15 Must-Read Books for New Parents

Written by: L. Elizabeth Forry



Time to read 8 min

Becoming a new parent is a big deal; like most parents, you probably want to research all things baby before yours arrives. However, a trip to your local bookstore or browsing on Amazon offers seemingly unlimited choices for parenting books! So, how do you know which books are right for you?

First-time parents have questions, and the amount of information available can seem overwhelming.

To make things easier, we’ve compiled a list of recommended parenting and baby books for all kinds of parents to get you started on your research. This list includes humorous books, straightforward factual books, and experiences from modern parents— so something for everyone!

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Best Books for New Parents

You have probably heard the phrase, “Children don’t come with a manual”, and it’s true, they don’t. Previously, new parents didn’t necessarily need to do their own research, as they lived near their parents, aunts, grandparents, etc., who they could rely on for help or guidance during the early parenting days.

However, the modern family is much less nuclear, and parents-to-be may live on the other side of the country, away from their family. In light of these circumstances, many new parents seek reliable information through alternative sources in order to learn about pregnancy, parenting, and caring for their little one.

While no book offers a one-size-fits-all approach to parenting, the more knowledge and common sense you have before your baby gets here, the better equipped you will be when questions or challenges arise.

1. The Wonder Weeks

by Xaviera Plooij, Frans X. Plooij PhD & Hetty van de Rijt PhD

The Wonder Weeks is now in its 6th edition and going strong! It is the ultimate guide for new parents, including milestones, developmental checklists, activities, and comments from parents.

The authors know that parenting can be overwhelming, and they include much-needed information to ease the worries of new parents.

book the wonder weeks

2. What to Expect When You're Expecting

by Heidi Murkoff

What to Expect When You're Expecting is the top-selling pregnancy book worldwide. This bestseller has been on the shelves since 1984 and is revised and updated regularly to maintain the most up-to-date info on pregnancy.

In addition, there are two follow-up books, What to Expect the First Year and What to Expect the Second Year, which are also best sellers!

What to Expect When You are Expecting by Heidi Murkoff

3. Parenting with Love & Logic

by Foster Cline & Jim Fay

One of the most challenging things parents must do is prepare their children for the real world. As much as we want to protect and shield them from disappointment and danger, the truth is the world is out there and very real.

This unique guide by Foster Cline and Jim Fay is geared to help parents of preschoolers and elementary school-aged children teach essential life skills like responsibility, chores, managing stress and peer pressure, and navigating tough emotional situations.

Parenting with Love & Logic by Foster Cline

4. The Whole-Brain-Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind

by Daniel J. Siegel MD & Tina Payne Bryson PhD

The Whole-Brain-Child is an excellent resource for parents interested in positive discipline. This New York Times bestselling book is recommended by renowned pediatrician Dr. Harvey Karp, who says it contains “Simple, smart, and effective solutions to your child’s struggles.”

This modern approach to parenting is designed to help you understand how the brain develops, and to provide tips and tricks to raise a happy child.

The Whole Brain Child by Daniel J. Siegel

5. The Sh!t No One Tells You: A Guide to Surviving Your Baby’s First Year

by Dawn Dais

Parenting comes with sleepless nights, tantrums, and lots of tears often for both parents and children. The Sh!t No One Tells You is a fun, satirical take on parenting. Dawn Dais doesn’t sugarcoat the hard stuff and presents real problems from real moms with practical solutions.

The Sh!t No One Tells You by Dawn Dais

6. The Happiest Baby on the Block

by Harvey Karp, MD

Harvey Karp is a renowned pediatrician and baby expert. His book The Happiest Baby on the Block provides practical advice for sleep training, breastfeeding, swaddling, etc. In addition, it includes the newest info on SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) and ways to reduce the risk.

His book includes advice based on a few concepts: the fourth trimester or the period after birth when your baby still craves the womb atmosphere, the calming reflex, and the cuddle cure, with tips on how to “turn on” your baby’s calming reflex and comfort them.

The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp

Best Books for Moms

These books are designed for first-time parents, specifically moms. So whether you are carrying the baby, your partner is, or you are adopting, if you are a mom-to-be or a new mom, the books on this list are guaranteed to help.

Once your new baby arrives, you will be thrilled but tired and overwhelmed, so we recommend reading up before your due date!

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7. Strong As a Mother

by Kate Rope

Being a mother takes incredible strength, and Kate Rope’s book is the perfect companion to a smooth transition into motherhood. This must-have book offers tips and tools on self-care, connecting with your partner, making tough childcare choices, and postpartum emotional health.

While many books on this list are geared towards taking care of your baby and child development, Strong As a Mother is the one guide on your bookshelf designed to support YOU!

Strong As a Mothe by Kate Rope

8. Whoa, Baby!: A Guide for New Moms Who Feel Overwhelmed and Freaked Out (and Wonder What the !$& Just Happened)

by Kelly Rowland, Tristan Brickman MD, & Laura Moser MD

Don’t let this long title scare you off; Whoa, Baby! is the ultimate guide for grown-ups and is centered around what you need! Written by vocalist Kelly Rowland and her OB/GYN, Dr. Tristan Brickman, they cover all the changes a pregnant woman’s body goes through.

Nothing is off-limits in this candid book, and it includes dozens of real questions Kelly asked her doctor during her pregnancy. This book will help you not just with pregnancy but will prepare you for expecting better!

Whoa Baby by kelly rowland

9. Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting

by Pamela Druckerman

Pamela Druckerman is an American journalist who had a baby while living in France. She drew upon her experiences of motherhood and raising a child in France to create this bestselling guide for new moms.

Bringing Up Bébé includes advice on baby sleep schedules, potty training, and meals. According to Druckerman, French parenting doesn’t revolve around catering to your child’s every whim and emphasizes the importance of enjoying your adult time guilt-free!

Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman

10. The 10 Habits of Happy Mothers: Reclaiming Our Passion, Purpose, and Sanity

by Meg Meeker, MD

Dr. Meeker uses stories of real women to inspire new moms. She provides ten practical and achievable ways moms can take care of themselves and those around them.

The 10 Habits of Happy Mothers understands that mothers can face tough emotions like loneliness, anxiety, and depression and doesn't shy away from the tough topics.

The 10 Habits of Happy Mothers by Meg Meeker

11. Sh-tty Mom: The Parenting Guide for the Rest of Us

by Karen Moline, Mary Ann Zoellner, Alicia Ybarbo, & Laurie Kilmartin

‍Sh-tty Mom is a comedic approach to motherhood written by four moms who have been through it all! This book emphasizes the importance of having mom friends, sharing major milestones, and practical advice on navigating some of the toughest parenting challenges.

This funny book will have you laughing out loud and shaking your head in agreement at the same time!

Sh-tty Mom by Kilmartin Laurie

Best Books for Dads & Partners

Dads and partners may often feel like they are on the outside looking in during pregnancy and early parenthood. However, there are many things dads and partners can do to support mom and be active in the pregnancy and parenting journey.

Below are a handful of books selected specifically for dads and partners!

12. We're Pregnant! The First Time Dad's Pregnancy Handbook

by Adrian Kulp

This #1 bestseller is a popular choice for first-time dads everywhere! This guide includes info about pregnancy and development, how to design a birth plan, and ways to support your partner.

We’re Pregnant helps you realize being a dad doesn’t mean you need to be a baby whisperer or the perfect parent. Instead, it shows you how to be present, answers questions you may have, and provides discussion points for doctor visits.


13. The New Father: A Dad’s Guide to the First Year

by Armin A. Brott

The New Father provides a month-by-month guide to your baby’s development for the first year of their life. More than just how to fold a cribsheet or change a diaper, this essential parenting book discusses current issues like fatherhood and technology, how the role of fatherhood has evolved, and how becoming a parent rewires your brain.

The New Father: A Dad’s Guide to the First Year by Armin Brott

14. Be Prepared: A Practical Handbook for New Dads

by Gary Greenberg

Be Prepared is considered the practical and handy dad guide. It includes tips like how to babyproof your hotel room, construct an emergency diaper from household supplies, and stay awake those first few months at work.

This book is a comical approach to parenting with MacGyver-style tips and diagrams and is a must-have for all handy dads and partners.

Be Prepared: A Practical Handbook for New Dads by Greenberg Gary

15. The New Dad’s Survival Guide: Man-to-Man Advice for First-Time Fathers

by Scott Mactavish

This book cuts straight to the point and is for non-nonsense parents. If you’re a dad-to-be who considers yourself out of the loop regarding pregnancy, childbirth, and babies, this is the guide for you!

The New Dad’s Survival Guide includes definitions of baby-related words like Onesie, Diaper Genie, Binky, etc. This book makes an excellent gift for first-time dads!

The New Dad’s Survival Guide by Scott Mactavish

Pregnancy is nine (plus) long months, and welcoming a new baby requires a lot of preparation. Part of the preparation is educating yourself and learning as much as you can about parenting, self-care, and pregnancy, whether you are a mom or a partner.

So spend some prep time kicking your feet up and relaxing in a Nurture& Glider as you page through these recommended books!

L. Elizabeth Forry

L. Elizabeth Forry

L. Elizabeth Forry is an Early Childhood Educator with fifteen years of classroom teaching experience. She earned a Master of Science in Early Childhood Education from The University of North Dakota and has a Bachelor of Arts in English and one in Music from Lebanon Valley College. 


She has taught children in Japan, Washington D.C., Chicago, and suburban Maryland. She is trained as a reading therapist, has a TEFL certification, and has done extensive work with children regarding mental health, social-emotional development, gender development. 


She has written curriculum for children and educators and has led training sessions for parents and educators on various topics on early childhood development. She is the mother of two boys and resides outside of Annapolis, Maryland.