If you're a new mom, you may have found that the exciting time after bringing your child home from the hospital can also come with post-partum worries. And while this period in your baby's life can feel magical in many ways, it's common to wonder how other first-time moms navigated the complicated questions that go along with having a newborn.
You might be nervous about soothing a crying baby in public, or concerned about your own health when a normal sleep schedule feels like a distant memory. Sometimes strangers come to your rescue (and we're forever thankful for those helpful interactions), and other times you're forced to cope for yourself. But the newborn stage doesn't last forever, and there are plenty of ways to nurture your child while learning helpful tips to aid their development as they grow up.
So the next time you're trying to maneuver your stroller gracefully in a cramped grocery store or restaurant, remember that every new parent has been there—and their advice can be a lifesaver when motherhood inevitably feels challenging. We reached out to our readers to find out where they turned to answer the plethora of questions that come with raising children.
Below, read on to discover the best books for new moms with eight recommendations that made all the difference for our readers when their babies were young.
The Whole-Brain Child
The Whole-Brain Child is a great read for new parents curious about how a child's mind actually works. This book dives into the different parts of the brain and how they mature at different speeds, which helps parents approach difficult situations from a place of understanding that's beneficial for both mother and child.
"This is my go-to book for nurturing integrated brain development at all stages of life," says reader Shelley C. "It has pictures I can show to my child and even a refrigerator cheat sheet. It has helped me educate myself on how to be a better parent and what behaviors are normal along each developmental stage."
Save Our Sleep
If you're feeling exhausted, Save Our Sleep is an excellent pick. The author, Tizzie Hall, is a baby sleep expert with nearly two decades of experience working with newborns and their families. Thanks to the simple steps listed out in this guide, you'll learn how to manage a sleep schedule to stay rested and ready for parenthood.
"It's so informative and plans out everything for you, but the best part is it really works," says reader Sacha S. "I had several friends who used this with great success, but it wasn't until my sister did that she then bought it for me. I had a very fussy baby with colic, so this book really saved my life. It has great information around what and when to feed a baby, with sleep schedules to follow. She also has a Facebook community you can join and ask questions. It's very active and supportive."
Bringing up BéBé
It's no secret that mothers in other countries approach parenting in different ways from Americans; every culture has its own norms and traditions, after all. But when this American mother had her newborn while working as a journalist in France, she discovered that French babies had habits worth looking into—like sleeping through the night in the early months, acting less picky toward new foods, and being more independent at young ages. Author Pamela Druckerman learned from the French, and she shares her findings in Bringing up Bébé to help parents of every cultural background adopt their best practices.
"Bringing up Bébé was great," says reader Cara R. "It sets the tone for anyone who doesn't want to be a major helicopter parent, but instead let their child have some space to figure things on their own."
Along with French parenting norms, take steps to learn how other cultures approach raising children. You'll discover new ideas, tips, and methods to navigate motherhood in different ways from the familiarities of your own upbringing.
Precious Little Sleep
Precious Little Sleep focuses on the reasons behind an infant's sleeping habits. To help your newborn sleep through the night, author Alexis Dubief explains how to form healthy napping schedules, feeding times, and even struggles with toddler and preschooler sleep.
"It saved me from losing it with my baby, and taught me to really understand baby sleep," says reader Lin K. "There's also an amazing Facebook group by the same name made up of admins and members who generously help new moms (and repeat moms) with their baby sleep issues."
Parenting From the Inside Out
If you've never thought in-depth about your own childhood, Parenting From the Inside Out will help you navigate your early memories through a lens focused on shaping better lives for your kids. Its authors explain the ways our close family relationships affect brain development in the early years, and its lessons help new parents learn to build stronger relationships with their children by dissecting their own experiences.
"[This book is] helpful because it makes sense of our own experience as children and how that experience could impact parenting," says reader Allison G. "It's hopeful and helpful."
Experimenting With Babies
Experimenting With Babies offers entertaining projects for moms and babies alike, allowing parents a closer look at their newborn's means of learning through fun experiments. Discover what the world looks like from your child's perspective by breaking down simple skills—like recognizing faces and voices, learning shapes, and hearing words—into smaller steps that help parents understand their baby's thought process.
"The book provides hands-on fun ways to help understand my baby," says reader Miranda G. "It explains how babies develop and includes ages zero to 24 months. It would be of interest to any parent, but its evidence-based approach has been particularly fun to explore for me as a mum with a science background and my own mum, who is a physicist!"
The Happiest Baby on the Block
In this book, author Harvey Karp illustrates a successful method for nurturing newborns and helping them sleep through four main concepts: "The Fourth Trimester," "The Calming Reflex," "The Five S's," and "The Cuddle Cure." Each section of The Happiest Baby on the Block has its own unique lessons, explaining the psychology behind a newborn's transition from the womb to help parents understand how to keep fussy babies happy.
"[It's] another really helpful book for the intense first month of having a new baby," says reader Cara R. "It has some solid go-to's for how to soothe fresh babies."
If you're in the mood for a story—rather than a parenting book structured around steps or methods—Operating Instructions is for you. Author Anne Lamott journals through the first year of her son's life, detailing the experience as a single mom at 35 with the help of friends, neighbors, and even strangers that helped them along their journey as mother and son.
"My midwife recommended this to me after the birth of my second son," says reader Talia K. "Originally published in 1994, Lamott's take on the insecurities and delights of the first year of parenthood are timeless."