Maybe you’ve heard the joke that babies don’t come with instruction manuals. And while that may be true, there are many, many great parenting books— particularly for the newborn through toddler stages.
With so many out there, it can be difficult to sort through those that are worth reading and those that aren’t especially helpful.
I’ve rounded up my six favorite parenting books from birth to age 2. They cover all topics, from breastfeeding to activity ideas and beyond. You could easily spend hundreds of dollars on parenting books for this period in your child’s life, but these are what I consider the essentials. I hope they’re helpful to you!
The Nursing Mother's Companion
A friend loaned me her copy of this book when I gave birth the first time and I wore it out (sorry, Heidi). Kathleen Huggins’ guide to breastfeeding is a classic, with practical information and tons of tips. I don’t think I could have nursed my colicky infant without it.
Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child
This book by Marc Weissbluth’s is the Bible of child sleep. It taught me the connection between sleep and temperament and has helpful information by age. I still refer to it regularly since it isn’t exclusively about babies.
The Happiest Baby on the Block
Harvey Karp introduces the 5 Ss for soothing babies: swaddling, side/stomach placement, shusshing, swinging, and sucking. It was very helpful for me when my children were newborns, and I’ve recommended it many times.
Your Baby's First Year
The American Academy of Pediatrics has filled this book with everything new parents need to know. From feeding and sleeping tips to what to do in case of illness, this book has it all.
Child of Mine- Feeding with Love and Good Sense
Ellyn Satter’s book Child of Mine covers topics ranging from pregnancy nutrition to when to introduce solids to breast vs. bottle and building healthy eating habits for toddlers.
This book, which is part of the Gymboree series, gives great tips for engaging your baby in stimulating play. It also contains great information for parents on their babies’ developmental stages.
Mary Lauren Weimer is a social worker turned mother turned writer. Her blog, My 3 Little Birds, encourages moms to put down the baby books for a moment and tell their own stories. She writes about all things toddler at Babble’s Toddler Times. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.