The ultimate guide to practical parenting books

We’ve selected ten of our favorite takes on how to make the practical work of parenting easier, less worrisome, and more fun. From learning how to let your child motivate themselves to being able to better negotiate with your spouse after baby to analyzing the data on breastfeeding, here they are!

Cribsheet, by Emily Oster


The perfect read for anybody worried about the myriad of decisions that surround raising young kids. Oster, an economics professor whose work focuses on health, analyzes the data on issues such as breastfeeding, sleep training, allergies, and daycare to bust myths and, ultimately, dispel the guilt many new parents are prone to feeling. Why we love it: it offers the reassurance to parent in a way that suits *you* (and not the mom next door). 

How Not To Hate Your Husband After Kidsby Jancee Dunn


The title might be slightly tongue-in-cheek, but this book tackles a very serious phenomenon: the heavy toll kids can take on a relationship—especially for women who find they are doing, unexpectedly, the lion’s share of child-related tasks. Part memoir but part self-help guide, Dunn digs deep into how to broach these thorny issues effectively with your partner, seeking advice from therapists and FBI negotiators alike. Why we love it: The changes a romantic relationship might undergo after a baby arrives are shocking; forewarned is forearmed.  

How To Be A Happier Parentby KJ Dell’Antonia


Make sure your children have time together without you. Encourage their collective independence. Send them in pairs on “missions” in the grocery store or as a pack to the movies. Drop them off at mini-golf or the library. On vacation or at an airport challenge them to try something with each other, but without you. Remind them to look out for each other, and not just older after younger, either. Make sure they’re all in this together and, as they grow up, support any effort they make to stay that way. Read an excerpt from How To Be A Happier Parent here.

The Self-Driven Child, by William Stixrud and Ned Johnson


When kids feel that they are deeply loved even when they’re struggling, it builds resilience. Battling your child about due dates and lost work sheets invites school stress to take root at home. So instead of nagging, arguing, and constant reminding, we recommend repeating the mantra, “I love you too much to fight with you about your homework.” Read an excerpt from The Self-Driven Child here.

Grown & Flown, by Lisa Heffernan and Mary Dell Harrington

71LLiLo5gBLA straightforward, hands-on collection of tried and true tips to help parents navigate the teen and college years. Heffernan and Harrington delve into topics like parental trust and tracking, technology and social media, happiness, anxiety and mental health, and the importance of keeping the family close together. Why we love it: Because it features advice from some of our favorite writers, educators, and experts with detailed lists we want to come back to time and time again.

The Nanny Connie Way, by Connie Simpson


Imagine a warm and nurturing 30-year childcare veteran holding your hand through the first few months of new parenthood. This is Connie Simpson, the adored baby nurse and nanny to the stars who in her new book, The Nanny Connie Way, offers the kind of useful, straightforward guidance we wish we had when becoming a first-time mom. See Motherwell’s author Q&A with Connie Simpson here.

He’s Not Lazy, by Adam Price


Your son is not lazy. His brain is still developing; he is searching for manhood, worried about his future, and in need of greater autonomy, more accountability, and the freedom to fail. In time, you will learn to ask different questions, listen more closely to his answers, and give him the trust he needs, so he can begin to believe in himself. Read an excerpt from He’s Not Lazy here.

The Science of Mom, by Alice Callahan


New parents face an onslaught of contradictory information these days about how best to raise their kids. As laypeople, it’s very difficult to sift through the evidence and figure out what’s hype and what’s fact—especially with the internet heralding one scientific study after another. Callahan’s book is invaluable for doing this work for us: illuminating the science behind the hard parenting questions, e.g. breastfeeding and sleep training, in a manner that is balanced, thoughtful and reassuring.

The Good News about Bad Behavior, by Katherine Reynolds Lewis


The goal isn’t to lecture your children so that they never make a mistake, but to kick-start their critical thinking by asking them questions, drawing out information. The goal is to have a strong relationship and to encourage your children toward independence. That way, they’ll see you as a resource rather than an obstacle. Read an excerpt from The Good News About bad Behavior here.

Untangled, by Lisa Damour


A smart and systematic examination of the female transition from childhood to adolescence. As a clinical psychologist with a specialty in teenage girls, Damour sees predictable patterns in how they develop. Isolating seven distinct “strands” of growth, the book is full of sound, practical advice about how to parent through the “normal” issues tween and teen girls struggle with, such as harnessing their emotions and rejecting authority. But it also lets you know when it’s time to worry.

Note: We share the books we love—and we may receive a small compensation if you choose to buy.

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