Now that Labor Day is over and you have your new baby home — what’s next?  Most new parents worry about doing everything “the right way” and avoiding all “the wrong ways”, but we feel woefully unqualified to handle such weighty topics.  I polled friends, family and fans of Welcome to the Motherhood to determine the top rated “baby manuals.”

1.) Sleep: This topic is near and dear to my exhaustion level.  My first born had/has so many sleep issues (I don’t think they ever completely go away) and I’ve poured through thousands of pages of expert advice.  If you struggle with your child’s sleep I feel your pain to my core.   Most recommended sleep books:

  • The Sleepeasy Solution: The Exhausted Parent’s Guide to Getting Your Child to Sleep from Birth to Age 5 by Jennifer Waldburger and Jill Spivack (an especially clear and practical chapter on Naps makes this book worthwhile.)
  • The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night by Elizabeth Pantley
  • Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth.

2.) General/Comprehensive Baby Manuals: each of these got multiple glowing recommendations from friends and fans:

  • The Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby from Birth to Age Two by Dr. Bill Sears and Martha Sears
  • The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp
  • Baby 411: Clear Answers & Smart Advice For Your Baby’s First Year by Denise Fields and Ari Brown M.D.

3.) Behavior and Discipline: We all want to believe our children will remain little angels for their entire lives, but testing boundaries and emotional outbursts are actually normal healthy responses.  These books can help from the Terrible Twos to the Tweens:

  • 1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12 by Thomas W. Phelan PhD
  • The No-Cry Discipline Solution by Elizabeth Pantley
  • Parenting With Love And Logic by Foster Cline and Jim Fay
  • The Optimistic Child: A Proven Program to Safeguard Children Against Depression and Build Lifelong Resilience by Martin E. P. Seligman

4.) Brain: Tell me you’re not intrigued by what’s going on in the head of your growing child!  It’s fascinating to watch these little beings develop their own likes, dislikes, and independent personalities.

  • What’s Going on in There? : How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First Five Years of Life by Lise Eliot
  • Brain Rules for Baby: How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child from Zero to Five by John Medina
  • Pink Brain, Blue Brain: How Small Differences Grow Into Troublesome Gaps — And What We Can Do About It by Lise Eliot

5.) Humor: If you don’t have a healthy dose of it before becoming a parent, dive headfirst into these hysterical tongue-in-cheek books:

  • Pregnancy Sucks: What to Do When Your Miracle Makes You Miserable by Joanne Kimes and Leslie Young MD
  • Let’s Panic About Babies!: How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant who Will Ruin Your Body, Destroy Your Life, Liquefy Your Brain, … Turn You into a Worthwhile Human Being by Alice Bradley and Eden M. Kennedy

In this age of information, there are a plethora of books, periodicals and other resources from “experts” that can inform us of the ins and outs of raising our children, but don’t ever forget that you are the true expert when it comes to your family.  It’s your task to do the homework, but let your intuition have the final say when it comes to doing what is best for your little ones.

What are your recommended or go-to baby manuals?  Share yours in the comments below.