Best Books to Give New Parents in 2021

by Heather Caliendo
best books to give new parents in 2021 - book club chat
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Here’s a handy list of the best books to give new parents in 2021!

While buying for a baby is extremely overwhelming with all the options out there, starting out your baby’s library is such a fun project! Soon enough, you’ll have a mini book club with your little one. I always make sure to include a baby book with every baby shower gift I give to new parents.

Studies say that reading to your baby from day one is so important. I’m currently eight months pregnant and when putting together my registry, I did plenty of research on baby books. But I didn’t find one big list that has a combination of books to read for your baby as well as parenting books.

There’s so many options to choose so I narrowed it down to five baby books and five parenting books that are great books for new parents.


Baby books

I personally want a variety of books for the baby library. These feature a combination of new books as well as classics that are ideal for new parents.

Indestructibles: Let’s Be Kind by Amy Pixton

The line of indestructible books feature all kinds of topics and stories from Let’s Be Kind that focuses on manners to The Itsy Bitsy Spider nursery rhyme. The illustrations are so fun and bright but what I really like is that these books are built for the way babies “read” (i.e., with their hands and mouths). According to the synopsis, each book is:

  •  Rip Proof—made of ultra-durable tight-woven material
  • Waterproof—can be chewed on, drooled on, and washed!
  • Emergent Literacy Tool—bright pictures and few or no words encourage dialogic reading
  • Portable—lightweight books can go anywhere, perfect for the diaper bag and for travel
  • Safe for Baby—meets ASTM safety standards

I have a feeling I’m going to end up buying the whole line of these!

Click here to order it on Amazon.


The Odyssey: A BabyLit Monsters Primer by Jennifer Adams

Oh gosh, I was so excited when I found these BabyLit stories! The author takes the classic work of Lewis Carroll, Charlotte Bronte, Jane Austen, and William Shakespeare, etc., and reimagines it as a way to introduce your toddler to the world of classic literature. According to the synopsis, each book focuses on a basic concept important for children to learn: colors, numbers, sounds, shapes, opposites, and so many more. While teaching, each page is filled with colorful illustrations and enchanting words that are true to the original classic it represents.

Click here to order on Amazon.


Dinoblock by Christopher Franceschelli

I instantly knew I had to get Dinoblock—it features thick pages cut into the shapes of dinosaurs! According to the synopsis, readers will be introduced to more than 20 different kinds of dinos via die-cuts of their unique silhouettes and the illuminating comparisons to familiar things from a young child’s world. I stretch high like the ladder on a fire truck. I am a Brachiosaurus. As children touch the pages, they have a chance to guess the dinosaur and appreciate the uniqueness of its silhouette. A final gatefold delivers a roundup of all the dinos included. 

Click here to order on Amazon.


Baby Touch and Feel: Animals by DK

I really like this one as the the book’s touch and feel patches are designed to encourage early learning. This is great and highly interactive option for a little one. Here’s the synopsis:

Each page of this engaging board book features a cute colorful image of an animal, along with the noises they make. Find the super fun tactile elements that encourage your little one to tickle and touch the textures. 

Make reading time fun and educational for you and your toddler with this animal book! The easy-to-follow pages include short, fun text that’s great for reading aloud and building language skills. Little ones will have tons of fun discovering their favorite animals like a puppy, kitten, or bunny!

Not too big or too small, this sturdy, padded activity book is just the right size for little hands to hold. There’s no need for Mom and Dad to turn the pages. Babies and toddlers can turn the tough board pages themselves, which helps to develop their fine motor skills while building an early language foundation. 

Click here to order on Amazon.


The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

You have to go with at least one of the classics!! There’s something extra special about sharing a book that you grew up with. While The Very Hungry Caterpillar doesn’t need much of an introduction, the official synopsis is that it features interactive die-cut pages, this board book edition is the perfect size for little hands and great for teaching counting and days of the week.

Click here to order on Amazon.


Parenting books

My background is in journalism so I do plenty of research for just about everything in life. And that has continued with the anticipated arrival of our son. While there’s so much you can just Google, I personally think it’s help to have standalone books that you can sit down and spend time with it (when you have the time!). Just as important as it is to build a baby library, new parents will hugely benefit for having some parenting books on hand as well.

What to Expect the First Year by Heidi Murkoff

As soon as I got a positive pregnancy result, I downloaded several pregnancy apps, including the What to Expect one. It’s been SO nice to have throughout this entire pregnancy. I was also gifted the What You’re Expecting book and I think it’s good too. But for new parents, for sure get them the What to Expect the First Year book. It’s very helpful read in anticipation of a newborn. The month-to-month format is great so you can flip to the section you need. I actually sat down and read a good chunk of the book one afternoon so you can also approach it that way as well. Here’s the official synopsis:

Keeping the trademark month-by-month format that allows parents to take the potentially overwhelming first year one step at a time, First Year is easier-to-read, faster-to-flip-through, and new-family-friendlier than ever—packed with even more practical tips, realistic advice, and relatable, accessible information than before. Illustrations are new, too.

Among the changes: Baby care fundamentals—crib and sleep safety, feeding, vitamin supplements—are revised to reflect the most recent guidelines. Breastfeeding gets more coverage, too, from getting started to keeping it going. Hot-button topics and trends are tackled: attachment parenting, sleep training, early potty learning (elimination communication), baby-led weaning, and green parenting (from cloth diapers to non-toxic furniture). An all-new chapter on buying for baby helps parents navigate through today’s dizzying gamut of baby products, nursery items, and gear. Also new: tips on preparing homemade baby food, the latest recommendations on starting solids, research on the impact of screen time (TVs, tablets, apps, computers), and “For Parents” boxes that focus on mom’s and dad’s needs. Throughout, topics are organized more intuitively than ever, for the best user experience possible.

Click here to order the book on Amazon.


Mayo Clinic Guide to Your Baby’s First Years by Dr. Walter Cook

This Mayo Clinic guide is a bit more straight to the point compared to What You Expect, which is good for parents who want to pick it up for a specific need and then set it down. I also like that it’s been recently revised and updated—July 2020—so you know it has the most current information. Here’s the synopsis:

While new and experienced parents alike find that every baby brings its own set of challenges, the Mayo Clinic Guide to Your Babys First Years offers informative guidance on standard childcare practices, like proper nutrition, indoor and outdoor safety, diapers and toilet training, comforting a fussy baby, and more.

However, more dilemmas face modern-day parents than ever before. This revised reference guide also gives essential—and actually attainable—advice for a new generation of parents, one that faces challenges like single parenthood, work-life balance, delayed child growth and development, and the potential diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder and other newborn conditions.

Mayo Clinic Guide to Your Baby’s First Years combines everything you need to know about your baby’s first three years in an easy-to-read, convenient guide you can keep and reference throughout every stage of your child’s first years. With a detailed, month-to-month calendar, learn what to expect of your baby’s growth and development during the first 36 months of its life, and what steps you can take to ensure a foundation of healthy growth and development.

While there is no built-in instruction manual for raising a child, Mayo Clinic Guide to Your Baby’s First Years offers expert advice on everything you may need to know about caring for your little one.

Click here to order the book on Amazon.


The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp

As a first time mom, I’ve already been worried about sleep and the potential for nonstop crying. I’ve had several friends who have just had babies and already telling me to get ready for this—so any kind of reading I can do to prepare is a big help! The key component of this read is the 5 S’s to soothe a crying baby. While you can just Google the term, I still think it’s nice to have a book on hand when you need it too. Here’s the synopsis:

Thousands of parents, from regular moms and dads to Hollywood superstars, have come to baby expert Dr. Harvey Karp to learn his remarkable techniques for soothing babies and increasing sleep. Now his landmark book—fully revised and updated with the latest insights into infant sleep, bedsharing, breastfeeding, swaddling, and SIDS risk—can teach you too! Dr. Karp’s highly successful method is based on four revolutionary concepts:
 
1. The Fourth Trimester: Why babies still yearn for a womblike atmosphere . . . even after birth
2. The Calming Reflex: An “off switch” all babies are born with
3. The 5 S’s: Five easy steps to turn on your baby’s amazing calming reflex
4. The Cuddle Cure: How to combine the 5 S’s to calm even colicky babies
 
With Dr. Karp’s sensible advice, parents and grandparents, nurses and nannies, will be able to transform even the fussiest infant into the happiest baby on the block!

Click here to order the book on Amazon.


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

For those who love data, Cribsheet is another great option for evidence-based parenting advice. The author is an economics professor and she writes the book from that kind of perspective. Here’s the synopsis:

With Expecting Better, award-winning economist Emily Oster spotted a need in the pregnancy market for advice that gave women the information they needed to make the best decision for their own pregnancies. By digging into the data, Oster found that much of the conventional pregnancy wisdom was wrong. In Cribsheet, she now tackles an even greater challenge: decision-making in the early years of parenting. 

As any new parent knows, there is an abundance of often-conflicting advice hurled at you from doctors, family, friends, and strangers on the internet. From the earliest days, parents get the message that they must make certain choices around feeding, sleep, and schedule or all will be lost. There’s a rule—or three—for everything. But the benefits of these choices can be overstated, and the trade-offs can be profound. How do you make your own best decision? 

Armed with the data, Oster finds that the conventional wisdom doesn’t always hold up. She debunks myths around breastfeeding (not a panacea), sleep training (not so bad!), potty training (wait until they’re ready or possibly bribe with M&Ms), language acquisition (early talkers aren’t necessarily geniuses), and many other topics. She also shows parents how to think through freighted questions like if and how to go back to work, how to think about toddler discipline, and how to have a relationship and parent at the same time. 

Economics is the science of decision-making, and Cribsheet is a thinking parent’s guide to the chaos and frequent misinformation of the early years. Emily Oster is a trained expert—and mom of two—who can empower us to make better, less fraught decisions—and stay sane in the years before preschool.

Click here to order on Amazon.


Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman

It’s interesting how parenting advice can differ depending on where you live in the world. This book is by an American writer who moved to Paris. After having her baby, she immediately noticed there are a quite a bit of differences between how Americans and the French parent. Here’s the synopsis:

When American journalist Pamela Druckerman had a baby in Paris, she didn’t aspire to become a “French parent.” But she noticed that French children slept through the night by two or three months old. They ate braised leeks. They played by themselves while their parents sipped coffee. And yet French kids were still boisterous, curious, and creative. Why? How?       

With a notebook stashed in her diaper bag, Druckerman set out to investigate—and wound up sparking a national debate on parenting. Researched over three years and written in her warm, funny voice, Bringing Up Bébé is deeply wise, charmingly told, and destined to become a classic resource for American parents.

Click here to order on Amazon.

BTW, when you need a break from baby and parenting books, be sure to check out my big list of fiction books to read in 2021. Happy reading!

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