Books can be a wonderful resource to parents-to-be, but it can be hard to know which ones are worth reading. The goal of this list is to point you in the right direction, with book suggestions that have proven to be helpful for other people, or that experts have recommended.
When the time comes to have kids, it’s not just the baby that needs guidance and help. Parents also need some guidance and support throughout the whole process and beyond. Preparing for parenthood is a lifelong project, and there are plenty of resources available for you to use. Books can be a great tool to use as a first timer parent, as they can shape your first few years with your baby in a very positive way.
➡ CDC.gov – Positive Parenting Tips
➡ National Center for Biotechnology Information – Parenting Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices
➡ NHS – Tips for new parents – Baby
The best books for first-time parents are going to be the ones that are the most helpful to them. If a couple is preparing for their first child, they should be thinking about what kind of parenting style they want to adopt, and what kind of parent they want to be.
In addition to these questions, there are tons of other things that new parents need to think about. What kind of pediatrician do we want? How do we cope with sleep deprivation? What is the absolute minimum number of hours I should be working this week? All of these questions and more will vary based on what type of parents you want to be.
The best way to find out which books will give you the answers you need is by asking friends who have recently become parents or looking for reviews online.
Reviews by a panel of child development experts and pediatricians published in the journal Pediatrics and presented by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended these books as good choices for first time parents:
- The Happiest Baby on the Block: The New Way to Calm Crying and Help Your Newborn Baby Sleep Longer by Harvey Karp
- Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child: A Step-by-Step Program for a Good Night’s Sleep by Marc Weissbluth, M.D.
- The Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby from Birth to Age Two by William Sears, M.D. and Martha Sears, R.N., Ph.D., R.N.
These are the top 10 Incredible Books For First-Time Parents
I could have kept going and listed every good book out there for first time parent. However, I decided to stick with these top 10 as it was my choice that you will find the best books for first time parents on this list. If you like to read books on parenting and are looking for some great choices, this list should give you everything you need to get started.
1. The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp – An invaluable guide for new parents.
The Happiest Baby on the Block, the national bestseller by respected pediatrician and child development expert Dr. Harvey Karp, is a revolutionary method for calming a crying infant and promoting healthy sleep from day one.
The book’s five methods of soothing babies—swaddling, side or stomach position, shushing sounds, swinging motion, and sucking—enable parents to soothe even the most fussy baby without fail.
The technique used in the book is called “The 5 S’s”: swaddling, side or stomach position, shushing sounds, swinging motion, and sucking (the last two combine for Karp’s trademarked “five-second swing”). Swaddling is ideal for newborns because it mimics the feeling of being in the womb; it has also been shown to help a baby sleep longer at night as well as be more alert during the day. Side or stomach position allows a baby to feel as secure as if he were still in the womb; it also reduces colic due to acid reflux (although it’s not recommended for babies with serious reflux). Shushing sounds have been found to mimic those of the womb and help babies relax.
The author approaches child-rearing from an entirely different angle than most books, which makes his advice and instructions easy for new parents to follow. Karp utilizes a combination of breathing exercises and movements designed to calm babies in the moment of their cries, as well as offer them a soothing routine that will help them sleep better at night. Karp uses two simple methods: the five S’s, or the five steps to calming a crying baby, and a specific method of swaddling. Both methods work because they involve movement and stimulation, which is what babies need when they’re upset; it helps them focus on their own bodily sensations instead of whatever external stimulus their cries are meant to get attention from. This book is perfect for expecting parents who want to provide a soothing home for the newest member of their family.
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In addition to providing concrete advice, The Happiest Baby on the Block also includes plenty of lighthearted commentary that makes it an enjoyable read beyond just its educational value.
The Happiest Baby on the Block is a must-read for any parent, whether you’re expecting your first child or your fourth. The book is just as useful for parents of newborns as it is for parents who are already in the thick of their baby’s first year—it’s filled with so much great information about infant behavior and sleep training, it can be applied to various different stages.
Warmly written and packed with helpful illustrations and photographs, The Happiest Baby on the Block makes an invaluable resource for new parents wishing to make the most out of their time with their little ones. It’s one of those rare books that can be enjoyed by everyone in a family experiencing a new addition—you won’t want to put it down!
Does this book have everything that parents need to know? No. Is it a helpful addition to any library or resource? Absolutely. Every parent wants their child to be comfortable and happy, because that immediately makes them happier as well. So having a useful, calming guide is important, and The Happiest Baby on the Block is one that many have trust in.
With dozens of excellent parenting books on the market, it can be hard to sift through the options and decide which one is perfect for your family. My suggestion, though, would be to start with Dr. Karp’s The Happiest Baby on the Block. Published in 2002 and updated since, this book has sold more than 1 million copies and helped countless parents get their newborns off to good starts. It’s an easy-to-read book with plenty of helpful tips for first-time parents.
2. Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth – Perfect book for first time parents looking to get a handle on their children’s sleep issues
If you’re a new parent, consider Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child the most important book you’ll ever read. Dr. Weissbluth has managed to capture the essence of sleep in an easy to read and understandable form that nearly anyone can make use of in their lives. The facts he presents may occasionally seem overwhelming, but his book offers so many practical steps to take that at the end of it you will feel empowered to positively impact your child’s sleep.
When it comes to raising a happy and healthy child, there are a lot of things that you can do wrong. And when it comes to the most important thing for your kid’s happiness—getting the right amount of sleep—you may be doing it wrong from day one. Pediatrician Marc Weissbluth is here to help you figure out how your baby’s sleeping habits can affect his or her development. He has specific advice on how to get your child to sleep through the night, as well as how to solve problems like colic and bed-wetting.
Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child is the latest in a long line of books by pediatrician Dr. Marc Weissbluth, and it has all the key ingredients for a classic parenting book. The author is a leading expert in his field, and he communicates his expertise in an accessible voice that makes him seem like your best friend offering you sage advice. He explains how to solve common child sleep problems without resorting to extreme tactics, but not without providing you with perspective on what’s really important (and what isn’t) regarding child sleep habits.
➡ Why do Schools Block websites, apps and everything?
The book contains no-nonsense advice about what healthy sleep habits look like, and it also has some creative ideas for structuring your day so that everyone gets enough sleep. A strong point of this book is that it provides specific examples that are applicable to a variety of age groups and situations.
It’s not just advice for newborns and infants; it also covers older kids and teenagers as well, reflecting the author’s understanding of how different stages of childhood require different approaches to solving sleep problems and teaching healthy sleep habits. Another strong point is that the book doesn’t go overboard with its recommendations; there are no needlessly strict rules that make you feel guilty.
Dr. Weissbluth’s advice is based on Mother Nature: babies’ bodies naturally develop at a certain pace, and they naturally sleep at certain times of the day in accordance with that pace. The first three years of life are crucial for brain development, and if your child doesn’t get enough good sleep during this time, it could permanently affect learning and behavior throughout his or her life. This book will teach you how to create a nighttime routine; schedule naps at the right times; work with your baby’s natural circadian rhythm; keep your baby from becoming overtired; distinguish between night terrors, nightmares and separation anxiety.
Just as parents can learn to read their baby’s cues in order to help them sleep better, so too can parents learn to read their child’s cues in order to help them fall asleep on their own. These cues are easier for a parent to recognize than those of an infant, making it possible for even young children to learn how to put themselves to sleep. In fact, as a child gets older (and as you get more experienced), you will be able to use less and less intervention in helping him or her fall asleep—ultimately teaching him or her how to fall asleep on his or her own.
As a parent, there’s no way to avoid getting sleep advice—but not all of it is good or even helpful. And if you’re like most people, you might need help figuring out which pieces of advice you should follow, and which ones you should discard as impractical or just plain wrong. This book can help. It’s based on solid scientific research and covers how to get your baby healthy sleep habits from day one that will last for the rest of his or her life.
Overall, I think that this is one of the better books on the subject, and it’s one of the best out there. Plenty of other books cover the same material, but this one stands out because of its accessibility. It isn’t overly technical or filled with extraneous information—instead, it provides a clear, practical guide to everything you need to know about infant and child sleep.
3. The Baby Book by William Sears – one of the best baby books out there because it provides just the right amount of information without being overwhelming for first time parents
With its classic, easy-to-follow style and practical, up-to-date advice, The Baby Book is the ultimate guide to understanding and raising your child. Written by William Sears, M.D., and Martha Sears, R.N., this trusted resource offers parents everything they need to know about pregnancy, childbirth, newborn care, nutrition, discipline, and more. From proper car seat installation to immunization schedules to proper clothing sizes for toddlers to the best ways to promote language development in children with Down syndrome or autism spectrum disorders, this comprehensive book covers it all.
The Baby Book has been revised to reflect the latest developments in pediatric medicine and parenting trends across the United States. It includes updated information on topics such as spanking, sleep training for infants and toddlers, breastfeeding for mothers with diabetes or other health problems, bottle feeding versus breast feeding (and how much of each each baby should get), vaccinations (including a complete vaccine schedule), bed sharing and co-sleeping with babies (and when not to do either), high chairs and strollers (including the safest types for babies), car seats that can be used from birth through preschool years (and which ones should be phased out at what ages), common household chemicals that pose risks for babies and infants.
The Baby Book, by William Sears, is a classic in the world of parenting. It is the go-to resource for new parents and offers a wealth of information on raising children from birth through the toddler years. The book includes everything from development to behavior, sleep, nutrition, discipline, and health. Each chapter contains numerous tips and advice as well as stories from parents who have had similar situations to yours.
This book is filled with useful tips and techniques that can be used in conjunction with your parenting style while also giving you a better understanding of how your child’s mind works. In addition to the basics of taking care of your baby, this book will help you with breastfeeding challenges and breastfeeding issues as well as routines that you can use to get your baby into a sleeping schedule.
Truly one of the most comprehensive books available today on the subject, The Baby Book gives parents all kinds of valuable tools that can be used throughout their child’s infancy and toddler years, including lists of recommended toys for different ages as well as detailed instructions for how to handle specific situations.
4. Happy Mum, Happy Baby by Giovanna Fletcher – A humorous take on motherhood
Happy Mum, Happy Baby: My adventures into motherhood by Giovanna Fletcher is an upbeat collection of anecdotes and musings on the trials and joys of being a mother. In addition to being a popular vlogger, author, TV presenter and actress, Giovanna was named one of the UK’s Funniest New Comedians and was the winner of Celebrity Mum of the Year Award.
The book comprises a series of essays about different aspects of motherhood. Readers will learn about the physical and emotional changes that occur during pregnancy, how to care for a newborn baby, how to cope with different stages of childhood development as well as feelings associated with motherhood. The book covers a wide range of topics from dealing with postpartum depression to breastfeeding and parenting twins.
The author also shares her thoughts on parenthood from her own experience as well as advice she received from other mothers. The book is full of positive and uplifting messages that would make any new mom feel encouraged while dealing with challenges related to raising children.
Fletcher has a way with language that is both accessible and funny. She makes a great effort to explain the facts without becoming condescending. The book covers the basics in an approachable way—everything from pregnancy to what to expect in labour, how to help your baby have a healthy start in life, how to be realistic about the practicalities of parenthood, what can go wrong (and when it’s OK to worry), and how to know if you’re ready for children.
The tone remains upbeat throughout. Fletcher’s writing is full of humour and positivity—she draws on her own experiences as well as those of other mothers she respects. There are some beautiful moments where she describes her relationship with her own mother or how she felt about being pregnant for the first time.
The book is very well written, with little stories that are both entertaining and heartwarming. There are some sections that are quite intimate but they provide a good insight into what being a mother can be like. It’s definitely a good read for any new parents or parents-to-be.
5. First-time Parent Book by Lucy Atkins – clear and concise guide for the first-time modern parent.
First-time Parent Book by Lucy Atkins is an easy-to-read book that covers all aspects of the first year, from the basics of labor and delivery to postpartum depression.
It covers topics ranging from the basics of caring for a newborn (bathing, dressing, feeding) to more complicated issues of discipline and health. Atkins sensitively addresses a wide range of issues, including those that are not often discussed in parenting guides: she includes the feelings of parents who are grieving about the loss of their child, for example, and discusses how to cope with the death of a family pet. She also offers thoughtful advice about how to deal with unaddressed marital discord as well as social pressures that may put undue stress on new parents.
In addition to covering traditional topics such as breast-feeding, going back to work, and bathing, Atkins also offers advice on issues that are less common but no less important: how to manage the transition when you move from two incomes to one; how to deal with a stay-at-home parent who’s feeling isolated; how to help your partner be helpful without being overbearing. Atkins has been through it all herself, so she knows what new parents need.
In addition to providing sound advice and reassurance for new parents, the author also discusses several topics that many first time parents might not have even thought about. For example, she talks about how to help the transition when you do go back to work after giving birth. She also has a section on how to help your child get ready for his or her first day of school.
Atkins covers everything from the basics of pregnancy to the first weeks after birth to how to dress an infant (a must-read for new fathers!). If you’re looking for in-depth advice on breastfeeding or how to properly change a diaper, this isn’t the book for you. What Atkins does is take all the nagging worries and questions you never thought to ask before pregnancy and organize them in an easy-to-find spot for new parents. Each topic is covered succinctly but thoroughly, with both common sense advice (do not drop your baby) and humorous anecdotes about her own experiences as a mother.
If you’re looking for a book that will provide you with practical advice on being a first-time parent, look no further. From basic information such as how to change a diaper to how to deal with everyday challenges and other concerns, this book covers it all. Written in clear, easy-to-digest language, this book is laid out like a conversation between the author and the reader, making it very approachable and easy to read. The tone is professional yet friendly, too – not stiff or clinical by any means – which also helps make it accessible to readers. This book is an excellent choice for anyone looking for tips on being a first-time parent.
6. The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read by Philippa Perry – A must-read for anyone who has (or will) ever been a parent
The first time parents enter a bookstore they feel overwhelmed by the amount of books that are geared towards them. Which one should they choose? What will be the best for them and their new baby?
A book that looks promising is The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read by psychotherapist Philippa Perry. In this Sunday Times bestseller, Perry reveals the vital do’s and don’ts of relationships.
Philippa Perry uses her knowledge to reveal the secrets of successful relationships, from how to handle your partner’s mood swings to understanding sex and establishing a healthy routine for eating and sleeping.
She addresses both couples who have just had their first child as well as those who have been together for years. This book provides a wide range of tips on how to establish and maintain a great relationship with your spouse or partner.
Recommended by The Guardian, The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read offers helpful insights into raising children in a modern society while promoting healthy relationships between partners at the same time.
With the birth of your first child comes a whole new set of challenges for relationships. Your baby needs you now more than ever, but you also need your partner more than ever. The transition from being a couple that plays off each other’s strengths and weaknesses to a team in which both parents have to play equally important roles can be disorienting and even lonely. In Philippa Perry’s book “The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read,” she offers advice on how to navigate these sudden changes in one’s family dynamic, with chapters including “Handling the tyranny of the urgent,” “The importance of never forgetting who’s boss,” and “Keeping your relationship alive.”
Her advice on communication, conflict resolution, and dealing with your partner’s difficult traits will resonate with both new parents and those married for years. If you want to develop positive habits in your relationships, this book is an excellent place to start.
In “The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read,” Dr. Perry draws from her experience as a psychotherapist to present an insightful guide on how to develop and maintain healthy relationships in all areas of one’s life. In this day and age, where people have more freedom than ever before and live in society that encourages individuality and glorifies selfishness, this is an essential tool for anyone looking to get the most out of their lives by developing happy and fulfilling relationships with others.
In Perry’s book, she reveals how one-dimensional stereotypes surrounding gender roles can become harmful in this new phase of life. She shows how staying open to your partner’s strengths will help you grow as a person and suggests ways to keep the connection between you and your partner strong, even when there are so many other factors demanding your attention.
This is a wonderful book for anyone welcoming their first child into the world—it will help them understand the depth of their relationship with their partner and help them be better parents for their little bundle of joy!
Philippa Perry’s The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read is definitely worth reading!
7. Pregnancy for Men The Whole Nine Months by Mark Woods – A book written with the intention of giving a male perspective on pregnancy.
You’ll have a lot of questions when it comes to being a dad, but the most important thing is to remember that it’s okay to be scared. There are a lot of new things coming your way and you’ll be learning as you go. When your partner is pregnant, whether for the first time or for their second or third, there’s no shortage of advice out there about how to help them through it, what to do during labor, and how to make sure your baby is healthy. Pregnancy for Men: The whole nine months by Mark Woods is one book that can help you understand what your partner is going through and take on the role of an involved father.
Pregnancy For Men is a curious but useful resource for expectant fathers. Author Mark Woods states that he created this book for his best friend, who was about to become a father for the first time. He wanted to make sure that he was prepared, and would be able to handle the pregnancy experience with his wife. It seems that this goal was achieved, as Woods describes the book as “an honest account of what it’s like to be a dad”.
The book is broken up into nine months, and each month covers topics such as:
- The anatomy of her changing body
- Fetal development
- What you can expect next month in terms of symptoms and changes
- Questions you should ask your doctor
- How your baby’s doing inside your partner’s body
- Dealing with her emotions and how they’re affected by her pregnancy
This book takes you through each stage of pregnancy—and even before conception—to give you a full picture of what your partner will go through physically and emotionally. It covers everything from morning sickness and cravings all the way to labor, delivery, and care after giving birth. The author uses his own experiences with his wife to provide a humorous and lighthearted view on the realities of pregnancy. This is definitely not one of those books that will fill you with dread over your partner’s experience—it’s also hilarious at times!
This book provides fascinating insight into what it’s like for a man to go through all the physical, mental and emotional changes that come with this experience. It addresses everything from what you can expect when your partner is expecting and how you can help her out, to how you can cope with the major life changes that are bound to come with fatherhood, as well as more practical matters like how you can make sure your bank account is up to snuff.
Woods covers all of these subjects in a very honest way that doesn’t shy away from addressing the good, bad and ugly moments of pregnancy for fathers—he even mentions how some men may want to take back their sperm after finding out their partner is pregnant. The whole nine months by Mark Woods makes an excellent gift for any man who wants to learn more about parenting.
8. Mama You Got This – A Little Helping Hand For New Parents by Emma Bunton
Some people find that their own parents were not able to offer advice, or the advice they did get was from family members who may not have children themselves. There is no one way to raise a child and every parent has their own style of raising their child. Emma Bunton, former Spice Girl, and now author of Mama You Got This: A Little Helping Hand For New Parents, has written a book to help new parents navigate the journey of parenting.
You’re about to become a parent, and that’s both exciting and terrifying. You may feel lost in the sea of advice out there, and you may not know what to do with your free time now that you have a baby to take care of. Emma Bunton’s Mama You Got This: A Little Helping Hand For New Parents is here to offer guidance, hope, and encouragement.
Bunton speaks intimately about her own experiences as a mother of two (she has a daughter and son with her husband, Jade Jones), offering encouragement for moms going through all kinds of struggles: from sleepless nights to the challenges of working from home to the specific challenges faced by women in the entertainment industry. She also offers practical tips on how to tackle those challenges—and even how to get your husband on board with helping out!
Mama You Got This features advice on how to make it through the first year as a parent. The book also includes tips on how to sleep train your baby, what products you might need after giving birth, and even ways to keep your house clean when you have a new baby in the house. The book includes stories from Emma on her personal experience and advice. She shares both highs and lows that she has experienced as a parent.
Mama You Got This: A Little Helping Hand For New Parents helps to get new parents prepared and ready for the exciting journey ahead of them.
9. What to Expect When You’re Expecting & What to Eat When You’re Expecting by Arlene Eisenberg and Heidi Murkoff – This comprehensive book is the ultimate Parenting guide for new Parents
What to Expect When You’re Expecting and What to Eat When You’re Expecting are the best-selling books on pregnancy and breastfeeding. They were written by Arlene Eisenberg and Heidi Murkoff, two registered nurses who started the What to Expect Foundation, which publishes a monthly magazine for parents called What to Expect.
If you’re new to pregnancy, or if you just need a refresher on all the things that can go wrong (or right) during the life-changing nine months you’ll be spending with that little bun in your oven, take a look at What to Expect When You’re Expecting. This comprehensive book is the ultimate pregnancy guide, with information about everything from conception to delivery. The chapters are broken down by month for easy reference, and are packed with practical tips and helpful advice from doctors who specialize in pregnancy and childbirth.
The authors’ aim is to educate parents about all aspects of pregnancy, birth, and childcare. These books include information about what to expect during various periods in your pregnancy, how to get ready for labor, when to go to the hospital, how labor works, and how to care for new babies. The authors also discuss what you should eat during pregnancy and breastfeeding, including the nutritional details of various foods.
They cover everything from how your changing body will impact your style of clothing, what you can expect to see on an ultrasound, and, of course, tips on which products will help make pregnancy easier, such as proper pillows for that achy back.
While many people might think these books would be only appropriate for those who are expecting their first child, I couldn’t disagree more! I found these books helpful while reading them with my husband before our first child was born—they clarified a lot of things we had questions about but our doctors didn’t bother explaining. Now that we’re expecting our third child, I’m grateful that I have these two books on hand as a reference to remind me what’s normal in every stage of pregnancy.
In general, What to Expect When You’re Expecting is probably a better pick for first time parents. It’s more comprehensive than What to Eat When You’re Expecting—which spends a good deal of time focusing on foods that are particularly healthy for pregnant mothers—and it covers topics that aren’t as specific to nutrition and diet (e.g., how to care for yourself after the baby is born). That said, if you’re looking for some specific advice about what foods will benefit your body or which will harm it, you might find What to Eat When You’re Expecting especially useful.
10. The Baby Owner’s Manual Book by Joe Borgenicht and Louis Borgenicht – This book is a must-have for the first-time parent.
The best gift for new parents is a book that can answer the many questions that come with having a baby. The Baby Owner’s Manual provides detailed answers to such questions as: When should I bring my baby to the doctor? How do I make my newborn sleep at night? What kind of stroller do I need? How can I stop my baby’s diaper rash? Author Joe Borgenicht (a pediatrician) and his father Dr. Louis Borgenicht have written a comprehensive book that contains everything you need to know about taking care of your baby in its first year.
The Baby Owner’s Manual is a hilariously clever and helpful book that explores hundreds of frequently asked questions from new parents. Over the years, Dr. Louis Borgenicht, a pediatrician, has answered so many questions about babies that his son Joe Borgenicht decided to write them all down—and some.
The Baby Owner’s Manual book is a classic in the field of parenting guides. With clear and concise language, Dr. Louis Borgenicht and his son Joe Borgenicht provide answers to hundreds of questions that parents are sure to have about their new baby. From swaddling techniques to questions about bringing the baby to the pediatrician for service, The Baby Owner’s Manual is a must-have for first time parents who need answers in an easy-to-access format.
Besides the humor, this book is very helpful and thorough, giving step-by-step instructions on how to swaddle your baby (which is actually harder than it sounds), what time to take your baby to the doctor for regular checkups, and even questions to ask yourself when you’re thinking about sex with your wife again postpartum. A lot of this information is available online and in other books, but the Borgenichts’ friendly tone makes this an easy read for first-time parents who want some reassurance that their growing family will be okay.
If you’re a beginner, you’ll find that this book covers almost everything you could possibly imagine needing to know as a first time parent. The only thing I might argue with is the title—will reading this guide truly make you an expert? Probably not, but it will get you off on the right foot.