Registry: Essential Books for New Moms

registry-for-working-momsWelcome to installment six of our registry for working moms: essential books for new moms. So far in the registry series, we’ve rounded up the best carseats and strollers, cribs and sleeping gear, baby clothes, baby carriers, and big toys and gear — stay tuned for more!

We’ve talked about my favorite pregnancy books for working moms, as well as some of the best maternity blogs and other free resources  — but what books, if any, should be on your baby registry? What books do you think were the most useful to you as a working mom, either in terms of parenting, juggling work and life, getting medical help, watching milestones, or other issues? What books do you like to gift friends with new babies? What books were essential to you in those early postpartum days? Some of my favorites, below…

Books For New Moms:

new mom books for working moms

(If parenting books are more your speed, this list from one of the authors of Minimalist Parenting looks amazing — I stink at reading parenting books, though (including Minimalist Parenting, which I bought many moons ago and still sits unopened), so, ah, there’s that.

Books To Register For To Read to Baby:

We just talked about some of my sons’ favorite books recently, but these are the books I think new moms should consider registering for:

baby books for your registry

  • Finger puppet books, like In My Nest. Not only do babies love these for a long time (H only just moved on recently-ish and he’s almost 2 years old), they’re the kind of thing it’s hard to get out of the library because they get grubby pretty quickly.
  • Indestructibles. Admittedly these are better for when the baby is 8-30 months or so — in chief slobber/teething mode but also showing interest in books. They’re easily washed, and I liked to keep these in my diaper bag for my kiddo to peruse at restaurants and while waiting in lines. You can sometimes find deals on a group of the books (I think we got ours through Baby Steals); our favorite was Baby Babble. (The age range listed on Amazon for these things is 2-5, which seems… unrealistic. But maybe that’s me?)
  • Who Loves Baby? Fill this puffy photo book with pictures to show your baby all the people who love him or her — you can even update the pictures through the years. (J still loves his little book and he’s almost 5!)
  • Pop-Up Books. Keep your baby away from these, because as every parent to a toddler knows, these things fall apart (or get ripped apart) far too quickly. But I’m going to put them on the list because they are so danged expensive, next to impossible to get out of your library, and often one of the first things babies show interest in. (Right now it is the only thing H will read as he approaches his 2-year birthday. Yaaaay.) Plus: they look really nice sitting on your nursery shelf. Some of our favorites: Maisy’s Book of Things that Go: A Maisy First Science Book and Guess How Much I Love You: Pop-Up.
  • Other plush books, with different textures for the baby to feel, and sometimes squeaking components. Again, these are expensive, so they’re excellent to stick on your registry. Some of our favorites include: Peekaboo Kisses, Animal Kisses, and Pat the Bunny.
  • Sound books.  Same as above — they’re expensive, and they’re hard to find in your local library. Some of our favorites include Noisy Orchestra and Simple First Words Let’s Talk.

Ladies, what books did you put on your registry? What were you gifted as a new mom that you loved, what books did you buy as a new mom that you loved, and what do you give to new moms you know?



  1. Philanthropy Girl says:

    For me, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child was awesome, so I’ll disagree with Kat on that one.

    The only nursing book I read was New Mother’s Guide to Breastfeeding from the APA – pretty basic and perfunctory (and handed out by my OBGYN I think), but I found it simple to understand and apply. Although my kiddo didn’t latch for nearly 8 weeks, it allowed me to speak intelligently with my lactation consultant and pediatrician and at the end of the day the basics were really all I needed.

    I also really liked Wonder Weeks, and found it helpful to use the Android app for quick reference, while I would delve into the book for more depth.

    Stark black and white illustrations are great for little eyes, so I always suggestion Look, Look and Look at Baby’s House (Linenthal), as well as the Usborne Baby’s Very First Black-and-White Books sets.

  2. Rachel Rosen says:

    A book that I LOVED but don’t see mentioned much is “Birth Day” by Mark Sloan. It’s basically a memoir of a pediatrician whose job it is to care for the baby immediately after birth. He gives some interesting anecdotes from his time in residency and in the delivery room and also goes into great detail about the biology of natural birth AND c-section. It’s hard to find a book that gives such detailed information about how the surgeon goes about delivering a baby via c-section. I found it entertaining and informative.

  3. Maddie Ross says:

    Kat mentions it in passing, but “Baby Bargains” was honestly the only baby book I read through completely and loved pre-baby. I read “What to Expect While You’re Expecting” on a monthly basis while expecting. And similarly “What to Expect the First Year” on a monthly basis during the first year. I think Baby 411 is a good resource, but I tried to read it while I was pregnant and found myself in tears, absolutely petrified of what I had gotten myself into. At that point I stopped reading ahead all together. I decided ignorance was bliss.

    • Anon in NYC says:

      Baby Bargains was so helpful! I didn’t really read many other books. Taking baby care classes was sufficient for me (and really just common sense, but I needed someone to walk me through it!).

      I have a long reading list of books for the toddler years though – first one up is How to Talk So Kids Will Listen.

  4. New daycare mom says:

    I found “Work, Pump, Repeat” super helpful, in a take-the-pressure-off kind of way.

  5. oneyearin says:

    Every so often a friend will post on facebook asking for baby book advice. Inevitably it gets dicy fast. One person’s guru is another’s quack. Personally, I wish I’d read more before baby showed up since I had no time afterwards.

    My $0.02 is to get Baby 411 and call it a day. Baby Bargains (by the same people) can be helpful too. It summarizes much of what you’ll find in other books. I actually had a moment of panic when my baby turned one and I realized I needed a new book. There’s Toddler 411 which of course I bought but haven’t had time to read yet.

  6. For sleep, if I had to do it over again, I would get Great Expectations: Baby Sleep Guide. Admittedly I have only looked at it in bookstores, so not an expert, but what I liked was that it summarizes what various other sleep experts say rather than claiming there is One True Path that will lead to perfect sleep. I also skimmed Ferber and Weissbluth, but didn’t really find either very useful as I wasn’t ready to embrace CIO. I think realizing that experts recommend a range of different things and that you really just have to experiment a bit to see what works for you and your kid is empowering. I would also put in a plug for a general babycare book, Heading Home with Your Newborn. And instead of a nursing book.

    • Anonymous says:

      +1 Loved Heading Home with Your Newborn. Very straightforward tone, and answered lots of questions that cropped up as we were getting the hang of things.

  7. Meg Murry says:

    Personally, I wouldn’t buy any baby books, but rather just check them out from the library first, and only buy if it’s something you really thing you’ll refer to again. We got Happiest Baby from the library, and it was definitely a “read it, got it” type of book – I don’t think I would have gone back to it again later to re-read.

    Honestly, I never thought about cookbooks from the library grossing me out – I love to get cookbooks from the library rather than buy them and find out after the fact they are duds. I guess maybe I can see it now that you mention it – bringing a book into your kitchen that’s been handled by a ton of other people in their kitchens and who knows where else – but not enough to actually concern me. I’m pretty much the opposite of a germaphobe though.

  8. My pediatrician’s office gives expecting parents Heading Home With Your Newborn when you register. I found it really helpful for basic information on nursing and care taking.

    While I was on bed rest, my SIL let me borrow her copy of Sippy Cups Are Not For Chardonnay, and I thought it was entertaining and amusing. It helped keep things in perspective. I’d try to buy it used or borrow a copy though.

  9. Bringing Up Bebe! It’s not a newborn care instruction book, but it was very helpful with food-related issues as baby gets older (as in you do not have to have a car covered in goldfish…snacking doesn’t have to be constant…kids don’t have to only eat nuggets and mac n cheese). Also good information about pausing before picking up crying baby. I credit this book for my kid’s good diet. And it was a fun read.

    • It’s our family’s bible on child-rearing.

    • I read Bringing Up Bebe in my first or second trimester. I appreciated how it provided some alternative perspectives on parenting, and it sparked good conversations between my husband and me. Easy and enjoyable read, too.

    • I’m glad someone mentioned this book. I read this when I was pregnant and it was comforting to know that some parents don’t cater to their child’s every whim, since I knew that couldn’t be our parenting style. This book also led me to read Babywise, which I know is controversial but had some good information in it and really helped me keep the idea of a schedule in mind (though I did not use the schedule the book suggested). I tried reading Toddlerwise but just couldn’t get over the mysoginistic feel of it, so I stopped.

  10. shortperson says:

    someone on this site recommended i know how she does it and i think it’s a great read for this audience. as for baby books, i highly recommend “no bad kids,” and “how to talk so your children will listen.” for more atmospherics, i enjoyed “the magic years,” “miss manners guide to raising perfect children” and “french kids eat everything.”

  11. This may be a bit late, but if anyone is still reading, one of my favorite kid books (not so much baby) is How to Behave and Why.

  12. ALL my friends with children told me how great Happiest Baby on the Block is. They bought us the book and raved about how it saved their lives…
    Well, I read it cover to cover and found it could have been easily condensed into a 25 page booklet. Very redundant. And, perhaps because of my daughter’s temperament, I did not wind up using the 5Cs all that often.
    It did not live up to hype, and I wish I had read books on breastfeeding or working motherhood instead.

    • YES. Omg. Half the book was just the author hyping himself up. So annoying! That said we did find the 5S’s to be useful for a month or two (usually not all at once though).

  13. Before The Kid came along, we liked “Eat, Sleep, Poop” for common sense advice in a relaxed tone. “Hungry Monkey” was a great read and good advice for a couple of foodie parents who want to raise a foodie. “Baby Bargains” helped me do the pre-baby shopping and rescued us from the curse of an awful stroller.

    A friend gave me “Caring for Your Baby and Young Child” as a shower gift and that thing has been the bible for us on all practical questions like teething, weaning from the bottle, RSV (been there, did that), HFM (missed us but went around school twice), biting (The Kid got bitten at school), and the awful three year old phase. I have given it as a gift since then.

    I also have liked “Emotional Muscle” as The Kid has grown. Our first school recommended it and there are some useful nuggets in it for the toddler years.

    In the humor vein, I recommend “The Honest Toddler: A Child’s Guide to Parenting” and “Toddlers are A**holes”. Bunmi Laditan gets it!

    For kid books for gifts, I like the boxed sets of the Karen Katz books and anything Boynton.

  14. For breastfeeding, I found the La Leche book The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding very helpful. It definitely gets a bit “granola” in places (we are not a wear your baby all the time, co-sleeping, etc. type of family), but I was able to ignore those parts. It was by far the most helpful in terms of really diving into the complications of breastfeeding – latches, different positions, etc.

    For pre-baby planning, I thought Baby Bargains was super helpful, and I used What to Expect When You’re Expecting.

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m late to this thread, but I can’t read that la leche book. It’s more than granola, it attempts to shame people who don’t want to use attachment parenting. I about threw the book across the room when the author backed up its position by saying “that’s how momma dogs and cats do it after all…” And all the “for thousands of years, moms gave breastfed without looking at clocks” as if the lack of a clock proves ancient people would NEVER be so TERRIBLE as to wake their child from a nap to eat… Part of what annoys me is that book tries to be more authoritative and supportive (on/of breastfeeding) and come from a perspective of all types of mothers, but it might as well be another quack-DR’s personal parenting philosophy. Disappointing.

      Any real or complicated question you look up in that book, the answer is “call your local la leche league.” I was looking for info on treating milk blisters and pumping and I came up empty.

      I agree with Kat that Nursing Mothers Conosnion isn’t that good, hit it was way better than Wobably Art IMO.

      I highly recommend the Mayo clinic books on pregnancy and baby bc they are science based and not opinion-y.

  15. Tunnel says:

    I am late to this, but “Secrets of the Baby Whisperer: How to Calm, Connect, and Communicate with Your Baby” by Tracy Hogg was a life safer for me when I was home those first few, emotion filled weeks with a newborn with no idea what to do.

  16. Karen C says:

    Fantastic list of books here!! I am really happy I came across this site. Thanks for sharing these helpful recommendations with your readers. I think it’s important to inject some humor into the reading mix as a new mom so I really think “Where’s My Award? How to Get Baby Barf Out of a Red Carpet & Other Tales from a Working Mom in Hollywood” needs to be added to the list! The book is written by former stand-up comedian turned celebrity publicist Margot Black ( and it is a hilarious read for working moms who are trying to balance their career and their family. Her working mom struggle is real. Who has time for bake sales when you have a Miss Malibu event to PR? Her life is hectic and crazy and exciting and I loved reading about it. The author writes from the heart and is ridiculously funny throughout. I hope you and your readers will check it out!

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