If your baby is finally sleeping through the night (fingers crossed), you might find the time and motivation to do a little bedtime reading yourself. A page here, a chapter there, whatever you can squeeze in before your eyelids slam shut with exhaustion. Here’s what’s worth staying up a few extra minutes for: the best books of 2017 about raising babies and toddlers. Read on for 9 top new releases, about topics ranging from introducing solid food, reconnecting with your spouse, staying in touch with long-distance loved ones and being more present and mindful as a parent.
First Bites: Homemade, Nourishing Recipes from Baby Spoonfuls to Toddler Treats by Leigh Ann Chatagnier
Introducing food to your baby can feel complicated after months of only breastmilk or formula. What to make and how to make it? First Bites will lead the way with simple, easy-to-make recipes big on flavor and nutrients. This cookbook will expand baby’s palette through delicious purees (think roasted banana and pears with cinnamon, and zucchini mashed potatoes with thyme) healthy little bites, such as spinach and lentil fritters. Chatagnier offers advice on how to transition to solids, along with tips on food storage, allergies, and picking organic versus non-organic ingredients.
The Parents’ Guide to Baby-Led Weaning by Jennifer House RD BSc MSc
For parents who want to skip purees and do baby-led weaning, this book will help you on the journey to solid food. House writes about what the BLW method entails, why it’s a good idea for some families, and how and when to start. She also covers important related topics such as choking, allergies, picky eating, and vegetarian diets, so everyone can feed their little one safely and with confidence. Plus, there are 125 family-friendly recipes with instructions on safe food shapes and sizes, according to your baby’s development.
How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids by Jancee Dunn
You loved your husband madly before baby came into the picture. But now? Well, let’s just say you fully understand the marital rage that only a mom could muster. Here’s where writer Jancee Dunn comes in to help. Taking experiences from her own evolving marriage and combining it with the wisdom of professionals — neuroscientists, psychologists, parenting experts, and more — she has penned this book to help women navigate everything from household chores, budgets, and weekends with family to both fighting and having sex with your spouse.
Signs of a Happy Baby: The Baby Sign Language Book by William Paul White and Kathleen Ann Harper
If you want to open a new channel of communication with your baby, try sign language. Even before babies are verbal, they’re capable of signing their thoughts and desires, and this comprehensive dictionary full of American Sign Language (ASL) signs will help you two connect. From information on how your baby processes speech to when to begin signing, to how signing can provide relief from whining, this book covers more than just the basics with thoughtful prose and practical, easy-to-follow photos.
Breathe, Mama, Breathe: 5-Minute Mindfulness for Busy Moms by Shonda Moralis, MSW, LCSW
This primer on being fully present in our lives is packed with more than 60 different ideas for taking mindful breaks during every situation life throws our way, from the mundane (driving) to the maddening (incessant baby shrieks and toddler tantrums). A psychotherapist and mom of both a kindergartner and a teen, Moralis shares how to take scheduled and unscheduled pauses and use them to reset the emotional landscape and refocus the mind. She touts the many benefits of daily meditation (increased awareness, optimism, immunity, and a sense of calm; decreased depression and anxiety) and walks readers through everything from eating a mindful breakfast and deep breathing while cuddling your child, to including your spouse or partner and connecting to the world through gratitude in even unpleasant moments.
Virtual Grandma by Alison Hillhouse
If your little one has loved ones far away and Facetime has become a ritual way of communicating, this book will help you navigate those waters and make it fun for everyone. Hillhouse, a culture and trends researcher, offers tons of ideas for activities that will engage young children during video chat. She breaks down the tips by age and presents suggestions both simple (take the child on a virtual tour of the toy box) and highly interactive (lead a toddler-friendly cooking lesson). Perfect for grandparents, but also great for aunts, uncles, friends, and other special people in your child’s life who live too far away.
The Present Parent Handbook by Timothy Dukes
Parents were distracted way before the smartphone came into the picture, but modern technology makes being present that much more difficult. This guide to being mentally and emotionally available and in the moment with our children shows how to be the parent we’ve always wanted to be. Dukes reveals ways to be open and observant and how to really, truly listen, as well as how to let go of certain things, adapt, and know when to say “yes.” Start practicing the more than 26 tools in this book now and they’ll become second nature when you need them.
Slow Down: Embracing the Everyday Moments of Motherhood by Nichole Nordeman
Like a steaming mug of tea on a rainy day, this deeply moving book about the universal parenting experience will make you feel all kinds of warm fuzzies. Christian music artist Nichole Nordeman’s lyrical writing about triumphs and stumbles through every stage of being a mom will resonate with readers as they feel every single piercing emotion right alongside her. In addition to Nordeman’s own experiences as a mom of two, the book features guest writers such as authors Shauna Niequist and Jen Hatmaker, plus pages for journaling inspired by the book’s revelations. Read this with a box of tissues close by.
The Unmumsy Mum: The Hilarious Highs and Emotional Lows of Motherhood by Sarah Turner
If you haven’t discovered Turner’s hilarious blog yet, drop what you’re doing and check it out. A self-proclaimed “chronic oversharer,” this mom of two (soon to be three) divulges her greatest hits as a parent who isn’t afraid to admit when things don’t go as planned (which happens all the time). This tell-it-like-it-is book is equal parts funny and reassuring and will spread a smile across your face when you unsuccessfully try to wear your baby (because he has other plans) or you go for a jog and pee your pants.
Which parenting book are you most interested in? Let us know below!
— Whitney C. Harris
featured photo: Brad Greenlee via Flickr