Silver Lining: Best Books for the New Parent

July 28, 2014

Best Books for the New Parent

Obviously becoming a parent is one of the biggest changes a person can make, and it comes with a very steep learning curve. That's why I read a lot of parenting books during my pregnancy. Learning about parenting helped me feel more prepared, less stressed, and more confident. Now, as a new mother, I wanted to share the books that were the most helpful to me. This isn't an all-inclusive list, but it's a good place to start if you're expecting your first child. It definitely beats googling "what does normal baby poop look like?" or "how to swaddle a baby" at 2AM :)

*"Essential" is a relative word here. Obviously parents have existed for thousands of years without reading these books (and parental instinct is a real thing). To me these books were absolute lifesavers though, so I hope they'll be useful to you too!

What To Expect The First Year - This is a great mainstream general information book about the milestones and behaviors of babies. There are two schools of thought about this book. It is very thorough and informative, which I appreciated. I like the month-by-month milestones and descriptions. It answers any questions you might have about your baby, and even your body, in the first year. However, since it's so informative, it makes a few parents more stressed out ("If my doctor didn't check for all 372 listed possible medical conditions at my baby's first check-up, does that mean he's a bad doctor??"). But as long as you realize that this book is meant to inform, not alarm, this book is a fantastic place to start.

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child - This book was so much more than just a book about sleep training. It delves into sleep habits of people around the world, and the science behind a good night's sleep. I learned a lot about my own sleep habits from reading this book. It gives great practical tips for recognizing early signs of sleepiness in infants and children and establishing good sleep habits, starting with a brand new baby. As the teacher who gave this book to me said, "this book helped me realize that 90% of all my kids' problems are because they're not getting enough sleep."

Bringing Up Bebe - This is a narrative-style book about a former American reporter who raises her children in France, and the research and observations she makes about French parenting culture. She is very well-researched, and the book reads easily and quickly. I appreciated the French ideals about just how much a child is capable of, and the type of structure that allows children to grow the most.

The Baby Owner's Manual - This book is hilarious. Written by two dads, it's about basic childcare, but written in the lingo of an operating instructions manual. My husband got this book at a baby shower, and we love it. It's a great gift to remember the dads in a time that's so baby- and mom-centered. The diagrams are pretty priceless too.

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding - Once you get past the title of this book (seriously, who was in charge of titling this book?) it's a really helpful resource. As a first-time nursing mom, it was great to have this book on hand during the first few weeks of nursing. It answers every possible question or complaint you may have about breastfeeding. Instead of reading it straight through, I used this book to answer my questions and read the tips. It's highly organized, and there's a new heading for almost each paragraph, so it was easy to find what I was looking for.

I hope this helps! For all the moms out there, I'm curious to know which of these books you loved, and which you didn't. What books would be on your list? Also, are there any parenting apps you loved? I'm searching for good apps that were useful as a new mom.


  1. love this! i really want bringing up bebe. i've heard way too many good things. i also really love happiest baby on the block (especially for colicky babies, but mostly just babies in general!), so i'm suggesting it to you! also, baby apps:

    1. I've heard so much about Happiest Baby on the Block- I'm on hold for it at the library right now. Thanks for the recommendation!

  2. I LOVE the Baby's Owner Manual! It;s hilarious! They also have a free app for tracking sleep and feeding, But, I actually found a better app called Baby Log for $5 that tracks measurements, sleep, feedings, diapers, and play time.

  3. I'm including my favorite birth/pregnancy books as well. Any book by Ina May Gaskin, "A Pea in the Pod," "Birthing From within" "Sacred Pregnancy" "The Gift of Giving a Life" (a must read), "The Other baby Book" "Unconditional parenting" "The No-Cry Sleep Solution" "HypnoBirthing: The Mongan method" and "Thre in a Bed." And I'll add that I too love "The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding" :)

  4. I love Bringing up Bebe! I read it last year, so Rachel and Cole were already ruined, but I've already tried doing "the pause" with Chase and he is a much better sleep than the first two. I would love to be on a better eating schedule with more veggies and courses, but that hasn't happened yet. I also loved Healthy sleep habits, happy child. But it's much harder to use those principles with baby #3. The other 2 don't want to sit at home all day while he gets his naps! It was awesome for Rachel though.


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