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Best Parenting Books for Babies

A note about books that fall into the newborn/infant category: in my experience, most parents pick up one or two things from a number of different books. I think all of us desire some kind of universal magical blueprint to solve every hiccup, tame every colicky outburst, and get our babes sleeping through the night RIGHT NOW, but the reality is that there is no secret handbook to all of this (hah). Because, well… every baby is different. So I would suggest tempering your expectations when it comes to any and all newborn reading. My take was always that if I learned one or two things that helped navigate “x” from a given book, it was worth my time.  

With that in mind, you don’t always need to read these books cover to cover. Look at the introduction and those chapters that speak to you, and thereafter, think of them more like reference texts. 

Happiest Baby Guide to Great Sleep: Simple Solutions for Kids from Birth to 5 Years, Harvey Karp

This book was something like the Bible to me when I was a new parent — Harvey Karp’s five S’s for sleep are universally loved by parents everywhere, and even though this book’s focus is technically sleep (also true for most new parents), it gives a pretty full picture of Karp’s overall take on calming strategies and the like for babies. Plus, it will carry you well through the toddler years.

If you prefer a more “big picture” account (albeit specific to babies alone), you can check out Karp’s more general Happiest Baby on the Block. (Or you can watch the video if you don’t feel like reading at all, hah!)

Secrets of the Baby Whisperer: How to Calm, Connect, and Communicate with your Baby, Tracy Hogg and Melinda Blau

Many parents swear by this book — it’s a handy reference text with solid advice from sleep experts. My favorite part: deciding whether my baby fell into the category of Angel, Textbook, Touchy, Spirited, or Grumpy. Because who doesn’t love a good quiz?! (No, not you? I guess you didn’t grow up in the 90s, then…) 

Cribsheet: A Data-Driven Guide to Better, More Relaxed Parenting, from Birth to Preschool, Emily Oster

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge fan of everything Emily Oster has a hand in. This book, the logical extension to her book on pregnancy, Expecting Better, is easy to follow and SO helpful. With a clear outline and a no-nonsense breakdown of data on topics ranging from infant feeding and sleeping to child care, starting solids and various other milestones of the toddler years, this is a fantastic text to have around, especially if you are the type to wonder: what does the evidence say?

If you’re the sciency-type, you might also like The Informed Parent and The Science of Mom, which have a relatively similar tack to Crib Sheet. (The Science of Mom is somewhat more academic-y, if that’s up your alley.)

On Becoming Babywise: Giving Your Infant the Gift of Nighttime Sleep, Robert Bucknam and Gary Ezzo

Written by a physician and a sleep expert, this is another long-time favorite in the infancy books department. Melissa says she used this book as a framework for her kids when they were babies, picking and choosing what worked best for each one. (BTW, even though the title implies this book’s sole focus is on sleep, it implicitly addresses things like daytime schedules, feeding, and the like as well.) 

The Wonder Weeks: A Stress-Free Guide to Your Baby’s Behavior, Xaviera Plooij, Frans X. Plooij and Hetty van de Rijt

This book (written by a couple and their daughter!) is a recent addition to the market and we’ve had many readers reach out to suggest it. Its main strength: describing “normal” behavior and development at various stages (the authors call them “leaps,” though, omg ) — which can give insight into effective parenting (but doesn’t necessarily spell out “do this WTR feeding, naptime, etc. etc.” like some others do). (Also pairs with a handy app some folks seem to like pretty well.)

If you must… What to Expect the First Year, Heidi Murkoff

I am not a huge fan of the WTE books, but if you’re the type who doesn’t like “too much information,” this could be nice to have around. Like What to Expect When You’re Expecting, the First Year edition is more of a top-line summary than anything else — with the characteristic WTE fake-cheery spin. 

On Breastfeeding

Nowadays, there’s a ton of amazing and highly practical information about breastfeeding available online — so don’t forget about those resources. 

In print^^, there’s always the The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, the classic bestseller put out by La Leche League (very informative). We also love our friend Heather’s suggestion, Lactivate: A User’s Guide to Breastfeeding, by Jill Krause and Chrisie Rosenthal. It’s funny, helpful, approachable, and honest.

Hope you pick up something from these! Otherwise it’s this:

HAH. Anyway, let us know if there’s a book you think should be here!


  1. What do you guys think of Cherish the First Six Weeks? I SWEAR by it. It was literally an I striction manual for how to get your newborn on a schedule and sleeping through the night. It worked with both my kids and was huge for my mental health. I’m surprised it’s not on here. Is there a reason you don’t recommend it?

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