Best Baby Books for Newborns

I loved books as a child (and still do). I have fond memories of visiting my local library with my mom and getting lost among the books and the little stools that had legs that looked like cute little pencils. I also remember getting excited every time my teacher passed out the colorful Scholastic book catalogs. I loved how those catalogs felt as I turned each colorful page to see which book I would order next. Book fairs at my elementary school would get me pumped. I wanted every book I picked up. The illustrations and stories in these books allowed me to imagine the most amazing places and I remember getting lost in a new world every time I read a book. It sounds cheesy, but it's true!

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Now that I have Amira, I get excited whenever it comes time to reading to her. I have been reading to Amira ever since I was pregnant with her. It always felt funny to read to her before she was even born, but every now and then I just read my own books, magazines, articles, and recipes aloud. When she was finally born, I was eager to open up the books I bought for her. I never realized how much I would love reading to her and how much she would enjoy it. Amira's eyes light up with each illustration and she smiles as soon as I pick up a book and bring it close to her. As I read to her, she listens attentively, waiting for the next page of colorful drawings to come up. It warms my heart every. single. time.

Best Baby Books

So today, I thought I'd share just a few of our favorite books (so far). Whether you're shopping for books for a friend's baby shower or purchasing books for your own little one's first library, I hope this list helps: 

  1. The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle
    One of many classic children's books written by Eric Carle, The Tiny Seed was the very first book I ever read to Amira when she was born. She sat in her swing as I read the story, but she mainly wanted to just look at the bright and colorful illustrations. It's a story about a tiny seed that grows to be a huge flower after surviving many adventures through the seasons.
  2. Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo
    One of my friends shared this book with me and I absolutely love reading it with Amira. I might even love it more than my baby. Every time I read a story from this book, I learn a new fact about an outstanding woman or girl who has achieved something amazing. Each story is short, simple, and easy to read. There's a beautiful illustration of each person along with their story. Amira loves staring at the colorful portraits while I read about the achievements of women through time. Sharing these empowering stories with my daughter makes me so excited to see what she'll achieve one day!
  3. The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton
    This one's another classic. I read this to Amira right after I lay her down in the crib to sleep. The moment she sees the cover, she has a huge smile on her face. The rhymes are perfect for funny voices, which babies love, and the colorful illustrations keep them focused on the book. If there's one book I love, it's this one, just because it actually puts my baby to sleep sometimes! 
  4. The Wonderful Things You Will Be by Emily Winfield Martin
    Books shouldn't be entertaining just for the baby. You should love reading them too! The Wonderful Things You Will Be hits that emotional spot in my motherly heart. The story is so sweet and gets you thinking about all of the wonderful things your baby will do as she's growing up. The illustrations are soft and beautiful. You'll love this book just as much as your little one does. Trust me.
  5. Five Pillars of Islam by Anwar Cara and Azhari Zulkifli
    While looking for Islamic children's books, I thought this one was great for babies. It's a very simple read compared to other Islamic children's books and covers the topic of the 5 pillars of Islam. Amira enjoys seeing the characters in each scene as they illustrate the meaning of each pillar.
  6. Pantone Color Books by Pantone
    This set of six books was one of the best gifts Amira received from a dear friend of mine. Each board book is devoted to one color of the rainbow and has cutouts of objects that represent different shades from the Pantone collection. The books are very well designed and Amira enjoys grabbing them to touch the cutouts. I like taking one with me in my diaper bag when I'm out, so Amira can look through it on the go.  
  7. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
    I remember this book being one of my favorites growing up, so I needed to share it with Amira! I mean, who hasn't read The Very Hungry Caterpillar? My mom even remembers reading it to me, which makes it even more special. It's another Eric Carle classic that gets Amira giggling every time we get to the part where "...he was STILL hungry!" This one's great for silly voices too. Did I mention I sound crazy when reading to my baby? Anything to get our little ones to smile and laugh, right?
  8. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
    I read Goodnight Moon with a soft voice right when Amira is ready for bed. The illustrations pop with bright red and green, which keeps her eyes moving throughout the page with curiosity. It's a short and simple read that gets her ready to snuggle, cuddle, and fall asleep.
  9. Peek-a-Boo Forest by Lamaze
    The cloth pages of this book make a crinkly sound, which gets Amira's attention immediately. If your baby's obsessed with the crinkly sound the diaper wipes bag makes (is mine the only one?) then she'll love this book. Peek-a-Boo Forest has flaps that you pull back to reveal which animal is hiding around the forest. It's an adorable book that works as a bedtime read or a fun game of peek-a-boo with your little one.
  10. My First Shapes with Frank Lloyd Wright by Mudpuppy
    I have always loved Frank Lloyd Wright's geometric creations as a designer and now love them as a tool to teach my baby about shapes. I bought this book as a souvenir for Amira while we were at the Guggenheim in New York. It's a wonderful book to teach your baby about colors, shapes, and of course, a little architecture. 

There are many more books I'd love to add to this list, but I hope you enjoyed reading about some of our first favorites! Which books are your little one's favorite? Let me know below!

5 Useful Resources for New Moms

It's been quiet on the blog lately! I have been busy preparing for the baby and trying to get things done before she arrives. I can't believe she'll be joining us in less than a month inshaAllah! Time has passed by so quickly Alhamdulilah and we can't wait to meet our precious little girl. I've surprisingly been far more calm than I thought I would be during the pregnancy and I hope that continues until it's time for the delivery! Having everything bought and organized in advance makes me feel so much better. We've also been doing our research about the basics of taking care of our newborn to make sure we're as prepared as we can be for this new journey. But as most moms have told me: "Prepare all you want, there will still be many surprises!"

Thankfully, I have my mom and sister (both mothers of 3 kids) nearby to help with any baby-related questions or concerns, but I still like learning about how I can be better equipped as a new mom. Afroz and I always do thorough research before making any huge decisions, whether it's buying something expensive or discussing our plans for the future, so why shouldn't we take the time to read up on caring for a little human that we'll love so much and will be responsible for? It's a huge responsibility and while I know we'll make mistakes and learn as we go, I'm enjoying learning new tips and tricks of caring for a baby, so when she arrives, I have some basic knowledge to test out.

I thought I'd share somethings I've found useful during my first pregnancy so far and those that are helping me prepare for the arrival of our little one. Through these resources I'm learning new things I didn't know before, so I hope this helps any other new moms like me:

1. Baby Center Mobile App
This was the first resource I turned to when I found out I was pregnant. The Baby Center App is loaded with useful information at my fingertips and has guided me throughout the pregnancy. It asked me when my expected due date is and sends me notifications every week to let me know how far along I am, what the approximate size of the baby is (i.e. size of a poppyseed, lemon, etc.), updates on the baby's development, suggestions of what to eat, frequently asked questions, links to the Baby Center forum where moms and moms-to-be ask and answer questions, and so much more. It's free and Afroz and I enjoy reading the updates every week to learn more about the baby's development. 


2. Common Sense Pregnancy: Navigating a Healthy Pregnancy and Birth for Mother and Baby
This book is straightforward and perfect for any new mom who wants to read a book filled with useful information without being bored to death. The author, Jeanne Faulkner, wrote the book in such a way that makes you feel like you're getting advice from one of your girlfriends who knows everything about pregnancy, delivering a baby, and how to survive it all. Faulkner shares the facts, her own experiences as a mom, and her experience as a nurse who has helped deliver thousands of healthy babies. The book answered many of my questions about the pregnancy, the medical tests that I had to take, and what I'll be experiencing when it's time for the delivery. She also talks about how to survive after coming home with the baby, how to overcome feeling exhausted, and so much more.


3. The Expectant Father: The Ultimate Guide for Dads-to-Be
Afroz and I were hanging out in the parenting section at Barnes and Noble one day (yeah, we actually hang out at B&N for fun sometimes) early on in the pregnancy and we came across this book. Just by skimming through it, we found that it was packed with straightforward advice mainly addressing the dads-to-be. It contains information about being involved in the pregnancy, advice from top practitioners in their fields, from obstetricians and birth-class instructors to psychologists and sociologists, balancing work and family, finances, and a lot more. The author, Armin A. Brott, also incorporates some humor, which makes the book even better. Afroz hasn't read it cover to cover, but he skips through chapters to get answers for specific questions he's had since he found out we were expecting. It's a useful resource for new dads and we'd definitely recommend it!

4. What to Expect the First Year
I just started reading this book and I know I'll continue referring to it in between my baby's naps. As a new mom, I know I'll have numerous questions about feeding, sleeping, crying, and so much more. The table of contents is organized in such a clear way that allows me to to flip through and read about any specific questions I have about caring for my baby. 

5. Taking Classes at the Hospital
Afroz and I recently took a class at the hospital called "Baby Care 101" and I also registered to take a breastfeeding class as well. The Baby Care 101 class was very useful. The instructor discussed key questions new parents have and also demonstrated how to swaddle a baby, change her diaper, perform CPR, and so much more. They had baby mannequins, so we could practice as well. While experienced people who are aunts or uncles to baby nieces and nephews might feel like they're pros with simple things like swaddling and diaper changing, it's nice to have a refresher and learn any new tips and tricks you may not know. I would definitely recommend looking up what classes your hospital offers. You may come out of the class learning something that will turn out to be very useful when you're taking care of your baby. 


Disclaimer: By no means am I a pro at being pregnant or preparing for a baby. Honestly, I don't think anyone is. No one is ever completely prepared from what I hear. But I thought I'd share a few things that are helping me (a clueless/nervous/excited prego) learn more about my pregnancy and are making preparations a little simpler. I won't have any idea of what knowledge came in handy and what didn't until my baby arrives, but I hope this benefits anyone looking for resources, because I love seeing suggestions from other expectant and experienced mommy bloggers! 

Have a great resource that I didn't mention above? Share it in a comment below!

Three books that make me want to do something awesome.

Every now and then, Afroz and I go on a special date. Not just any date. It's a date that doesn't involve a romantic dinner or a stroll by lake. It's a date at Barnes and Noble, where we spend a couple hours reading through books and magazines and being total nerds. 

Some of you are probably wondering, "Man, that sounds terrible."

Well, it's pretty freaking fun for us.

Afroz always goes to the cars section or the technology section. Sometimes, he'll be in the business section. I used to always run to the architecture and design section immediately, but then I saw a few books from the corner of my eye that drew me to the business section and also the self-help section. I never thought I would have any interest in reading a book about either topics. But during the last few Barnes and Noble runs, I came across a few books that I fell in love with. These aren't fiction or mystery novels, nor are they gushing romantic novels. They are straight up wonderful books that make you want to get up and do something awesome with your life. The authors don't fluff anything up to make their books sound deep and emotional. They look you in the eye and tell you the truth--what they did and didn't do and how you can learn from their experiences. So here we go, in no particular order:

1. The Happiness Project

The Happiness Project is a book by Gretchin Rubin. I previously wrote about how awesome this book was in this post here. She talks about the simple steps she took to make herself happier. Whenever I think about self-help books, I think about how the author is going to go on about some huge life changing experience. That kind of book isn't for me. I like hearing about the small steps, because jumping to one huge change doesn't work for everyone. Rubin talks about the little things and taking time out to figure out what makes each of us feel more positive in our daily routine. She figured out what would make her happier and then she tackled one goal every month. What I love about her book is that she shares her failures along with her successes. This made the book more relatable for me and had a much bigger impact on me. The Happiness Project isn't the kind of book that makes you feel like you have so many problems and the author has the answer to them all. She just shares her two-cents and made me realize that I can totally be happier if I just try to be happy, like literally have that exact intention in mind. It made a big difference for me.

2. Darling, You Can't Do Both: And Other Noise to Ignore on Your Way Up

Remember that Dove commercial that impacted the way many people thought about beauty? Everyone and their mother shared it online and it was pretty mesmerizing to watch? If you don't remember, click here. Well, Janet Kestin and Nancy Vonk are the two people that brought that commercial to life. In "Darling, You Can't Do Both," they talk about the struggles of being women in the business world. This book wasn't completely relatable for me in the sense that I completely agree with everything they're saying, but it still opened my mind to many aspects of being a woman in the workplace. They mention things like motherhood being an asset and not a liability in the business world. They also talk about taking risks, the importance of networking, and to be less hesitant when sharing ideas. 

3. #GIRLBOSS

Every girl on Instagram had a photo of this book on their page. I had no interest in it until I eventually decided to see what the hype was about and I loved it.

Sophia Amoruso spent her teens hitchhiking, committing petty theft, and scrounging in dumpsters for leftover bagels. By age twenty-two she had dropped out of school, and was broke, directionless, and checking IDs in the lobby of an art school— a job she’d taken for the health insurance. It was in that lobby that Sophia decided to start selling vintage clothes on eBay. Flash forward ten years to today, and she’s the founder and executive chairman of Nasty Gal, a $250-million-plus fashion retailer with more than four hundred employees. Sophia was never a typical CEO, or a typical anything, and she’s written #GIRLBOSS for other girls like her: outsiders (and insiders) seeking a unique path to success, even when that path is windy as all hell and lined with naysayers (Source).

This book has motivated me so much with INKMADE. She's so straightforward with her advice and covers a bunch of questions and struggles I've had. I definitely recommend it!

So, next time you're on a date at your local Barnes and Noble (or doing something more normal, like checking out books on Amazon in your PJs), be sure to check out these titles and get inspired to go do something awesome.