Let’s face it, parenting is tough at every stage - especially when you’ve got a newborn to contend with. Luckily the bookshelves are packed with tomes of advice from experts in- the-know for those moments when grit and determination are not enough to see you through another sleepless night. However, the sheer amount of conflicting advice out there can be overwhelming, so we’ve rounded up the best baby books so you can find one that suits you.
For the easy mum
The lowdown: The golden nugget from this book is the EASY routine – Eat, Activity, Sleep, You. A revelation in those early foggy days where you’re hobbling from one feed to the next, unsure what exactly it is your baby wants.
Example routine: After Eating (or feeding), you have Activity time. This can be as simple as a short burst of tummy time or a nappy change after which your baby will be ready for a Sleep (once you spot the signs of yawning, fidgeting and rubbing eyes). While your baby is napping it’s time for You – a short activity for you, like enjoying a cup of tea to restore your sanity.
Other tips: Tracy advocates the Pick Up/Put Down sleep technique which aims to encourage your baby not to be dependent on you for sleep. If she cries on put down, you can pick her up and comfort her before placing her back down again once she has stopped crying.
The verdict: The EASY routine definitely offers some semblance of structure to your day, but you need a lot of patience for the Pick Up/Put Down routine.
For the routine-oriented mum
The lowdown: This book divides parents into two camps: those that oppose Gina’s strict and rigid routines, and those who embrace structure and routine in the chaotic first few weeks of parenting. Gina claims that following a strict sleeping and feeding routine is the secret to a less anxious, contented baby.
Example routine: There are nine different routines, depending on your baby’s natural rhythm. Feeds and naps are carefully timetabled with the promise of a baby that can sleep through the night from just a few weeks old.
Other tips: You are advised not to respond immediately to your baby’s cries. Instead Gina advocates ‘controlled crying’ and allowing your baby the chance to self soothe.
The verdict: Detailed, structured routines are laid-out so you know exactly what you should be doing from 7am to 7pm.
For the no nonsense mum
The lowdown: Written by Suzy Giordano, aka ‘The Baby Coach’ the focus of this book is establishing an effective sleeping plan for your baby with a strict regime of scheduled feeds and naps.
Example routine: Suzy says parents should be striving for 12 hours sleep at night and three during the day, and suggests stretching out the time between feeds during the day to every four hours.
Other tips: Suzy advocates leaving your baby to cry in their crib for 3-5 minute blocks before going on to soothe. This is repeated as often as needed until your baby learns to stay in their crib for 12 hours.
Verdict: Originally written for parents of multiples, this sleep-training manual is packed with common sense tips and no-nonsense techniques.
For the science mum
The lowdown: You’ll find a well-thumbed copy of this book on Baby & Child’s night stand as it effortlessly breaks down the first six months of parenting into handy chapters, each covering seven days. It highlights key milestones (when to expect baby’s first smile) as well as important dates to remember (when immunisations are due).
Example routine: Rather than offer a one-size-fits all routine, this book advocates a baby-led approach. Much of the advice is all about getting to know your baby so you can best respond to their individual needs. Tips include feeding on demand and noting the time your baby falls into a deep sleep in the evening to establish a bedtime.
Other tips: Each chapter includes subheadings such as “When to see a doctor” and ‘What’s happening to mum”, as well as a guide to how much milk and sleep your newborn requires at each stage.
The verdict: The short chapters are perfect for those early weeks of baby brain fog while the routines come with an awareness of how much babies change in the first weeks and months of their lives.
For the realist mum
The lowdown: Pegged as a gentler alternative to the cry-it-out method, this routine is not by-the-minute but rather advocates a bedtime routine of bath, story and bedtime.
Example routine: The bedtime routines are all about setting the scene: low lights, soft voices and putting your baby down when he is nice and sleepy but not asleep.
Other tips: Avoid nursing or rocking your baby to sleep and instead introduce other cues to let them know it is bedtime.
The verdict: ‘Sleeping through the night’ is defined by Elizabeth as a five-hour stretch a realistic goal for sleep-frazzled parents.
For the gentle mum
The lowdown: This gentle, no-tears book of sleep solutions for exhausted parents of newborns to five year-olds is right for anyone who’s not comfortable with the controlled crying method or the pick-up, put-down method suggested by many other books.
Example routine: Treading the line between the needs of sleep-deprived parents and that of their child, this book offers evidence-based advice on how long we can really expect our children to sleep at each stage, as well as practical tips broken into six developmental stages, covering the perfect sleep environment, the effect of diet, and how to use comfort objects effectively.
Other tips: There’s lots of advice on tackling common issues including frequent waking, night terrors and night dryness.
The verdict: This would suit an advocate of gentle or attachment parenting; the emphasis is on fostering a loving relationship between parent and child (and perhaps less on actually getting you more sleep).