There are literally thousands of books on parenting. Whether you have a newborn, you’re trying to sleep-train your baby or you’re struggling with potty training, there is a parenting book out there that will offer an interesting perspective. We may not agree with all of them, and they might not suit our parenting style, but more information can never be a bad thing. Parenting is an ongoing lesson (and an ongoing battle) and thankfully, there are tons of amazing resources out there.
Not sure where to start? No problem — we’ve done the research and compiled a list of the best parenting books to read in 2021 (including Amazon links).
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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, remain calm and 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, except it looks at your baby’s first year, including how they change and what milestones your baby will typically hit. 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. This book is packed with practical information as well as 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 2021, it’s still a hugely useful and relevant read, explaining how our kids listen and think so that we can better communicate with them. The idea is that this cuts down on frustration for both parents and children, resulting in less shouting and more happy family time.
4. The Wonder Weeks by Hetty Van de Rijt, Frans Plooij and Xaviera Plas-Plooij
This book gives parents a glimpse into a baby’s brain development and certain milestones, as well as the challenges that come alongside them. Learning more about “Wonder Weeks” will help you understand why your once-peaceful baby has suddenly turned cranky and inconsolable, 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.
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, delving into issues like breastfeeding, playgroups and potty training and crunching all the numbers so you don’t have to. The author is clear that while there is no “optimal set of choices” that will result in the perfect kid, at least you can have all the information you need to make the 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 with their children, deep-rooted respect grows and there is no need to plead, beg, threaten or punish.
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 suggests, the “Fifth Trimester” — the time when mum returns to work — along with all the trials that come along with it.
While the book definitely is funny, the author tackles some important topics, such as 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 few 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 “baby brain”. The fact is, even if you’re surrounded by people, becoming a mum can sometimes feel isolating, but being prepared and knowing what’s “normal” can make a real difference to your mental health.
Check out What No One Tells You
9. All the Rage by Darcy Lockman
Interestingly, it seems that even in progressive relationships, as soon as you add babies to the equation, we suddenly revert to traditional ones. Even if you and your partner both work full-time, somehow the mother ends up doing more around the house. 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, tackling whether 50-50 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” — That’s 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 important to learn, but it’s increasingly difficult — even for adults! — 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. This can make it challenging for parents trying to teach their kids that they can’t have whatever they want, whenever they want it. It can be equally 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 step-by-step strategy book helps you to empower your kids without indulging them entirely while teaching them to develop 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 play nice? We always think they’ll get along and play beautifully, but more often than not, if we’re being 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) encouraging a lifelong friendship.
Check out Siblings Without Rivalry
13. Hands Free Mama by Rachel Marcy Stafford
Technology has become an innate part of everyday life. We’re never far from our laptop, phone or tablet. We love them, but is all this technology, and our dependence on it, really what’s best for our kids?
This parenting book is designed to help you develop more of a “hands-free” life so that 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
No matter how good-natured your kid, they’ll inevitably get to a point where they’ll deliberately test boundaries to get a reaction, or simply to see where those boundaries are. It’s natural. But it’s also natural for parents to dread it, and to lose their cool when it happens.
This parenting book shows us how to avoid power struggles and yelling matches using 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. You can never be fully 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 your baby’s arrived.
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
If you’ve given your relationship your all and, unfortunately, it 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, Christina 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
This book is funny and informative in all the right places, answering all the questions you might have about potty training — including when your toddler might be ready and how to get started. As a mother, social worker and potty training expert, Glowacki has helped thousands of parents with 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
You might want to read this book before your baby comes along — afterwards, you might be too tired to focus on anything!
Getting your baby to sleep through the night can be a real trial — but some parents struggle far beyond the toddler years. In this parenting book, the Sleep Lady helps you tackle bedtime struggles common in infants and much bigger kids so that 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 cope with this wonderful but thankless job.
Check out Weird Parenting Wins
20. The Conscious Parent by Dr Shefali Tsabary
If you’re interested in building a modern relationship with your child, rather than a traditional hierarchical one, this is the book for you. This book offers no quick fix, but it does explore how parents can look at their histories and understanding of themselves and their approach to life so that 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 many parenting books tailored toward women, which is great, but dads need some support, too. If you’re looking to get 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. Covering the first two years of parenting, Diaper Dude offers important lessons and crucial mistakes to avoid.
Check out Diaper Dude
22. Retro Baby by Anne H. Zachry
It seems that every day a new product is invented that’s supposedly essential to the newborn baby experience or for 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 your baby’s 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 answers 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
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 their effort, rather than their accomplishments. This can make all the difference not only to their success at school but also in later 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, Purves offers hilarious anecdotes along with time-saving techniques and family hacks that make life easier, all the while demonstrating that we’re 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.
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