Learn why The Kind Mama is a book that should be on the top of every natural-minded new mamas reading list.
Little Bear was almost six months old when I ordered this pregnancy book. I wish I had read it before conceiving because it is a valuable resource for preparing for pregnancy and birth as well as parenting in the first few months. It reaffirmed and validated many of my natural parenting instincts that didn’t align with more widespread current ideas.
The author, Alicia Silverstone, certainly isn’t clueless when it comes to being a mindful mother, despite what some mainstream outlets reported back when it was first published in 2014. Several reviewers called this book controversial. Nevertheless, it strongly resonated with me and helped me feel more confident in my choices as a new mom.
It’s beautifully written, and the photos are beautiful, too. I still refer back to various chapters from time to time. I believe it’s a must-read book for new likeminded, “crunchy,” kind mamas.
A Pregnancy Book for Pre-Conception to Postpartum and Beyond
Throughout the book, Alicia includes insights from midwives and doctors. She details her personal journey and also touches on a great deal of topics, including EMFs, hypnosis, prenatal yoga, vaccines, safer toys, body after baby, teething, and so much more. For instance, she outlines how to choose a carrier, mentioning how woven carriers, which I believe are the best for babywearing, can be tied in different ways for the most comfortable position and notes the importance of opting for one made with natural and organic materials.
This book is so comprehensive that I could write a series of posts about it, but I don’t want to spoil it for you. It’s truly an enjoyable read. I recommend it for all new mamas — crunchy, silky, or scrunchy.
I’m going to focus on five parts of The Kind Mama that I found most helpful, but please keep in mind that I had already finished the fourth trimester before reading it. The first half of the book, which goes into getting and being pregnant, is just as illuminating, inspiring, and instructional.
The Kind Mama and Breastfeeding
From the benefits of breastfeeding to how to find support if you’re struggling with it, this section of the book is informative and helpful. I especially enjoyed learning about the types of foods we can eat to create more nutritious milk as well as foods to avoid or reduce while nursing.
Additionally, I appreciated that she emphasized a mother’s obligation to rest. Although it started before Wilder Baby was born, my urge to nest oddly kicked into overdrive after the birth. I was anxious for the laundry, mostly sheets and towels from the home birth, to be washed, dried, and put away as soon as possible. Re-reading that “Rest is what’s going to make the difference between a baby adventure that’s soulful and delicious and magical and one that feels strenuous” was a nice reminder to take it easy and put my priorities in order.
There are also recommendations for helpful tools to have for breastfeeding, like nipple pads and milk savers, as well as how to choose baby-friendly nursing pillows and bottles. I liked that she doesn’t recommend getting a “hooter hider” for breastfeeding in public. Instead, she advises using a light cardigan or blanket.
Furthermore, I found comfort reading that the “doctor’s size chart is not the final word on the health of your baby — it’s just the culmination of a lot of data. So your little one, who is unique and special in every way is being compared to an average. And that includes babies who are fed formula.”
Engorgement, cracked nipples, plugged ducts, and mastitis were all covered in the book. It also details what moms can do if breastfeeding is not an option.
The Kind Mama and Cloth Diapering
Although I had already been cloth diapering for about half a year before reading the book, learning the sad statistics about disposable diapers emboldened my choice. She writes that “cloth is hands-down less expensive than disposable, and these diapers generate 100 percent less landfill waste, carry no risk of toxic off-gassing that can irritate baby’s lungs and skin, and cause far less diaper rash.”
There are a number of benefits to line drying cloth diapers, so I was delighted that Alicia advised, “Embrace your inner earth mama and hang a clothesline…” She also advocates for elimination communication.
The Family Bed
Bed-sharing can be a divisive topic; I’m glad Alicia devoted an entire chapter on the subject. We earnestly tried the co-sleeping with a bedside bassinet with Little Bear, but it just wasn’t working for us. None of us were getting much sleep. When we started sharing a bed, we all were happier and more well-rested. Even though we installed a maple wood sidecar crib for Wilder Baby, he has slept on our mattress since he was born.
In addition to addressing the most common criticisms and concerns of bed-sharing, Alicia points out that children who did sleep in bed with their parents had increased self-esteem, less anxiety, and a feeling of general satisfaction with life. She suggests ways to make the sleep arrangement “snug and safe.”
She also points out why organic bedding matters. Little Bear’s crib mattress is organic, but our bed mattress unfortunately is not. I was grateful for her “light green quick fixes” to make the most of our current mattress situation in the meantime.
Bathing with Baby
By the time I read this book I was fed up with the plastic baby tub. Alicia explains that there’s no need for them. “They cost money and take up space and detract from some of the most pleasurable moments you could be spending with baby.” I couldn’t agree more, and I couldn’t be more thankful to have received reassurance that it’s OK to bathe with my baby (as silly as that sounds).
Alicia underscored the necessity of clean, chlorine-free water, which made me extra grateful for our well. She even included information on what not to do if baby isn’t circumcised. From scrumptious oatmeal baths to how to give baby a massage afterwards, the takeaways from this section of the book shaped our bath time routine.
Baby’s First Food
There is an entire appendix of delicious plant-based recipes for mom. Alicia includes lots of useful techniques and tricks as well as ingredient information. The “sausage” and sweet potato hash is still in my regular dinner rotation.
The book also includes suggestions for baby’s first veggies and “baby’s perfect first food.” I followed this recipe to a T when first introducing Little Bear to solids. I found this section of The Kind Mama especially valuable and wish it was longer.
Little Bear and I shared his special, memorable first meal. I ate the leftover grains from the organic homemade porridge. It was the first time I had ever cooked with kombu or tried barley malt. We both loved it — he took the wooden baby spoon right away and smiled throughout the entire experience.
There’s even an appendix with a helpful chart that focuses on specific vitamins, what they do in the body, and foods that deliver them. There’s another chart listing common ailments and natural remedies for them.
I don’t know about you, but I often buy used books. It’s an eco-friendly way to save money. Plus, I like the smell of old library books.
If you like thrifted books, too, I invite you to join ThriftBooks. If you spend $30 or more and use my special code at checkout, a free book credit will be added to your account and mine as well.
Last time I checked, The Kind Mama was available for purchase in very good condition at a great price. I think Alicia Silverstone would approve.
Enter the following code at checkout: 43E40BEA2
What’s your favorite pregnancy or parenting book?