10 Books To Ease the Parenting Journey

10 Books To Ease the Parenting Journey

You don’t need an entire library of parenting books, but here are the ones that will inform, educate and minimize stress while maximizing your time. 

Sometimes it feels like there are as many baby books out in the world as there are babies. Okay, that might be an exaggeration, but when it comes to parenting, there’s a whole lot of experts out there, and it’s hard to know where to turn and who to trust when you want the high level, cliff’s notes version of everything that’s in store. So much choice inevitably leads to a terrible amount of overwhelm for new parents and parents-to-be. As always, our goal at Nanit is to cut through the fluff and deliver the information that matters the most via our arsenal of a rockstar parent community and experts. Not sure where to begin with your parenting library? Here are the books that have been the most impactful for the parents in our orbit. 

1. Expecting Better by Emily Oster

Gist: While there’s much truth to standard parenting practices, it’s worth pausing for a moment and asking, “Is this really the best approach?” Emily Oster understands that there are so many ways to experience pregnancy, as she empowers soon-to-be moms with recommendations that go beyond the everyday. 

Why We Love It: Oster manages to give truly great advice, while remaining wholly non-judgemental—which feels so refreshing.

The Key Takeaway: Oster’s perspective—as an economist—is all about reducing the anxiety that comes with pregnancy. Don’t feel like combing through every parenting study? Great news: Oster takes care of that for you and is here to let you know that yes, it’s probably okay for you to drink coffee and eat sushi.

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What to Expect When You’re Expecting meets Freakonomics: an award-winning economist and author of Cribsheet and The Family Firm disproves standard recommendations about pregnancy to empower women while they’re expecting. 

2. The 5 Principles of Parenting: Your Essential Guide to Raising Good Humans by Dr. Aliza Pressman

Gist: Of all the parenting podcasters out there,  Dr. Aliza Pressman  is one of the most respected in the game—and with good reason. She understands in a very real way that parenting can feel like a pressure cooker, where nothing short of perfection will suffice. “Dr. Aliza” urges her readers to reframe this type of thinking by focusing on getting things right often enough, with strategies that relate to the subjects of Relationship, Reflection, Regulation, Rules, and Repair. (Want more Dr. Aliza? We all do. Check out this recap of her appearance at our Parent like a Pro Summit!)

Why We Love It: She leads with compassion and reminds us that there is no one correct way to parent. 

The Key Takeaway: Dr. Aliza knows that the whole reason you’re putting so much work into being a parent is because you want your kids to grow up to become the best versions of themselves. She’s supportive and believes you have the capacity to help your little ones grow into the amazing people that they are supposed to be.

3. The Working Mom's Guide to Style, Sanity, and Big Success After Baby by Lauren Smith Brody  

Gist: Much has been said about the months leading up to and following the arrival of a new baby. But what about the three month period when many new moms head back to work? This evergreen book, by former magazine editor Lauren Smith Brody, guides its reader through what feels like uncharted waters with helpful chapters on pumping, time management, looking and feeling your best, and most importantly, becoming your own number-one advocate at home and at work. 

Why We Love It: Brody’s words feel like those from a reassuring friend, cheering you on as you make your next big move. 

The Key Takeaway: Coming back to paid work after maternity leave can feel like an individual problem to be solved and lead to mom guilt, but Brody explains that poor systems are at the root of the issue. She believes we can work together to help solve these issues—and that you deserve to define ambition exactly as you want to. 

4. Fair Play by Eve Rodsky

Gist: When it comes to one’s home life, the unequal division of labor can be a real doozy for your family which is why we are such strong believers in equitable parenting. (Check out our new Care Logs feature that centers around this very issue by helping parents establish shared routines and schedules for their little ones!). Eve Rodsky’s book is here to change the course of unfair parenting, as it helps readers transform feelings of overwhelm into feelings of confidence. Included are four easy-to-follow rules, 100 household tasks, and a helpful list of conversation starters for couples representing all walks of life. 

Why We Love It: Instead of simply griping about the difficulties that come with family life, Rodsky offers real, tangible ways to improve relationship dynamics.  

The Key Takeaway: If you came into parenthood thinking you and your partner’s division of labor would be 50/50 and you find yourself resentful that it's not, this book will help you make the mental load visible, divide up tasks fairly and set you on a path that keeps your family in tact.

5. Cribsheet: A Data-Driven Guide to Better, More Relaxed Parenting, from Birth to Preschool by Emily Oster

Gist: When Fortune 500 companies are struggling, they call in high-value consultants to analyze and fix their concerns. With Cribsheet, you can think of author Emily Oster as your own personal parenting consultant. It's understandable that parents are often confused by the information thrown at them. With so much conflicting advice out there—relating to schedule-keeping, eating and sleeping—from a range of different sources—it can be hard to distill what matters the most. Oster is here to help you navigate the difficult decisions you’ll make in your little one’s first few years.   

Why We Love It: As an economist, Oster leans into hard data and empowers parents to maintain their sanity in the years leaving up to preschool.

The Key Takeaway: This book has essentially become the updated version of What to Expect: The First Year. It’s a continuation of the author’s previous book, Expecting Better, where she her uniquely economic approach to helping her reader cut through all the decision fatigue that  is often associated with early parenthood. 

6. Good Inside: A Guide to Becoming the Parent You Want to Be by Dr. Becky Kennedy

Gist: Known to her followers as simply “Dr. Becky,” Dr. Becky Kennedy’s thoughtful approach to parenting has resonated with her readers (and her nearly 3 million Instagram followers)—catapulting Good Inside to the rank of #1 New York Times bestseller. Ever heard a new parent claim that “two things can be true”? Yep, that came from Dr. Becky. Time Magazine even named her the “The Millennial Parenting Whisperer,” as she has completely overhauled the way parents raise their children today. At the core of her ethos is Good Inside, which focuses on reducing parents’ stress, thus turning out kids who are resilient, grounded and emotionally healthy. 

Why We Love It: She understands that happy children rely on happy parents, which is why she’s so centered on ensuring everyone feels their most stable. 

The Key Takeaway: Dr. Becky genuinely believes that there is no such thing as a bad kid. She states that every person is good inside and her approach to parenting and bonding all leads to the idea that inside every person is a good person trying to express him or herself—even if that person’s externalized behavior might tell you otherwise. The best thing about her positive perspective? You’ll find it rubbing off on you. 

7. The Family Firm: A Data-Driven Guide to Better Decision Making in the Early School Years by Emily Oster

Gist: If you found Emily Oster’s Cribsheet helpful for the little kid years, you’re going to love The Family Firm’s take on parenting elementary school-aged children, as the author zeroes in on school, health, extracurricular activities, and more. As always, Oster calls on data and analytics to make sense of an otherwise chaotic time for parents. 

Why We Love It: Oster evolves with her readers—and their children—with flexible advice that’s rooted in logic and reason. 

The Key Takeaway: Part three in the Emily Oster oeuvre applies the economist’s method of decision-making to the big kid years—envisioning your family as its own little business, assigning roles, tasks and decisions (big and small) accordingly. For example, she spells out risk-benefit analysis on opting into family dinner versus being on a soccer team with twice-a-week evening practice. This real-life application is what makes her book so compelling. 

8. The First Forty Days: The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother by Heng Ou, Amely Greeven, and Marisa Belger

Gist: At a time when parents are often squarely focused on caring for their newborns, The First Forty Days reminds us how important it is to also focus on a new mother’s ability to heal and bond with her baby. We cannot recommend The First Forty Days enough to women nearing the end of their pregnancies. It offers so many life-enhancing tools for the almost-parent, such as grocery shopping lists and easy-to-follow instructions for body salves—all to save you time and energy once your little one arrives.

Why We Love It: The authors include 60 easy-to-follow recipes for lactation-boosting teas, healing soups and replenishing snacks and meals—all with the goal of supporting mom.  

The Key Takeaway: Outside of the United States, countless cultures consider the first 40 days as a continued gestational time for the new mom, when she should be cared for, nourished and pampered so she’ll be able to do the same for her baby. Even if you’re already back at work or parenting on your own, this book will make you feel tended to.

9. The Unexpected: Navigating Pregnancy During and After Complications by Emily Oster

Gist: For some, pregnancy is a time of joy, but for 50% of pregnant women, they may experience complications— like preeclampsia, postpartum depression, preterm birth,  miscarriage, and hyperemesis gravidarum. These can be lonely and painful waters to tread. With Emily Oster’s latest book (you could say we are Oster superfans), she offers a calming, data-driven approach to a time that is often ruled by emotion.

Why We Love It: Oster turns her focus to subjects that many are too afraid to take on—and she does so with endless grace and compassion. 

The Key Takeaway: Try as you might, there will inevitably be some twist in your parenting journey that you weren’t expecting. But with this book, you’ll be able to manage it and grow from it—so long as you’re open to the advice and communities around you.

10. Dear Future Mama: A TMI Guide to Pregnancy, Birth, and Motherhood from Your Bestie by Meghan Trainor

Gist: You may know Meghan Trainor from her chart-topping bops, but we also know her as one of our favorite willing-to-talk-about-anything authors. In fact, at Nanit, we’re such fans of Trainor’s that we find ourselves collaborating with her again and again (check out her curated registry!). From ovulation to unexpected hair growth to the aspects of childbirth no one seems to be talking about, Trainor is willing to go there—and devoid of any judgment We really love her for it.

Why We Love It: Trainor brings levity to a subject that can often be fraught with seriousness, all while offering up smart parenting intel. 

The Key Takeaway: Meghan Trainor is here to tell you about her own journey into motherhood—and she’s telling it like it is, rarely holding back, but instead offering a deeply relatable and compassionate perspective. 


Just remember before you dig in - no book is going to totally prepare you for the rollercoaster of parenting. But hopefully by reading a few chapters here and there, you can feel more confident, empowered and ready to take on the journey of parenthood!

Nanit is dedicated to delivering high-quality, reliable content for our readers. Our Parent Confidently articles are crafted by experienced parenting contributors and are firmly rooted in data and research. To ensure the accuracy and relevance of the content, all articles undergo a rigorous review process by our team of parenting experts. Additionally, our wellness-related content receives further scrutiny from Nanit Lab, our think tank of scientists, engineers, physicians, academic experts, and thought leaders.

Our primary objective is to furnish readers with the most current, trustworthy, and actionable information concerning a host of parenting topics. We strive to empower our readers to make informed decisions by offering comprehensive and respected insights.

In pursuit of transparency and credibility, our articles incorporate credible third-party sources, peer-reviewed studies, and abstracts. These sources are directly linked within the text or provided at the bottom of the articles to grant readers easy access to the source material.


Natalie Barnett, PhD serves as VP of Clinical Research at Nanit. Natalie initiated sleep research collaborations at Nanit and in her current role, Natalie oversees collaborations with researchers at hospitals and universities around the world who use the Nanit camera to better understand pediatric sleep and leads the internal sleep and development research programs at Nanit. Natalie holds a Ph.D. in Genetics from the University of New England in Australia and a Postgraduate Certificate in Pediatric Sleep Science from the University of Western Australia. Natalie was an Assistant Professor in the Neurogenetics Unit at NYU School of Medicine prior to joining Nanit. Natalie is also the voice of Nanit's science-backed, personalized sleep tips delivered to users throughout their baby's first few years.

Kristy Ojala is Nanit’s Digital Content Director. She spends way too much time looking at maps and weather forecasts and pictures of Devon Rex cats and no-cook dinners. A former sleep champion, she strives to share trustworthy somnabulism tips with other parents—praying for that one fine day when no tiny humans wake her up while it’s still dark out. Her kids highly recommend 3 books, approximately 600 stuffies, Chopin’s “Nocturnes,” and the Nanit Sound + Light for bedtime success.

Mackenzie Sangster is on the Brand and Community team at Nanit. She supports content development and editing for Nanit’s Parent Confidently blog as well as other marketing initiatives. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her friends, cooking, being active, and using the Pro + Flex Duo to keep an eye on her fur-baby, Poppy!

Holly Hays is a contributor and writer for Nanit, channeling her years as a mama and former magazine editor to create fun, useful content for fellow busy, trying-to-do-their-best parents and caregivers. Holly has written for a wide range of brands and media outlets (Ergobaby, HGTV, Manhattan Toy Company, OXO), loves to cook and read mystery novels, and leans heavily on her two daughters to keep her up to date on all the latest slang.