Once they become pregnant, most women read books about pregnancy and childbirth. It makes sense! That’s what’s currently happening and on the horizon. But what’s also on the horizon is life with a baby. And that’s a stage of life that will be here to stay . . . for a while. You won’t have much time to read once the baby is here, so now is the time to prepare and catch up on some reading for parenting options and motherhood. I researched and asked several moms what they suggested, and this is what we came up with!
Best Parenting and Motherhood Books to Read
Here’s what we recommend for you to check out:
1. “The Whole-Brain Child” by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D.
“The Whole-Brain Child” goes over 12 strategies for nurturing a child’s healthy brain development and emotional intelligence. It covers topics like encouraging children to share and discuss their feelings and how to help them better control their emotions. This book explains how a child’s brain works in simple, easy-to-understand language. It’s a great first step toward raising happier children!
2. “The Happiest Baby on the Block” by Harvey Karp, M.D.
This baby sleep book from Dr. Harvey Karp presents incredible techniques for soothing babies to help newborns stop crying and get better rest. You’ll learn about topics like bedsharing, swaddling, and SIDS risk, along with how to activate your baby’s calming reflex. And if you are pressed for time, you can watch the video version. 😉
3. “The Sears Baby Book” by William Sears, M.D., Martha Sears, R.N., Robert W. Sears, M.D., and James Sears, M.D.
The revised and updated version of “The Baby Book” will teach you all the essentials to help you care for your baby from when they’re a newborn to 2 years old. It addresses health topics (such as how to treat common sicknesses and perform first aid), developmental milestones (like toilet training), and other vital subjects. This up-to-date guide can help you learn the basics of feeding your baby, helping them sleep, bonding with them, and more.
4. “Bringing Up Bébé” by Pamela Druckerman
“Bringing Up Bébé” is a funny, insightful read filled with nuggets of wisdom based on French parenting norms. Pamela Druckerman, an American journalist, shares her story of having a baby in France and her observations regarding how the French raise well-behaved children. If you don’t have the time to read this book, we have also written thorough notes on “Bringing Up Bébé.”
5. “Raising Good Humans” by Hunter Clarke-Fields, MSAE
This parenting book is about breaking negative cycles to raise better, kinder kids. Hunter Clarke-Fields lays out how to be more mindful as a parent and avoid “reactive parenting” — essentially, less yelling and more keeping your cool. We all have times when it’s difficult to regulate our emotions and handle stress, so these strategies for being calmer, listening better, and communicating better are a godsend.
6. “The Vaccine Book” by Robert W. Sears, M.D.
This book is an excellent resource if you’re wondering whether to vaccinate your child. Dr. Robert W. Sears explains various diseases (hepatitis B, polio, influenza, COVID-19, etc.), their severity, and their vaccines in depth. He also addresses the potential side effects of different vaccines, their ingredients, options for alternative vaccine schedules, and more.
7. “Simplicity Parenting” by Kim John Payne, M.Ed., with Lisa M. Ross
In “Simplicity Parenting,” authors Kim John Payne and Lisa Ross discuss raising children based on the idea that less is more. They explain why it’s helpful to simplify your parenting and give children room to grow. This book provides tips for things like decreasing clutter and sensory overload in the home, scheduling regular downtime for children, and managing kids’ screen time to reduce anxiety and lead to calmer, happier kids.
8. “Boundaries with Kids” by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
Dr. Cloud and Dr. Townsend explore why establishing healthy boundaries with children is necessary in “Boundaries with Kids.” They include research and advice on helping kids learn to take responsibility for their behaviors and how they treat others. This book provides practical tools for developing your child’s character. It addresses topics like setting limits with children, defining consequences, and the six steps for implementing boundaries at home.
9. “Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn” by Penny Simkin, P.T., Janet Whalley R.N., IBCLC, Ann Keppler R.N., MN, Janelle Durham, M.S.W., ICCE, LCCE, and April Bolding, P.T., D.P.T., CD, C.C.E.
This informative book will help you learn everything you need about pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum life — all backed up by medical research and advice. It covers these topics and more:
- Taking childbirth preparation classes
- Improving your chances of having a safe birth
- Reducing stress during pregnancy
- Exercises to align your body and prepare you for labor
- Nutrition, weight gain, and food safety
- Laboring with and without pain medications
- Feeding and caring for your baby at home
10. “The Danish Way of Parenting” by Jessica Joelle Alexander and Iben Sandahl
This book explains how Denmark is the happiest country in the world and spells out how the Danish can raise such happy, well-adjusted kids. It covers the six principles of raising happy children: play, authenticity, reframing, empathy, no ultimatums, and togetherness. You’ll read about the benefits of cooking together, playing games with your children, and engaging in other family traditions.
11. “The Wonder Weeks” by Hetty van de Rijt, Ph.D., and Frans Plooij, Ph.D.
“The Wonder Weeks” goes over the first 20 months of a baby’s life and explains how to help them make developmental progress during these phases. The book includes:
- A week-by-week guide to a baby’s behavior
- When to expect the three C’s of fussy behavior (cranky, clingy, and crying)
- How to deal with regression periods and developmental changes
- A description from your baby’s perspective of the world and how to understand the changes they’re experiencing
- Fun games and gentle activities you can do with your child
12. “Raising Your Spirited Child” by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, Ed.D.
“Raising Your Spirited Child” will help you discover the power of positive — rather than negative — labels. This is the perfect guide for parents with a child who tends to be more emotional, energetic, etc. It teaches things like how to help your child problem-solve and learn strategies for handling situations at school and during bedtime.
13. “Elevating Child Care” by Janet Lansbury
In “Elevating Child Care,” parenting teacher Janet Lansbury discusses how to be a better, more respectful parent who sees their child as unique and capable of learning things naturally. Her book explains how children can engage in independent play, develop motor and cognitive skills, and more. She covers everything from eating and sleeping to diaper changes in this helpful guide.
14. “The Power of Showing Up” by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D.
In this book, authors Daniel Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson share that one of the best things you can do as a parent is show up for your kids. Based on recent brain and attachment research, they explain how being present for children helps their development. “The Power of Showing Up” also goes over the Four S’s that children need to feel: safe, seen, soothed, and secure.
15. “The Circumcision Decision” by Susan Terkel and Lorna Greenberg
This is an excellent book for parents who are debating about circumcision. It explains medical, religious, cultural, and personal issues regarding circumcision, including the potential benefits and risks of circumcising your son. “The Circumcision Decision” will guide you in making the right decision for you and your baby.
16. “Enough About the Baby” by Becky Vieira
“Enough About the Baby” shares great self-care advice for new parents trying to handle the highs and lows of having a baby. Author Becky Vieira isn’t afraid to cover taboo topics like navigating your relationship with your in-laws and postpartum poops. This book will remind you that prioritizing your needs is okay. Listen to our Baby Chick podcast episode with Becky Vieira for more tips on embracing motherhood.
17. “The First Forty Days” by Heng Ou with Amely Greeven and Marisa Belger
This isn’t just a cookbook; it’s also a comforting guide that will be your companion through the first 40 days of motherhood. It discusses navigating relationships, establishing a support system, and more during the postpartum period. “The First Forty Days” contains 60 recipes for delicious soups, lactation-boosting teas, and healthy meals and snacks that new moms will love.
18. “Not Your Mother’s Postpartum Book” by Caitlin Slavens, BAACS, M.C., R. Psych, and Chelsea Bodie, B.Sc., MACP, R. Psych
Psychologists and mothers Caitlin Slavens and Chelsea Bodie share their takes on mom life in “Not Your Mother’s Postpartum Book.” These best friends explore topics like birth trauma, baby feeding, mom guilt, and post-pregnancy body image struggles with honesty and humor. Check out our podcast with the Mama Psychologists for more of their thoughts on postpartum life.
What books did you read during your pregnancy — or after baby — to prepare for parenthood that you found helpful? What would you add to this list?