5 Parenting Books to Get You Through the Early Years

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Given that I work with kids and parents, I read a lot of parenting books. Parents look to me for recommendations, and I find that certain books suit certain parents. It makes sense when you stop to think about it. All families are different, and all families have different needs. There couldn't possibly be one book that covers every single issue … that would be huge and overwhelming! There are, however, some amazing books on the market.

Parents have questions – that's part of the parenting journey. Finding solutions that work can be a challenge. Parenting books can be great resources for parents in all stages of parenting.

Whether you are struggling with sleep, feeding, behavior, or worries, chances are there is a book out there that will help normalize this parenting journey for you and give you a few ideas. As much as I love articles and blogs for quick references on hot button topics in parenting, there's nothing like a great resource to keep by your bed for future reference.

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Get the Behavior You Want… Without Being the Parent You Hate!: Dr. G's Guide to Effective Parenting.

Deborah Gilboa, MD, or “Dr. G” as many know her, created a user-friendly roadmap of parenting strategies in this book. Designed with parents of children ages 18 months to 12 years in mind, Dr. G tackles eliminating the behaviors you don't want while fostering the one you do.

What I love about this book is that it's concise and the strategies are actionable. It's a great reference guide for parents. Frustrated with bedtime? Dr. G can help with that. Concerned about money management? Dr. G has you covered. Dr. G takes the frustration out of parenting and empowers parents to create change in the home.

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The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries.

Written with kids between the ages of 3 and 13 in mind, Michelle Borba tackles every difficult parenting moment you can think of in this comprehensive and very down-to-earth parenting book.


What I love about this book is that each question provides specific solutions that are age appropriate. We all have questions along the way – this book answers those questions with practical and easy-to-implement solutions. Keep this one by the bedside table!

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The Happiest Baby Guide to Great Sleep: Simple Solutions for Kids From Birth to 5 Years.

Harvey Karp, MD, is often referred to as “America's favorite pediatrician” for good reason: He's the kind of expert who understands how hard it is to be a parent. Sure, babies are miracles and parenting is a beautiful journey, but parenting is also tiring and a bit of a mystery at times. Dr. Karp gets that.

The Happiest Baby on the Block and The Happiest Toddler on the Block help parents navigate those early years so full of questions. The Happiest Baby Guide to Great Sleep tackles one of the most discussed parenting topics around – sleep. Dr. Karp provides specific tips to help your kids learn to sleep while debunking some of the myths that always seem to circulate. It's a great resource for parents everywhere.

{ MORE: 5 Tips For Working From Home With Baby }

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Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life.

This is one of my favorite books. We live in a busy world and childhood seems to escape many children. Between the pushing down of academics and the “hurry up” nature of childhood (do youth sports need to begin at age 4?), children are often lost in the shuffle.

Developmental Psychologist Peter Gray tackles the importance of free play and calls for America to stop asking what's wrong with our children and start asking what's wrong with our system, instead.

Note: This book draws on anthropological research and goes into depth about education and how our current education system affects our children. While you might not consider this strictly a “parenting” book, Gray sheds light on how free play helps develop empathy, social skills, and imagination while decreasing stress. Important topics to consider in a time of technology and highly structured days for children.

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Hands Free Mama: A Guide to Putting Down the Phone, Burning the To-Do List, and Letting Go of Perfection to Grasp What Really Matters!


Parenting perfection can really get in the way of actual parenting. There are a lot of demands placed upon parents today, and checking off that to-do list can feel overwhelming. Rachel Macy Stafford calls on parents to say yes to what really matters while silencing that inner critic that sometimes brings parents down.

This is a great book for any parent who feels the pressure to do it all – haven't we all felt that way at some point? She provides solutions to help parents slow down and take back parenting.

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I know, I know, I said five and this makes six … but we have to laugh along the way if we want to enjoy the ride. This bonus book is just for you.

Confessions of a Scary Mommy: An Honest and Irreverent Look at Motherhood – The Good, The Bad, and The Scary

Laughter makes the world a better place, and you need to laugh to survive the hard days (and there will be hard days). Jill Smokler takes an honest and humorous look at parenting and will have you laughing out loud while your baby (finally) sleeps. From husbands to homework to laughing in the face of perfection, Jill gives us all a much-needed escape from the moments that feel like forever. Go ahead; laugh a little. You'll be a better parent for it.

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Which parenting book have you found the most helpful?

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5 Parenting Books to Get You Through the Early Years

Katie Hurley, LCSW is a Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist and writer in Los Angeles, CA. She is the author of "No More Mean Girls: The Secret to Raising Strong, Confident, and Compassionate Girls" and "The Happy Kid Handbook: How to Raise Joyful Children in a Stressful World". She earned her BA in Psychology and Women's Studies from Boston College and her MSW from the University of Pennsylvania. She divides her time between her family, her private practice and her writing. Passionate about he ... More

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