The Five Best Parenting Books Based on Science: The Experts’ Picks

New parenting books seem to appear all the time. How to do it the French way, the Tiger Mom way, the Friday new arrivals way, or how to get by — the choices can be a little overwhelming. How do we know which guide will give us the answers to the questions most relevant to our needs in a way we feel comfortable?

While writing my own parenting book, I came across and read a lot of Choices, Little Kids, Big Dilemmas: Science Solved Your Parenting Problems — and it does seem to have a guide for everyone. For my own contributions, I use a science-led, evidence-based approach. While the selection of truly research-oriented parenting books isn’t particularly large, I highly recommend a few.

So here are my top five parenting books to help me understand those often confusing early years. What to read when you really don’t have time to read:

1. Our Favorite Gifts


Your Baby Week by Week by Simone Cave and Dr. Caroline Fertleman is a book I use for my own children. This is a gift for us and I have given it as a gift to others many times. What’s really cool is that you can get in and out as much as you want.

In the first few months, when you’re really exhausted and you just want to answer the exact question you’re looking for, this book provides details on questions like how much milk, sleep, and crying time your baby needs.

The real necessities of taking care of your baby.

2. Mom knows best


Science for Moms: Alice Callahan’s research-based guide to baby’s first year takes a clear, fast-paced approach to discussing some of the most controversial parenting issues with readers through science.

Of particular relevance to the authors’ U.S. audience is the discussion of vaccination, which lays out the evidence in an accessible, no-nonsense manner.

Callahan also covers research in many areas that parents care most about, such as feeding and sleep.

3. Science for everyone


I really like “Informed Parents: A Science Resource for Your Child’s First Four Years” by Tara Haelle and Emily Willingham. Clearly, the authors have extensive experience communicating science to non-specialized readers. Not only do they present the latest knowledge on controversial topics, but they also discuss the personal choices they make in raising their own children.

They provide just the right amount of personal anecdotes to make scrutiny of research evidence easy to digest and the entire book easy to read. I also love that they go into detail about the tricky topic of sleep training and controlling crying.

Why didn’t you finish the first chapter?

4. Be disciplined


With 1.6 million copies sold, Dr. Thomas W. Phelan’s 1-2-3 Magic: 3 Step Discipline for Calm, Effective and Happy Parenting is This Books about discipline and young children. Phelan believes that all disciplinary situations can be broken down into two categories – behaviors you want to start (like tidying up or getting ready for school) and behaviors you want to stop (like whining, fighting, or any kind of antisocial behavior).

While it can feel overly controlled at times, this book is full of clear, practical advice. Parents are sure to find something useful to add to their discipline.

5. Negotiate


How To Talk So Little Kids Will Listen: Joanna Faber and Julie King’s Life Survival Guide for Children Ages 2-7 is part of the hugely popular series from the original international bestseller How To Say Kids Will Listen and Kids Will Listen say.

Using practical examples, the authors illustrate the unhelpful communication patterns that parents often fall into when dealing with their children. They also provide tons of examples of stories that many parents would relate to, and how to deal with them. There is something for everyone here.

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