My Favorite Parenting Resources
Every week or so, I’ll get a message asking about a parenting book I recommended or the method we used for sleep training. I always respond and share my answer to the question, but then I realized that I need a dedicated resource for all of the parenting resources we’ve used on our journey thus far. From books, to classes, to toys…these are the things we’ve done for our little family. And for reference, I’m writing this with a 28-month-old daughter and 11-month-old son.
First, A Disclaimer
Before I get to my recommendations, please note that you don’t need to read or do any of these things to be a good parent. I think we put so much pressure on ourselves as parents, moms especially, to do everything “right.” We think we need to read the right things, feed our kids the right foods, and get our kids on the right schedule.
Every family and child is so different, so figure out what works for you! I’m someone who likes to follow experts, read non-fiction books, and immerse myself in research, to be as well-informed as possible. Finn takes on other parenting roles, while I focus a bit more on development, schedules, etc., and pass along the most important info to him. With that being said, here are some resources I’ve used over the past two years…
I always say that pregnancy and birth are such a tiny blip on the radar when it comes to parenthood and everyone’s birth experience is so different. I would spend your time reading more about what happens AFTER the baby arrives, but that’s just me!
One book that I did find helpful for those immediate newborn decisions was Cribsheet. I’m a big fan of Professor Emily Oster and all of her parenting/family books. She also has one called Expecting Better that breaks down the data behind the “rules of pregnancy.”
The only thing I really did during my second pregnancy was try a bunch of methods – all unsuccessful – to flip Ellis. When I found out he was breech, I did all kinds of crazy things to get him to flip over. I shared all of those ideas in this blog post. None worked for me, but they might work for you!
Moms on Call
When it comes to schedules and “sleep training”, we are a Moms on Call family. I recommend getting their book for 0-6 months and having it handy. It’s short and more of a reference guide. This is how we got our kids on a feeding schedule and had them both sleeping through the night by 12 weeks.
We enjoy having a schedule and we started both of our kids on one at around four weeks. The book gives tips for how to extend the length of time between feeds at night. Following those tips was crucial in getting our kids to sleep until morning. It also has a lot of good basic information about illness, medicine to have on hand, bathing, and more. Really, it’s just a good parenting resource, in general, even if you don’t follow their sleeping/schedule suggestions. I still use and follow their schedules for both of our kids.
Baby Led Weaning
We’ve done baby-led weaning for both of our kids and it has been fantastic. Both Rory and Ellis are amazing eaters and will eat just about anything. We can go to any restaurant and there is something on the menu they can eat! Now that Ellis is a bit older, we try to all eat the same meals, which makes cooking a lot easier. I share all of my favorite resources and courses in this blog post. And this blog post shares how we meal prep for the kids.
Big City Readers
Big City Readers is an education company based right here in Chicago. When Rory was around nine months old, we started doing their virtual classes. She immediately loved them! Since then, we’ve purchased their Ready to Read program and Rory enjoys it a few times a week. As a parent, I’ve learned a ton too. Miss Beth offers reading tips, so you can teach the appropriate letter sounds and give your child a love of reading from the start!
They also offer in-person classes and my mom takes Ellis every Friday. Oh my goodness….he absolutely adores it. My mom sends me pictures and he is just crawling all over, clapping along with the songs, and having a good old time. We’ll continue to do the in-person classes this fall. What a fun social activity for both caregiver and baby!
Lovevery Baby Toys
From the start, my generous mother-in-law gifted Rory the toy subscription to Lovevery Baby. We still get age-appropriate toys and books every few months, along with a guidebook with ideas for play at that particular stage.
We’ve saved all of those toys and now use them for Ellis! Their toys are well-made and thoroughly researched to be developmentally appropriate. It’s kinda nice because it takes the guesswork out of what toys to buy! These make up about 80% of the toys we have for the kids.
When Rory turned two in April, we immediately started potty training. She was showing a lot of interest earlier in the year, but we had a few big vacations and held off until her second birthday. It took a couple of weeks to really get it down, but now she is a pro. While she still wears a pull-up at night (which will continue for a couple more years), she is completely potty trained during the day. We are so proud of her and she is proud too!
This is the book we used to potty train Rory. I love the author’s straightforward approach and troubleshooting ideas. We use this portable potty when we leave the house, these seats on our toilets, and this small potty.
Because both of my kids were premature and Ellis was in a hip harness for three months, I did a bit of research when it came to my childrens’ physical development. Ellis has a physical therapist that comes weekly (set up through the state of Illinois) and we absolutely love her! She has given us many tools to learn how to play with him and get his body moving in the best way!
I also follow @milestones.and.motherhood and @mommyandme.pt on Instagram. They offer lots of great tips for free. I recently bought the walking class from @milestones.and.motherhood to use with Ellis and so far, I’m really liking it!
Discipline & Toddler Development
Now that Rory is a two-year-old, my new homework has been learning about discipline and the development of toddlers. Here are a few of the books and parenting resources I’ve found to be helpful.
- How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen
- The Whole-Brain Child
- Hunt, Gather, Parent (I talk more about why I love this book in this blog post).
- Big Little Feelings Course
People I Follow on Instagram:
We Are All Learning Together!
For me, motherhood is all about learning and growing, right alongside my kids! These are just a few of the parenting resources that I’ve found to be helpful along our journey. I’m planning to write a “Day in the Life” post soon, chronicling my days with our two kids. That should be a fun one!
More Parenting Blog Posts
- What I Packed for the Hospital
- C-Section Recovery Tips
- Surviving The First 8 Weeks
- The 4th Trimester for Mom
- Our Favorite Newborn Products
- Our Experience With Baby Led Weaning
- Babyproofing Our Home
- Rory’s Fave Toddler Toys
- Prepping For Our Second Baby
- Our Family’s Transition from 1 to 2 Kids
- Tips for Infant Hip Dysplasia
- How to Balance Parenthood and Life
- How Family Meetings Save Us
- Tips to Benefit Your Child’s Financial Future
I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m married to Finn & mom to Rory and Ellis. Together we’re creating our dream home in Chicago, one DIY project at a time.