My Favorite Books for Pregnancy/New Parents/Baby Shower Gifts

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The following 6 books were invaluable to my husband and I as we was entering the world of parenthood.  As a book lover, I naturally turned to literature to help navigate us through this exciting time.  In fact, Barnes and Noble was one of the very first stops we made after we found out that we were pregnant with my daughter 🙂 The following books helped and guided us in so many ways.  I highly, highly recommend these either for yourself or as wonderful gifts for new parents or parents to be!

*Amazon Affiliate links for each book are all at the very end of this post.  A few of these books get reprinted every few years with the most up to date information…make sure you are ordering the most updated version (I tried to make sure that I posted the current versions)! *

Pregnancy Journal: A Day to Day Guide to a Healthy and Happy Pregnancy

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

Since its publication in 1996, this definitive journal for expectant families has sold over a million copies. Author A. Christine Harris brings a revised and thoroughly updated edition to todays parents-to-be. Still featuring daily entries, a personalized timeline, and pregnancy glossary, the revised edition provides a clearer picture of the baby’s in-utero development and the latest advice about giving a growing baby every advantage prior to birth.

My Thoughts:

This book is AWESOME.  I never used the “journal” portion but the facts each day were unbelievably fascinating to read.  Most pregnancy books will break down the development of the baby into weeks and tell you what is happening during that particular week.  This book breaks it down by the DAY.  So, so cool.  My husband and I would lay in bed and read together each night what was going to occur the following day.  The whole next day, I would be thinking things such as, “She’s developing her eyelids RIGHT NOW!”  These bits of knowledge really helped my husband and I both connect to our babies throughout both of my pregnancies.  Highly, highly recommend this book for any expecting parents.

Bottom Line:

There is nothing more amazing than knowing you are growing a human…this book connects you to all of the astonishing details throughout the journey.

Baby Bargains

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

America’s best-selling and best-loved guide to baby gear is back with an updated and revised edition! Yes, a baby book that actually answers the big question about having a baby: How am I going to afford all this?

With the average cost of a baby topping $7400 for just the first year alone, new parents need creative solutions and innovative ideas to navigate the consumer maze that confronts all parents-to-be. Baby Bargains is the answer!

Inside, you’ll discover:

– BEST BET PICKS for cribs, car seats, strollers, high chairs, diapers and more! – CHEAT SHEETS for your baby registry–create a baby registry in minutes with our good, better, best ideas.

– SEVEN THINGS no one tells you about baby gear, from nursery furniture to feeding baby.

– THE TRUTH ABOUT STROLLERS–and which brands work best in the real world.

– Dozens of SAFETY TIPS to keep baby safe and affordably baby proof your home.

– DETAILED CHARTS that compare brands of cribs, high chairs, car seats and more.

This new 12th edition adds the latest tips and advice on getting bargains on baby gear, including:
Streamlined recommendations by parenting lifestyle, from a crib for space-challenged urban parents to an affordable car seat for Grandma’s car. New recommendations for baby feeding, from baby food processors to storage ideas for home-made baby food. BUDGET-FRIENDLY picks for dozens of items, from high chairs to infant car seats. Expanded coverage of the price war on diapers–who’s got the best deals now?

My Thoughts:

This book saved us time and money!  It lays everything that you need out in a simplistic, helpful way.  This book gives the best tips on what you need, the best (and cheapest) way to get all of it, and also what you don’t need! My husband and I also did a ton of our own research on what we needed but this book was so helpful to us in so many areas.

Tip: Bring this book with you when you go into the store to register.  We did that and I remember seeing the couple standing next to us also referencing their copy of this same  book as they were looking at products!

Bottom Line:

This book will save you time and money while narrowing down the options of what you really do need (and really don’t need!) for your baby.

What to Expect When You’re Expecting

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Synopsis From Goodreads:

A completely revised and updated edition of America’s pregnancy bible, the longest-running New York Times bestseller ever.

With 18.5 million copies in print, What to Expect When You’re Expecting is read by 93% of women who read a pregnancy book and was named one of the “Most Influential Books of the Last 25 Years” by USA Today.

This cover-to-cover (including the cover!) new edition is filled with must-have information, advice, insight, and tips for a new generation of moms and dads. With What to Expect’s trademark warmth, empathy, and humor, it answers every conceivable question expecting parents could have, including dozens of new ones based on the ever-changing pregnancy and birthing practices and choices they face. Advice for dads is fully integrated throughout the book. All medical coverage is completely updated, including the latest on Zika virus, prenatal screening, and the safety of medications during pregnancy, as well as a brand-new section on postpartum birth control. Current lifestyle trends are incorporated, too: juice bars, raw diets, e-cigarettes, push presents, baby bump posting, the lowdown on omega-3 fatty acids, grass-fed and organic, health food fads, and GMOs. Plus expanded coverage of IVF pregnancy, multiple pregnancies, breastfeeding while pregnant, water and home births, and cesarean trends (including VBACs and “gentle cesareans”).

My Thoughts:

I refer to this as the “bible” for any pregnant woman.  There is absolutely nothing that this book doesn’t cover (from the most basic to the most personal).  I kept this on my nightstand throughout both of my pregnancies and referenced it about a million times on a daily basis.  I also loved What to Expect the First Year and What to Expect the Second Year (all links below) as my kids grew.

Bottom Line:

There is a reason this book has been around, trusted, and updated since it was first published in 1969.  A true classic!

Milk Memos: How Real Moms Learned to Mix Business with Babies—And How You Can, Too

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Synopsis From Goodreads:

This one-of-a-kind guide to balancing motherhood and work is based on actual journals kept by a group of IBM women during their visits to the company’s employee lactation room.

It all began when IBM manager Cate Colburn-Smith sat down in the company’s employee lactation room, shed a few silent tears, and wrote the following on a paper towel: I’m a new mom and today is my first day back at work. Is anyone else using this room?

Right away women responded, and the paper towel was eventually replaced by a series of notebooks, in which women offered one another advice and support on juggling work and a newborn. Based on the original notebooks, The Milk Memos is a heartwarming, encouraging (and often hilarious!) guide to working motherhood.

It’s one of the most existential moments any woman will face: sitting in a small room tucked away in the bowels of your company, pumping breast milk for a child so close to your heart-yet, at that moment, so far away. The Milk Memos records the voices of mothers who, while struggling with the difficulties of blending their two lives, prove that women don’t have to choose between work and family. Their thoughts on how it can be done will inspire women everywhere. This invaluable book weaves the actual Milk Memos journal entries with information-packed sections on such topics of great concern to working moms as:

– finding a private place to pump breast milk at work and establishing a routine that you can maintain despite your busy workday;
– establishing the right daycare solution;
– getting a decent night’s sleep with a new baby so that you can shine (or at least glimmer!) during business hours; and
– negotiating flextime, part-time, or a job share with an employer.

The ultimate gift for any new mom who will soon return to work, The Milk Memos is destined to become a classic on the parenting shelf.

My Thoughts:

Breastfeeding my children was one of the most beautiful experiences of my entire life.  I nursed my daughter until she was 2.5 and my son until he was 2.  I contribute many things to my extended nursing success and this book is definitely one of them.  This book SAVED me when I went back to work after having my daughter.  I read it about a week before returning to work (perfect time frame to read this book) and it made pumping at work feel like the most normal thing in the world.  Pumping at work was already making me feel nervous and this book put those nerves immediately to rest!  It truly made me feel like I was part of a nursing community, it immediately normalized pumping in the workplace, and it made me feel PROUD of my decision to pump at work.  Every working, pumping mom needs to read this book.  STAT.  Aside from comfort, this book is a wealth of knowledge about everything that has to do with nursing…and other tips on parenting as well.  I kept this book as a reference once I finished reading it and found myself going back often (with both of my children) to reference information.  I can’t recommend this book enough.  Nursing my babies (and also this beautiful, helpful book) will forever hold a special place in my heart.

Bottom Line:

I wish I could hug the authors of this book for all that they have done for me and for my children.

Did you read any of these 6 books?  What did you think?  Any other books that you found to be helpful while navigating the new world of parenthood?  Comment below with your thoughts!

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Let’s Chat: When Did This Happen? More Importantly…WHY Did This Happen?

 

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Before my daughter started going to school for the full day, her and I would spend hours upon hours at our local library.  It had a tiny children’s play area with a very old play kitchen, a puppet stage with some very well loved puppets,  a few ancient puzzles, and little jars of crayons that you could check out at the desk to color a picture. There was a giant rug with huge pictures and their corresponding letters.  My daughter and I would pay a game where I would give her clues about the letters or pictures on the rug and she had to hop to the one I was describing. If a child helped to clean up after themselves, they could tell the librarian at the desk and would receive a sticker for their efforts.  There were stacks and stacks of children’s books.  My daughter and I would find a hidden spot in them and sit and read stories aloud, usually about upcoming holidays or events.  We would do all of this for hours and then go into the front room when we started to get hungry.  In the front room, there were a few random blue chairs where her and I would eat our packed lunches and then return to the children’s section for hours more.  At the front door to the building, there was a beautiful hand carved bench which was crafted to look like a bookshelf containing classic stories.  Next to it was an ancient payphone.  My daughter would sit on that bench each time we entered the building and would “call” her grandma each time we excited the building and pretend to tell her all about our day’s adventures at the library.  All in all, spending time at our favorite library was a perfect way to spend our days.   So many of my absolute favorite memories with my daughter occurred in that building.

And then…

Our beloved library received a multi million dollar renovation.

For over a year while they completed the renovation, the temporary location was our place to go.  It was much smaller than our library, but just as wonderful.  It had a few older toys, puzzles, a huge table with blocks, and art project kits that you could check out at the desk.  We loved the temporary location but were counting down until we could return to our favorite main branch and see all of the beautiful improvements.  When the day came where we could finally check it out, we were so excited!

They ruined it.

Not ruined exactly, just…changed it.  Completely.

A gigantic light wall!  Balls that you can shoot up through the ceiling and watch go across the whole room through huge mazes on the wall!  A humongous screen with interactive technolicgical games!  An entire table of ipads!  Big sticky shapes that are meant to be placed on the Velcro wall but you can throw them and they stick!

Gone are the stacks and stacks of books, they are now displayed by theme facing outward.

Gone is the librarians’ desk right in the middle of the room, it’s now on the other side of the library…so also gone is any monitoring of behavior (although this really is the parents’ job but that could be another whole separate post).

Gone are both the beautiful hand crafted bench and payphone at the front entrance.

What was once our quiet, quaint literacy based weekday activity has turned into kids literally RUNNING and SCREAMING through the children’s area.  And not just a few kids…LOTS of kids.  Due to the exciting and newsworthy major renovation, children from all surrounding areas now come to our once quiet library.  Throwing balls, throwing the sticky shapes, climbing on the puppet stage (what used to actually be a tiny doll stage is now a massive custom built area perfect for children to climb).  Everything is brand new, gorgeous, modern, and stunning.

My daughter’s reaction?  She hated it.  Absolutely hated it.  Refused to go back for months.  And I agreed.

There is another local library not far from our town that has a massive slide in the center of the room.  A SLIDE.

When did all of this happen?  When did libraries become indoor play places?

I have always taught (and always will teach) my children that libraries are meant to be quiet places.  I want them to respect the building and the people inside of it who are working, reading, researching, or just trying to enjoy some peace from the loud outside world.  I want them to marvel at the selection of books.  I want them to know that there are endless possibilities awaiting them in those books.  I want them to love those books.  Playtime at the library should absolutely be a part of the experience…but leaving with carefully selected books should be the most exciting part.

When we go to our library now, it’s with the intention that we are going there to play.  Yes, we still check out books…but….what child wants to sit and quietly read while loud kids and balls are zooming all around them?

There is a brand new massive playground outside. It’s huge and amazing and awesome!  But…a part of me misses the old one with the one rickety table and the old tire swing.  I’ll never forget my daughter playing in the dirt under the old tree searching for sticks.  No reason to do that now…the new playground is so huge that no child would ever think of searching at the base of some old tree.

Make no mistake, our new library is GORGEOUS.  Everything about the facility is new and beautiful.  I am beyond fortunate to be able to raise my children in a community where we have this amazing resource. Even the bathrooms are stunning.  But I miss the old bathroom with only the 2 stalls and the broken sink where my daughter learned to read the words “out of order”.

I completely understand that ANY library that actually encourages children to want to come and spend time there is wonderful.  I get it.  I just wish that children would want to come and spend time there for different reasons than they now do.  As an avid reader, instilling a love for books in my children is a top priority.  If I want to take them to a play place, I will take them to a play place.  If I want to take them to a library, I will take them to a library.  The 2 experiences should be different but now they seem to have tangled together…and the result is such a shame.  I also understand that the world is changing and children need to be exposed to the advancements in technology.  I just want to make sure that good old fashioned books and the libraries that house them don’t get lost in that.

As a stay at home mom, my job is to find creative and meaningful experiences for my children to fill our days with a bonus if I can do that for free.

I yearn for the old experiences that our beloved library used to provide.  Our new library absolutely provides experiences, just of a completely different type.  Our new library is so loud and chaotic in the children’s area, not a place you would want to spend an entire day.  We packed our lunches on that very first day we were allowed to finally come back after the year hiatus.  We ate in the gorgeous cafe area…and haven’t packed our lunches since.  Man, I miss those random blue chairs.

I’ve learned as a parent that the best memories and experiences you can give your child sometimes are the simplest ones.  I will never forget sitting with her quietly working on those old puzzles or worrying about when the last time those gross puppets were washed as she performed countless puppet shows for me.

In the end, it doesn’t matter how much money was spent on the renovation…some of the most perfect and special things in life just can’t be bought.

So…what are your thoughts?  Do you agree with me that libraries have gotten completely out of hand with their children’s areas or completely disagree?  I already know that my opinion probably won’t be the most popular one and that’s absolutely fine with me.  Feel free to speak your mind!  One request…Please refrain from mentioning specific library names or any specific locations in the comments!

Xo,

Jenny

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