Results from the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development The Read-Aloud Handbook - Jim Trelease First Art : Art Experiences for Toddlers and Twos by MaryAnn F. Kohl, Renee F. Ramsey, Dana Bowman, and Katheryn Davis From Diapers to Dating
There are many others, but these come to mind immediately Enjoy! Parenting Book Club Leader

For me, the ultimate parenting book was ''What's Going on in There?'' by Lise Eliot. It's a layman's summary of the last 20 years or so of neuropsychological research. For me, understanding what was developing inside my son's brain, and how that affected his behavior -- and therefore, what I could expect to happen, and what might be effective, was much more important than some expert saying ''Here's what you should do,'' (end of story). I remember, for example, my very mellow infant son who could sleep through ANYTHING, suddenly going through a phase at about 5 months old where being in a room with more than four people, or any sort of noise, would make him cry inconsolably. I would have been very worried -- except that I had just read how, betweeen 4-5 months, the auditory and visual cortex were developing millions of new connections every day. So, I figured he was suddenly hearing and seeing all kinds of stuff he'd never noticed before, and that was hard to deal with -- and I guessed it would go away in a couple of months, when he got used to it. Sure enough. Karen

''Our Babies Ourselves,'' by Merideth Small is the BEST parenting book I've read... and I have read many of them! The book explores the biological and social history of parenting practices around the world. While biased.... the data presented is nonetheless completely mind opening.

It made me realize that so many parenting practices are based on cultural norms... not medical or scientific or proven evidence. The result of reading this book is that I felt much freer to listen to my own instincts rather than this or that book. -- Book and Information Lover

Parenting school-aged kids with a positive attitude

April 2004

Do you have any recommendations for books with tips on parenting that include some reference to positive parental attitudes? I am particularly interested in the elementary school years. I have checked the website and found several, but would appreciate any newer recommendations. Kim

I loved Best Things Parents Do, by Susan Isaacs Kohl. The book is new this spring. The title caught my eye and I thought, ''Now I\x92ll get some ideas from some really good parents''. What I found were incredible stories about regular, everyday parents. These parents were experimenting, learning, and trying, to help their children grow in joyful and healthy ways. Their stories are easy to understand and inspired me to try some of their ideas and approaches, modified to fit my own situation. The author, Susan Isaacs Kohl, places each story in the larger context of what the parent is conveying or teaching the child. Like many of us, these parents may not have been aware of the larger picture. They were just getting through a challenging situation as best they could. Having finished the book, the small steps, and the larger picture, are both more available to me in my daily parenting. I found it very helpful. Definitely a good book! karmil

Books about strong willed child

March 2004

I would like to find a sensitive, informative book that could help me deal with my strong, at time difficult, child. I picked one by Dr. Dobson, but as soon as I realized that he encourages ''corporal punishment'' I stopped reading it and felt very miserable for even having bought it (even though I had no idea...). Could any one suggest some useful readings? Thanks. Amy

I recommend Parent Effectiveness Training by Thomas Gordon. Among other things in the book, the techniques can help parents learn how to let children have input in decision making; when children feel involved they are often more cooperative. The techniques have been working for my daughter and me. LC

I highly recommend two books by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, ''Raising Your Spirited Child'' and ''Kids, Parents and Power Struggles.'' She is sensible, has done lots of research about child development, personalities, etc, and she approaches these issues from the very helpful perspective of understanding both your child's personality and preferences, and your own, so that you can manage together effectively. The parent is still the authority, but in a way that is respectful and supportive of the child. And she never makes you feel bad for blowing it. I keep the power struggles book on my bedside table. mom of a periodically spirited child

I recently borrowed ''Raising Your Spirited Child'' by Mary Kurcinka from my local La Leche League, and it seems a lot more positive and gentle than the book you describe. It emphasizes working with your child's temperament. Here's what Amazon says about the book: Recently, temperament traits have come to the forefront of child development theory. In Raising Your Spirited Child, Mary Sheedy Kurcinka's first contribution is to redefine the ''difficult child'' as the ''spirited'' child, a child that is, as she says, MORE. Many people are leery about books that are too quick to ''type'' kids, but Kurcinka, a parent of a spirited child herself and a parent educator for 20 years, doesn't fall into that trap. Instead, she provides tools to understanding your own temperament as well as your child's. When you understand your temperamental matches--and your mismatches--you can better understand, work, live, socialize, and enjoy spirit in your child. By reframing challenging temperamental qualities in a positive way, and by giving readers specific tools to work with these qualities, Kurcinka has provided a book that will help all parents, especially the parents of spirited children, understand and better parent their children. Jennifer R.

Amy, I too had what I thought was a strong willed child which only got harder with the introduction of a new baby brother last year. Based on a previous post I picked up Positive Discipline by Jane Nelson and have found it to be very helpful. It has also made me rethink whether it was that my child was stong willed or just rebeling against my initial approach. She is much more easy going these days. Maya

I suggest you call bookstores, ask if they have a book by Dr. SEARS, titled: ''Your Fussy Baby & High Need Child.'' Or, any books by Dr. Sears. Then, go down and get some of these books today, if possible. He has a website: I think it's something like: He's positive, caring and has years of experience, and even had a strong-willed child himself, so he offers a lot of personal experience. His wife, a nurse, also helps in the books. Feel free to email me. -Heather

I really like Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Sheedy Kurchinka. Joan

Book on children's health

March 2004

I am in need of a GOOD book on children's health. For the last three years my husband and I have relied on the Dr. Spock book, but it doesn't always have an answer to our questions. Rather than call the doctor with every little question, we would like to have a reliable resource on hand. What other books do people have in their collection that they would recommend? I have both an infant and a 3 year old, so I'm looking for something that would include both ages. I just came across one on the internet called Caring for Your Baby and Young Children. Does anyone know this one and/or recommend it? Many many thanks! Shoshana

I really like the book ''Your Child's Health'' by Barton Schmitt. I don't use it for the childrearing advice as it seems harsh to me, but the medical information is wonderful. We can look up just about any sympton our son has and it give information, treatment and which conditions require seeing your doctor. We always refer to this book before calling the Dr. or Advice nurse and the suggestions always work! The book was recommended to us at a childbirth prep class at a hospital. Kim

''Caring for Your Baby and Young Child'' by the American Academy of Pediatrics (the edition I have is edited by Steven Shelov) is a fantastic book. It was given to me by a very good friend who is a pediatrician, and she said that every pediatrician she knows has a copy and refers to it occasionally. Time and again I have been surprised by how it answers whatever question I seem to have. Sarah

My personal favorite is _The Baby Book_ (by Dr. Sears), though it technically only covers birth through age 2.

We also have the AAP book, which I think is the one you mention. It's fine, reasonably comprehensive and covers older kids as well as babies -- but almost always, when you look up some symptom or other, this book's advice is to call your doctor. Sensible advice for a book written by the doctors' association, I suppose, but less helpful, especially at 2:00 a.m. on a Sunday, than Sears' book, which actually explains, for example, the difference between ''emergency'' croup and ''non- emergency'' croup -- and how to treat and watch the latter at home. Holly

A pediatrician friend gave us ''Your Child's Health'' by Barton D. Schmitt, M.D. We are first-time parents and when our baby has been sick, the advice in this book has always turned out to be right on target (whereas advice we took from other books, various advice nurses, etc. has often turned out to cause more problems.) It covers newborns through adolescents and also has advice on things like sleep issues, discipline, etc. Very straightforward and easy to find what you need. Sandy

The book you are referring to is by Penelope Leach. I have it, but have found the book published by the American Academy of Pediatrics to be a better resource. In addition to developmental information there's an index of common (and not so common) illnesses at the back -- it was actually an enormous help when my daughter came down with croup and with hand, foot, and mouth as an infant; the book helped me identify them (correctly) to the doctor. Lauren

Humorous Parenting Books

Dec 2003

Can anyone recommend books/stories that poke fun at the trials and tribulations of parenting infant/preschool aged kids? I'm hoping to compile a list of books that provide comic relief in the parenting department. Any suggestions? Thanks... Kelly

If memory serves me right Vicki Levine writes some humorous ''been there done that'' parenting books. I think they begin with ''The Girlfriends Guide to...'' Courtney

Try anything by Erma Bombeck. anne

Great topic! I can't wait to see what books others recommend.

My all time favorite book about being a parent in Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott. I read this book before I had children and loved it, and then reread it in the midst of the 'baby blues' when I felt like an unfit mother. She speaks to the best and worst of motherhood in an honest and hilarious way. I also enjoyed the 'Girlfriend's Guide' books- I read the guide to pregnancy and the guide to the first year. Funny and pragmatic narration.

One of my main gripes with so many parenting books is the total lack of any sense of humor, which I frankly have found to be the most important quality in my parenting. Humor helps me see the ridiculousness of fighting with my two-year old over wearing her bike helmet at the dinner table, and has enabled me to admit to myself some of the 'uglier' thoughts that have gone through my head. If I didn't have darkly funny firends with kids, I probably would have lost my mind by now. Good luck! kelly

I *loved* _Planet Parenthood_ (about the first year of new parenthood) and _Attack of the Toddlers_ by our very own Julie Tilsner.

Also, books by Vicki Iovine and Erma Bombeck. And, not strictly humor although it has that, Annie Lamott's _Operating Instructions_. Avid reader

Planet Parenthood by Julie Tilsner. I loved it! Reut

I like the various ''Baby Blues'' comic strip books, and often give it as gifts saying it IS the best parenting book, meaning that humor is the only way to make it through the parenting challenges. For new parents, I like the first book (the first child is a newborn in the hospital), though it is hard to find. laughing mom of twin toddlers

Early childhood art development book

March 2003

Can anyone recommend a resource book on early childhood art development? Ideally it would combine research on, for example, stages of drawing with broad suggested approaches for toddlers and young kids. I don't want coloring or craft-books. I've taught art to second and fifth graders but I'm interested to find out more about what my 20 month-old. Kristine

I have not found the type of book you are looking for (though I looked for one a year or two ago and am sure one must exist), but I have found the handouts on children's art from Habitot Children's Museum to be very informative and helpful. Their handouts let you know what to look for and expect as development progresses and provide great advice on providing appropriate art experiences and on how to interact appropriately with your child around art. If you find a great book let us know! LIsa

Ria Kellogg... I am not sure of the spelling. Had a great book on children's talks about the stages of children's art form 'scribbles drawings to semirepresentational is is an older book so you may be able to get it used. The Creative Arts by Linda Edwards is a great book about process approach to art. It does talk about all different types of art from visual, to music and drama. It is a teachers guide.. but I as a Toddler teacher love it. NAEYC had some good stuff.... Early school materials which is a teacher supply place had a good web site that may have some good info. That is all I cna think of right now. Good Luck

Books about raising happy children

Oct 2001

I looked through the web site and didn't find anything helpful. I'm looking for recommendations for a book(s)/class/method of child rearing to help foster emotional/mental health in my 16 month old daugther based on good solid research. My husband is a pretty happy, stable adult but his sister has bipolar disorder, and his mother and brother are both alcoholic and depressed (brother has been sober for past 5 years).

I am a happy and (I think) quite emotionally stable adult, but as a teenager I engaged in risky behavior, I was depressed, I was even suicidal at times. Both my husband's and my parents divorced when we were young, but in my case I didn't feel that this event was sufficiently traumatic to warrant such a miserable adolescence. I think my parents overall did a good job raising me. I don't understand why I was so miserable, and I don't want my daughter to go through that if I can help it. There are sooooo many books out there on raising children and many seemingly based on theory. I'm a strong believer in the ability of scientific research to provide useful guidance. And I'm sure it's out there. I'd love recommendations for some solid, proven resources on raising happy, healthy children.

Regarding the Resources for Raising Mentally Healthy Children, you didn't say if your daughter was currently having any problems. You can't prevent problems from happening any more than your own parents, who you have admitted as having done a pretty good job of raising you, could have prevented your problems. There is no proven right or wrong way to raise a child. There really isn't. All you will find is different opinions out there. The best book you will find on the subject is the one that most closely mirrors your own beliefs to begin with. I've read enough of them to know they all cater to different personality types, but not one of them has told me the secret of perfect parenting. There's no such thing which is why I won't recommend any to you. No matter what the philosophy or theory, everyone just does the best they can. That's the bottom line. We always want our children to have it better than we did. We always want to protect them from the things we went through. That's human nature. Every generation goes through this. That never changes. A home is not a laboratory. Theories don't work with children. Common sense (and rules) do. Any book worth anything will tell you that. That's all you need. That and a lot of love and nurturing. Every child is different, especially those raised together. We all learn from our own growing up experiences. It sounds like you already know what to do for your child. If your child is happy and you're happy, that's all that matters. If you really feel the need for more help, go visit a daycare or preschool you've heard other parents praise, especially the co-ops where the parents volunteer their time. If it's a good one, they won't mind if you just observe for a couple of hours. Being around other parents and seeing how they deal with their children firsthand is better experience than any book you'll ever read because what you see is fact and what you read is just someone's opinion, including this. You should trust your instincts. marianne

This may seem a little tangential, but here's my advice: seriously consider investigating your own background, your relationship with your partner, etc. After years of therapy myself, I found that the things that threw me for a loop were actions and behaviors within my family that I had no idea were unhealthy, and I thought I was happy and well balanced, and didn't start thinking about it further until my first marriage broke up and then all hell broke loose. I think I benefited tremendously from all the time it took me to investigate more honestly where my own behaviors and tendencies originate, and how I can pass those things on unconsciously to others, including my own family. It sounds a little esoteric, but one of the books that really got me to thinking was The Drama of the Gifted Child, which is not really about gifted children but the tendency for narcissism (i.e., wanting your children to reflect who you want them to be) to pass from one generation to the next (e.g., by praising and supporting characteristics of a child that you prefer, and teaching a child to repress tendencies that you don't particularly care for). The result is that a child ends up denying parts of themselves. The book can be found at used bookstores, and if you do read it, try to skip through the psychobabble to get to the message. Another book that explains some of this in more lay terms is Getting the Love you Want. This has some exercises that help you understand yourself relative to your family (though the book theoretically is for couples). You seem to be looking for a quick list of things to do better, but your family structure and befuddlement suggest there may be other issues. I think there may be some ways to address raising healthy kids (such as books that help kids understand and express feelings), but if you don't understand your own feelings or tendencies, you may simply repeat tendencies that are passed down from previous generations. And if it's unconscious, the books and advice won't help and could hurt (e.g., you believe that you're doing the right thing b/c you read the book). I also grew up in a household with an alcoholic father, co-dependent mother, bipolar sister and depressed brother. It never occurred to me to try to figure out what was wrong (nor did I believe that it had any effect on me whatsoever). I now have more empathy for my siblings and parents, more ability to protect my own self-esteem and personal boundaries and stand up for myself, better communications skills, and immensely improved self-understanding. And I have seen how this translates to my interactions with my own family members (and, quite frankly, professional colleagues). It took me a while before I found a therapist that was effective for me, and it also took some intensive reading and self-reflection and practicing healthier behaviors. Maybe if you notice some internal conflict of your own, or conflict with your partner or child, that could provide the avenue in which to explore this. I hope this helps. I responded with this since your family sounds so similar to mine, and your attitude sounds so similar to mine 10 years ago, and I feel very strongly that personal mental health is the best way to ensure passing on good mental health to your children. Sorry for the long post.

Parenting a Baby

Book to put baby on a schedule

July 2004

Does anybody know of a good book/reference explaining how to put an infant (6 months) on a schedule. mk

''Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child'' by Marc Weissbluth was the book that helped me figure out my daughter's nap schedule. If you are looking to set baby's sleep schedule around YOUR schedule, this isn't the right book for you, but if you are trying to understand your baby's sleep rhythms and encourage a schedule around those, this book will be helpful. Best of luck. Tracy

I don't know of a good book, but I know which book NOT to use: ''Babywise'' by Ezzo. The American Academy of Pediatrics came out against the book. You can find out more at: Anon

''On Becoming Baby Wise'' by Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam - highly recommend!!! Try it - it's worth every penny!

We are reading ''The Baby Whisperer'' right now. It was recommended to us. Seems decent so far. anon

Try Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child or something like that. Whether you want to go all-out and do some of the crying it out that the book describes, or just understand sleep patterns to start a more predictable schedule, this book is very informative. Good luck!

I found the Baby Whisperer by Tracy Hogg to be very helpful for getting babies into a routine, as well as for helping us avoid getting into some bad habits. She makes a big distinction between ''routine'' and ''schedule.'' I highly recommend checking it out. Julie

Babywise. It really works - though you may want to slightly modify some of your approaches. IT worked like a charm with my now 5 year old (we got him on a schedule at 3 months) We were less disciplined with our younger son (now 21/2) and he was a tougher child so it took longer - but the princilples apply and we did finally get him sleepting through the night. kwm

Books about introducing solids

July 2004

Our baby is almost 6 months and we are getting ready to introduce food to her. We are looking for a few good books on the subject. Any suggestions? Also, we need to get a high chair and wanted feedback which one is best.

Book - Super Baby Food High Chair - IKEA's plastic, buy tray seperately. We've been using the same one for over 3 1/2 years. Now, without the tray, our son can sit right up at the table with us. And, the best part - take it outside to hose it clean - or in the shower if you're in an apartment! Oakland Mama

Super Baby Food is easy to read; we really enjoy it. Heather

[Editor] see also advice about introducing solids

Books about health & development in first year

May 2000

My son is about two months now and my wife and me are looking for some good books about baby development and baby health in baby's first year. However there are quite many books about the subject. Could anybody recommend a helpful book on baby development and baby health? And which books are not worth reading? Thanks Ronald

I can't recommend highly enough The Baby Book by Dr. and Martha Sears. It is comprehensive, providing all of the developmental milestones and health information you could want, with the special addition of a wonderfully compassionate philosophy of child-rearing. My son is now 25 months, and I still turn to the book on occassion. I am now reading Dr. Sears' Discipline Book, which embodies the same respectful, loving, understanding view of our children and how to bring out the best in them -- and in us. Christy

Baby due soon - which books are a must?

Nov 1998

With my baby's due date about three months away I thought this would be a good time to start reading up on baby books. I am looking for recommendations on what books other parents have found helpful or not helpful because I really would like to start off with just a couple really good ones. The authors that I have heard most recommended for delivering solid and sensible information are Dr. Spock for general health information, and Dr. Brazelton for developmental information. Does anyone have another author they find a must? Also, I notice that Dr. Brazelton had many book out in print. Which have you all read, and which do you recommend? Thanks. Rose

I am very fond of Penelope Leach's book , called (I think) Your Baby & Child. I think there is even a new edition of this one. She's very sensible in her approach. The other book I've found useful is The Well Baby Book . With either of these and Spock , you'd be fine. Wendy

We've been really happy with a book called The Portable Pediatrician written by Laura Nathanson, M.D. (I think), both for behavioral/developmental and for medical info about kids (we have two). Alexis

I highly recommend Brazelton's book Touchpoints. It really gave us a lot of insight into the developmental stages of our babies. Also provides thoughtful, balanced discussion of issues such as spacing of children, sleeping with the baby in bed, whether to allow thumbsucking, etc. Kimberly

My husband and I love The Baby Book by Sears and Sears . They are a husband/wife pediatritian/pediatric nurse team with 8 children of their own, so they have LOTS of experience. They have a very humane philosophy, but it may be too touchy feely for some- sleep with your baby, breast feed on demand, wear your baby (He invented the baby sling) generally be very loving and caring to the infant and she/he will grow up with a good sense of self-esteeme. It also has behavial stuff/ sickness/ how to play with babys at different ages, and a lot more. Less useful were P. Leach 's book, and What to expect from the first year , but they are good books, we just like the philosophy of the Baby Book best. All these books are at Codys- they have a large selection of this type of book. Lisa

One that I found helpful is The Baby Book by Sears and Sears . They have chapters dedicated to things like Nighttime Parenting and Parenting Your Fussy or Colicky Baby, which are helpful especially in the early weeks. There are large sections on how to take care of a sick baby (it goes into detail on how to un-stuff a baby's nose, for example), how to feed your baby (tips on breastfeeding and formula feeding), etc. I found that the Sears's parenting philosophy was pretty similar to my own, which is another reason I liked it. I think it is a very well-rounded discussion of babies' needs. However, this book is not too powerful in the psychological development department, but I think that's because they're physicians rather than psychologists. Laurel

I actually haven't read any of the Spock or Brazelton books, but I do like the Sears' Baby Book , and

Penelope Leach's Your Baby and Child - the first 5 years . The latter is really an excellent all around guide and it covers way more than infant needs/behaviors, which is helpful because the questions never stop. Diana

In addition to the ones you already mentioned, I highly recommend Your Baby and Child by Penelope Leach - she seems to have the most balanced approach to controversial topics such as sleep and feeding. The Baby Book by William and Martha Sears is full of good practical information, but they are quite dogmatic about attachment parenting. While I agree in spirit with their approach, the book made me feel almost guilty for wanting to have my son sleep in a crib. I had fun reading both books (and Spock ), and it was particularly helpful to go back and forth between them! Have fun with your baby! Heather

A wonderful book for any new parent is Becoming the Parent You Want to Be by Janis Keyser and Laura Davis . This is a parenting book focusing on the task of parenting rather than medical or developmental information. It is really great when you have a toddler who is driving you crazy and you don't know how you want to deal with it. Instead of being a how to that tells you what every expert thinks you should be doing, it guides you through figuring out how you want to parent and what is best for you and your unique family. My friends and I affectionately refer to it as The Good Book. It covers everything from sleeping and food to body image, discipline and parenting with a partner. I can't say enough about this fabulous book. It's at the library, check it out! Ted

I've promoted it before, I'll do it again: Dr. Elmer Grossman's Everyday Pediatrics for Parents is my favorite, no nonsense baby (and kid) book. I just re-read a bit, and I'm enthusiastic about the common sense approach to kids and life he puts forth. Of course, I'm a little biased, since he was my pediatrician when I was a kid. He has also written a more scientific pediatric medicine book that I haven't yet read. Laura

The news group has an FAQ with reviews of various birth,baby and child rearing books. I know it's on the web somewhere. Check to find it.

What you read depends on your philosophy as well as how much time you have. The recommendation I make to all my friends who get pregnant is that at a minimum, they should read the chapters on nighttime parenting and the high need/colicky baby from William and Martha Sears' _The Baby Book_ . I recommend the latter even for parents who have an easy child because it has a lot of nuts and bolts info on how to soothe a crying baby type advice.

The P. Leach books are really great on psychology, but, unless she changed this in the new version (anybody know?) her advice on breastfeeding wasn't very good (she says the baby will settle into an every 4-5 hr schedule on its own if fed on demand--NOT). I don't like the What to Expect Books at all. The only Spock book I've read is the one my mother used for me and I know he's updated since then :-) I gathered that he was very progressive for his time, but he's not my cup of tea.

I also like Faber and Mazlisch _How to Talk so Kids Will Listen_ as well as the Sears' _Disciple Book_ .

Most of all, take everything you read with a grain of salt, your baby won't have read the book:-) I remember when my first son was born watching these how to take care of your newborn videos and was obsessed with bathing him. My second son didn't get a bath until he was at least a month old and then only monthly after that. We used Goldenseal powder on his umbilical cord instead of swabbing it with rubbing alcohol and it dropped off a week and a half earlier than my first son's. Sophie

My favorite baby book is still The Baby Book by Sears . The chapter on baby wearing saved my sanity with my first child and was the only thing that worked. Ignore the chapter on child care if you're going to back to work, it's guilt-ridden and I think the book would be perfect without that chapter. For myself as a new mom I found The Year After Childbirth by Sheila Kitzinger extremely supportive and spiritual. You should also buy a copy of Mothering Magazine . If it's your thing you'll love it and be glad you found it. You can't buy it at Lucky's. Barnes & Noble stores has it for sure. Harlan Family

About baby books: My husband and I really like the What to Expect the First Year . It's the only one of our many baby books that we bought ourselves, and we've found it to be really balanced and to go through the developmental stages of the first year in a very useful way.. We've found Spock to be useful as a resource when our baby is ill, and Penelope Leach and Brazelton's Touchpoints to be good books for psychological development. We also have the Sears and Sears The Baby Book, but there were times when we found it to be a bit overwhelming, especially as a first time mother (it made me feel like I shouldn't want my child to sleep in her own crib, and since I was unable to breast feed, the philosophy of breastfeeding or else was a little strong). jocelyn

Parenting a Toddler (1 & 2 year olds)

Books about child development at 2.5

Sept 2010

I'm mama to a wonderful 2.5 year old little girl. I'm looking for books to read about her development, why she's doing certain things, what's going on in there, etc. I loved reading about the baby developmental stages in The Baby Book (Sears)- but we are well past that now. I'm looking for something that is geared toward parents, not professional, and I'm an attachment/natural parenting type of mama, if that matters. I'm just looking to understand what's going on and try and be the best parent I can in all these different stages! Kelly

As a proffessional in early childhood development I highly recommend that you read books by Arnold Gesell on child development. Also, books by Louise Ames Bates, Your One Year Old, Your Two Old and so on. I trained with the Gesell Institute myself and specialize in assessing young children for school readiness especially kindergarten and grade one. Please contact me in the event you would like your child assessed for school readiness and placement. mka

First, full disclosure: I teach child development, so it's possible my definition of ''a good read'' in this category is a little skewed. That said, some of my favorites as a parent have included Penelope Leach's Your Baby and Child (good for basic toddler/ preschooler stuff), Barbara Rogoff's The Cultural Nature of Human Development (definitely NOT a ''parenting book,'' but fascinating), anything by Alison Gopnik (''The Philosophical Baby is her most recent, I think), and Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman's Nurture Shock. I didn't expect to like the last one, but I actually think it does a good job of presenting several of the more surprising findings that have come out of cognitive developmental and educational research. Happy reading!

We love Penelope Leach's ''Your Baby and Child, From Birth to Age Five.'' (Knopf, 1997. There may be a more recent one, not sure if it matters). She focuses on the big picture, and is pretty funny. It's attachment based. Not so good for specific ''tricks of the trade,'' but I always feel better after reading a few pages. Good luck! Carey

Hi, Why not go back to the original modern guru, Dr. Spock. His books, available both in hardcover & paperback, were used by parents extensively in the early 50's-60's. Very sensible & accurate advice about what to expect. Most children are still going thru same development stages; parents' expectations & those of society have changed. Our children, now all parents themselves, were curious, thoughtful, honest, mischivous (sp.?) & friendly as children; generally began sleeping well thru the night at around 3 months of age, could be taken to friends, restaurants, etc. w/good behavior unless they were sick, & had real adult friends of their own by the time they were around 12 or so. They were not easy teenagers, but this was during the Vietnam War, explosion of drugs in Bay Area, etc. They all did well in their educational goals, & we love them both as children & like them as people. Dr. Spock played a large role in our methods & expectations for them. Engaged Grandmother

I have always found the Ames and Ilg Books (Your Child at 2, Your Child at 3). I am sure that many people will give you the same answer. I buy one every year (right now I have one for my 5-year-old and one for my 7-year-old) jan

Early Childhood Development Books - suggestions

Dec 2009

A few weeks ago, a responder suggested reading books on early childhood development to help understand the behavior of a tough 2.5-year old child. I am hoping that maybe the poster (and others!) might suggest some reading on early childhood development to help a nervous mother-to-be. Thanks! anon

I like the Louise Bates Ames books: ''Your X Year Old:...'' (e.g. ''Your Two Year Old: Terrible or Tender''; ''Your Three Year Old: Friend or Enemy''; etc. She has books for every year of childhood) I also found the Sears Baby Book to have a lot of very early developmental information in it that was quite helpful. Many of the books on child-rearing will have useful information about child development: Postive Discipline, Unconditional Parenting, Attachment Parenting, You are Your Child's First Teacher (though that last has some spiritual/religious references that may seem odd to some people, so you have to read with an eye for what is useful to you, and leave the rest - well, I guess that's true with anything!) etc. Do a search on under ''Early Childhood Development'' and I'm sure you'll get many others. Avid Reader

I suggest you make friends with your local children's librarian. Browse through the parenting books and see what you like, what meshes with your parenting style, what offers practical advice for your relationship with your child (after your baby is born). The Happiest Baby on the Block (the book or the DVD) might be a good starting place, as you can use the info right away. Margaret

I use the book ''A sympathetic understanding of the child'' with my student teachers (a little bit different from the advice request) and my students really like it. It provides a good overview of development in very accesible language. As a mom of 2, I liked reading about some specific sections, such as the development of concepts of friendship. EP

Need a book about positive discipline

Nov 2009

I am a first time mom to a six month old and while I realize that she is way to young for any type of discipline, there are some things that I would like to discourage (ie. pulling my hair, biting, putting certain things in her mouth, etc.). While these things are not such a big deal right now and most can be dealt with if I don't give her access, it's gotten me thinking about positive discipline and how I can teach her things without saying ''no'' so much. Can anyone recommend a book on the topic of positive reinforcement with babies? Want a headstart

try this series - was recommended by my therapist: Parenting Young Children: Systematic Training for Effective Parenting (STEP) of Children Under Six by Don, Sr. Dinkmeyer, Gary D. McKay, James S. Dinkmeyer, and Joyce L. McKay There are three books - one for each age range Stefanie

I only wish I had looked at Jane Nelson's books when my son was younger. Nelson's first book is called, POSITIVE DISCIPLINE. She has many others now that deal with subtopics, such as toddlers and teens. As well, there are usually courses available in Positive Discipline. I know the Berkeley YMCA has the classes twice a year. -fan of positive discipline

Books on parenting during the Terrible Twos

Sept 2009

I would love to hear your recommendations on favorite books (discipline, development, positive parenting whatever) that help/helped you keep your sanity while going through raising the terrible twos. While I know books won't solve everything, for sanity's sake I would love to have a few good ones on hand to give me some tips and get me through the tough moments when I think I'm just a terrible parent with a terrorizing child!

Try reading 1-2-3 Magic - although your child is only 2, starting the process with this book was tremendously helpful. In the book it says to have a specific conversation with the child; however, at 2, they don't get it so I just reinforced by repeating that this is a time out and the whole 1-2-3 thing. You'll understand when you read it. This can be used for years to come. karen

'Your Two-Year-Old: Terrible or Tender' by Louise Bates Ames. Ames's whole series really helped me. Also, 'The Happiest Toddler on the Block' by Harvey Karp. 'Toddlerese' really helped with my son too. Andi

Love & Logic For Early Childhood really helped us. My son's behavior has improved dramatically since my husband and I started using this method. Also, I feel more in control of situations, which is is an even bigger deal, I think. I read quite few discipline books (Happiest Toddler, Positive Discipline, and a T. Berry Brazelton discipline book), but none helped me very much in the 'real world'. The Love & Logic book gave a lot of examples that actually work, and that are fairly easy to employ. Monica

I highly recommend Sal Severe's book How to Behave So Your Preschooler Will Too. Using the techniques suggested in this book have made life with our 2 and a half year old much easier. We are all happier.

Here are three books we found helpful: The Emotional Life of the Toddler by Alicia Lieberman is wonderful. It offers insight into the developmental basis of many of the behaviors that leave parents frustrated or exhausted. It is a wonderful window into this period. Also, Becoming the Parent You Want to Be: A Source Book for Strategies for the First Five Years by Davis and Keyser is very helpful. Lastly, Your Baby and Child by Penelope Leach. Good luck! mom of 2 in elementary school now

I have gotten a lot out of a series of books called ''Your One Year Old,'' ''Your Two Year Old,'' etc. I check them out each year a couple of months prior to the kids' birthdays and so far they have been pretty on target at describing developmental milestones and why they happen etc. Sometimes there aren't a lot of tips, but it helps me deal with the kids when I understand thought process for their age. anon

Happy to share my a great parenting book recommended to me by 3 different parents; I wish I'd read it before 2 1/2. Alicia Lieberman: The Emotional Life of the Toddler Detailed, psychological, normalizing and reassuring as far as both child development and parent, uh, development. Includes sections on cognitive and emotional development, the role of the child's body/movement, temperment, as well as specific issues to navigate (sleep, potty training, childcare)...and more. Most of my ''big'' question and wonderings were addressed in this book. Not as contemporary as some books, but this wisdom is perennial, I believe.

Another recent recommendation: Playful Parenting I like Marc Weisbluth for sleep issues, though he's a bit fanatical. (I'm sure you'll hear about the other favorites like, Happiest Kid on the Block, etc.. I bought Baby Whisperer for Toddlers and found it somewhat useful.) (I buy all my books used from best to you! it's rough, and so much fun, too. lk

''Becoming the Parent You Want to Be'' I think is just a great overall book that covers every possible situation with concrete examples/solutions and maintains a child-focus approach that honors the child. The authors also approach each situation as a learning/teaching opportunity for both kid and adult. I also like that it takes both the parent as a person into account as opposed to always focusing simply on how to get kids to be one way or another. I also really like ''Unconditional Parenting'' for inspiration and ''Emotional Life of the Toddler'' for perpective Good Luck heather

Positive Discipline by Jane Nelson! Claire

I recommended books last time...but I have to add one more that I absolutely loved...(I read in the last week) ''How to talk so kids will listen and how to listen so kids will talk'' . I think it should be read by every parent or any person in a relationship. heather

Books about child development - 1 year old

Dec 2007

Hi, I am looking for recommendations on books on Child Development. My child is one and I would like to learn about this fascinating topic. There are so many options in the market... Any help on this is appreciated. Angela

When my three children were younger I really liked the series by Drs. Ames and Ilg (and one more?) called ''Your ______ Year Old''. These books were written quite few years ago and are somewhat dated in language and references to Mom being at home and Dad off at work. But they totally hit the developmental nail on the head. Plus these authors clearly love children and enjoy the phases of childhood. Many times when I thought my child need major psychiatric help for some weird behavior I would read the book and they described that behavior completely and it was normal! Mom of 3

I am currently reading, ''Your One-Year Old - The fun loving, fussy 12-24 month old'', and I think it's full of helpful information. It's part of a series from the Gesell Institute of Child Development (there's also ''Your 2 yr old, 3 yr old, etc.) The authors are Ames, Ilg, and Haber. I checked it out of the library here in Marin, but I am sure you can find it easily in the East Bay or a cheap used one on I am definitely interested to see what other recommendations you receive! Enjoying my fun-loving, fussy little boy

Some books on infant development that I found very insightful are: What's Going on in There? by Lise Eliot, Scientist in the Crib by Alison Gopnik and Magic Trees of the Mind by Marian Diamond. Anon

Discipline Book for ages 1-3

Nov 2006

Hi. I am looking for a good book on discipline for ages 1-3. We have no clue when we are supposed to say no or ignore behavior, etc. and want a book that will give us some good guidelines. I bought Discipline the Brazelton way but find it a bit vague. Jenny

Positive Discipline: The First Three Years by Jane Nelsen, Cheryl Erwin, & Roslyn Duffy is an excellent book. MK

These are the books that we love: ''The Happiest Toddler on the Block'' by Harvey Karp and the books by Louise Bates Ames (''Your One-Year-Old: The Fun-Loving, Fussy 12-To 24-Month-Old'', ''Your Two-Year-Old: Terrible or Tender'', and ''Your Three-Year-Old: Friend or Enemy''). The books by Ames are especially good, even if a little dated Andi

Toddler discipline books

Nov 2004

Has anyone read any good books on toddler discipline, including setting limits, boundaries, attention redirection, etc? cg

I found the book ''How to talk so kids will listen. How to Listen so kids will talk'' very useful.

Parent Effectiveness Training by Thomas Gordon. My daughter's preschool director recommended it. It is available at most public libraries. a ''trained'' mom

Ames and Igl's the toddler years tender or terrible has been very informative and nice philosophy wishi had moretimeto read

I have found the following books especially helpful with in raising my budding toddler. Hope you will find them helpful too. I especially like that these books all engender respectful interactions and logical consequences.
1. Positive Discipline: The first three years, by Jane Nelson Ed. D.
2. Positive Time-Out by Jane Nelson, Ed.D.
3. Between Parent and Child by Dr. Haim G. Ginott - A Positive Toddler Parent

Books about parenting toddlers

July 2004

Can anyone recommend some good books about parenting toddlers? My daughter just turned 18 months and seemingly overnight has started exhibiting toddler behavior - screaming when she doesn't get what she wants or when things are taken away from her, fighting to get free when I try to pick her up or hold her hand, protesting (o.k., screaming) when I try to help her with things she wants to do on her own and can't (putting on her shoes or jacket), screaming at other kids at the park when they touch a toy she's no longer playing with or was thinking about playing with, running around with this manic energy where nothing interest her for more than 5 seconds. I know this is all normal (albeit exhausting). She's usually well-rested and well-fed and that helps. But I'd like to read some books that have some helpful ideas (or at least commiserate). Although she's got great receptive language skills, she's not talking that much, which I think frustrates her. We have started signing and that helps (well, it helps her ask for ice cream and cookies - thank goodness she thinks yogurt is ice cream). :)

I set limits with her but have been told I am pretty laid back when it comes to letting her explore her world. So, I would want to read books that treat children with respect while teaching self-control rather than views them as beings that need to be controlled. Thanks! gentle mama

I don't have a toddler, but I recently read Becoming the Parent You Want to Be, by Laura Davis and Janis Keyser, and I think you might find it useful. It is extremely focused on respecting children, and their intentions and struggles. (Some of it seemed pretty unrealistic to me, but if taken with a grain of salt, I think it's worth reading.)It also offers specific suggestions for some of the toddler behaviors you described. Good Luck

The Happiest Toddler on the Block by Harvey Karp has helped friends of mine. (I'm about to have my first baby so I haven't tried it yet.) I've flipped through it and it seems to make a lot of sense and have many good suggestions. Anon

''Becoming the parent you want to Be: A sourcebook of strategies for the first five years'' Davis & Keyser Debbie

Get ''parenting your child with love and logic'' by Jim Fay. The Love and Logic Institute also has many wonderful cd's, specialized tapes and books that help with parenting. Their methods are wonderful--and they aim to make parenting fun! Go to and check them and their publications out. Jim Fay recently (July 6) appeared on my Internet Radio program (Full Power Living, Tuesday a.m.s at 8 on If you go on the Voice America web site and look in the archives for that date of my program, you can listen to him. He's wonderful. He is also doing a workshop in San Jose in December (the 9th, I think). He's very gifted and very helpful. Check it out! Ilene

I found the Baby Whisperer For Toddlers to be a great book for dealing with the issues you mentioned. Julie

My numero uno favorite toddler book is Alicia Lieberman's _The Emotional Life of the Toddler_. I think you'll find it scores high on the scale of ''treating children with respect while teaching self-control rather than views them as beings that need to be controlled.'' Perhaps not unrelated, it treats parents with respect as well. It is not written as a ''how-to'' in terms of how it formulates the helpful ideas, but the ideas are definitely there. Maybe best of all, it kind of gets you in the mood to head back into the fray, eager to meet the challenges of the age just when you thought you couldn't take it anymore. I read it more than once when my daughter was 18 mos. and am still reading it, avidly, at 2 yrs. I don't know if I'm a gentle mom or not (most of the time, the word that springs to mind is flying-by-the-seat-of-her-pants), but this book opened my mind to choices that I didn't know we had and just generally deepened my understanding.
still in the thick of it and richer for it

I just bought ''the happiest Toddler on the block'' by Dr. Harvey Karp, and I think it makes sense. It's all about having respect for your child and making her feel understood. Hope this helps. Kitty

Books about Child Development


I'm interested in how people have learned about stages of child development. Books? Classes? I've picked up a couple of good books, but am interested in recommendations for more information...perhaps your favorite book..the one that had the ideas that really helped! My two and half year old is going through some new stages, along with adjusting to being a big sister of her 9 month old brother. She's thriving in many ways, but is hitting sometimes, and although it seems to be getting better, she's still doing it some. Thank you. Irene

Mostly I don't enjoy reading parenting books, finding a lot of them unnecessarily opinionated and judgmental. But I loved reading a book called The Magic Years -- I'm afraid I'm not sure of the author's name (Selma Fraiberg?) -- written in the 1950s. I don't remember much practical advice but it gives a sort of inside view into a child's emotional and cognitive world which I remember finding helpful in trying to make sense of what my daughter was going through at various stages. It's called The Magic Years because part of the point is that pre-schoolers think that a lot of things in the world happen by magic. I seem to remember that it was good about emotional conflicts, e.g. ambivalence towards parents and family members. Hannah

to the person asking for book recommendations, i would like to heartily recommend the following three books: Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka (same author as Raising Your Spirited Child - another great book) Smart Love by William J. Pieper, Martha Heineman Pieper (i don't think their weaning and nightime parenting advice is consistent with the philosophy presented in the rest of their book - but the rest of the book is VERY worthwile and inspiring reading, IMO.) Discipline for Life - Getting it Right With Children by Madelyn Swift. Lyla

Magda Gerber: Your self-confident child. how to encourage your child's natural abilities from the very start is a Wonderful ressource! It deeply inspired my parenting. Sylvia

Parenting a Preschooler (3 & 4 year olds)

Book to help me with 4 yo's transitions

Oct 2009

Could anyone recommend a good book that could help me understand and help a 4 year old who has an extremely difficult time with transitions. Your suggestions are appreciated. Worried

''Your Spirited Child'' - a classic but still very valuable. You may not think of your child as particularly spirited, but the book has helpful for kids who are ''spirited'' (difficult) in ways that manifest as low energy or stubbornness. Good luck

I finally found one that spoke to me about my sweet sensitive middle child. ''The Highly Sensitive Child'' by Elaine Aron was a godsend to us. Mama of 3 VERY different kids

All-time best parenting books for 3 yo?

Nov 2007

My child is just 3 and has become emotionally volatile. I learn best from books, and my husband and I have committed to reading the same book to agree on a parenting style, since our innate styles are not matched. I loved John Gottman's ''Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child,'' but needed more. I am now reading ''Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles'' by Mary Kurcinka, which is on the same lines but I find more disorganized and less disciplined in its thinking and organization. What are the all-time best parenting books for parents of 3-year-olds? I would love to find one book that really has it all, including emotion-coaching, setting limits, and whatever else I seem to be missing. Thanks! Parent of 3-year-old

I have found the book ''How to Behave So Your Preschooler Will Too'' by Sal Severe extremely helpful. The techniques offered really work. I found especially useful the coaching on the appropriate language to use to help your child make better choices. I bought it a couple of years ago for help in dealing with my spirited daughter who is now 5. I'm re-reading it now for help in dealing with my extremely bright and stubborn 2 1/2 year old son. Good luck Alicia

''1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12'' by Thomas Phelan is almost as easy as 123 magic. Good luck from one parent of a busy three old to another. Parent of an active three year old

Hands down, I'd say Playful Parenting by Lawrence Cohen. It's one of those books that is not profound, yet it clues you in to a LOT that does not come obviously to most parents, and it REALLY works, in my experience. He helps you to (re)consider the triggers that cause upsets (to actually see the real root of them, rather that assuming the real problem is the yogurt). But as important--and totally practical--he reminds you to respond playfully, yet respectfully. To figure out how to not steamroll over the child's emotions with mere distraction, but to acknowledge the thing that might be causing the upsent AND harnessing your own playful energy to redirect and keep it playful. Super effective, and it helps us enjoy one another so much more. The other book my husband and i see as totally essential reading is Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn. It is less immediately practical--or so it seems in the midst of things--but it IS profound, in my opinion. The author (who my husband and I knew well as an educator, but just recently learned of as a parenting expert) suggests (via lots of opinion and also research) that using positive reinforcement and traditional discipline only result in short term compliance, at the great expense of long-term social-emotional development. HTH! educator and mama to a spirited almost three year old

Playful Parenting by Lawrence J. Cohen is a favorite for us!

Best discipline/parenting book for a 3 y.o., hands down: 1-2-3 Magic. Been there

Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child Book

Sept 2006

Hi i have a 3.5 month old and we just read the Healthy sleep habits happy child book, and we are into the 4th day. Have to say a great deal of time is spent screaming in his crib, unfortunalty I have no other choice I am going back to work next month and I can not leave him with the caregiver sleep deprived and unwilling to take naps. He will only take short 20 minute naps, also I feel like the whole day he is spent in the crib crying while I bite my nails in agony. HOWEVER I will say that the night sleeping has turned into 12 hours. Just curious if anyone has read this book and if so has it worked or if you have any suggestions on the nap issue.. He hates naps!..Any of you moms have any tricks up your sleeves? Alexandra

I did not find the Healthy Sleep Habits book helpful, even though a rew friends recommended it. I thought it was very poorly organized and hard to follow. I much prefer ''Good Night, Sleep Tight'' by Kim West -- her sleep training method worked for us and didn't feel cruel. It has good advice about sleeping issues at different ages. And 3.5 months is really young, there will definitely be alot of ups and downs when you start sleep training that early good luck

I'm a huge fan of the healthy sleep book but daytime naps in most babies doesn't organize by 3 1/2 months. i think your expecting too much too soon. i know it must be stressful thinking about how your caregiver will help your baby sleep but it will come in the next couple of months. Reread the part about naps where he states you can pick your baby up after five minutes if they are still crying. I would hate for this to dominate the last weeks you have with your little one before you return to work. weissbaluth fan

Though poorly edited, the content is spot on. I used that book, plus 'Becoming Babywise' to guide me through the whole 'cry it out' (or CIO, as you might see it) and scheduling thing. It is a hot topic amongst parents, but if you feel it works for your family, go for it.

The only trick was to call on a mommy-friend that had gone through it and who could give me encouragement through the hard times. The payoff was huge by 5 months when our baby was getting 12 hours at night (sometimes waking up & able to go back to sleep on his own) and taking 3 solid naps on a very predictable schedule. It was hard to give up my life (not go out as much during the day, so that baby could nap soundly at home) but I was able to get a lot done at home since I knew i could expect chunks of me-time. Our kid is now 13 months old and is still a great sleeper. GOOD LUCK! Well-rested mom

HI, we used this book with ALOT of success. the only advice i have for you is that i think your baby is probably too young to expect consistent long naps. you don't need to let your baby cry too long to still adhere to the jist of this book's great advice. i dont think that long naps happen until after 4 months for a lot of people (i think dr. weissbluth even says somewhere in the book that their melatonin levels or something aren't in place before 4 months). our second child also took short naps for a long time. after 4 months i started watching the clock and setting her schedule more. the naps started to consolidate. at 6 months she started taking a long morning nap and a long midday nap and sometimes a late afternoon nap. i just need to wake her in the morning by the latest 8am and she will go like clock work the rest of the day. good luck, you're doing great! dan

I had a really great experience with that book, and for the most part it worked very well for my son, with one exception: the advice about no motion during sleep. For that part, the idea from Happiest Baby on the Block about babies being comforted by motion made sense for our guy. My son, from the time he was about 4 weeks old until about 7 months old, was a ''motion junky'' as his daycare provider called it. He loved movement. He had a hard time just laying in a crib/bassinet to sleep. At night time, for whatever reason, this wasn't a problem, but during the day (perhaps because it was lighter out and there was more noise/activity) he had a very hard time. We'd put him in his swing, turn on some white noise (to help neutralize the noises at our house) and set the timer on his swing. We'd usually set it for 20 minutes, which would be enough to distract him a little and then lull him into a deeper sleep, and he'd wind up taking naps anywhere from 1.5-3 hours. It was the only thing that worked for him for months. Now he's 9 months old, swing free, and a pretty good napper Some babies just need different things

Our son is a month older than your child. Only in the last two weeks has the Healthy Sleep Habits book techniques really started working for him. Your child might just need a few more weeks before he's ready.

Here's our routine, I hope it helps you. When he first wakes up, I change his diaper and feed him. Then we play for awhile together and he plays on his own. I check for signs of tiredness. Usually when he's been up for an hour and forty-five minutes he rubs his eyes. I whisk him into his crib, put a crocheted blankie on top of him and stick a pacifier in his mouth. Then depending on how he's doing I either sit with him and help him keep the pacifier in his mouth and stroke his head or just leave him to his own devices. He's usually asleep within five minutes. If it's a little cool, I microwave a pillow filled with buckwheat for three minutes, make sure there are no hot spots, and place that next to him. He loves snuggling up to that. The trick is to get him in the crib when he's drowsy but still awake and the way to do that is to have the feeding and diaper changing taken care of when I know he is awake. This is sort of a hybrid of Healthy Sleep Habits and the Baby Whisperer with advice from the mothers in my new moms group and a cashier at Elephant Pharmacy thrown in. It evolved gradually after much trial and error, keeping the basic principles of Healthy Sleep Habits in mind but not being super rigid about them. Good luck! Lisa

I have an almost 5 month old who is having sleep issues and only takes half hour naps during the day as well. I don't want to do the ''cry it out method'' and found this book called ''The No Cry Sleep Solution''. I haven't completely finished it yet, but the mother of four author seems to have a lot of good alternatives to helping your baby sleep better during the day and at night. I have just started implementing some of the strategies, so I can't say how successful they are yet. Good luck to you and feel free to email me if you want to communicate more about the issue Mollie mocrit [at]

Weissbluth worked really well for us, but there have been lots of transition periods that have been frustrating. Unlike strict ''scheduling'' approaches, he doesn't tell you when to put a kid down but advises you to figure out what your child's natural sleep rhythms are. While he gives some suggestions and general parameters, it's a lot of trial and error. If what you're doing isn't working, try playing with the times according to his general guidelines. We eventually figured out, for instance, that our son took to an early morning nap. Even though he slept 12-hour nights, he went back down about 2 hours after he got up.

It might also be that your baby is not quite ready at 3.5 months. It was well after 4 months before we noticed any real order to daytime sleep patterns. Finally, if you don't think the crying is getting you anywhere, you could try a modified approach. There were times when we knew our son was just wound up and a little crying would yield to a restorative nap. There were others when we could tell it just wasn't going to happen, so we comforted him in his crib and helped soothe him to sleep. At that age, he might need some help. When he got older and more familiar with the routine, we stopped doing it. Only you know what's best, but don't feel like you're going to sink the whole sleep ship if you go in and give him a hand as you both try to navigate this new program. Good luck! Healthy and Happy

I wonder if he's just too young to apply the Weisbluth stuff. If you have him sleeping 12 hours a night, I wouldn't stress so much about naps. They'll come in time. Apparently babies often sleep better for daycare providers and nannies than their parents. I was able to train my son using that book, but only loosely, and at five months. My son only sleeps a total of 12 hours a day, so it's possible your son is already getting a lot of the sleep he needs during the night. Because every child is different you have to take his advice with a grain of salt (for example, I think 20-minute naps are okay if not ideal). Anon

I am the parent of -- formerly -- The World's Worst Sleeper. I tried and tried to apply Weissbluth, but I found it just didn't work with my life and frankly, I let it make me miserable. Especially the part about never allowing your child to sleep in the car! I felt like I was doomed to be a shut-in. I personally think Weissbluth applies for families that are very differently organized than mine. Anyway, I think 3.5 months is way too young to expect long naps. My daughter never took more than a 20-minute nap until she was 6 months old -- when she went to day care. By the way, your child *will* sleep for her childcare provider, even if she doesn't sleep for you. Also, my daughter never slept more than 2-3 hours at a time (even during the night!) until we did sleep training (not Weissbluth, but more like Ferber) at 9 months. She now sleeps about 8-10 hours at night and 1-3 hours at nap time (she just turned 3). There were weeks and weeks, even after sleep training, when I let her cry through her whole nap time to try to get her to sleep on her own. Then I went to a parenting advisor who told me that as long as she was sleeping at night, just make the naps work in whatever way we could. The sleep stuff is crazy-making, that's for sure. Good luck! I think your child is doing great! Mom of Wakeful Child

Personally, I did not like the Weissbluth book at all. I found him to be bossy and mean, implying that you're ruining your child if you do not follow his philosophy. Although Ferber gets a bad rap (''Ferberizing''), and many people equate his name with the cry- it-out philosophy, I strongly recommend reading him. His approach is much more balanced, he offers supportive advice, and ideas on how to help your child sleep better without stressing out the whole family. After months of struggling, and trying both Weissbluth and Hoag, I finally tried Ferber, thinking he would be the harshest. Instead, his non-bossy, supportive approach worked for us within a week's time. Good luck!! Finally resting parent

The Healthy Sleep Habits book (Weissbluth) remains the single best parenting advice book I have read -- and my two kids are 3 and 5. It's straightforward, practical, and best of all to a sleep-deprived parent, you don't have to read the whole book! Once you read the first couple of chapters and get the basic concepts, you can then flip to the section that relates to the age of your particular child.

It's not at all about being harsh with a child or making them ''cry it out'' to sleep. It's about teaching your child a consistent, predictable bedtime routine that will ultimately teach them to soothe themselves to sleep easily. Just like with potty training, mealtime behaviors, etc., you are showing your baby/child ''this is what we do every day, we do it at the same time, and in the same way. this probably doesn't seem like much fun, but it's really important to do this.'' The child quickly learns the expectation, and builds the sleeping habit. This may be challenging for those parents who don't like to operate on a schedule, but if you are willing to be consistent in implementing it, it works surprisingly fast.

I had 2 uptight, colicky, non-sleeping infants who howled whenever I put them down. 6 weeks after my first was born, I was at the end of my rope -- up 20+ hours a day rocking him. I found this book, and it literally changed our household for the better. Once he started sleeping adequately, he was much happier (and I was too). The results have stuck, years later. In fact, my kids will sometimes ask to go to bed EARLY when they've had a tiring day. (yes, these are the same two that were born fighting sleep) Their bodies are now trained to tell them when they need to rest.

A further testament to how effective it is: My son is autistic (of course, we didn't know this when he was a baby and we did sleep training), and even though night waking is typical for these kids, his doctors are amazed to know that he consistently sleeps through the night unassisted. Thank you Dr Weissbluth!! Linda

Best Parenting Books: Preschool Age

Oct 2003

I know this was discussed very recently, but I can't find the post... I'm looking for the book(s) that were recommended for the parent whose three- or four-year-old is DRIVING HER CRAZY. One book was mentioned several times. Now I can't remember it, and I really, really need it. Here's a list of the ones I already know about, so it was more obscure. It wasn't:
Becoming the parent you want to be.
How to talk so kids will listen...
The discipline book
Your spirited child
Thanks so much, and sorry to ask for a re-run.

Perhaps you are remembering references to ''Your Three-Year-Old: Friend or Enemy,'' by Ames and Ilg. it's been mentioned several times recently in regards to troubling three-and-a-half-year-old behavior. The best thing about the book is the reassurance that children go through normal phases of disequilibrium. For me, it's been more effective than many 'strategies'' to remember that my child really is going through an inner upheaval, and that he will settle down again. In the trenches

My favorites for parenting books that focus on positive discipline (education, not punsihment) and that give parents and kids effective tools to communicate with one another:
Parent Effectiveness Training - sounds dull, but if you can get past the flowcharts, it is a wonderfully respectful model of how to encrouage yourchild and your self to put words to feelings and actions.
Raising your spirited child
Kids, parents, and power struggles
Playful parenting by Cohen
Positive discipline for preschoolers - sort of a list of things to try
Also the Your three your old and your four year old books by Ames for a nice overview of the developmental challenges of each age. Jen

Parenting a School-Aged Child

Books about Developmental Stages in 5-year-olds

May 2006

Hello parents and caregivers, Does anyone know of a good book that discuss the developmental stages of a child from one year old to pre-adolescence, or even to teen years for that matter. I'm in search of information on what a 5 year old's (boy) developmental stages are. Questions that I have are, what are the stages of mental growth for this age and what are the difficulties an average 5 year old face from day-to-day. Mom of mommy's boy

''Your Five Year Old'' is a good book about childhood development. It's a series ''your 6 year old, ''your 8 year old'', etc...check it out on Amazon. -Allison

I love the series from the Gessell Institute, usually written by Louise Bates Ames or Frances Ng ''Your Five Year Old'' , ''Your Six Year Old'', etc. They are so clearly and compassionately written. I have 3 kids, ages 3-10 and I reread each one for each kid when they hit that age. heidi, mama of 3

Books about parenting a five-year-old

March 2003

I must have half a dozen books that have taught me a great deal about childrens developmental stages and so on. They mostly end around the age of 5 though. My favorites are Penolope Leach (your baby your child), Brazelton (touchpoints) and Sears. I have the Brazelton 3-6 book but it is not that helpful as his four 'model' kids are SO extreme in temprement. Mine, like most of yours I am sure, is a mixture of these. I can not label her anything in particular so I am not looking for a 'special needs' type of book. Just a good referenece on what 5-6-7 yr olds go through, why, how to deal... Thank you much.

My favorites for this are the Ames and Ilg books from the Gesel Institute, ''Your Four Year Old'', ''Your Five Year Old'', etc... I know they go through at least 9 or 10 years old. I think they mesh pretty well with your favorites. They've helped me tremendously when I start to think my child is going to make me crazy, and then I discover their behavior is totally appropriate for the age (I still get crazy, but at least I understand...). Carrie

I have enjoyed the series of books by Louise Bates Ames and Frances L. Ilg. They are quite dated in terms of gender stuff, but their descriptions of developmental stages seem right on. They go up through 10 years old, maybe teens as well. They have titles like Your Three Year Old, Friend or Enemy. eve

Books about Being a Mother/Father

Recommended reading on Feminism & Motherhood?

Oct 2009

Any recommendations on books, websites, etc that discuss being a mom and raising babies from a feminist perspective? i am a new mom and a feminist and want to quit ''work'' to stay home and raise my baby, at least for now. i'd like to read thoughts on this that empower me to make this decision. i feel so much pressure to give answers to the external voices - the ''when are you going back to work'' voices (my baby is 1 month old!) and to really own my beliefs that it is right for me to be with her for a while, even if it's a financial struggle. am i looking for justification in writing? maybe. i'd also love to hear from those of you who might understand what i'm trying to work out. thanks! empowered mama

You should read ''Maternal Desire'' by Daphne De Marneffe. I really enjoyed reading it and have recommended it to many friends. She's a local author and clinical psychologist who stayed at home for a while and eventually went back to work. Reading her book helped me feel more comfortable with my decision to stay home. Here's a link to the book on Amazon: Enjoy! book lover

I'm working through something similar - I'm in month 4 of my leave and facing my imminent return to work. Here are a couple pieces that I've looked at. There is an article in this month's San Francisco magazine. ''Mother of all Recessions'' by Diana Kapp. She personally has a point of view, but does a pretty good job at giving voice to the opposite point of view as well. Also, I thought this book was good at reviewing sociology research. ''Necessary Dreams'', by Anna Fels. she who is seeking meaning

Hi, a writing critique group that I was part of founded a website a few years ago with exactly this in mind! Check out We publish fiction, poetry,columns, and creative nonfiction all on the topic of motherhood and from a feminist perspective. I wrote a column called ''Down Will Come Baby'' for several years about my experiences with PPD.

The site also has book reviews (I was one of the reviews editors for awhile), bibliographies, and reading lists with much of what you are looking for.

for more of an activist perspective, go to and (I get their newsletters)

I was a women's studies minor in college and it was my concentration for my MA. but when I had my kids and started looking for stuff on motherhood, I was dismayed with the lack of what I found. But in the past few years there has been an explosion of writing as well as a movement of rediscovering wonderful stuff that was already there ( anne lamott, adrienne rich) Happy Reading! rebecca

''Everyday Blessings: Mindful Parenting'' by Jon and Myra Kabat-Zinn Guidance on being present and the value of being present with your kids (whatever other work you are doing). I'm interested to hear other answers as I think we do need a new feminism of mothering. Congratulations on your little one, best wishes and do what feels right to you! Kristine

I highly recommend Maternal Desire by Daphne de Marneffe. This is a rich and nuanced book which takes into account and values mothering from a feminist perspective. A rare find. Oaklandish Reader

I HIGHLY recommend ''The Mommy Myth'' and ''The Price of Motherhood.'' patrice

''Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety'' quite literally changed my life and I highly recommend it for anyone struggling to make sense of the emotionally charged and complex role of ''Mother'' and perhaps ''Working Mother'' in today's society. The author is Judith Warner. anon

You already got some great recommendations. I wanted to add a couple of books that I don't think were mentioned. 'Mother Reader' is a great collection of essays on motherhood and feminism. The essays span the second half of the last century (1949- 1999, the book came out in 2001), but were quite eye-opening for me. In part I was amazed how much even the older essays spoke to me - how much things really haven't changed for mothers. Also, 'Mothers Who Think' is a great collection of motherhood stories, as is the sequel 'Because I Said So.' Finally, 'The F Word' from Kristin Rowe- Finkbeiner, one of the founders of MomsRising, is a good primer of sorts on feminism. It's not focused on motherhood, but does include a discussion of motherhood. A Reader

Must-Read Motherhood Book

Feb 2008

I'm a fairly new SAHM (5 months) and dealing with some PPD and marital stress. Would love a good read about early motherhood but there are so many books out to choose? Here are some I'm considering, which do you recommend? -I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids: Reinventing Modern Motherhood -Inconsolable: How I Threw My Mental Health Out With the Diapers -Mothers Who Think: Tales Of Real-life Parenthood -Mother Shock: Loving Every (Other) Minute of It -What's the Matter With Mommy?: Rantings of a Reluctant Stay-at-Home Mother- anon

I really like Ariel Gore's books on mothering and parenting. She's written one called the ''Hip Mama Survival Guide,'' and edited one called ''Breeder.'' They are both great and are both from Seal Press, a woman-centric publishing house. Also, get yourself a subscription to both Hip Mama magazine and Mothering magazine--I couldn't survive without them!

I also liked the compilation ''Because I Said So,'' which features a bunch of stories written by mothers on various topics. I know lots of people like ''Mother Shock,'' but I personally found it a bit depressing.

A WONDERFUL memoir of the first year is ''Operating Instructions,'' by Anne Lamott. It is incredibly honest, touching, funny, and just right on. It is one of my all-time favorite books. Happy Reading! (And try Nordic Naturals fish oils to help with the PPD...I am noticeably moodier when I forget to take them). fellow mama

My all-time favorite is Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott. Really helped me feel like I was not alone. And it made me laugh really hard in parts. anon

Of the books you mention, I really enjoyed the Mothers Who Think collection. I was less impressed with Mother Shock, and am not familiar with the others. Another collection I liked was Child of Mine. Also, there's a book called Mother Reader that has essays and stories about motherhood that I found very thought-provoking. These are some of the books that got me through the first year of motherhood. Oh, there's also Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott, which tells about her son's first year and is a good read. Good luck to you - the first year is tough, but it keeps getting better and easier, so hang in there. Mom of a four-year old

While you're at it, check out this website by a local mom:

Congrats on your new baby! I would definitely recommend Mother Shock as well as Perfect Madness by Judith Wagner. Hello, My Name Is Mommy by Sheri Lynch is a good one, too. Happy reading-- Been There

I recommend The Mother Trip by Ariel Gore. Also check out Hip Mama magazine. carmen

Check out ''Birth of a Mother'' by Stern, et al. Helped (and is helping) me a lot as a new mother. Reading Mom

''Operating Instructions'' by Anne Lamott! Laugh out loud funny in spots and gives you that 'thank goodness I'm not the only one who feels this way sometimes' relief. Jackie

I second all those book recommendations, but also check out the weekly new writing at It's tremendous writing from many different perspectives and in a variety of genres (fiction, poetry, essay), and it's free! Mama reader

Father wants good Daddy book

Oct 2006

After reading yet another ''parenting'' book that told my hubby ''yes, you can be involved in parenting'' my husband is feeling a little talked down too. He IS a very involved parent, doesn't need a book encouraging him to be involved, or affirming his parentage and responsibilities. He'd like to read a nice book that assumes he's involved already and gives him some thoughts, guidelines -- he's not quite sure -- but a book that is akin to the well-written mothering books I get to read. The best he could say is ''a modern father's book.'' Has anyone found a Dad-book that might meet his expectations?
got a good daddy and hubby!

My brother-in-law has been raving to my husband about this book: Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child by John Gottman. It's not specifically a Father's book, but is written by a father and has a chapter titled ''The Father's Crucial Role.'' I've read some of this book, it definitely does not talk down to parents and makes quite a lot of sense of how to be an emotional coach to your children. L

just want to second the recommendation for john gottman's ''raising an emotionally-intelligent child.'' this is one of the few parenting books i actually read all the way through (it's that well-written!), and i was particularly interested in/impressed by the chapter about fathers (tho' i'm a mom). i think it has a lot of interesting insights about how fathering is different from, and just as important as, mothering, and is very respectful of fathers in general anon

Books and Resources about American Working Moms

May 2006

There are so many books, articles, rants on how hard it is for American working moms, but does anyone know of:

a) Books, groups, websites that propose real solutions - what to ask for in legislature changes, and who and how to ask? It seems to me a lot of changes have to happen at a government level. Or on a personal level - how to educate employers on the needs and challenges of family life.

b) What western culture really has a good balance - is it Sweden with a full year paid maternity leave? France with govt. subsidized childcare? Most of Europe with 6-8 weeks vacation? Are there any complete studies that compare all the factors, the pros and cons, in order to figure out the best model to work towards? I know the problems, but how can we keep making things better if not for us, then for our children?

I want to be more involved in a change!! Itching to DO More!!

I don't know about information per se, but there is a new organization that has recently been started by Joan Blades, one of the women involved in, called ''Moms Rising''. Like MoveOn, this is a grassroots, online, organization striving to make changes in the world through local activism. Their focus is on Moms and families. Check out the website, and get involved! Tara

Check out founded by Joan Blades, one of the founders of MoveOn. Deborah

I don't have any sources of information for you, but I am also itching to do more. If you start a little group, I'd like to be a part of it. Kristie

Check out They are an offshoot of, and I don't know how effective they are/will be, but at least their goals seem right. I'd also be interested in finding local groups working on issues that affect working mothers/families. If you'd like to talk, please email me Ilil

Some of the things you mention remind me of a book I read recently, ''Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety'' by Judith Warner. Have you read it? Warner lived in France for a while and makes comparisons between the two countries. It raises a lot of issues and questions, but in the end comes up short in answering all of your questions, in my opinion. There must be an organization working on this somewhere... I'm going to watch the follow-up postings to see what others have to say Working Mother of 2

Books on Fatherhood for anxious dad-to-be

Oct 2003

I am 8 months pregnant with my first child. My husband is very apprehensive and nervous about fatherhood--he probably would have prefered never to have children. But he is interested in discussing all the conflicting emotions with other men and/or reading works by men/fathers on this issue. I recently read Naomi Wolf's Misconceptions and found it very useful in that it discussed so many of the hard aspects of pregnancy/motherhood that aren't talked about in so much of the literature. He's jealous that there's so much literature for women about these issues and not much for men (aside from books on what you can do to support your pregnant wife). Does anyone know of any books that address this conflict? Does anyone know of any new-father support groups that he could join? Thanks. anon

Dr. Bruce Linton in Berkeley has a support group for new and expectant fathers 510 644 0300, as well as a book called Finding time for Fatherhood. My husband has never liked/trusted therapists but seems to have bonded very quickly with Dr. Linton. He is an expert in this arena, and he takes insurance! He is recommended elsewher on this site, too. Good Luck!

P.S. It's easy to underestimate the power of a baby over your best emotions. Your husband may be surprised by the feelings of love he feels for the child. Anne

Hi, I just wanted to recommend the book that my husband found the most useful for him while I was pregnant. Pregnant Man by Gordon Churchwell. This book is funny and honest. My husband has recommended it many times. Good Luck, Michelle

I have JUST the right book for your husband that addresses EXACTLY the issues that your husband is facing - including that expectant fathers need more than just to know how to support expectant mothers: ''Fathering Right from the Start: Straight Talk About Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond'' by Jack Heinowitz - you can get it from My husband checked it out of the library and LOVES it - the book discusses the conflict of emotions that fathers experience, and how fathers are marginalized by our culture from the lives of their babies, by the common misconception that newborns and babies only need their mothers and that the extent of a new father's invovement is supporting mom. I bet your husband will really appreciate this book. Fathers matter too!!

Bruce Linton in North Berkeley (on Shattuck between Cedar and Vine) has a fathers' group that has worked well for my husband. He's able to talk with other new dads and has even made strong enough connections to join a few fathers with the kids at a park on the weekends ( a great break for me.) Don't know his number off hand, but Dr. Linton is well known and a ''really good guy.'' Check him out Heidi

The book your husband should start with is Armin Brott's _The Expectant Father_. (Brott also has a series of other 'fatherhood' books that he may want to read later: The New Father for the first year, and another the title of which I've forgotten for the toddler years, plus The Adoptive Father and other 'specialized' titles.)

There are certainly fathers' groups around. There is at least one facilitated group that is mentioned once in a while in our own Announcements newsletter, and I believe there's at least one sponsored by or advertised in the Neighborhood Parents' Network newsletter. Holly

Book on pros/cons of having multiple kids

Jan 2003

Hi- I was wondering if anyone could recommend a good book on the pros and cons of having an only child. We have one child right now,and are on the fence about having another. We are wondering if it is really better for him developmentally to have a a brother or sister. Books with either point of view would be highly appreciated. Thanks.

''Maybe One: A Case for Smaller Families'' by Bill McKibben presents reasons why couples should perhaps limit themselves to having an only child. It's written from an environmentalist point of view, but touches on developmental issues as well. Sarah

Books about Being a Parent

Feb 2000

Can anyone recommend a book on mothering or parenting in general which they really enjoyed? I'm *not* interested in a how-to handbook (i.e. Sears, What to Expect, etc...), but rather something thoughtful, thought-provoking, and well-written. Beth

For a good book that is short and fun to read, try Anne Lamott's *Operating Instructions.* I read it while I was pregnant and laughed, read it again when my baby was 2 months old and laughed more. Also, a friend of a friend of mine has a new book just coming out called *Planet Parenthood* (by Julie Tilsen, I think) that is very funny.

Three books that I've enjoyed, all relatively non-directive (and all oriented toward infants -- I don't know how old your child is): Dear Parent: Caring for Infants with Respect by Magda Gerber (this book does make specific recommendations that go along with its philosophy, but there's some good stuff about noticing when your child is engaged in studying something and not interupting him/her) Our Babies, Ourselve by Meredith F. Small (self-described as ethno-pediatrics; acultural/anthropological study of child-rearing practices) The Continuum Concept by ??? (another anthropological study of the child-raising of an Amazonian tribe. A pretty strong ideological slant about carrying the baby all the time (I suspect this book had something to do with the discovery of attachment parenting), but since it's an ideology I'm generally sympathetic to, it didn't bug me that much.) I just HATE the entire What to Expect... series!

I've just started to read this book, but so far I'm finding it very thought provoking. It's called, Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting by Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn. I would also recommend these books: You are Your Child's First Teacher, by Rahima Baldwin Dancy and Becoming the Parent You Want to Be by Laura Davis (I think that's the author's name!). There's also a book called Mother Journeys: Feminists Write about Mothering, edited by Maureen T. Reddy, Martha Roth, Amy Sheldon. Lastly, The Blue Jay's Dance: A Birth Year, by Louise Erdrich is a nice pastoral read.

I have really enjoyed You Are Your Child's First Teacher, by Rahima Baldwin Dancy. It has a Waldorf/Rudolf Steiner slant to it, which may appeal to some and not others. I liked it because I found it supported a lot of my natural instincts and reminded me to just relax and enjoy being a mother. Some of the Steiner background was a bit much for me, but behind that I just found this to be a very sweet and nurturing book to read as I became a new mother

I always recommend the book, Becoming the Parent You Want to Be by Laura Davis and Janice Keyser. This is an extremely thoughtful book with lots of strategies for parents. Most importantly, it focuses a lot on our growth as parents and encourages reflection on what we believe and why. I can't say enough good things about it.

I have very much enjoyed Penelope Leach's Your Baby & Child, which goes up to age 5 or so. I'm also starting to get into Barbara Coloroso's Kids are worth it! Giving Your Child the Gift of Inner Discipline, which came highly recommended to me.

There are a couple of wonderful books that you might enjoy. One is Becoming the Parent You Want to Be by Laura Davis and Janis Keyser. It's a combination philosophy/how-to book, but doesn't really come at parenting from one particular point of view - it's more a guide for helping you figure it out for yourself. Another is The Good Enough Parent by Bruno Bettelheim. It has more of a viewpoint and is the culmination of his lifetime of work around raising healthy children, and it is very well-written. He kind of reminds me of Mr. Rogers for parents.

Two thoughtful books that I enjoyed are: Everyday Blessings by John and Myla Kabat-Zinn and Essence of Parenting (I think this is the title).

I loved Child of Mine edited by Christina Baker Kline - it's essays written by women writers about the first year of motherhood. A great gift for new moms to be, also.

Many of these books have been mentioned, but I had already typed them on my list. These are mostly non child development oriented books, and talk to the experience of parenting. I figure all parenting books must be taken with a grain of salt. Sorry if the list is long, they all have different value.
Balantyne, Sheila Novel: Norma Jean the Termite Queen (ta funny, furious, totally uninhibited book about the mad housewife in all of usv) Bettelheim, Bruno A Good Enough Parent Briggs Your ChildFs Self Esteem Cabat- Zinn, John and Myra Everyday Blessings Clarke, Jean Illsley Self-Esteem: A Family Affair Cowan, Carolyn and Phil When Partners Become Parents Davis, Laura and Keyser, Janice Becoming The Parent You Want To Be Fishel, Elizabeth Family Mirrors, What Our ChildrenFs Lives Reeal About Ourselves Heffner, Elaine Mothering, The Emotional Experience of Motherhood after Freud and Feminism Johnson, Anne and Goodman, Vic The Essence of Parenting, Becoming the Parent You WAnt to Be Kaplan, Louise Oneness and Separateness:From Infant to Individual Linton, Bruce Finding Time For Fatherhood McBride, Angela Barron The Growth and Development of Mothers Neville, Helen and Halaby, Mona No Fault Parenting Swigart, Jane The Myth of the Bad Mother, Parenting Without Guilt


Laurie Colwin has written a number of really wonderful novels with babies, children and families as themes. I'm especially fond of Goodbye Without Leaving and Family Happiness. I recently particularly enjoyed Jackie by Josie by Caroline Preston which has a toddler and family in it...As a bonus it also had an academic slant. Domestic Pleasures by Beth Gutcheon has a nice portrayal of domestic life, with teenagers and toddlers living together. This, as well as Laurie Colwin's books are set in New York, which I like. Faith Sullivan has a number of books about family life, mostly told from the child's view which are quite nicely written. I especially liked The Cape Ann. Billy Letts has a baby in Where the Heart Is but I found the book to be kind of dumb. And of course, Barbara Kingsolver's The Bean Trees and Pigs in Heaven have great kid stuff in them.
Myr (2/00)