5 Books to Get You Through Your Kid’s First 2 Years

New motherhood: You're more exhausted than you've ever been in your life, but you're doing something brand new where all the training is on the job. And, when your boss needs something, they need it now. When you have questions, you could ask Dr. Google, but before you know it, you're down the rabbit hole of a fear-inducing forum or comparing yourself to a "perfect" mom on social media. Of course there are useful websites and articles out there, but sometimes it's nice to pick up a book, find what you need and get back to the baby. These are the five books (plus one more to share with baby) that got me through my first two years as a mom.

If you're nursing, The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding from La Leche League helps establish a baseline knowledge and answers all kinds of questions that come up. While it's intended to be used throughout the breastfeeding journey, my favorite part was the one-page list of tips for soothing a fussy baby. During those first couple months, I'd work my way down the list, conveniently in the back of the book, until one of them worked.

Until I brought my baby home, I didn't know that getting a baby to sleep required effort. (Yep, I really did think a baby would "sleep like a baby.") When I was in the thick of it—coaxing baby to nap, figuring out sleep training, waking up with baby every two hours even after going back to work—Precious Little Sleep gave me a lifeline. While the first thing I noticed is it's shorter than other sleep books, what made it the right book for me was the author's flexible guidance, gentle reassurance and even some humor. It also discusses healthy sleep beyond the baby days. 

Elevating Child Care and How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen are basically my parenting goals. Elevating Child Care shifted my mindset about babies, helping me to empathize with my baby and to see baby as an individual. How to Talk is full of everyday scenarios and practical advice for communicating with toddlers and young kids. These books taught me how helpful it is to acknowledge and validate feelings in the midst of fussing or a meltdown rather than simply saying, "It's OK."

While some may find the title off-putting, it may resonate with others. Either way, How Not to Hate your Husband After Kids has survival strategies for the co-parenting relationship. Highlights include examining your own part in family dynamics, tips for defusing arguments and sharing workloads, and an emphasis on family unity. I'll check this one out again when my child's a little older so I can revisit the section on how to engage 3- and 4-year-olds as helpers so they see from the start that housework is a team effort. 

Lastly, Welcome: A Mo Willems Guide for New Arrivals by the incomparable Mo Willems looks like a board book for your baby, but it feels like a parenting book in disguise. With bold graphics and an incredible sense of understanding, Willems honors emotions on both sides of the relationship, including anxiety, excitement and unconditional love. While baby might love it for the mirrors on the inside of each cover, I love it for the feeling of being seen.

What books helped you through the first couple years?