Things I Wish I Had Known: Parenting Books

Parenting is a learning curve. It’s the kind of learning that never ends and things that work for other parents may not work for you, things that work for you might not work for a single other parent and how we come to realise what works and what doesn’t is such a personal journey.

Over the next few weeks I want to share some of the things I wish I had known before giving birth to Ellie, things I have since learned through trial, error or natural growth;

I wish I had known that no amount of reading parenting books, scouring pregnancy and birth forums or stalking blogs on the subject would prepare me for the journey ahead of me.

I spent so much time worrying about containing all the information because I needed to know it all, but really that time could have been better spent resting my body and mind in preparation.

I could have learned a few select important things instead of cramming my head full of everything I ‘needed’ to know up until my unborn baby turned five. Things that, mostly, I haven’t used and I certainly do not recall.

As someone who thrives and insists upon being informed, there were things I did need to know. There were things I needed to research and discover before I could feel prepared. And knowledge is power after all.

So much emphasis seems to be placed on the books that are out there, each being touted as ‘the one to read’, each appearing authoritative and right. As an expecting or new parent it can be overwhelming. It’s easy, in your sleep-deprived beginnings, to grasp at anything that promises an easy, quick fix. Or better yet a one size fits all perfect solution which you will never have to re-visit as there would never, ever be a repeat of the issue, it’s that good.

Why wouldn’t we want to be able to find all the answers to our questions on something so important within the pages of a book?

The thing I have since discovered about reading parenting books is that they can appear to have all the answers, but when you try all the advice and it doesn’t work for you it can be highly disconcerting, especially if others have followed the very same guidance and had success.

Until you accept that each parenting journey is different and each child needs a different approach these books can lead you to feel unfit as a parent. There are many good tips, great books full of information; if only I’d not taken them too seriously!

I wish I had read more selectively, soaking up the things that actually mattered.

What about you, were you a parent book crammer? Did you find they helped or hindered your journey as a new parent? Or was it a little bit of both?

Interested in what else I wish I had known?

Part One: Parenting Books ←
Part Two: Parenting Philosophies
Part Three: Highchairs
Part Four: Routines

Hoping today’s post still counts as a things I know post 😉


  1. I read endless amount of parenting books. The ones that told you ‘This is how you should do it’ stress me out. The ones that told me to go with the flow and follow my instincts really helped. Going with your instincts might be the obvious thing to do, but when you are a newbie it’s great to have an expert confirming it for you.

    • I must have not read any of the ‘go with the flow’ types, I think they certainly would have relieved some of my stress and given me a boost in those early days!
      You’re so right, having someone back it up would be amazing, especially when you get advice from every angle once you bring bubs home.

  2. I know that I can’t read parenting books anymore, they are so far from our reality.

    • Marita, I feel like this, too and I do not have any children on the spectrum, so I can only imagine how unhelpful they are for you.
      You’re doing an amazing job with those girls and I am often in awe of the strength you have x

  3. When I was pregnant I read a specific book about having twins. It informed me about the pregnancy and the first few months. I needed that. After my girls were born, we only checked that book when one of our kiddies refused to eat (the advice was spot-on) and when they had cramps. Later when they had chickenpox, so you see: only when I really needed the reference.
    I am not by nature a worrier much. Besides, my infertility struggles taught me the hard way that concentrating on my own mental health and trusting my own mental power is essential – and that applies to everything, even parenting. 🙂

    • That’s how I wish I had done it, and how I seek information now. I soon learned that reading everything within reach wasn’t doing me any good.
      Love your approach here, thanks for your comment.

  4. Someone gave me one the most popular parenting books as a gift when I was pregnant, touting it as her ‘bible.’ In the case of parenting – actually in a lot of ways – we are polar opposites so you can guess how handy that book was for me. I did devour way too much info when I was pregnant. I did enjoy one which was really ‘go with the flow,’ but found the same author super judgy on some topics when it came to toddlers. So I have been wondering what to do with my parenting books actually, it seems kinda rude to pass them on to an excepting mother when I know the potential damage of info overload.

  5. With Roo I wasn’t too bad with the parenting books. I only had one and it suited me fine, but wasn’t particularly comprehensive or unbiased or anything!
    With the twins I was given a book written my two different mothers, that sourced the opinions of other twin mothers more than anything else, and to be honest that was the biggest help!
    I was prepared for the business and the craziness, and the breastfeeding and the NICU etc.
    I don’t reference it much anymore unless I am interested in the next stage with them.
    Parenting for me (and I realise this isn’t for everyone) HAS to be an organic process. If I read a book now, I find I try to hard to stick to “those” rules, thinking it will help with the issue I have, only to find that in the end, whatever I was doing first off was probably the right thing to be doing!


  1. Things I Wish I Had Known: Parenting Philosophies | Becky and James - [...] Part One: Parenting Books [...]
  2. The First Week; Done and Dusted | Becky and James - [...] need to know anything more – you’re so ready and then BAM! You bring that baby home and you…

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