There are literally thousands of books on parenting. Whether you have a newborn, whether you’re trying to sleep train your baby or whether you are currently struggling with potty training, there is a parenting book out there to offer an interesting perspective. We may not agree with all of them, they might not suit our parenting style, but more information can never be a bad thing. We’ve all learned lessons since becoming mums, but parenting is an ongoing lesson (and an ongoing battle) and thankfully, there is a tonne of amazing resources out there.
For me, even shortlisting the parenting books I want to read is a struggle — but I took the time and scoured the internet, taking in recommendations, criticisms and reviews to put together this list of (in my opinion) best parenting books to read in 2020 (including Amazon links).
Parenting Books to Read in 2020
1. How to Stop Losing Your Sh*t With Your Kids by Carla Naumberg PhD
That’s the thing about parents — we’re not robots. We all have our own buttons, and our kids know exactly how to push them. Even when they’re really young and they’re genuinely not trying to irritate you, they can get frustrating and you lose your cool. It doesn’t mean we love them any less and it doesn’t make you a bad parent. This parenting guide is written to help you recognise your own triggers, how to remain calm and how to cope with the craziness that is parenting.
2. What to Expect: The First Year by Heidi Murkoff
Everyone has heard of What to Expect When You’re Expecting, and this book takes a similar approach, looking at your baby’s first year, how they change and what milestones your baby will typically hit in that first year. The book covers everything from travelling with a baby to solid food recipes, as well as ‘red flag’ symptoms that indicate you should call a doctor. What I love about books like this is that they are purely factual — they give you practical information, but also different approaches and recommendations for further reading so you can make up your own mind on issues and parenting styles.
Check out What to Expect: The First Year
3. How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish
Okay, so this parenting book has been around for a while. But in 2020, it’s still a hugely useful and relevant read, explaining how kids listen and how they think, so we can better communicate with our kids. The idea is that this cuts down on frustration for both parents and kids, resulting in less shouting and more happy family time.
4. The Wonder Weeks by Hetty Van de Rijt, Frans Plooij and Xaiea Plas-Plooij
Before I got pregnant, I’d never heard of ‘Wonder Weeks’. In fact, I only learned about them shortly after my baby turned four months old and we experienced the delights of the four-month sleep regression.
This book provides parents glimpses into baby brain development and certain milestones, as well as challenges that come alongside them. Learning more about ‘Wonder Weeks’ will help you understand why your once-peaceful baby has turned cranky and inconsolable all of a sudden, or why your newborn refuses to sleep like they used to. This book charts a series of ‘leaps’ relating to developments in cognitive and physical abilities. Personally, learning about this theory put my mind at ease, letting me know that most parents experience what I am going through.
Check out The Wonder Weeks
5. Crib Sheet by Emily Oster
This parenting book is perfect for you if you are fascinated with stories, data and a scientific approach to parenting. The author is an economist. She delves into issues like breastfeeding, playgroups and potty training and crunches all the numbers so you don’t have to. The author is clear that while there are no ‘optimal set of choices’ that will result in the perfect kid, at least this way you have all the information you need to make decisions that are right for you and your family.
Check out Crib Sheet
6. Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids by Laura Markham
The idea behind this parenting book is that when parents take the time to develop a real, emotional connection to their children, deep-rooted respect grows and there is no need to plead, beg, threaten or punish. I always thought I’d be a big fan of the naughty step, but I’m definitely interested in hearing what Laura Markham has to say. As a psychologist and creator of parenting website AhaParenting.com, I could probably learn a thing or two from her.
Check out Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids
7. The Fifth Trimester by Lauren Smith Brody
If you’re looking for a parenting book with a good dose of humour, this is the one for you. This book discusses, as its name might suggest, the ‘Fifth Trimester’. This is the trimester when the mum returns to work, with all the trials that come along with it.
While the book definitely is funny, the author tackles some important topics, such as telling the difference between ‘baby blues’ and postnatal depression, how to ask your boss for flexitime and how to actually leave your home (with baby) in as little as sixty seconds.
Check out The Fifth Trimester
8. What No One Tells You by Alexandra Sacks, MD & Catherine Birndorf, MD
You can prepare all you like for pregnancy and parenthood, and you’ve probably read a great deal about how you will change physically to prepare for birth. But we should all spend a bit more time focusing on the emotional impact of pregnancy and motherhood. This book is written by reproductive psychiatrists, and explains what actually happens in a mother’s brain, from surging hormones to the idea behind ‘mummy brain’. The fact is, even if you’re surrounded by people, sometimes becoming a mum can feel a bit isolating — being prepared and knowing what’s ‘normal’ can make a real difference to our mental health.
Check out What No One Tells You
9. All the Rage by Darcy Lockman
Even in 2020, this is an ongoing issue. No matter how progressive you think your relationship is, as soon as you add babies to the equation, we suddenly revert back to traditional ones. Even if both of you work full-time, somehow the mother ends up with most of the ‘household management’. They do the bulk of the childcare and will spend the most time in the kitchen. In this parenting book, Journalist-turned-psychologist, Darcy Lockman, looks into this issue and looks at whether fifty-fifty parenting is a myth or whether it actually exists.
Check out All the Rage
10. How to Raise Successful People by Esther Wojcicki
An interesting fact behind this parenting book is that the author, Esther Wojcicki, is mother to three incredibly successful daughters — a UCSF doctor and researcher, a founder of a successful personal genomics and biotechnology company and, of course, the CEO of YouTube.
This book combines Esther’s personal stories and advice with proven research, but the ultimate message might be a surprise to you. Wojcicki recommends most parents spend a bit more time relaxing, rather than worrying about their children’s futures. Wojcicki also discusses the parenting ‘TRICK’ — Trust, Respect, Independence, Collaboration and Kindness.
Check out How to Raise Successful People
11. The “Me, Me, Me” Epidemic by Amy McCready
Delayed gratification is an important thing to learn, but it’s kind of hard in today’s world. If we want to watch the next episode of our show, there’s no need to wait — in fact, we can binge the whole season. If we want something, we can order it and have it delivered the next day. So for parents who are trying to teach their kids that they can’t have whatever they want, whenever they want it, it can be a struggle. It can equally be difficult to explain to your kids that there is a world outside their needs and interests — it’s not all about them (no matter how adorable they are).
This is a step-by-step strategy book to actually empower your kids without indulging them entirely, while building compassion for others.
Check out The “Me, Me, Me” Epidemic
12. Siblings Without Rivalry by Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish
Are you struggling to get your kids to get along? This is something I’m dreading when we finally have baby number two. We always think they’ll get along and play beautifully but honestly — I can think of hardly any examples of siblings with a storybook friendship. More often than not, if we’re completely honest, siblings are more rivals than friends.
Written by siblings, this book is designed to help children to get along. Using cartoons and scripts, these sisters teach parents how to manage competition in a fair way while (hopefully) building lifelong friendships.
Check out Siblings Without Rivalry
13. Hands Free Mama by Rachel Marcy Stafford
This is something I’m genuinely worried about. I spend so much of my time on technology because of my job. My son, more often than not, sees me with my laptop ten inches from my face and when he doesn’t, my phone isn’t far away. The thing is, I love technology, but I also worry about the impact it has on him. This parenting book is there to help you develop more of a ‘hands-free’ life, so you can occasionally forget technology and reconnect with your kids in a real, authentic way.
Check out Hands Free Mama
14. Positive Discipline by Jane Nelsen, Kristina Bill & Joy Marchese
I’m lucky so far. My toddler is really well-natured and rarely ever has a massive strop. He doesn’t do naughty things deliberately to test my boundaries or to get a reaction. But I know those days are coming, and I’m dreading it. This book will definitely be a help for parents who want to discipline their kids, but in a more ‘positive’ way.
This parenting book shows us how to avoid power struggles and yelling matches through practical strategies that teach parents to be firm, but loving and consistent.
Check out Positive Discipline
15. How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids by Jancee Dunn
Becoming parents is difficult. I don’t care what anyone says, you can never be prepared. You can have the best, most stable relationship before your first baby is born, but that doesn’t mean you won’t want to kill each other every now and then after the baby is actually there.
This parenting book mixes research with first-person perspective to deliver some real advice on how to deal with this difficult life transition
Check out How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids
16. Parenting Apart by By Christina McGhee
Yes, I have very intentionally listed these books in this order! If you’ve given it your all and, unfortunately, your relationship wasn’t able to survive parenthood (despite Jancee Dunn’s fantastic advice), you might be in the position of having to raise your children apart.
In this parenting book, Chistina tackles important issues, such as how (and when) to tell kids about divorce, how to help them through it, how to deal with finances and how to manage a difficult relationship with an ex.
Check out Parenting Apart
17. Oh Crap! Potty Training by Jamie Glowacki
I’m ready and raring to get going with potty training. Charlie is two and the plan was always to get started at eighteen months. Best laid plans and all that. The thing is, Charlie is a late talker, so his communication just isn’t there yet. But I know that when we finally get started, this book will be my go-to.
I’ve heard only great things about this book — how it’s funny and informative in all the right places, answering all the questions you might have. Written by a mother, a social worker and potty training expert, Glowacki has helped thousands of parents when it comes to potty training, so she knows what she’s talking about.
Check out Oh Crap! Potty Training
18. The Sleep Lady’s Good Night, Sleep Tight by Kim West
Here’s the thing about books like this — I’d recommend reading them before your baby actually comes along. Once my son was born, I was too tired to read anything, or to focus on anything. At all. I also somehow never had any time. I think I’ll be more confident next time, but getting Charlie to sleep through the night was trial. He woke up at least three times a night until he was one, so I wish I’d given this a read beforehand.
In this parenting book, the Sleep Lady helps you tackle bedtime struggles, from infants to much bigger kids, so you can get the sleep you need and save your sanity.
Check out The Sleep Lady’s Good Night, Sleep Tight
19. Weird Parenting Wins by Hillary Frank
This parenting book was written by Hillary Frank, creator of the parenting podcast The Longest Shortest Time, Hillary surveyed 800 parents for this book and uncovered some amazing baby hacks that you will absolutely love. This book isn’t full of conventional parenting strategies, but it’s a great (and hilarious) read about how parents of all types out there cope with parenting.
Check out Weird Parenting Wins
20. The Conscious Parent by Dr Shefali Tsabary
If you’re interested in building a more modern relationship with your child, rather than a traditional hierarchical one, this is the book for you. This book is no quick fix, but explores how parents can look into their own histories and understand themselves and their approach to life, so they can parent in a more holistic, ‘conscious’ way.
Check out The Conscious Parent
21. Diaper Dude by Chris Pegula and Frank Meyer
There are so many parenting books tailored toward women, which is great, but the dads need some support, too. If you’re looking to buy your baby daddy a read, this is one of the best parenting books you can buy.
This book shows men that they don’t have to lose part of their identity when they become dads. This book explores the first two years of parenting, covering important lessons and mistakes to avoid.
Check out Diaper Dude
22. Retro Baby by Anne H. Zachry
Every day there are new items invented that are supposedly essential to the newborn baby experience, or to raising a child. In reality, a lot of these baby items are unnecessary. They’ll cost you money, but what value do they add? This parenting book explores how to boost baby development with simple activities and games, using items you already have around the house.
Check out Retro Baby
23. Like a Mother by Angela Garbes
This parenting book is written by journalist Angela Garbes. When she became pregnant, she had a million questions she wanted the answer to. To satisfy her curiosity, Garbes delved into scientific mysteries and cultural attitudes, ultimately debunking common myths and outdated assumptions about pregnancy and motherhood.
Check out Like a Mother
24. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Dr Carol Dweck
This book is on this list not because it’s a traditional parenting book, but because it’s a concept I’ve become obsessed with over the past two years. The way we talk to our children can really shape their mindsets and how they approach problems as they grow up. Dweck’s research into growth and fixed mindsets highlights how important it is to encourage children to keep trying and to praise effort, rather than accomplishments. This can make all the difference to their success at school and their careers later in life.
Check out Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
25. How Not to Be the Perfect Mother by Libby Purves
Despite the glamorous images we see of perfect celebrities and flawless influencers, we all know that the perfect mother doesn’t exist. We all have days where nothing goes right, and when we open up about our flaws and frustrations, we build a community where it’s okay to be less than amazing every second of the day. In this book, the author explores hilarious anecdotes of real-life parents with time-saving techniques and family hacks that make life easier, while demonstrating that we’re all just doing the best we can. We all deal with tantrums, strops and mess. We’ve all dealt with a poosplosion or two. We just don’t see Instagram pictures of them.
What do you think? Have I left out the best baby book? Any books I’ve left out that desperately need a mention? Let me know.
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