Read The Parenting Books, But Do It Your Way Anyway

November 2, 2016

Parenting books

This morning I walked past our bookcase and noticed all the parenting books I’ve bought over the last couple of years. From trying for a baby to how to care for them when they arrive, I’ve amassed 12 of these ‘must-read’ books.

Surprisingly, despite loving to plan and research my everyday life, I had no desire to buy a pile of parenting books before rocket man was born. But towards the end of my pregnancy I caved and bought some. I was lack-lustre on my choice of reading matter because several people said to me, ‘Just do it your own way – every baby is different.’ It was only as birth approached that I panicked I didn’t even know how to change a nappy, let alone get a baby into any kind of routine (which is the holy grail for most parenting experts). So suddenly my need for knowledge took over and I gained a voracious appetite for parenting books.

I have to say I didn’t buy the infamous Contented Little Baby Book. As there has been so much controversy around Gina Ford’s parenting approach (for and against), I decided to steer clear. Amongst others though, I bought Secrets of the Baby Whisperer, Your Baby Is Talking To You, What to Expect – The First Year, Elevating Child Care and First-Time Parent. I found this a good mix of different theories and practical advice, but there are thousands of other titles to choose from.

The thing is, apart from maybe three, I’ve never looked at my 12 parenting guru books again. It’s got me thinking about my attitude towards parenting experts and what advice I’d give to a new mum vis-à-vis reading material.

Here’s a few things I’d say:

1.READ A WIDE RANGE OF PARENTING APPROACHES

Don’t just pick one book. Either buy several yourself, share a few different books amongst friends or see what the library has to offer. I really think it’s important to understand a range of views in order to find some techniques you feel comfortable trying. It’s quite likely that a well-meaning friend or family member will thrust her go-to book into your lap, but don’t feel you have to love that parenting approach because they do. As soon as my book purchasing began I was interested to see what different parenting experts suggested and what felt most natural to me. People say to go with your gut feeling, but when you’re a newbie parent you often don’t trust your own instincts. So I found having a bit of knowledge from a range of sources helped to boost my confidence.

2.FEEL FREE TO CHERRY PICK ADVICE

It’s easy to think you should choose one parenting expert and follow every single piece of guidance they’ve written. I’ve seen how experts try to dispel each other theories, but in reality a lot of their approaches can work alongside each other. The likelihood is that you’ll totally understand and agree with many points an expert has on child development, but maybe not on everything. But the good news is, you don’t have to be ‘Team Gina’ or ‘Team Spock.’ You can take ideas from each end of the parenting approach spectrum and see what works for you. The most important thing is that you feel comfortable with your approach. If it doesn’t feel right to you, it probably won’t work for your little one.

3.IF IT DOESN’T WORK, TRY SOMETHING ELSE

I remember frantically reading parenting forums during those first 100 days of hell with a newborn. Across all the sites there were so many mums saying, ‘I’m doing what the book says, but it isn’t working.’ Thankfully, despite existing in a complete fog of new parenthood, I had the sense to use a couple of books as a guide, but I didn’t live or die by them. I followed rocket man’s cues and if he seemed to react well to something, we’d keep doing it! If I wanted help with getting him to sleep I read the sleep chapter in one of my books and gave it go. If no improvement occurred, we tried something different. So I would say to any new parent, don’t get too caught up with what the book says. It takes time and consistency to see results, but if you feel the approach isn’t working, try something else. Ultimately, our babies are not text-book children and we are not text-book parents.

4. DO IT THE OLD-FASHIONED WAY AND ASK FRIENDS AND FAMILY

Years ago before a mountain of information was accessible on the internet and only a handful of parenting books existed, mums and dads learnt how to parent through trial and error. They took advice from parents, grand-parents and friends. Very often families lived close-by, so they could be hands-on with raising any new additions to the brood. However, these days we live more detached lives and I feel the element of competition that has crept into the role of parenting, sometimes stops people from reaching out for help. Instead, we rely on books and Dr. Google. So I say if you’re struggling, call your nearest and dearest for their invaluable advice. Again, you don’t have to implement everything they say, but it might spark a few ideas.

5.DO IT YOUR WAY

As I alluded to in the title of this post, the key point is to parent your way. I definitely found some of my books useful for tips and advice, but I didn’t put any of the authors up on a pedestal. All of them will claim their way is the best and only way to get a child sleeping through the night or on the perfect schedule, but what people told me when I was pregnant is true…every baby is different. I honestly believe some babies are sleepers and other’s aren’t. We were lucky with rocket man, but I’m not naïve enough to think it was any super parenting skill. Nope, he just likes sleep. So read what the experts have to say and get a feel for what makes sense to you and what fits in with your family life. But ultimately you’ll find your own parenting rhythm and over time everything will fall into place.

first time parent book

I know a lot of people have never picked up a parenting book in their life, so by no means am I saying you need any parenting experts telling you what to do. But if you’re like me and just want an understanding of what is coming your way or ideas to help make things a little easier, parenting books can be a great resource. One of my favourites was First-Time Parent. This is simply a practical guide to caring for a baby. I knew absolutely nothing about babies and I found this book invaluable for guidance on how to change a nappy, how to swaddle them, reasons they could be crying and suggestions on how to soothe. It takes you from what to pack in your hospital bag, right through to weaning and beyond.

Parenting is a roller-coaster ride and we all make mistakes. If you choose to read parenting books, do so with an open mind and the thought that usually mummy does know best.

 

You Baby Me Mummy

 

Dear Bear and Beany

 

Diary of an imperfect mum
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22 Comments

  1. Reply

    Mummy Times Two

    I totally agree. I bought and read every book known to man with my first and read none nine years later with my second. I think when we are pregnant we need the confidence books give us, once our babies are here we realise they have their own way of doing things. #TheLinkyList

    1. Reply

      Kirsty

      Absolutely – books are great, but nothing beats mama intuition and a little experience 😊x

  2. Reply

    Rosie @ Little Fish

    Yes! Good advice! I remember with my first I was so worried about all of the conflicting advice to do this or that. I agonised over it sometimes. Was I an attachment parent, why was he crying, could he self soothe.. it was so easy to worry about every single thing. I found it useful to do the reading, but would definitely say ultimately, go with your gut. Only you know your child and they are all different. With my second it’s funny because I’ve barely worried about a single thing. I just know her and somehow have more confidence to just do what I think is right for her. Great post. x
    #TheListLinky

    1. Reply

      Kirsty

      Aww thank you Rosie 😊 Having your first child is such a mind-blowing event, it’s not surprising we all reach for whatever help we can find! But it’s like anything in life, once you have a bit of experience and confidence, you feel a lot better and more relaxed. x

  3. Reply

    Brandi Puga

    I totally agree, i have read many parenting books and ultimately it comes down to what you are capable of what you believe is important…the books can give you some ideas, but only you can figure out what works for your family. #ablogginggoodtime

  4. Reply

    Amy | All Things Amy

    Great post. I became a first time mum in April and read loads of parenting books. I also loved First Time Parent. They were great when I was pregnant, but one he was here, I gave up with them. Babies are so different, you just have to go with your own instinct!

    1. Reply

      Kirsty

      Thank goodness for First Time Parent – I literally sat with it by my side while I changed the first few nappies and did the first bath! x

  5. Reply

    Ellen

    I totally agree, I am someone who loves reading and I feel the more I know about something the more confident I am. I absolutely have cherry picked though- I basically decided roughly the kind of parent I want to be, the things I thought would work and then read the books or blogs associated with those. I then read a few articles and blogs about stuff I didn’t really like the sound of and confirmed that I didn’t feel it would work for us! Sometimes just getting a fresh idea or perspective is really helpful, or being reassured that something is normal. #ablogginggoodtime

  6. Reply

    Katy - Hot Pink Wellingtons

    This is such great advice. I am a big reader, and I was always going to read lots of parenting books, and in the early days they were so helpful (I loved Your Baby Week By Week, which was a really down to earth read and so easy to just pick up and dip in and out of). As a new mum you’re never confident in your instincts so you want that reassurance. And it’s definitely useful to read a range of approaches and think about which one appeals to you. But you definitely get to a point where you know which advice you want to take and which to chuck out of the window, as well as what’s going to work for you and your baby. I can’t remember the last time I picked up a parenting book – if I’m struggling with something now I prefer to turn to blogs for a more down to earth read! Thanks for joining us again at #SharingtheBlogLove

    1. Reply

      Kirsty

      That’s a great point Katy – blogs are a brilliant source of info. especially if you follow people that seem to have a similar outlook to you. They prob have ideas that fit in with your lifestyle too. x

  7. Reply

    Lucy's Locket

    This is good advice. I didn’t buy or read any traditional parenting books, but since my daughter was born I have read a few memoir style books which I have loved. They were more ‘this is my story’ than ‘this is how you should raise your child’. I totally agree with your last point – do it your own way! #SharingTheBlogLove

  8. Reply

    Laura - dear bear and beany

    I had a pregnancy book with Alice as I loved to read about all the different stages. But, when she arrived the only book I referred to was The Wonder Years, where it shared the times your baby went through different phases or leaps. This was helpful to understand why my baby had suddenly changed, but I took the advice with a pinch of salt. I never read anything with Holly. Thank you for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove x

    1. Reply

      Kirsty

      Oh yes The Wonder Years is brilliant. I also read this and have found Rocket Man has fallen in line with many of the leaps they discuss. As soon as his behaviour changes I check the app and yep, it’s leap time! Anything to save my sanity! x

  9. Reply

    Mummy in a TuTu (@mummyinatutu)

    I started reading a parenting book and then someone said to me – “Read the book as much as you like… just remember the baby won’t!”
    Thanks for linking to #ablogginggoodtime

  10. Reply

    Louise

    I had a couple of books during pregnancy but I haven’t bought any since having my son, I find reading blogs much better as it’s feedback from real life situations! #SharingTheBlogLove

  11. Reply

    Michelle G

    I love this. I had a few parenting books and used to use Dr Google. It used to give me assurance in the early days. But now I am pleased to say that I do it my way. With confidence and self-belief that I am best placed to know the answer #sharingthebloglove

    1. Reply

      Kirsty

      Absolutely Michelle! x

  12. Reply

    Twin Pickle

    Definitely dip in and out as needed. I’m sure no book is going to be 100% in line with your own beliefs on parenting! #SharingtheBlogLove

  13. Reply

    Sinead (shinnersandthebrood.com)

    Such a great post! We can easily get bogged down with all the well-meaning advice but there’s nothing like a mum’s gut instinct. I reckon I bought every book going and eventaully binned all but two or three and did it my way. No 5 above – words to parent by! Love it!

  14. Reply

    Alana - Burnished Chaos

    Completely agree with you, all babies, all parents and all situations are different so there is no one size fits all guide to parenting. Books can certainly help but only if you mold the advice to your own situation and what works for you hand your family.
    #SharingtheBlogLove

  15. Reply

    Susie at This Is Me Now

    I think this is great advice. I had a couple of pregnancy apps when I was pregnant but never read any books. I did NCT and hypnobirthing and actually there was a book with the hypnobirthing course that I did read but it was all birth related. I just asked my friends a lot about sleep/feeding etc pre birth I think! I did find the apps with forums helpful up to a point but soon found I was almost addicted and reading too much into everything so stopped them. I too downloaded the wonder weeks app but took it with a pinch of salt.. as a child development worker at my location children’s centre told me, babies sometimes just do stuff because they’re babies. She told me not to get too hung up on that stuff and it was great advice. #SharingtheBlogLove

  16. Reply

    Louise

    I have read a few good parenting books and by far my favourite has been Toddler Taming by Dr Christopher Green. It is funny and thoughtful. Most of all it doesn’t offer a one size fits all approach. It reassures every parent that their child is unique and there may be many different possible solutions. His chapter on the difficult to love child made me cry. Before I read it I felt so alone. I would recommend it to any parent with toddlers. His approach is very much the same as what you have written #sharingthebloglove

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