So much to learn from the best parenting books … so little time! If you’re an expectant or new parent, you know how intimidating the prospect of caring for your precious bundle can be, but you don’t have time to sort through reams of parenting advice. You’ll want to have at least one “bible,” one topic-specific book, and perhaps a memoir or two. Here are some of the best parenting books you can read to improve your parent-child relationship.
Best Parenting Books New Parents Should Read
Our Babies, Ourselves: How Biology and Culture Shape the Way We Parent
Meredith F. Small
This post may contain affiliate links. For my full disclosure policy click here.
No one talks about it, but peer pressure is one of the most stressful parts of becoming a parent. This book is written from a trained anthropologist’s perspective. But don’t let that scare you. Her take on parenting is actually very practical. It reminds us that what our parents’ generation might have seen as sacred isn’t set in stone. Nor do you have to follow the trendy “earth mama” aesthetic if it’s just not your style. But what baby and toddler care aspects absolutely can’t be ignored? Here Small also comes through. Her book helps new parents cut through cultural bias and determine what’s really important.
When Partners Become Parents
Carolyn Pape Cowan & Philip A. Cowan
This wife-and-husband team literally wrote the book on how raising a child can affect a marriage — the good, the bad and the ugly. Still expecting, have a new baby, or are coping with a strong-willed child? It’s never too late to avoid the relationship pitfalls that are so common during the early years of parenting.
How to Talk so Kids Will Listen… And Listen So Kids Will Talk
Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish
This iconic mindful parenting book has been around for decades but still feels as fresh as ever. Written in a supportive, humorous tone, How to Talk opens up new possibilities of mindful parenting. That’s especially true for new parents raised in a strict family. Each chapter takes on an aspect of childhood that’s challenging for both kids and parents. It also gives you a literal “script” to recite when you’re not sure how to talk to your pint-sized tyrant.
Last Child in the Woods
A more recent book on mindful parenting, Last Child focuses on the growing alienation between kids and nature. By not playing outside as much as they once did, Louv argues, kids suffer in very real ways. Kids with problems like ADHD are especially vulnerable.
Be Prepared: A Practical Handbook for New Dads
Gary Greenberg and Jeannie Hayden
Won’t someone think of the dads? (Not enough parenting authors do!) That’s why this book, with its hilariously Boyscout-like cover, is bound to be welcomed by the menfolk. Here, new dads get practical advice on topics such as swaddling and fevers. At the same time, there are tips that support the fun side of being a dad, like playing puppets and making bath toys.
Making Babies: Stumbling into Motherhood
Now that you’ve picked up a dad-focused book, make sure that mom gets one too. Although it’s not a “manual,” per se, Making Babies does offer plenty of personal insight. Whether it’s discussing the intimate details of pregnancy, labor or nursing, this memoir will likely strike a chord with new moms. As a celebrated novelist, Enright has the writing chops to bring immediacy and drama to the most humdrum details of parenthood.
The New Basics: A-to-Z Baby & Child Care for the Modern Parent
Michel Cohen, M.D.
That “A-Z” element is important. You can look up your concern, fast, without wading through chapters of psycho-babble. New parents prize Cohen for his non-alarmist tone. As a certified pediatrician, he’s able to weigh in with actual medical authority. He discusses which baby and child illnesses can be treated at home. At the same time, he’s not anti-medicine, so you won’t be told to ignore alarming symptoms. Knowing when to just give your toddler extra fluids, as opposed to going to the emergency room, is a heaven-sent tool for new parents. The book also delves into plenty of behavioral topics. These include letting your child know about a new baby joining the family or coping with a hitting phase from a strong-willed child.
Dr. Spock’s Baby and Child Care
Benjamin Spock, M.D., and Robert Needlman, M.D.
If nothing else, reading this classic will make you feel closer to your parents and grandparents. This was virtually the only “bible” on child-rearing for decades. Fortunately, the late Dr. Spock’s original book is updated to include emerging science and current viewpoints. At almost 1,200 pages, the book takes you from the age-old worry over infant fevers to newer concerns like child obesity and screen time. Conspiracy theories about vaccinations are also examined. There’s also a list of valuable websites and a glossary of current medications.
Yes, at least one comprehensive A-Z guide belongs in your collection of parenting books. But most new parents also have at least one specific issue they want to research. Becoming Attached explores attachment therapy in depth. If you’re committed to practices like “babywearing” — or at least intrigued by it — this book is for you. Karen explores different ways that the first year of childhood is fundamental. He also discusses methods for maintaining and deepening the physical and emotional bonds between babies and their parents/caregivers.
Still feeling overwhelmed about the best parenting books to scoop up? It might help to focus on a challenge you’re facing right now. Or you can focus on concepts that intrigue you, like the whole-brain child idea. Maybe you just want to know which children’s books you should be reading to your toddler. That’s enough info to do an online search for available books. When in doubt, a general “parenting tips best” search can help. Or look for a Goodreads author that gets rave reviews.
Whatever your method, start your “best parenting books” library slowly so you don’t feel overwhelmed. After all, they’re here to help you, not intimidate you!
Have you read a parenting book that you think could be added to this list? Feel free to share it with us in the comments section below!