Motherhood

What Are Your Favorite Parenting Books?

A lovely reader recently asked me which parenting books I’d recommend. Such a good question! I’ve read a few at home, and a bunch have come across my desk at work, so here are my 15 favorites (and I’d love to hear yours)…

Memoirs about motherhood:

Great with Child: Letters to a Young Mother by Beth Ann Fennelly. As I’ve mentioned, when I was pregnant, I noticed that people often regaled me with parenting horror stories—from saggy boobs to sleepless nights. I think they were just trying to be funny, but after I called my mom in tears, she send me this beautiful book of letters from a mother to her pregnant friend, which reminded me of all the joyful parts of parenthood.

Waiting for Birdy by Catherine Newman. This memoir follows Newman while she waits for the birth of her second child and raises her wacky, philosophical toddler. I loved that she was a big worrier, like me, and her funny anecdotes doubled as parenting lessons—like this fantastic sibling rivalry advice.

Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott. My friends and I are all obsessed with this memoir of Lamott’s first year with her baby boy; she was single, 35 and a recovering alcoholic. Her honest, smart descriptions of new motherhood—including both meltdowns and sacred moments—made me laugh out loud and tear up. She just gets it. (Here’s an excerpt.)

Books to read during pregnancy:

The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp, M.D. I didn’t read many books about pregnancy itself because, honestly, they freaked me out! But I did read books to help prepare us for life with a wriggly newborn. This genius book teaches new parents how to calm a crying baby. Karp’s tips work like a charm, and if you’re too busy or tired to read the whole book, just watch the DVD.

The Nursing Mother’s Companion by Kathleen Huggins. This encouraging, detailed guide made breastfeeding much easier. I felt so grateful to have read it before Toby was born. (I mentioned this book in my breastfeeding post, as well).

Jo Frost’s Confident Baby Care by Jo Frost. A book by the supernanny! I loved her assured tone, and she offers excellent advice about taking care of a new baby (baths, diapers, all the day-to-day stuff).

Books for infants:

The Sleepeasy Solution by Jennifer Waldburger. When I was going insane from sleep deprivation with Toby, a friend recommended this book to us, and I’m so glad she did. We taught both our babies to sleep using this book, and it saved our lives (and marriage and sanity). The book explains why it’s important for babies to learn how to sleep, shows you step by step how to do it, and gives you pep talks throughout. If you’d like to teach your child to sleep, I’d recommend it times a million.

Real Food for Mother and Baby by Nina Planck. As I mentioned here, this book encouraged us to give our children real foods—apple slices, eggs with butter, crusty bread—instead of baby food jars and squeeze packets. Although Planck goes a bit further than I did (she recommended serving raw beef and salmon roe), I loved the freedom this book gave me to feed our kids what we were eating and trust my gut.

Books for toddlers and older kids:

Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne and Lisa Ross. This book’s premise—to use “the power of less” to raise calmer, happier, and more secure kids—is pretty straightforward, so I skimmed it instead of reading every word. But some of the points stuck out, including the ideas that the number of toys (and even books) your child has should be dramatically reduced, your child should see only a few toys at a time, and your child should have daily periods of quiet. We gave Toby’s toy collection a makeover, and the changes made a huge impact.

French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billon. When Toby was two, he began refusing dinner and eating only snacks. This book—written by a Canadian mother who moved to France with her two picky daughters—completely changed our approach to food, and helped Toby eat meals happily again. See the book’s ten rules here.

Siblings Without Rivalry by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. When Anton arrived, Toby was less than enthused. This brilliant book shared wise advice and funny cartoons to “help your children live together so you can live, too.” The book changed the way I spoke to our children about each other and helped our boys kickstart their friendship.

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. My mom read this book when we were little (I remember seeing it on her nightstand!), and now I’m reading it for my own kids. The authors teach you genius, down-to-earth approaches for keeping the lines of communication open with your children, so you can talk openly and honestly about their worries, hopes, joys and fears. Even though my boys are only 1 and 4, I can already see how well the book’s suggestions work.

Elevating Child Care: A Guide to Respectful Parenting and No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame by Janet Lansbury. Whenever I have moments of doubt or confusion—surrounding tantrums, moving, new schools, etc.—I often turn to Janet Lansbury’s website. I’ve mentioned it a few times because her thoughtful advice always rings true. She clearly respects children and reminds you that they’re whole people in need of gentle love and compassion—even when they’re driving you bats:) Her books about parenting and discipline reflect this wonderful approach.

Dinner: A Love Story by Jenny Rosenstrach. Last but not least, Jenny’s brilliant cookbook-memoir helped us not only with family meals, but also with parenting overall. Among her delicious recipes, Jenny shares funny and wise family anecdotes, including this ode to rituals. I think of her as my parenting role model in so many ways.
What about you? Which parenting books or memoirs have you liked? What did I miss? I would absolutely love to hear…

P.S. What to register for your baby. And do your eyes light up when you see your child?

  1. My favorites have been Parent Effectiveness Training, Momma Zen, and Parenting with Love and Logic. (Momma Zen is the one I re-read the most.)

  2. As a BCBA and as a mother, I’ve found my mission to be bringing ABA research to fingertips of parents. I do this through a website (www.parentingwithaba.org ) and book (Parenting with Science: Behavior Analysis Saves Mom’s Sanity).

    I have recently released a book with the goal of bringing positive behavior supports to a population that could use the education- Moms of Littles. I’m not just aiming at reaching parents of children with disabilities, but all parents.

    I’d love for you to look over my work and appreciate any and all feedback!

    Thanks so much!

    http://amzn.com/B00X0N3YSY

  3. Laura says...

    I love this post as it is 100% inline with some of my favorite books for motherhood. The Sleep Easy Solution was an absolute live saver and my 1 year old sleeps perfectly through the night after following the books advice. At the time, she wasn’t sleeping for more than a few hours in a row. I also love Bringing Up Bebe.

  4. I’m a bit late to the party, but one of my favorite parenting books was Parenting Is Your Highest Calling: and Eight Other Myths That Trap Us in Worry and Guilt by Leslie Leyland Fields. I will warn you that Fields is a practicing Christian, and mostly uses examples of parenthood from the Bible. But whether you follow Christian doctrine or not, the book is full of wisdom and advice that allows new parents to feel like they can cut themselves some slack– something so few parents do nowadays!

  5. I can’t say enough about Calm Mama, Happy Baby: The Simple, Intuitive Way to Tame Tears, Improve Sleep, and Help Your Family Thrive.
    Read this before my 2nd was born, and wish I had before my 1st!

  6. Parent Effectiveness Training: The Proven Program for Raising Responsible Children by Dr. Thomas Gordon. The same vein as the Faber’s and Mazlish “How to Talk Books”. I feel the this book provides the how to that other parenting books miss out on, which was a complaint if mine about The Conscious Parent. In addition it provides a simple diagram that explains all relationship dynamics. The book and accompanying course give you real skills that make a significant difference on the awareness you bring to all relationships not just your parenting role. Loved this book and recommend it to everyone I meet. It is over 50 years old but still as relevant today, if not even more so. This book will not get you started on bad habits that are hard to break. It is possible to parent without punishment and reward, it is possible to learn how to really listen, it is possible to learn how to problem solve fairly. By doing so it is possible to raise children who will learn the same skills from you. I cannot say enough about Parent Effectiveness Training except go and get it and see what a difference it makes.

  7. Peaceful Parents, Happy Kids

  8. -Our Babies, Ourselves: How Biology and Culture Shape the Way We Parent by Meredith Small.

    -Laura Markham’s book and blog

    -Mothering Without a Map: The Search For the Good Mother Within (PRICELESS for mamas who didn’t grow up with very involved mothers)

    -Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves

  9. Great Book to read when making school choices even at toddler age: Written by John Gatto who was named teacher of the year of both NY City and State. “Dumbing Us Down. Heard him speak at a conference in CA and signed up for all of his worksfops.
    Another great book to read when kids are younger (wish I had). My kids are teens but if I had known anout it before I would have read it earlier. But it gives hope even if kids are already teens: “Age of opportunity.” Excellent parenting book!

  10. Zoom Out Parenting is my favourite book 👍👍
    Thanks
    Sura Elias

  11. i was never into any of the parenting books, but i do recommend two for their insight and prose: The Good Mother Myth and Bringing Up Bebe. And Joanna, i know you love Lammot so the one she wrote about her son’s first year was really a delight.

  12. The Whole Brain Child, fascinating insight into brain developement!

  13. Operating Instructions! Far and away my favorite.

  14. The most life-changing book I read was Playful Parenting. The main idea was that you need to make time regularly to sit on the floor and PLAY with your children – doing other stuff with them is great, but doesn’t count as “floor time.” Temper tantrums went from nearly every day to almost never when I started doing 20 min of floor time most days when my son was 2-3. Now he’s six and my daughter is 3.

  15. Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work Of Mindful Parenting. Reading this is always pulls me back to what is most important, being in the moment with my children. It’s so inspiring. I give it to everyone!

  16. Another vote for The Conscious Parent by Dr. Shefali Tsabary. It’s a game changer!

  17. The book I found by far the most helpful, and that I luckily stumbled upon during my first pregnancy, was
    ‘Motherless Mothers: How Losing a Mother Shapes the Parent You Become’ by Hope Edelman (also author of ‘Motherless Daughters’). For the mothers, and mothers-to-be without a mother this is a must read. (Both books are actually.)

  18. b says...

    I love this post. The Sleep Easy Solution, Dinner: A Love Story, and Great with Child, may be the perfect trifecta for a new mom. They cover the essential basics: Sleep, Eat, and Love :)

  19. Thanks for answering my question! (By the way, I meant to end that question with a question mark, not an exclamation point. Oops. Sorry for shouting at you accidentally). Well, that certainly was informative. I’ve no idea what a bloggers life looks like on the inside, if you will, and your reasons for posting late in the day are certainly valid and eye opening. I really appreciate the feedback and honesty.

  20. What a fantastic resource! I’m bookmarking this one for sure. I also agree with the Sleepeasy Solution — it was helpful, even if in the end it didn’t work for us (our toddler is an exceptionally light/restless sleeper, just like his dad. Sigh). But for parents of infants I’d also recommend The Wonder Weeks, by Hetty van de Rijt and Frans Plooij. It offers a week-by-week understanding of what your baby is going through developmentally and emotionally, and it really helped us understand separation anxiety, sleep regressions, etc.

  21. i love that you love janet lansbury’s work…
    she’s THE BEST.
    (and that’s my baby girl on the cover of her book!!)

  22. My Dad is a pediatrician and gives all first time parents Baby 101 as a welcome to the practice gift. I highly recommend it for first time mommas!

  23. Confession: after a day of juggling job and motherhood, I am way too lazy to read any of these.

    I tried “The Baby Whisperer Solves all your problems”, and it just made me feel bad because none of her techniques solved any of my problems..haha. Now I just read fiction and chill out.

  24. Oh, I love this topic! My hands-down favorite is Playful Parenting by Lawrence J. Cohen. About so much more than what the title suggests.

    Also love Simplicity Parenting, How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk, Sandra Dodd’s Big Book of Unschooling, The Diaper-Free Baby by Christine Gross-Loh, and anything by Janet Lansbury or Dr. Laura Markham.

    Currently reading and enjoying Motherhood Realized: An Inspiring Anthology for the Hardest Job You’ll Ever Love. It’s a book of short essays, perfect for this mama who only gets to read in fits and starts…usually in the bathroom. ;-)

  25. Mitten Strings for God. I reread it once a year. such a sweet story especially as your boys grow into school aged kids. love and logic too! yes.

  26. Thanks for this post, Joanna! I’m excited to check out Nina Planck’s book! We also swear by The Sleepeasy Solution. It was a tough week or so, but our son was finally able to develop healthy sleep habits which meant success for the whole household! Happy reading, everyone!

  27. I’m curious as to if there are any good books out there on step-parenting and blended families, any recommendations?

  28. “Bright From the Start” by Dr. Jill Stamm is a wonderful parenting book. It doesn’t just give you ideas for ways to interact with your baby, but the science behind why those things are good, and real-life examples of how things work. And the advice she gives isn’t all-or-nothing or unattainable, it’s good, realistic advice.

  29. welp, i’ve got a list of books I gotta buy and can’t wait to read! I needed this!

  30. I’m bookmarking this for when I get to that wonderful part of life. Thanks Jo!

  31. I’m so happy “Great with Child” was on your list! I babysat Beth Ann’s children when I was in college. She and her family are wonderful!

  32. Baby Meets World, by Nicholas Day. It’s a humourous read and answers some interesting questions about babies and parenting. The historical and cultural accounts are very interesting, and I found it to be an important reminder that there are many ways to care for a baby, and in the end… it will be alright.

  33. Baby Meets World, by Nicholas Day. It’s a humourous read and answers some interesting questions about babies and parenting. The historical and cultural accounts are very interesting, and I found it to be an important reminder that there are many ways to care for a baby, and in the end… everything will be alright.

  34. This is more on the medical end, but we have really come to rely on The New Basics by Michel Cohen, MD. It’s when to worry/when not to worry sections are so great, and my sister-in-law who’s a doctor in New Zealand thought it was great too when she was visiting us.

  35. Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne. It is a must have.

  36. Very nice of you to respond to the late post question. I’m sure I speak for many in sharing how grateful I am for your dedication, the quality & frequency of your posts as well as the way you keep it real by letting us know when you’re under the weather, etc. Yours is by far my favorite blog and has been for years. Glad to hear you opted to enjoy time with your mom. xoxo.

  37. I have yet to read a book about parenting (althoug Simplicity Parenting has been on my shelf for months now unread) – i just can’t seem to have the time with little ones, work etc…. So that being said i usually try and go with my gut most times and when that fails I consult friends, close co-workers and other family members who I trust and admire. I found that their advice is usually the most sound & down to earth. Your blog is also a great place to gather some great information :)

  38. Oh so many! But I think some universal “must” reads are:

    “How To Talk” as mentioned by you

    Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child (Gottman nails it)

    and….

    Parent Effectiveness Training by Dr. Thomas Gordon

    I’m fairly confident if the principles in these books were studied and implemented we’d be raising a much different generation!

  39. The Hurried Child by David Elkind – so so intriguing to think about how to raise children in a fast-paced, performance-driven society. He wrote the first edition when TV was the only main source of technology and has updated it several times since then. It has given me so much to think about before our first baby comes in December!!! :)

  40. If you have teenage girls “Get Out of My Life, but First Could You Drive Me & Cheryl to the Mall” is a lifesaver.

  41. I would put together almost the same list as you! I read “Great with Child” at your recommendation, and it is so wonderful. It’s now a standard baby shower gift from me. :)

    I would add your “Motherhood around the World!” series!!!

  42. A Girlfriend’s Guide the Pregnancy … some of the clothes and trends are old but it’s still my go-to for expecting mothers!

  43. My favourite favourite parenting book is Motherstyles – Janet Penley. It’s based on MBTI profiles and tells you what your strengths will be, what you typically will struggle with, and some tricks.

    Apparently (and it’s totally true), my type (ESTJ) struggles with letting go ;)

  44. Thanks for this post! we were saved by dr karp and the happiest baby on the block and really enjoyed bringing up bebe. Looking forward to reading some of your suggestions- off to the library to pick up french kids eat and simplicity parenting. Keep up the great work. :)

  45. I love to read, but in terms of parenting I’m more of the parenting blog type! Your blog is one of my bibles!

  46. An Exact Replica of a Figment of my Imagination really comforted me and made me feel less alone after my miscarriage in April (I’m currently pregnant again: 10 weeks along and pulling up all the helpful posts of yours I tagged early this spring).

  47. MIchel Cohen’s book The New Basics is so amazing for new parents – he very succinctly tells you what you need to worry about and what you don’t – all in alphabetical order! I found it so so SO comforting the first time around.

  48. Nurture Shock!

  49. Why does everyone forget FATHERS? Redeem yourselves and pick up Diary of an Angry Father.

  50. Got to be anything by Steve Biddulph, especially his “Raising Boys”. I actually read it as a child and gave helpful tips to my mum about how to use tough love on my brothers! Not sure how helpful I was though…

  51. Siblings Without Rivalry is wonderful. Might I also suggest Screamfree Parenting by Hal Edward Runkel – fantastic and certainly gives you the, I-can-do-this mentality.

  52. NurtureShock by Po Bronsen. It’s not so much a parenting book, per se, but more of an exploration with easy-to-read and very interesting research about raising kids. Honestly, I didn’t read it when my kids were babies or toddlers because who has time then to get philosphical about parenting during those years! Topics like why praise often backfires, why white parents don’t talk about race, why kids lie, the science of teen rebellion. Another excellent book that is about parenting, but not a “how-to” book is Far from the Tree by Andrew Solomon. What a book! Subtitle is Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity. Basically, he looks at parenting children with mental or physical disabilities and a host of other differences. It’s about what can we learn and glean from parenting in truly challenging situations. Long book, but you can read the intro and skip around (read the autism chapter but skip schizophrenia, for example). He’s an excellent writer and I found the info about the various diabilites and conditions simply fascinating, but it also raises such interesting reflections on what it means to be human. NYT review:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/25/books/review/far-from-the-tree-by-andrew-solomon.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

  53. Right now I have an 8 and 4 year old so Positive Discipline by Jane Nelson is sort of my Bible. When they were babies Dr. Sears was helpful as was Nursing Mother’s Companion. I hear Becoming the Parent You Want To Be is another great one.

  54. mw says...

    Raising An Emotionally intelligent child by John Gottman
    Queen Bees
    Real Boys, Rescuing our Sons From the Myths of Boyhood

  55. Thank you for the post. Of all the parenting books I have read, the one that had the greatest impact on me was Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv. The book dives into the importance of children spending adequate time in nature…a must read for all parents.

    Be well and thanks again! Melinda

  56. What a great list!

    I also love:

    -Nurture Shock
    -The Blessing of a Skinned Knee **SO GREAT!
    -The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age
    -All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenting

    Have a great night!

  57. Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn completely changed the way I viewed parenting and put the emphasis on vulnerability, empathy, and respect. I am a better mother and a better person for reading that book.

  58. Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn completely changed the way I viewed parenting and put the emphasis on vulnerability, empathy, and respect. I am a better mother and a better person for reading that book.

  59. I LOVE the River Cottage Baby and Toddler Cookbook by Nikki Duffy. It is so informative and helpful and gave me the confidence to progress from purees to real food with my boys. The family friendly recipes are all delicious and full of super useful tips like how to make a dish work for babies, big kids, and adults, or what’s freezer friendly. If it weren’t for the british measurements (you need a food scale and it’s really not a big deal but I know the scale would scare some people off) I’d give it to every mother I know.

  60. When I was expecting, the best book I read (apart from Operating Instructions) was Baby Catcher: Chronicles of a Modern Midwife by Peggy Vincent. Going into it, I figured people all over the world have babies everyday, in all different ways. It helped to read something that told so many varied, brilliant stories of natural childbirth. I followed it up with plenty of Ina May Gaskin, though I also read Secrets of the Baby Whisperer by Tracy Hogg. I didn’t follow Hogg’s advice completely, but overall it really helped me find balance and routine after the baby was born as I prepared to go back to work part-time. But my best piece of parenting advice is also my life’s mantra, a line I believe came from Maira Kalman: “On you go.” Good, bad, ugly, and in-between…On you go. And now I’m off to find The Blessings of a Skinned Knee… :)

  61. Parenting from the Inside Out by Daniel Siegel and Mary Hartzell. The book shows how your upbringing can influence how you bring up your child in both conscious and unconscious ways. It’s even helped me understand so many things about my own childhood. Plus the science/math geek in me enjoys the sections where they explain the science behind what is happening in your child’s developing brain–but if that’s not your thing you can totally skip those sections. It also has exercises to help you understand what they talked about in the chapters. It’s a very introspective book.

  62. Parenting Without Power Struggles. The author blogs over at HuffPost. Also concur with “How To Talk”.
    Love your blog- great tips and links always. And so much enjoy your writing on life in NYC, marriage and raising young boys (I have three of them so I can relate). Always such positive, delightful, humorous, sweet & meaningful posts from you Joanna. Thanks!

  63. @daynna, thanks for your question! typically we post at 10am, but sometimes we’ll post later in the day for many reasons: a) i’ll have a big meeting early in the day with an advertiser or the graphic design firm that’s collaborating with me to redesign of cup of jo (can’t wait to share, it’s almost done:), b) i’ll write a post that won’t quite work out (like i actually did yesterday—i wrote a full post on sunday afternoon and then wasn’t feeling it this morning so i crashed an entirely new post), c) i’ll have a photo shoot for a future post (like we did last thursday) and therefore won’t be able to start on that day’s post until later in the day (even though i will typically already have lots of notes started), d) a work emergency will come up (like when we had to recode every single link to amazon recently and it took literally weeks to do), e) something personal will take up my time unexpectedly, such as being sick, needing to go into toby’s school for some reason, having our sitter call in sick, or, today, when my mom was in town for the weekend and left today at noon so at the last minute i decided to spend the morning with her and anton, while also checking emails and taking photos of the parenting books on my bedside table (and also in my mom’s hands and on our bookshelf, to try out different options), or f) many other things that come up in a small business. hope that makes sense! i’ve gotten a few comments lately about why work takes so long, and hopefully this helps answer some of those questions! i could honestly go on and on:)

  64. “Connected Parenting” by Jennifer Kolari was a game-changer for me. My eldest daughter was a bat out of hell for the first three years of her life and I was at such a loss as to how to parent her and this book came at just the right time for me. It’s not so much a parenting book as a “this is how to relate to humans” book. SO GOOD.

  65. thank you so much for all these recommendations! these are amazing!

  66. Jo, why do you post so late in the day! For example, this wasn’t posted until after 4pm.

  67. Baby 411
    Honey I wrecked the kids by
    Alyson Schafer

  68. I learned about The Conscious Parent from my prenatal yoga instructor, and while I am still reading it (slowly!), I’ve really enjoyed the message. I’d highly recommend it. I also picked up Sleep easy Solutions and Happiest Baby On the Block thanks to your reference and found them both helpful! (Given, I didn’t really read anything else!) :)

  69. LOL, Congratulations Erica G ! I love that you said you haven’t even told your parents yet but you are blabbing it on the internet :)

    I am making a confession. But I will say first that they both turned out fine and I didn’t lose them in a store or forget them and so far they still like me … but I never read a parenting book.
    I think part of the reason for that was I had a mother and a mother in law who felt strongly about advising me every moment of the 9 months .. and I was very young and sure that I knew everything anyway.
    it all went well though, I managed without a book ! lol

  70. Just had my 4th blood test and all looking good so this post couldn’t have come at a better time! Just bought all the 3 you recommended (the pre-baby ones!)

    I’m also reading Deepak Chopra’s Magical Beginnings Enchanted Lives which is just beautiful. He tells you about the effect of stress, music, food and art on your unborn baby. So it’s all about the meditation and classical music for me for the next 9 months.

    Congratulations to all the expecting Mama’s here – let’s start this amazing journey with some knowledge in our back pockets.

    p.s ADORE your blog.

  71. I read Richard Ferber’s Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems on the advice of my pediatrician. We sleep-trained my daughter at 9 months and it was like magic. She’s been a terrifically easy sleeper and napper ever since.
    Also greatly appreciated The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding which is put out by La Leche League in those early months.

  72. I’m almost 12 weeks pregnant with my first baby. The thought of reading lots of books is really overwhelming for some reason, which is weird because I usually love to research everything inside and out. I might regret it but I’ve decided not going to read any for now. Instead I google (if it’s something small and not scary), ask my doctor, or ask my sister (mom of 2 and general pregnancy, birth, and childcare genius) whenever I have questions.

  73. For specifically multiples pregnancies, Dr. Barbara Luke’s “When You’re Expecting Twins, Triplets, or Quads” was my bible, particularly for diet, and I credit it with two 6 lb. twins at 35 weeks gestation.

    For parenting: Laura Markham’s “Peaceful Parent, Happy Child.” Her book and blog have changed my life.

  74. I haven’t read that many parenting books…but here are the ones I loved.

    I love the book by Tribeca Pediatrics founder Dr. Michel Cohen, just a great common sense reference book for all kinds of issues – medical, developmental, and behavioral.

    Also loved Bringing Up Bebe. I do think you have to take a lot of it with a grain of salt, but some really refreshing concepts there.

    For sleep, I read most of Ferber and never did it but did get some interesting facts about sleep in general. Best sleep website: troublesometots.com

  75. Even though I’m not pregnant, I read Bringing Up Bébé. (I like to extra plan for those big scary moments, like deciding to become a mom.) :) But I loved it! Even though I couldn’t implement any of her practices and ideas, it calmed me down about the idea of being a mom for the rest of my life and made me see that it’s totally doable. I recommended to two of my friends who were pregnant at the time and they loved it, and have found her ideas (especially that of “cadre”) to really work. Sort of makes me begin to feel ready…but don’t tell my husband that yet! He’d get too excited. :)

  76. I read bringing up Bebe after seeing you write it up, and we followed the sleeping tips from our daughters birth. Believe it or not…..she slept through the night by 3 months old. Those french people have it figured out, apparently. I also loved baby wise! It was recommended to me by a friend who has twins as his ultimate guide to figuring things out, and I figured if it worked for twins it would work for us!

  77. I’m currently reading The Whole-Brain Child and it’s absolutely blowing me away. It gives so much insight to how developing brains work, and I find myself referring to it with my 2 year old and my 4th graders alike!

  78. Agree with RChampion – “Becoming the Parent You Want to Be” is so thoughtful and wonderful!

    I feel like I am the only person who feels this way, but I found Operating Instructions to be really painful to read — something about her voice, perspective, and – I guess – narcissism just really made me feel sad for her kiddo. Too self-pitying or un-empathetic towards her child or something. But I know I am in the minority!

  79. I just took a parenting class at my son’s preschool based on “How to Talk So Your Kids Will Listen…” and it was one of the most helpful things I’ve ever done. I found the book a bit hard to relate to given my kids are 3.5 and 1 (I felt the book was geared towards older kids) but the course made it relevant to people with toddlers, and it has been incredibly helpful in dealing with my kids. I’ll definitely be going back to it as my kids grow. I also really like “Positive Discipline” by Dr. Jane Nelsen.

  80. Great post idea, thank you! In addition to some of those mentioned above, I love Baby 411 and Toddler 411 for easy reference about health, development etc.

    Also Mind in the Making by Ellen Galinsky and How Toddlers Thrive by Tovah Klein.

    I’m really not there yet with my own daughter, but I was also inspired by Bruce Feiler’s the Secrets of Happy Families. Although we have used his dinner conversation ideas already to great effect – my 21 month old now asks for “word of the day.”

  81. I give ‘What Mothers Do (Especially When it Looks Like Nothing)’ by Naomi Stadlen to all my friends who are new parents. It’s not a parenting book per se, in that it doesn’t give you advice, or tips, rather it focuses on the sesimic change in your own life when you become a mother. But it is amazingly reassuring, and one of Stadlen’s many warm and insightful observations – that what babies want most is to be with you, whatever you are doing, but you might need to slow your pace a little to accommodate them – really helped me relax and enjoy the early days with my children.

  82. French Kids was so great. Worth a reread now that my baby just turned 1. Bringing up Bebe is another one on my list- also probably worth a reread but the one thing that really stuck with me is the concept of “the pause.” Such common sense, but so hard to do in the moment! Lastly, Sleepeasy Solution was also my savior. It brought us out of a deep, sleepless hole!

  83. Parenting with Love and Logic has been a game changer as we transition from the toddler years to school age children.

  84. In high school 11th grade English class we read a lot of deep books. One of which is “The Fifth Child” by Debra Lessing. It’s along the lines of “We Need to Talk about Kevin” by Lionel Shriver. Both are equally good and talks about a mother’s relationship with her problematic child.

  85. I adore Great with Child, which I purchased after you recommended it on Cup of Jo. I just started re-reading it this morning as I recently found out I am expecting our second child. She does an amazing job highlighting the wonders of pregnancy and early motherhood. I’m sure I will read it yet again if we ever have a third!

  86. Becoming the parent you want to be is, in my opinion, the only book you need in the beginning years. It’s incredible, eye opening and just makes so much sense. Filled with practical advice and an approach to parenting that respects the child and lets you truly understand why they are acting the way they do! LOVE!

  87. I’d have to agree with Bringing Up Bébé. Maybe it was coincidence that I read this at the perfect time when I was deeply trying to get my baby to SLEEP.. But hearing another voice and sense of humor it brought was exactly what I needed throughout that first year. I also started (I start a lot- finish few.. Hey I’m tired..) Minimalist Parenting which was a good one too, now that I have a toddler and the “stuff” is very easy to collect.

  88. Waiting for Birdy is one of my all-time favorites, and I love that you Mention it here – so many people don’t know of her beautiful writing!

  89. Love all those books…..also, Mama Zen By Karen Maezen Miller and anything by Barbara Colorosso!!!

  90. My favorites (besides the “How to Talk” books you’ve already listed,) are all the Ames and Ilg books — Your 3-year-old, Your 6-year-old, etc. They are very straightforward books that give details about typical behavior for each age. And my new absolute favorite: The Conscious Parent, by Shefali Tsabary. She has a way of demystifying parenting that is like nothing I’ve ever read. You know how we all hope that we can emulate the best parts of our own parents but leave the ‘worst’ parts behind? Her book is like the spiritual manual for doing that. Amazing.

  91. I’ve only actually read one. Bringing Up Bebe.

  92. One of my favorite bloggers, Janet Lansbury, came out with a book this year called “Respectful Parenting.” Her thoughts resonated with me, especially as my baby turned into a toddler.

  93. Hands down the best book I read while I was pregnant is called Our Babies, Ourselves: How Biology and Culture Shape the Way We Parent by Meredith Small. The chapter about infant sleep alone blows everything else out of the water! I also second Real Food for Mother and Baby– such a great resource. <3 _nora

  94. “how to raise an emotionally intelligent child” by john gotten is AMAZING. a must read even for non parents. when i read it i had a lot of a ha moments about my own childhood.

  95. Thank you for this post and the wonderful suggestions. I’m a therapist (in addition to being a mom) and I work with a lot of parents. I highly recommend books written by Daniel Siegel.
    Parenting From The Inside Out is a favorite. http://www.amazon.com/Parenting-Inside-10th-Anniversary-Self-Understanding/dp/039916510X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1411423546&sr=1-1&keywords=parenting+from+the+inside+out

    It helps parents to reflect on how their attachment style and the parenting they received affects their parenting, especially in tough moments. I also love The Whole Brain Child and No Drama Discipline.

  96. Have you read ‘Say It Again in a Nice Voice’ by Meg Mason? Not so much a parenting book as a motherhood memoir, but had me laughing out loud. Highly recommend!

  97. I read Real Food For Mother and Baby when I was newly pregnant and I’m SO glad I did! It reinforced my instincts to add more good fats and fish, eat plenty of whole foods, and ignore any faddish nonsense. I would recommend it to anyone even thinking about having a baby.

  98. How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish I read before I had my daughter (now 29) and found it helpful thoughout my life, with many people.
    When pregnant with my son, I was given Siblings Without Rivalry, and it was also amazing bringing these two up to eventually be the best of friends.
    The hardest job in the world. But the truly, the one thing I am most proud of. Guiding them.

  99. Definitely adding a few of these to my must read list. Thanks Joanna!

  100. Good list – I have several of these. My favorite for the sleep topic is Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. I kept going back to it with every transition to a new phase, and it helped reinforce that my instincts were generally right! Very helpful.

  101. Thanks so much for this list Joanna, a few of these are going onto my must read list.

  102. Becoming the Parent You Want to Be by Laura Davis & Janis Keyser…LOVE!!

  103. Penelope Leach is a developmental psychologist and is so even in her description of childhood and development. Another reassuring tone, like Janet Landsbury, but with decades of experience.

  104. I’ll fourth? fifth? Blessings of a Skinned Knee by Wendy Mogel. I love her philosophy and feel calmer just re-reading this book.

  105. “Becoming the Parent You Want to Be: A Sourcebook of Strategies for the First Five Years” by Laura Davis and Janis Keyser. This book is fantastic and I highly recommend it! Also I think “Bright From the Start” by Jill Stam is great for the first 3 years!

  106. I LOVE “Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids” by Dr. Laura Markham who happens to also have a fantastic blog.

  107. Hands-down The Blessing of a Skinned Knee: Using Jewish Teachings to Raise Self-Reliant Children by Wendy Mogel. I’m not even Jewish – my Presbyterian church has recommended this book many times.

    The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage Are Creating a Generation of of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids by Madeline Levine

    A theme? Maybe I shoulda been Jewish;)

    For the early years The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp

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  109. such a great list!
    my favorite (practical) book was baby 411. it is written in question and answer format and really covers every type of question you come up with at 4am when you are up with your baby!!

  110. A lot of parents I know love the Love & Logic books (http://www.loveandlogic.com) I am a stepparent who joined a family when the kids were teens. Would LOVE any recommendations for that combo! XOXO

  111. Blessings of a Skinned Knee. It’s about Jewish parenting, but was a gift to me by my Catholic MIL years before my kids were born. I think the messages apply to all kind of families.

  112. I have found Dr. Sears’ The Baby Book to be a very helpful encyclopedia of all things baby. I checked it constantly when my daughter was a newborn and still refer to it often. It’s the parenting equivalent of The Joy of Cooking.

  113. This is SO helpful! We found out I’m pregnant last weekend, and I’ve been scouring the internet for good recommendations. I’m a worrier, too ;)

  114. I haven’t found a parenting book yet that I’ve liked, I tend to stick with parenting/lifestyle blogs when it comes to tips about life and kids. :)

  115. Thank you for this list! I’m expecting my first in early January and I’m getting into full on “prep mode.” Just ordered The Nursing Mother’s Companion and The Sleepeasy Solution now – can’t wait to start reading.

  116. love, love, LOVE anne lamott and “operating instructions” is the book that did it for me (“bird by bird” is fantastic too although unrealted to motherhood)
    also, i’ve had “waiting for birdy” on my list for ages and now i totally want to read it.

  117. The Conscious Parent by Dr. Shefali Tsabary!

  118. erica, congratulations!!!!! that’s so exciting :) it’s totally overwhelming and scary but also amazing and wonderful. i’ll be thinking of you! xoxo

  119. This post couldn’t have come at a better time–I JUST found out I’m pregnant! We haven’t even told our parents yet, and here I am blabbing about on the internet. ;) I’ve been feeling overwhelmed and scared, even though this pregnancy is very wanted, so I’m excited to see these suggestions and start reading them soon! Thanks for this timely post!

  120. Your Competent Child by Jesper Juul – The best book on how to raise happy and confident children, I love it!
    Lena x