When we started out upon our journey, when it came to books, we had no idea where to start. We knew we wanted to base our decisions upon an understanding of our child, based upon good science, evidence and evolution, but how do you begin to look for that?

If we were recommended anything by well meaning friends and family, should we be reading them?

How could we tell the good from the bad?

Hopefully this page will help answer some of your questions and help you decide.

Why to be wary of
“Baby Whisperers”

Beware of so called “baby whisperers” and, in our humble opinion, avoid them at all costs.

Just because some were nannys, are doctors, or have taught their techniques for years, this alone does not qualify them to give you advice on your child (You are the expert on your child), or fully understand the subject they are writing about and its relevance to you. Beware of so called “baby whisperers” and, in our humble opinion, avoid them at all costs.

The “baby whisperers” all too often promote non-evidence based practices that are almost always parent focused, with little or no understanding of the potential long term negative effects that their methods have.

How to Tell the Good from the Bad

  • What are their qualifications?

  • Are their qualifications relevant to the subject?

  • Are they parents?

  • Is their advice evidence based, if so how recent?

  • Is their advice based upon science and not heresy, opinion or anecdote?

  • Does their advice put the childs wellbeing first?

  • Do they look at the long term effects on the child?

  • It is often mentioned that there is no proof of harm, when, what they can not show is proof of no harm!

Authors to avoid:

Gina Ford
Kathryn Hewes
Tracy Hogg
Rachel Waddilove
Tizzie Hall
Clare Byam-Cook

and many more…

It’s easier to build strong children than to repair broken adults. F. Douglass

small acorn booksThe following books have been read by one of us, but it’s more than likely both of us have read them. The authors are often highly regarded in their field, have years of experience and have often researched the subject extensively to back up their book.

We have included our thoughts, in addition to a blurb. There is also a list of books we have awaiting us upon our coffee table at the bottom of the page.

Jamie & Bev

BabyCalm: A Guide for Calmer Babies and Happier Parents

BabyCalm: A Guide for Calmer Babies and Happier Parents
- from Amazon (affiliate link)


by Sarah Ockwell-Smith
A Guide for Calmer Babies and Happier Parents

Since having her first child nine years ago, Sarah Ockwell-Smith has worked tirelessly to prepare parents for the birth of their child. An antenatal teacher and a doula, with a background in psychology, she founded an award-winning company Babycalm with one aim in mind – to turn stressed-out new parents and crying babies into happier parents and calmer babies. She has a great understanding of the minds of new parents and is passionate about gentle parenting – letting parents know that it is OK to trust their instincts, that there are other ways to cope as a new mother without putting your baby into a strict routine or resorting to controlled crying. This book takes a different approach to the vast array of books out there – helping new parents to enjoy their baby and to trust in their own parenting instincts, offering a refreshing alternative to prescriptive, routine-led parenting.

BABYCALM will help you understand your baby and yourself as a new parent. It offers plenty of ideas about calming techniques and how to encourage your baby to sleep well and will enable you to feel confident and at ease in your new role.A happy mum and a calm baby go hand in hand and this book will get you off to a great start.

This book is not your typical “parenting book”. Many books set out “rules” to use and follow, with little evidence or understanding of the effects (short and long term). This book seeks to cite evidence based research and teach the parents to trust their instincts.

This book is the perfect and natural “follow on” from Hypnobirthing, teaching you to understand your child and their capabilities (or lack of in many cases). This helped us moderate our expectations and understand what can truly be “expected” of our little one, understanding the world in which he inhabited, that is very different from our own.

It provides tools, not prescriptions and has been a real help in understanding our little one. We only wished we’d read this from cover to cover before the birth of our first, as it could have help us avoid a very difficult beginning. A great tool in our arsenal, highly recommended.

The Wonder Weeks

by Hetty van de Rijt PH.D. & Frans X. Plooij PH.D.

How to Stimulate Your Baby’s Mental Development and Help Him Turn His 10 Predictable, Great, Fussy Phases Into Magical leaps forward

The Wonder Weeks describes in easy-to-understand terms the incredible developmental changes and regression periods that all babies go through during the first 20 months of their lives. Age-related fluctuations and the need for body contact and attention are all related to major and quite dramatic changes in the brains of children. These changes enable a baby to enter a whole new perceptual world and, as a consequence, to learn many new skills. Wonder week by wonder week you’ll discover the dates in the first 20 months when all babies take ten major development leaps. Learn how to encourage each leap forward. Help your baby with the three Cs’ of fussy behavior: Cranky, Clingy and Crying. Recognize the on-set of stressful times and join your children in coping with them. Based on the scientific- and parental-world-changing discovery of a phenomenon: all normal, healthy babies appear to be more fussy at very nearly the same ages, regression periods, and sleep less in these phases, The Wonder Weeks will help your baby, and you, get the most out of these developmental phases.
We absolutely loved this book and cannot recommend it more highly, it completely changed the way we viewed our little one in the first year. It has helped us see the world through their eyes and enabled us to empathise far better than we thought possible.

The only thing that concerns me (Jamie) is the great deal of comparisons/notes form other parents that are made, whilst these can be helpful at times (I understand this can be a selling point for many parents), on the whole comparing your child to others can do more harm than good. There were some comparisons/messages from other parents towards the latter end of the book that IMHO promote a less than optimum understanding of little ones and their behaviour.

All in all a wondeful book, a must for new parents, but after the first year take the other parents comments with a very large pinch of salt (or just skip them as I did).

There is also an App that we loved.

The Hypnobirthing Book: An Inspirational Guide for a Calm, Confident, Natural Birth

The Hypnobirthing Book

by Katherine Graves
An Inspirational Guide for a Calm, Confident, Natural Birth

The Hypnobirthing Book is a complete antenatal preparation which guides you to achieve the birth you want. Childbirth can be an empowering and positive experience that you treasure for the rest of your life.

Hypnobirthing can reduce the need for pain relief and shorten labour, and you are more likely to experience a natural, calm, comfortable birth. It actively involves the father; you will both learn skills to instil confidence about the birth and your role as parents.

KATHARINE GRAVES, leading hypnobirthing teacher, has personally taught over 1,000 mothers and her training methods are taught internationally. She has gained wide experience over many years, is a qualified advanced hypnotherapist and a qualified doula, having trained with Michel Odent, the internationally renowned obstretician. Katharine is a member of the International Advisory Board of the HypnoFertility Foundation of America, the Maternity and Newborn Forum of the Royal Society of Medicine, the Association for the Improvement of Maternity Services (AIMS), and an associate member of the Royal College of Midwives. She has four grown-up children and five grandchildren.

Before you go “Oooooh Hypnobirting” and dismiss this book, read this.

Hypnobirthing involves teaching the mother to relax, breath and meditate down into a type of self-hypnosis; her only job during labour, is labour.

Timing surges (Hypnobirthing name for contractions, we used both), communicating with midwives and any other things that would normally divert the attention of the mother, become the responsibility of the birth partner. Hypnobirthing can also reduce the need for pain relief and shorten labour.

Every one who books one of our awesome courses gets one of these.

Men, Love & Birth

by Mark Harris

The book about being present at birth your pregnant lover wants you to read

Men, Love & Birth: The book about being present at birth your pregnant lover wants you to read

Men, Love & Birth: The book about being present at birth your pregnant lover wants you to read
- from Amazon (affiliate link)

There’s a wealth of information out there for expectant mums on pregnancy and birth, but so often the dad is left out of the conversation. Male midwife Mark Harris seeks to redress the balance with this new book, drawing on his decades of experience with couples as they make the transition to being new parents.

Covering topics from massage to sex, and pain relief during labour to breastfeeding, this is a lively, honest and frank discussion of pregnancy and birth from a man’s point of view. Mark explores how to harness the power of birthing hormones, how to remain calm and aware in the birthing room, how to communicate effectively, and ultimately how to live the process of becoming a father to the full.

With many Dads now stepping into the role of Birth Partner, Men, Love and Birth is a great place for expectant Dads’ to begin to understand what that role involves. To start with, Mark explores birth from an evolutionary perspective, he breaks down the way we think, act and feel (hormonally). From there he explains how the way we interact with a birthing mother can either help and ease or slow down and hinder the process.

Mark draws on his experience as a midwife, husband, father and grandfather to connect with men on a level that many can relate to. Yes, Mark may come across as a little ‘woo’ sometimes (or in his own words, a ‘spiritual wanker!’), but Men, Love and Birth provides male partners with a logical understanding of birth and is clear on what a good birth needs to flourish.

Mark gives examples of how to put his techniques into practice, making the bond between pregnant women and their birth partners stronger, aiding their relationship and the birth process before the big day even arrives!

The book also includes short sections on topics such as breastfeeding and sex during pregnancy. Although the breastfeeding section is not in depth with regard to how lactation works, it does challenge the sexualisation of breasts and speaks of the risks of not breastfeeding for both baby and mum, an adaption from the normal approach and, in our opinion, a refreshing one.

Complete with a range of websites, phone numbers and personal details to contact Mark directly, this book is a great platform from which to explore pregnancy, birth and parenthood. We at Small Acorn believe it’s a great introduction to further antenatal education, which is why we include it in our own Hypnobirthing Antenatal Courses!

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding
- from Amazon (affiliate link)

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding

by La Leche League

From the authors of Sweet Sleep: Nighttime and Naptime Strategies for the Breastfeeding Family

It’s no secret that breastfeeding is the normal, healthy way to nourish and nurture your baby. Dedicated to supporting nursing and expectant mothers, the internationally respected La Leche League has set the standard for educating and empowering mothers in this natural art for generations. Now their classic bestselling guide has been retooled, refocused, and updated for today’s mothers and lifestyles.

Working mothers, stay-at-home mums, single mums, and mothers of multiples will all benefit from the book’s range of nursing advice, stories, and information-from preparing for breastfeeding during pregnancy to feeding cues, from nursing positions to expressing and storing breast milk. With all-new photos and illustrations, this ultimate support bible offers:

– real-mum wisdom on breastfeeding comfortably-from avoiding sore nipples to simply enjoying the amazing bonding experience
– new insights into old approaches toward latching and attaching, ages and stages, and answers to the most-asked questions
– strategies for moms who choose to breastfeed for a short time or who plan to nurse for a year or more
– reassuring information on nursing after a C-section or delivery complications
– recent scientific data that highlight the many lifelong health benefits of breastfeeding
– helpful tips for building your support network-at home or when back at work
– nursing special-needs infants, premies, multiples, and how to thrive no matter what curveball life throws
– guidance on breast health issues, weight gain, day care, colic, postpartum depression, food allergies, and medications

Plus-Internet references for further information, including La Leche League support sites and groups.

Mothers bringing babies into a new world want sustainable, healthy, positive ways to help their children blossom and thrive. There is no better beginning for your baby than the womanly art of breastfeeding.

A great book if you are planning to breastfeed. Devoid of myths and fairy tales surrounding breastfeeding, this book explains and supports the mother; with guidance and strategies that will help those planning to breastfeed for any period. Packed full of facts, information and scientific data.

Whilst I (Bev) haven’t read this from cover to cover, as it is thorough to say the least, it has been used as a tool for understanding and between the two of us we have covered most of it. Breastfeeding isn’t an easy task and can be fraught with doubt and uncertainty, exacerbated by lack of understanding from others; this book helps dispel those and gives a far greater understanding to this womanly art.

Sweet Sleep

by La Leche League

Nighttime and Naptime Strategies for the Breastfeeding Family

Sweet Sleep: Nighttime and Naptime Strategies for the Breastfeeding Family

Sweet Sleep: Nighttime and Naptime Strategies for the Breastfeeding Family
- from Amazon (affiliate link)

Sweet Sleep is the first and most complete book on nights and naps for breastfeeding families. It is a how-to guide for making sane and safe decisions on how and where your family sleeps, including words of wisdom and reassurance from mothers, all backed by the latest research.

It’s 4 A.M. You’ve breastfed your baby five times throughout the night. You’re beyond exhausted. But where can you breastfeed safely when you might fall asleep? You’ve heard that your bed is dangerous for babies. Or is it? Is there a way to reduce the risk? Does life really have to be this hard? No, it doesn’t. Sweet Sleep is within reach. This invaluable resource will help you

• sleep better tonight in under ten minutes with the Quick Start guide—and sleep safer every night with the Safe Sleep Seven
• sort out the facts and fictions of bedsharing and SIDS
• learn about normal sleep at every age and stage, from newborn to new parent
• direct your baby toward longer sleep when he’s ready
• tailor your approach to your baby’s temperament
• uncover the hidden costs of sleep training and “cry it out” techniques
• navigate naps at home and daycare
• handle criticism from family, friends, and health professionals
• enjoy stories and tips from mothers like you
• make the soundest sleep decisions for your family and your life

Another great book if you are planning to breastfeed. Again, packed full of facts, information and scientific data. It is a great tool to understanding sleep and the ways in which to implement good practice. Explains the benefits of co-sleeping and bedsharing and dispels the myths and fears surrounding them. Another great book, highly recommended.

How Not to F**k Them Up

by Oliver James

Why embracing your own prenting style is best for you and your child.

Babies have very simple needs, yet many parents are overwhelmed with elaborate advice on how to meet them. In How Not to F*** Them Up, leading child psychologist Oliver James argues that your under-threes do not need training; it’s getting your head straight as a parent that’s important.

Drawing on extensive interviews and the lastest clinical research, James identifies three basic types of mum: the Hugger, the Organiser and the Fleximum. Outlining the benefits and pitfalls of each, How Not to F*** Them Up shows you how to recognise which style suits you best and outlines simple strategies to reconcile personal ambitions with the needs of your family.

Empowering and provocative, Oliver James will help you make the best choices for bringing up a happy, confident child.

I (Jamie) read this book hoping it would help me to identify my own failings and weaknesses. With the idea that, if i know where i might f**k my little one up, i can address those and minimise the effect, or get rid of them entirely.

I did realise the weak points in my style, but a more profound point came from understanding other parents, why they parent differenty and why their approach appears so alien to my own. It had a greater effect in challenging my own predjudices toward other parenting approaches and helping me understand them.

This book helps you to address your style, its drawbacks and pitfalls, and in doing so help you to minimise the damage your style may cause.

A must read for any parent who wants to understand themselves and how to not f**k up their little one.


by Sarah Ockwell-Smith

A guide for calmer toddlers and happier parents

ToddlerCalm: A guide for calmer toddlers and happier parents

ToddlerCalm: A guide for calmer toddlers and happier parents
- from Amazon (affiliate link)

A new, empowering guide for parents of 1-4 year olds, based on the successful ToddlerCalm parenting classes which aim to help parents confidently enjoy the first years with their child.

This book works.

It shows that that the naughty step, sticker charts and controlled crying are NOT the only solutions.

Many parents struggle with getting their toddlers to sleep, picky eaters; respect; tantrums; discipline; throwing; biting; hitting, communication… All this is normal.

What is important is that you don’t base your whole relationship with your child on rewards and punishment.
ToddlerCalm is about gentle parenting. It will give you a proven and successful alternative approach to creating a calm and happy family.

Ditto pretty much what the blurb says!

Don’t be fooled into thinking that the gentle parenting approach is akin to permissive parenting.

Much of the parenting we witness in todays society is hinged upon social conformities. We expect children to understand things and behave in ways that very often are impossible for them to do so. If you want to understand their limitations, emotions and neurological makeup better, then you should read this book.

The Continuum Concept (Arkana)

The Continuum Concept (Arkana)
- from Amazon (affiliate link)

The Continuum Concept

by Jean Liedloff

In search of happiness lost

The Continuum Concept introduces the idea that in order to achieve optimal physical, mental and emotional development, human beings – especially babies – require the kind of instinctive nurturing as practiced by our ancient relatives. It is a true ‘back to basics’ approach to parenting.

Author Jean Liedloff spent two and-a-half years in the jungle deep in the heart of South America living with indigenous tribes and was astounded at how differently children are raised outside the Western world. She came to the realisation that essential child-rearing techniques such as touch, trust and community have been undermined in modern times, and in this book suggests practical ways to regain our natural well-being, for our children and ourselves.

Often heralded as the attachment parenting bible, I (Jamie) found it hard to finish and don’t honestly remember if i did. The overall feeing i got from the whole book (or what i read) was anything but attachment parenting. The whole premise was you can do whatever you want as a parent as long as your child is strapped to you. There appeared to be a very antiquated, almost victorian like understanding and approach to children.

We read this because it is generally portrayed as a must read, especially if you intend to do anything like attchment parent. I do not think this book does anything like promote attachment parenting, it merely promotes babywearing.

Whilst baby wearing is awesome in all that it can achieve (i loved it and wish my toddler was still a fan), i feel this book completely missed why to do it. Do it to provide security, warmth and protection. Do it to help regulate breathing, heart rate and temperature. Do it to promote secure attchment and be more responsive to their cues. Do it so when they are facing in (facing out gives them no way to shut off and should be limited to less than 20 minutes) it gives the little one a way of shutting off when overstimulated. This is why you wear; and as a bonus you get your hands free!


by Katie Brooke

A little book for birth companions

Whoosh!: A Little Book for Birth Companions

Whoosh!: A Little Book for Birth Companions
- from Amazon (affiliate link)

This adorable keepsake combines imaginative illustrations with bite-sized tips and practical information to help birthing companions take a hands-on role on the birthing day. A loving gift for any birth partner. Originally designed for the author’s husband, Whoosh! is an intimately written guide, balancing scientifically accurate medical facts with humorous truisms, illustrated throughout with quirky line drawings and loving explanations. Whoosh! is a beautifully constructed pocket sized guide, intimately thought through, personal, easy to digest and lovely to read.
What a gorgeous little book, a keepsake, a guide for the birth partner and a lovely little accompliment to any birth.

Full of lovely little illustrations, lots of bite sized chunks of information, with space to personalsie it and make it your own.