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New parenthood comes with a steep learning curve. And while it’s true that your baby doesn’t arrive with a how-to manual, thankfully many insightful authors have written lots of great books on just about every aspect of parenting. Sometimes, a good book is just what you need to dive deep into a topic or season of parenthood. With so many choices out there, it can be tough to decide which parenting books are worth their salt (and worth your limited time!). That’s why we created this list of the best books for new parents, just for you. From infant sleep to child psychology, first foods to weird parenting wins, here are our favorite books for new parents.
1. The Happiest Baby on the Block: The New Way to Calm Crying and Help Your Newborn Baby Sleep Longer by Harvey Karp, M.D.
The premise of Dr. Harvey Karp’s classic book is that human babies are born several months too early compared to other mammals, and as a result newborns require special care that resembles the womb. He presents the 5 S’s (shushing, side-/stomach positioning, swinging, sucking, and swaddling) that are the key to mimicking the womb environment and as a result, lead to calmer babies. This book also comes with a DVD, in case you’re already sleep deprived and need to learn the tricks quickly!
2. Cribsheet: A Data-Driven Guide to Better, More Relaxed Parenting, From Birth to Preschool by Emily Oster
What does a professor of economics have to say about parenting? In Emily Oster’s case, a lot of useful information! In Cribsheet, Oster breaks down the research on topics from pregnancy to preschool, helping parents make informed choices that work for them. Also importantly, she reminds readers where the many gaps in early life research exist – and how to make decisions you feel good about, regardless. From sleep training to early toilet training to preschool options, Oster lays out the data on several big topics new parents face, helping parents make confident choices and feel more relaxed. For the research-oriented, Cribsheet is one of the best books for new parents today.
3. Born to Eat: Whole, Healthy Foods from Baby’s First Bite by Wendy Jo Peterson and Leslie Schilling
Right when you finally get your breastfeeding or bottle feeding routine down, it’s time to start baby on solid food! But when, what, and how do you start? Born to Eat discusses the signs of food readiness and helps parents stop overthinking what their baby eats by focusing on whole, healthy foods. With a self-feeding and baby-led weaning approach, Born to Eat is one of the best books for new parents who want to approach their child’s relationship with food mindfully. The authors provide insight, step-by-step instructions, and recipes to help parents feel less overwhelmed and more excited about introducing their little ones to the world of solid foods.
4.There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather: A Scandinavian Mom’s Secrets for Raising Healthy, Resilient, and Confident Kids by Linda Åkeson McGurk
This insightful memoir explores the author’s curiosity about whether parenting styles of her native Scandinavia will benefit her American children. From outdoor all-weather play to napping outdoors to cultivating hygge, the simple pleasures of a cozy home, this fascinating narrative invites the reader to consider how some of our well-intentioned American values may be disrupting our children’s natural childhood – at the cost of their happiness, confidence, and emotional resilience.
5. How to Be a Happier Parent: Raising a Family, Having a Life, and Loving (Almost) Every Minute by KJ Dell’Antonia
There’s so much pressure in our society for parents: to make all the right choices, to have the perfect work/life balance, and to have a social media feed chock full of picture perfect moments. In reality, most parents today are struggling to stay afloat under a sea of unread emails, unwashed dishes, and an overscheduled calendar. How to Be a Happier Parent explores a universal yearing: how can we make daily life as a parent more enjoyable and rewarding, like we always imagined? Dell’Antonia points out nine common tough points for families and offers doable, creative solutions to make home life a refuge, not another stressor. At the heart of this book is an invitation that doing less can lead to more joy.
6. Weird Parenting Wins: Bathtub Dining, Family Screams, and Other Hacks from the Parenting Trenches by Hillary Frank
Curated by the creator of the popular podcast The Longest Shortest Time, this book is laugh-out-loud funny and memorable. Frank collects true stories and strategies from parents in the trenches – and often invented on a whim of desperation – that will have you laughing out loud, but also taking notes. From the mom who got her kid to try beets because they might turn her poop pink to the dad who got his baby to stop crying by pig-snorting in her ear, these stories just might come in handy along the wild roads of parenthood.
7.The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind, Survive Everyday Parenting Struggles, and Help Your Family Thrive by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D.
How often do you look into your child’s eyes and wonder, what the heck is going on in there? This highly readable books explores just that – how our kids’ brains work, and how to support holistic, whole-brain growth. The authors will take you from staring befuddled at your tantruming toddler to quickly analyzing and acting in a tactful way. With twelve key strategies, this book offers the neurological background and practical in-the-moment tips for helping your child through big emotions.
8. How to Talk so Little Kids Will Listen: A Survival Guide to Life with Children Ages 2-7 by Joanna Faber and Julie King
Do you ever find yourself completely clueless on what to say in response to your toddler’s wild antics, big questions, or tantrums? Co-written by the daughter of the popular 1980s classic of a similar title, (How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish), this book will completely transform the way you interact with your young children. Filled with empathetic advice from fellow moms-in-the-trenches, How to Talk so Little Kids Will Listen is one of the best books for new parents who know they want to change the way they speak to their children. Faber and King offer stories, scenarios, and thoughtful explanations on how to improve your communication with your young children. Your child’s response to these simple communication hacks will blow your mind – and improve your relationship for the better.
This fierce, personal deep-dive into pregnancy and early motherhood aims to empower new mothers as they embark on a journey of a lifetime. Moms today may quickly realize that their many questions have many more answers – a cautious statistic from an OB, a fear-mongering rant from a mother-in-law, a glossed-over tale from a mom blogger. Like a Mother explores the science behind our deepest questions, taking a deep dive into what’s really happening under the surface of motherhood. Whether she’s debunking outdated myths or exploring cutting-edge research, Angela Garbes offers fascinating insight and authentic camaraderie to mothers in today’s changing world.
10. Diaper Dude: The Ultimate Dad’s Guide to Surviving the First Two Years by Chris Pegula and Frank Meyer
New dads are apt to find that much of the parenting content today is aimed toward mothers. Chris Pegula and Frank Meyer offer a relatable alternative directly for fathers in this sequel to their earlier guide, From Dude to Dad. Affirming their deeply held belief that you don’t have to lose yourself in fatherhood, Pegula and Meyer offer this readable, actionable and humorous guide for new dads wondering what the heck comes next after the baby is born.