When I was pregnant, I read every book on birthing I could get my hands on. It never occurred to me to switch over to parenting books, I was so focused on preparing for the birth. This seems to reflect our society's focus as well. Everyone seems to be focused on birth and the first couple of months of sleep deprivation while caring for a newborn but not the long years of parenting ahead. Society seems to assume we'll just figure it out or copy what our parents did.
The first weeks of caring for a newborn were a blur but I do specifically remember realizing that this was a lot harder than I thought it would be. I was a nanny for many years while in college and I assumed I knew a thing or two about caring for kids. I was naive, to say the least. Caring for your own child 24/7 is completely different than caring for older children 8 hours per day. This led me down a trail of watching documentaries and reading parenting books in order to figure out how I wanted to parent. The way my parents raised me was based on Dr. Spock and some instincts from my mom but it was inconsistent and confusing, I wanted to parent in a different way and that meant learning everything from scratch.
My parenting instincts were not 100% intact. I had competing messages from society and I felt confused and scared. My baby wanted to sleep on my chest but my doctor and the internet told me that that was wrong and that my baby should sleep in her own bed. It seemed clear to me that she was not wired to sleep on her own. Luckily, my partner is from Rwanda and he had a different cultural perspective on caring for babies.
Looking back, I can see how much I have grown as a parent. I feel much more grounded and confident now. I have more intact instincts and I follow them with ease. I do run into conflicts with how I want to parent and how society views my parenting but I have a strong foundation due to the books, documentaries, and internal work I have done. I feel very fortunate to have spent the first couple of years of my child's life reading books and researching how to be the best parent I could be. It has truly paid off.
These are the books that have profoundly influenced me as a parent: