Grown-Up Reads

11 Books to Help You Survive the First Year of Parenthood

by Keith Rice

Photo credit: DaniloAndjus, E+ Collection/Getty Images

As I write this, my little guy is approaching the one-year mark. I’ve spent 12 months in the trenches, made it out (mostly) intact and (relatively) unscathed, and, most importantly, my kid has grown into an energetic, curious bundle of fun and delightful weirdness. Those first days of a parenting are a truly bizarre and oftentimes scary time, though. You leave the sanctuary of the maternity ward to be thrust into the wilds of parenting. They basically tell you, “Good luck! Watch out for that soft spot on the baby’s head!” They don’t hand you an instruction manual to life on your way out.

In our first year, we sleep trained, battled nap schedules, and experienced countless diaper mishaps. We faced the unique challenges of traveling with a baby. We had many sleepless nights. But we survived. And you know what? It was amazing — all of it. That first year of parenting is a beautiful, messy blur of a journey. Fortunately, it’s a journey that’s now well-charted. There are a host of great parenting books that can serve as your instruction manuals and help you navigate the ups and downs of your first year as a parent. Here are a few of our favorites.

  • The Confident Parent

    by Jane Scott, M.D. and Stephanie Land

    Parenthood, particularly the first month or two, can feel all-consuming — and in many ways it is. However, it’s important for both your well-being and that of your little one to maintain your core self. It’s easy to get lost in the weeds of insecurity and anxiety when it comes to caring for your baby, and The Confident Parent is a practical guide to finding your way back out.

  • Bringing Up Bébé

    by Pamela Druckerman

    As an American raising a baby in France, journalist Pamela Druckerman couldn’t help but notice the differences between French and American parenting styles. Bringing Up Bébé offers fascinating insight into the cultural nuances of parenting and could change the way you view everything from sleep training to feeding schedules to family dynamics for the better.

  • Cribsheet: A Data-Driven Guide to Better, More Relaxed Parenting, From Birth to Preschool

    by Emily Oster

    An award-winning economist and mother of two, Emily Oster investigates parenting from an often overlooked angle in her new book, Cribsheet. Rather than getting swept up in emotion or bogged down in conflicting information from every mother in your contact list, Oster empowers parents to make fact-based decisions that reflect what’s best for their unique family.

  • The Newborn Sleep Book

    by Dr. Lewis Jassey and Dr. Jonathan Jassey

    It’s not a secret that getting your newborn to sleep through the night is the Holy Grail of parenting, and there’s no shortage of methods, techniques, and advice either. The method developed by Drs. Jassey has a proven track record and a practical, easy-to-understand approach to help your little one get a full night’s sleep.

  • The Happiest Baby on the Block

    by Harvey Karp, M.D.

    Dr. Harvey Karp’s well-known guide to soothing a fussy baby is a parenting mainstay for a reason. I can say that his “Five S’s” — the steps to turning on your baby’s built-in calming reflex — were a godsend in our first couple of months of parenting. With information about infant sleep, SIDS risk, swaddling, calming, and everything in between, this one really is a must-read.

  • Secrets of the Baby Whisperer

    by Tracy Hogg and Melinda Blau

    Another bestseller and perennial parenting favorite, Secrets of the Baby Whisperer is beloved because it works. By recognizing that not all babies are the same, Hogg and Blau present a clear-eyed, common-sense guide to understanding your little one’s cues and creating a schedule that caters to the rhythms of both your child and your household life.

  • How to be a Happier Parent

    by KJ Dell’Antonia

    Parenting can be hard. If I have any piece of advice for new parents, it’s this: Do not neglect yourself (or your partner). There’s a reason flight attendants instruct us to put on our own oxygen masks before helping others. KJ Dell’Antonia has built a career on understanding parenting and How to be a Happier Parent draws on her years of experience and a wealth of research to bring parents practical solutions to finding joy and happiness in the inevitable chaos of life with a baby.

  • What’s Your Baby’s Poo Telling You?

    by Anish Sheth, M.D. and Josh Richman

    One thing no one ever tells you about being a new parent is just how much you’ll talk about your baby’s poo. My wife and I have entire text chains about it. We have many conversations with other parents about it. This is a thing and you should be ready for it. Fortunately, expert Dr. Anish Sheth also has your back. With a nice balance of humor and insight, this book delves into everything from digestive quirks to the dreaded poo-splosion to potty training.

  • First Bites

    by Dana Angelo White

    At around the six-month mark, your pediatrician is going to give the okay for your little one to start on solid foods. It’s a fun, albeit messy time. Deciding what to give your baby and when can be tricky, though. We all want our babies to eat healthy and enjoy a varied, nutritious diet. First Bites is a quick and concise guide to accomplishing just that, making it a great resource for everything from early forays into solids to those picky toddler years.

  • What to Feed Your Baby and Toddler

    by Nicole M. Avena, Ph.D.

    What to Feed Your Baby and Toddler combines simple, delicious recipes with a month-by-month breakdown of what to incorporate into your child’s diet for their first two years. In effect, the book is precisely what the title suggests: a no-nonsense guide to feeding your little one. It also has tons of information about common challenges, like dealing with picky eaters, food allergies, and food safety.

  • Weird Parenting Wins

    by Hillary Frank

    Every once in a while you’ll find yourself in a situation that all of the techniques you’ve studied and manuals you’ve read haven’t prepared you for. In that moment, you’ll also find yourself falling back on intuition … and that’s okay! In fact, it’s great — that’s your parent-sense tingling. While there’s no way to tell you how to develop that intuition, I can tell you that you’re not alone and you will figure it out. In the hilarious and relatable Weird Parenting Wins, Hillary Frank collects advice from parents who’ve done what they had to do in the moment to overcome a child-rearing challenge. It serves as a welcome reminder that every parent wings it sometimes.