What are the best parenting and baby-care books?

Amazon: The Wonder Weeks. How to stimulate your baby's mental development and help him turn his 10 predictable, great, fussy phases into magical leaps forwardAs you know, I'm wary of most "expert" parenting books for the same reason I'm wary of most get-rich-quick or lose-weight-fast schemes: they promise a lot, they provide black-and-white answers, and they require you to subscribe to a certain dogma or world view. There are good parenting books out there, and there are general parenting guidelines most of us would do well to follow. I just bristle at the notion of one-size fits all — an assumption on which many of these books are based.

That said, it's nice to have a book or two to fall back on when mysterious rashes appear, or when one needs help operating the nasal aspirator, or when one's angelic baby suddenly becomes a willful toddler. There's a wonderful discussion going on right now at Ask Moxie about which parenting books to trust. Moxie shares her picks (The Wonder Weeks is one), and pans (the Babywise books), and her readers join in.

Do any parenting books stand out to you as especially helpful?

More: Hacks about behavior, development and learning


  1. Elizabeth says

    No offense, but this “Moxie” seems to have quite the axe to grind. Her comments are way off base and her language pretty much wipes out any credibility she claims, as it is very unprofessional.

  2. Parent Hacks Editor says

    No offense taken. One of the many reasons I love Moxie is that she never claims to be a professional. She’s a mom who spends a lot of time reading and thinking about how to raise kids. She’s brave enough to put forward her opinions, some of which are plenty strong. As you know, making strong statements on a blog, especially about something as personal and emotional as parenting, can create quite a stir, but she goes for it in a way that encourages discussion, not bashing or ranting. I admire her for that.

  3. LisaS says

    She does have a strong voice, but she passed my litmus test on this issue: she’s the only list I’ve ever seen that shared my opinion of the What to Expect series (known as the Paranoid books in my household) and of Penelope Leach’s Your Baby and Child. Between its use of the Queen’s English, its advocation of simple, homemade toys, and its unassuming, friendly tone–I can’t say enough nice things about YB&C–it should be in every parent’s collection.

  4. Lea says

    Just have to agree completely with LisaS.

    I did not like the “What to Expect” books–more like “What to Fear”! (As if you need more to worry about during a first preganancy!)

    I, too, adore Penelope Leach. She is reassuring and helpful, full of gentle suggestions. She respects even the youngest baby and child as a person, and her tone is never judgmental. She’s given me lots of little insights into baby psychology, things that have made me more patient and understanding.

    I’ve also gleaned a lot from the “Parenting with Love and Logic” series. There was a lot of yelling, threatening, and hand-wringing in my household growingup, and L&L gives you a way to avoid that kid of stress.

    – L

  5. Lea says


    “kind of stress,” i meant to type.

    guess i need to go eat lunch so i can get rid of these shaky typing fingers!

    – L

  6. hedra says

    Oh, MY! Someone else who has even HEARD of “The Wonder Weeks”! COOL! That is my life-saver book I give to all my friends having babies. Knowing that your baby is EXPECTED to freak out and stop sleeping/eating/playing normally at certain ages makes it so much more possible to just stay patient and stick with what you believe instead of buckling under the strain of advice from people you otherwise wouldn’t dream of listening to…

    I agree with her picks on books, in general. I haven’t read the rest of her site, but at least for those, I’m with her. The Wonder Weeks saved my sanity more than once.

  7. hedra says

    Oh, too funny – one of the books recommended by Ann Douglas in the comments is ANOTHER one I’m in! (I was in the panel of parents for both books: The Unofficial Guide to Having a Baby, and Adventures in Gentle Discipline)… Now, if I can just get my own darn book written…

  8. Kate says

    Moxie’s comments are way off base? Elizabeth, I’m confused. I’m a big fan of Moxie, and I’ve never noticed anything like that.

  9. CincyDaddy says

    The child isn’t even here yet and I’m spending way too much time reading parenting blogs. But this list should help me make some of my first parenting book purchases. My wife would agree about the “What to Expect” book. She completely skipped quite a few sections to avoid completely freaking out.

  10. Jane says

    I was same as the above poster. Before my first child, I spent hundreds of hours reading about babies and baby care products from God knows how many sites and blogs – fun though!