The birth of your first child is a time of both incredible joy, and astonishing stress. You don’t sleep or eat properly, and your precious bundle of joy may be incredibly annoying, whining like a little baby because… they’re a baby.
So I’ve asked a number of professionals which baby books for new parents they read after the birth of their first child, and asked them to select the one that they found most useful. So in no particular order, here’s what they had to say. I’ve made minor edits for clarity and spelling.
What Are the Best Baby Books for New Parents?
What to Expect When Expecting
Kimberly: Besides, “What to Expect When Expecting”, not really any! I have a ten-year-old special needs autistic son and a six-year-old daughter. Nothing could prepare me for my son and my daughter seemed like a breeze after him. But in talking with many friends and family, every child is SO unique, Mother’s intuition is really the best guidance of all. We all put so much pressure on ourselves and read so many books, articles, etc., it stresses us out way more than necessary, in my opinion.
Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids
Elizabeth: My favorite parenting book of all time is “Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids” by Dr. Laura Markham.
Her message is simple: Create healthy relationships with children by being a calm and peaceful parent.
This book is fascinating, it talks about how to speak to children so they actually listen to you and even how to listen to children so that they learn to trust us and let us help them heal. A lot of this book is about using connection instead of punishment when it comes to discipline techniques.
There are 3 main parts to this book:
- Part One: Regulating Yourself
- Part Two: Fostering Connection
- Part Three: Coaching Not Controlling
I’ve been able to successfully implement these strategies in my home with my children and they make so much sense when you’re actually going through them. One of the biggest things that I took away from this book is to take care of myself. If parents are not healthy emotionally, it is insanely difficult to raise emotionally healthy children.
Overall, this book was very helpful and truly helped shape the way I raise my kids today.
Bringing Up Bébé: One American Woman Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting
Geninna: I have twin boys who turned 3 last January. A year before I got pregnant, I read Bringing Up Bébé: One American Woman Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting and let’s just say it opened my eyes to the huge differences of bringing up children in different parts of the world.
It did intrigue me to find that the Americans are very loose whereas the French subdue their children. And that realization paved the way to how I parent my twins. No, I didn’t follow the book nor did I read any other book afterward. I realized one thing, children aren’t supposed to be brought up in the same way everyone does. Each circumstance is different and no household is the same.
When I talk about my family, I am Asian married to a European living in Europe, I have twins (most books and apps talk about singletons), it already is out of the norm.. But I do read scientific articles and journals of contrasting views and settle for something in the middle, or try out different bits of advice and figure which one works for me. And this is what I learned from that book – there is no norm. You do what you can to cope.
Parenting From The Inside Out: How A Deeper Self-Understanding Can Help You Raise Children Who Thrive
Nicole: I read this book when I first began studying to become a therapist. Since then, I’ve referenced it several times in my practice. I’ve even recommended it to clients.. When I became pregnant with my son, I knew I also had to revisit it. Even though therapists may “know” the answers for how to solve specific problems, teaching parents how to parent is profoundly different from becoming a parent yourself.
This book provides such a deep and rich understanding of infant and child development. As parents, we often unknowingly pass on certain patterns to our children without realizing it. We project our pains. We react to the same triggers that upset us when we were young. We recreate our family systems with our children, even if we want to change our responses or methods. Learning about our own childhood (and our messages about growing up) is paramount for breaking toxic cycles with our children.
I want to note that this isn’t a “how-to” parenting book. It’s not about following a formula of doing X or Y to achieve Z. It’s more of an examination about the process of parenting and the way parenting impacts children. It’s about learning how to integrate the experiences from your past into becoming a healthier adult- and, subsequently, a healthier parent.
I love how the authors integrate neuroscience with practicality. While this book isn’t necessarily an easy read, it is an excellent launchpad for new parents who want to create a healthy foundation for their children. Additionally, it can be helpful as a resource for all stages throughout a child’s life.
Nicole Arzt is a licensed marriage and family therapist, new mother, and mental health content writer for https://invigormedical.com/.
Baby Love, Robin Barker
Rick: This is what I found to be the most useful book as a new parent. It was first published in 1994 so had already stood the test of time by the time we became parents and the current one is the sixth edition. It’s written by an Australian nurse and midwife who is very down to earth but also incredibly knowledgeable. Available as an ebook and in print, it was the bible for my wife and I for the initial years of parenthood as we grappled with teething issues, reflux, sleep, feeding, tantrums and all the minor problems that parents have to surmount.
Above all it offers practical advice that’s not judgmental or biased or pushing a particular barrow. For any given problem, Robin spells out a range of options and a suggested approach to resolving it that is evidence-based yet flexible. As she says, no two children are the same! We are based in Australia and can truly say this book is regarded as the best title in this field. I am not sure how widely read it is in the US (it was definitely available as a hard copy at some point and remains available as an eBook) or other nations, but it certainly deserves to be!
The Happiest Baby on the Block
Evan: I’m a dad to a 5-year-old girl (with another on the way!) and a parenting writer at Dad Fixes Everything.
If new parents have the time and energy to read one book, it should be The Happiest Baby on the Block by Dr. Harvey Carp (and the accompanying video version). It’s full of unique practical tips to calm and soothe a fussy baby that you won’t find anywhere else, but more than that it totally reframes how you think about the first few months home with a newborn. The concept of the “fourth trimester” really made everything make a lot more sense and helped my wife and I much more easily diagnose what our daughter needed.
There’s also a lot of great and important myth-busting in this book, like how every parent assumes their cranky baby has “gas pains” when that’s almost never the case.
If anything, the book gets a little bit repetitive with its core messages (the legendary 5 S’s), but that’s exactly what you need as an overwhelmed new parent. You don’t need a 500 page deep dive on newborn psychology so much as you need a couple of good tricks and philosophies that work.
If you’re starting from basically zero knowledge about babies like I was, this is the handbook you need and you can ignore pretty much everything else.
Hope this helps!
Olga Zakharchuk, founder and CEO of Baby Schooling:
A book I recently read after giving birth to my second child is Mamaste by Lori Bregman and it has completely lifted my spirits! I recommend any new mom read it.
Mothers often feel an immense amount of pressure to have everything be perfect. That can weigh on you when you’re juggling a career, kids, household tasks, and other challenges. What I love about Lori Bregman’s book, though, is it encourages moms everywhere to not be so hard on yourself! Mamaste teaches you how to have a little more empathy and compassion for yourself, but also for your fellow mom friends.
In a world where people love to compete, it’s so refreshing to read Mamaste and be reminded of how supporting one another lifts us all. Reading Mamaste helped make me feel more connected with my authentic self and also reminded me of all the reasons why I love being a mother to my two children. I love that actress Anne Hathaway is a fan of the book, too!
Secrets of the Baby Whisperer: How to Calm, Connect and Communicate with your baby
Jessica: Of all the books on parenting that I read as a new parent, Secrets of the Baby Whisperer: How to Calm, Connect, and Communicate with your baby, remains my all-time favorite. I would love to recommend this book by Tracy Hogg, to you and every new parent, who is looking for ways to provide the utmost care and comfort to the newborn. In this book, the author will get you to interpret every cry of your baby with the concept of S.L.O.W, i.e. S- Stop, L-Listen, O-Observe, and W- Find out What’s up with your baby. This concept will help you figure out what to do when your baby cries. In short, it is simply stopped, try to understand what your baby is trying to tell from his body language, then observe what he was doing before he started crying and then sum up the clues and come to a conclusion and act accordingly. With this concept, you ‘ll soon be able to differentiate between different types of cries of your baby, such as him being hungry, in some kind of pain, angry, or just need a loving shower of your affection, from his body language. It is with this interpretation that you can successfully comprehend your baby’s needs and provide him the desired relief.
Further, this wonderful book also throws light on the concept of E.A.S.Y i.e. – Eat, Activity, Sleep, and You time. The abbreviation E.A.S.Y basically summarizes the schedule your baby follows. It is simply E.A.S.Y, where he first eats, then do his activities become tired and goes to sleep, wherein you get your time to do other things like laundry, rest, and other household chores. No doubt, this schedule is often flexible, that is your baby may initiate his cycle at random hours but the cycle is almost predictable. The complete awareness of this cycle will help you stay ahead of your baby and provide him with things before he even needs them. With this, your baby will eventually turn into a happy, merry go lucky child as you will be able to successfully comprehend the subtle signs he sends your way in his own language of love. Thus, I recommend this interesting, simple, and insightful book is a must for you to pave your journey of providing your newborn with all the delicate care he needs.
Oh, the Places You’ll Go!
Sara E. Routhier: During my baby shower, I was gifted with the book “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!,” by Dr. Seuss. Of course, I am sure it was gifted to me so I could read to my baby once she came into the world, but I also looked at it as a reminder to live in the moment, every day.
The book gives a meaningful message, reminding people to seize new opportunities and to try new things. To this day, I try to follow this message and use it as a guide when interacting with my now two-year-old daughter.
Because of this book, I try all different types of crafts and home improvement activities with my toddler. This is my way of instilling in my daughter the importance of spontaneity and trying new things.
I was gifted with this same book at my High School graduation party so it gave me a sense of nostalgia when I received it at my baby shower. Both celebrations were a signifier of me entering a new era in my life.
It is important to be reminded of the importance of seizing new opportunities and staying open-minded as you grow older and are presented with new responsibilities.
After my baby shower ended, we unloaded the gifts and I spent the evening in the nursery reading this book. I often find myself re-reading this book when I find myself not being present with my daughter or slipping into routines.
Imani Francies writes and researches for the insurance comparison site, ExpertInsuranceReviews.com. She is a mother to a two-year-old.
What to Expect the First Year
Sonya Schwartz: I needed guidelines when I was expecting my first child. One of my friends recommended a book that I found really helpful was ‘What to Expect the First Year’ by Heidi Murkoff. This book answered most of my queries. Everything in this book is written in an organized manner. The glossary at the end of the book was so useful, and it made things easier for me to understand. After my first child, a particular section in a book about dealing with your fussy baby was what made me realize, how good and helpful this book is for me.
I was so worried at the start when I had my first child because it was difficult to soothe him, but this book gave me new courage and helped me a lot with great tips such as comforting my child when I actually had sleepless nights. I started lulling my child with pleasant and soft music. It was so soothing for him that he actually did not cry again and was addicted to the sound. Every time I played that particular music for him, it had a good effect on him. Not only this, but this book is full of tips and tricks, including playtime ideas, a good set of advice, breastfeeding advice, milestones, and much more. I’ll highly recommend this to all the new moms and mothers to be.