family parenting books

Have you ever googled “how to change a diaper?” Wondered why your seemingly sweet as pie toddler suddenly turned into a tiny tyrant? Considered yourself “well-rested” after a cool four and a half hours of sleep? Desperately needed a good laugh and someone to tell you “we’ve all be there” after an impossibly hard day?

I’d be willing to bet you answered “yes” to at least one of those questions. And if you’re saying no, you probably don’t have kids… because being a parent is HARD. It’s hard because every kid is different and because the toddler who loved strawberries last week thinks they’re disgusting this week. Everyone walks around like they know what they’re doing, but guess what? We’re all equally clueless. One small sliver of help comes in the form of parenting books. I know that reading isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but in today’s infinite library (aka the internet), you can really find some family parenting books that appeal to every type of parent. No matter what stage of parenting you’re in or what your current needs are, there’s a book for that.

For the Expecting Mama

What to Expect When You’re Expecting : Okay, this one is an oldie, but it’s definitely still worth the read. Recently updated and revised, there’s a reason this book has sold over 18 million copies. Updates include information on the Zika Virus, push presents, GMOs, IVF, and home and water births. This is truly the classic of all parenting books and offers a wide-range of topics for expecting mamas to peruse.

For the Natural Mama

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth : If you’re considering a natural birth, this is the book for you. Ina May Gaskin has attended thousands of natural births as a midwife and has compiled her experiences and knowledge here for you. Focusing on the mind-body connection and harnessing your natural power to do exactly what nature intended, Ina May guides you to a birth with little medical intervention.

For the New Mama

Happiest Baby on the Block : Tried and true methods to soothing and calming young babies and even increasing sleep (hallelujah!). Many mamas who love this one graduate to Happiest Toddler on the Block, still following Dr. Karp’s methods. Happiest Toddler focuses on years one to four and focuses on building patience, cooperation, and self-confidence. 

For the Sleep-Deprived Mama

On Becoming Baby Wise: Giving Your Infant the Gift of Nighttime Sleep : New mamas and seasoned vets alike (hello, my oldest wasn’t sleeping through the night until almost three) know the misery that is extreme sleep deprivation. The focus here is on building consistency and routine starting from infancy and what authors call a “common sense approach to parenting a newborn”.

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child : Dr. Weissbluth advocates sleep habits influenced by your child’s natural sleep cycles and recognizes different sleep needs for different temperaments. This book discusses healthy daytime and nighttime sleep habits from infancy through adolescence and provides advice for many common sleep troubles.

For Mamas of Siblings

Siblings Without Rivalry : A must-have for families with siblings. Using humor, real-life stories, and updates from parents all over the world, the authors offer “practical tools they need to cope with conflict, encourage cooperation, reduce competition, and make it possible for children to experience the joys of their special relationship”. An easy read that offers explanations and solutions to common sibling behaviors.

For the Mama who Needs a Laugh

Belly Laughs : Written by Jenny McCarthy, this one is not even remotely PC. Jenny chronicles her honest account of pregnancy and delivery in this hilarious book. No real advice in this one, just the good, the bad, and everything in between straight from a comedian’s mouth. The perfect read for a hot bubble-bath and a glass of wine… and lots of laughs.

For the Mama of the Threenager (and beyond)

Parenting with Love and Logic : Love and Logic strategies are very popular with teachers and it makes sense why. The principles outlined here are practical, proven techniques for fostering healthy relationships. Bonus: it’s all without nagging or power-struggles. There is a strong focus on natural consequences and being proactive instead of waiting to be reactive to behavior.

How to Talk to Kids will Listen & Listen so Kids will Talk : Practical, down to Earth, and easy to read advice on how to have meaningful conversations with your kids. I love that the authors of this one offer concrete strategies and phrases to implement while explaining why they’re effective. Encouraging autonomy and self-discipline, this is a must-have for all parents.

Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture your Child’s Developing Mind : What sets this one apart from the rest of this list? The science behind WHY strategies (many of which are similar to ones in previously mentioned books) work, based on psychology and the brain development. You will learn about fostering emotional intelligence while guiding your child to make appropriate choices.

For Dad

The Expectant Father: The Ultimate Guide for Dads-to-Be : After all, parenting isn’t just for moms, right?! Dads need a little lovin’, too. The Expectant Father provides a month-by-month guide to understanding what mama is going through, as well as what to expect as the dad. Covers emotional, financial, and physical changes that come with fatherhood in an easy to read, realistic guide.

Be Prepared : Toted as a “practical handbook for new dads” and “an indispensable survival manual”, Be Prepared is basically the MacGyver of dad-books. Full of both laugh out loud tips and real, practical advice, this is a winner for the dad who isn’t going to sit down and read a novel. If you’ve got a guy who might need to construct a makeshift diaper with a towel and a sock (diagrams included), pick up a copy of this one.

What is your favorite family parenting books? Did it make the list?



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