The 5 Best Books to Read Before You Have a Baby

The Best Books to Read Before Baby

I want to share with you the five best books to read before you have a baby. A search on Amazon will turn up that about 227,137 books on the topic of on having a baby. Unless you have an abundance of free time and an elephant’s gestation period, then you are probably going to have to whittle that down to just a few.

It can be exciting to get caught up in What to Expect When You Are Expecting as you absorb all the exciting changes in pregnancy. It is great to read about pregnancy–but let’s get real folks–you also need to be reading books about how to actually take care of that little bundle of joy that is about to invade arrive in your home.

Consider taking the first 5-6 months to relax, enjoy, and get excited about pregnancy. By month 6 you are going to feel the baby kicking a lot and it is going to hit you: $%#* is about to get real.

So rather than just reading about what size of fruit your baby is right now, it’s time get focused on reading and learning about what is to come. Waiting until the last few months to focus your reading also helps to ensure the most vital information is fresh in your mind–but don’t wait too long. 

There are three major areas to cover when bringing home an infant: feeding, sleeping, and soothing. Oh–and take that three hour class at the hospital that teaches you how to give a newborn a bath, install a car seat, give CPR, and that sort of thing.


At our house we are preparing to embark on our second rodeo (baby #2 arriving next month) so I have been revisiting the most 5 most helpful books on preparing for a baby. If you are like me and want to get the most out of your reading (i.e. skimming), I have highlighted the most critical chapters and fastest way to get through the information.

What to Read and When to Read it

Pregnancy Month 6

Brain Rules for Baby

brain rules

What I loved: Beginning to end, I loved this book. It’s firmly based in research, and provides a lot of good talking points for parents–both new and experienced. This book will shift your mindset from being an expectant parent to an actual parent. Take notes. 

What I didn’t love: It’s dense. Rather than reading it, my husband and I listened to it on Audible during a long road trip. This made it more interactive–allowing us to pause and discuss important points and our personal opinions. How would we handle screen time? What type of sleeping arrangement did we foresee having with the baby?

Pregnancy Month 7

Healthy Sleep Habits, Healthy Child

healthy sleepWhat I loved: This book will help you develop an appreciation for sleep (as if you needed it…). Weissbluth goes into detail about why it is important for infants to get a good night of solid sleep…rather than fragmented bits here and there. There are lots of tips about bedtime and strategies for success. You only really need to read chapters 1, 2, and 3 to get started. When you reach chapter 5, the author begins to detail sleep habits by age–so keep the book on hand as a reference guide to check in as your baby grows and develops.

What I didn’t love: As the book progresses into the later chapters that provide an outline for sleep by age-range, there seems to be a push toward crying-it-out. Not everybody is into that. However, everyone can benefit from the first three chapters.

Pregnancy Month 8

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding

51CP+piTAgL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_What I loved: This is a great resource for getting started with breastfeeding. The major points are covered such as understanding the importance of a good latch and how to maintain a solid milk supply. Also included is also a great FAQ section in the back. I credit this book and Kelly Mom for setting me on the path to a successful experience breastfeeding. You only need to read the first 5 or 6 chapters to get started. After that, the later chapters are focused on breastfeeding as your baby grows older–so you can come back and reference these chapters for advice.

What I didn’t love: The breastfeeding propaganda. This book was put out by La Leche League–an organization that is notoriously opinionated. I consider myself a breastfeeding and natural birth advocate. But I rolled my eyes through the first several chapters as they continuously input comments inferring that mothers who have medicated births will have trouble breastfeeding. Which is simply not true. If you can get past this, its a great resource.

Pregnancy Month 9

Babywise: Giving Your Infant the Gift of Nighttime Sleep

babywiseWhat I loved: It works. This book gets a bad rap from some previous editions that were published in the 80s/90s–but don’t get hung up on that. Babywise provides a very easy plan to guide your child into a healthy and developmentally appropriate sleep routine. This is another one that stays on my nightstand for the whole first year as I go back and reference the sample daily schedules. Looking for a little structure and strategy? Read Babywise. Chapters 1-7 will be sufficient to get you started, but keep it on hand for problem solving. 

What I didn’t love: I can’t really think of anything. I never felt that the book pushed a cry-it-out approach, and it really helped to set up a solid nap and nighttime sleep schedule in our house.

Pregnancy Month 10

The Happiest Baby on the Block

happiestWhat I loved: You can skip the book and stream the one-hour video on Amazon. What’s not to love about that? My husband counts this as his best piece of preparation and resource as a new Dad. This book essentially covers how to soothe an upset baby–in very concrete methods that are easily described and illustrated in the video.

What I didn’t love: It’s an old video and Harvey Karp is a little creepy. But he’s kind of a creepy genius.

Cheater Book

Cherish the First 6 Weeks

cherishWhat I loved: Did you slack on reading? This book does a good job of touching lightly on the topics and ideas in the aforementioned books. You can get a basic overview from this quick and easy book. It’s also great for spouses who have slacked on reading. Not to mention any specific names…but you can count mine into that category.

What I didn’t love: If you are an information junkie like me, this book will leave you wanting more. It’s a good introductory book, but you will thank yourself for putting the time into reading and preparing with the 5 recommended books listed in this post.

What other books did I miss? What are your favorites?


Denaye Barahona

Denaye Barahona is a loving wife and mama of two. She's a therapist for moms, an author, and the host of the top-ranked Simple Families Podcast. Denaye holds a Ph.D. in Child Development and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She has been featured on the likes of The Today Show, Netflix, The Wall Street Journal, Real Simple, Forbes, and numerous other media outlets.