Essential books for new parents

newborn waking up sleepy yawn

Congratulations! If you're feeling a bit bewildered about what happens next, you've come to the right place. These parenting books are highly recommended by parents who've been there, done that and got the (sicky) t-shirt. Good luck!

First-Time Parent by Lucy Atkins

By far the most popular parenting book on Mumsnet, users recommend, share and buy Lucy Atkins' book in their hundreds each year, hailing it as a practical guide that covers all the basics.
first-time parent by lucy atkins

What Mumsnetters say:

“If you're after solid advice without the preaching, this is an excellent resource. Like a lot of things, parenting is something you learn by doing, but practical, essential information, conveyed in an adult-to-adult tone, is invaluable. It's also set out very clearly with no waffle – she gets to the point quickly and is never the slightest bit patronising, just reassuring and wise.”

“I really liked the common sense approach. One of my favourite parts said something along the lines of 'Don't feel too guilty if you're in the loo/shower and they start crying – if they were a younger sibling you wouldn't always get to them instantly.'”

“A how-to guide with no guilt or grand theories.”

Buy the book for £9.09


Your Baby Week by Week by Simone Cave and Dr Caroline Fertleman

Full of reassuring advice, Your Baby Week by Week tells you what to expect before it happens so you needn't be unnecessarily alarmed.

Your baby week by week by Simone Cave and Dr Caroline Fertleman

What Mumsnetters say:

“It was invaluable for me in the first couple of months.”

“There are a couple of pages on each week about what to expect in terms of crying/sleeping/feeding etc. It's not a parenting guide, it just tells you what to expect that particular week.”

“It was very accurate for my daughter and very reassuring about what was normal and when various phases were likely to end.”

Buy the book for £9.09


Your Baby and Child by Penelope Leach

Penelope Leach's parenting guide has been a staple on the new parent's shelf since the 70s for its down-to-earth approach and logical organisation, – but don't worry, it's been revised and revamped plenty of times since then.

your baby and child by  Penelope Leach

What Mumsnetters say:

“Sensible advice arranged in developmental order, lovely pictures of real families, and a real sense of love for both babies and parents throughout.”

“Penelope Leach is fairly non-prescriptive and gives mostly the sort of common sense advice you'd want from your own mum, but without the judgement or agenda.”

Buy the book for £16.20


What Mothers Do by Naomi Stadlen

Read this book and celebrate yourself! Naomi Stadlen acknowledges and understands the ups and downs of motherhood. A boost to your self-confidence.

what mothers do especially when it looks like nothing by Naomi Stadlen

What Mumsnetters say:

“It's fantastic for your self-confidence. It's something you should read when baby is a few weeks old and you're sure you're doing it all wrong and baby hates you.”

“Brilliant. Doesn't tell you what to do, but focuses on how fabulous and underrated we are.”

“Highly recommend What Mothers Do by Naomi Stadlen which helps you get your head around some of the more unexpected emotional changes that come with motherhood.”

Buy the book for £8.99


new parents holding baby

How Not to Be the Perfect Mother by Libby Purves

Want another self-confidence boost? Libby Purves has got your back. If you prefer a more lighthearted approach to parenting, this is the survival guide you need.

how not to be the perfect mother by libby purves

What Mumsnetters say:

“Not patronising or over-prescriptive, it's great anti-guilt stuff with some top time-saving tips and shortcuts.”

“I love this book and re-read it regularly as I come up against different problems! Required reading. It basically espouses the 'benign neglect' school of parenting but the most important thing it gave me was that most of it just doesn't matter – the baby will still be fine. And he was, and is.”

Buy the book for £8.99


Babies: The Mumsnet Guide

We couldn't give you a page full of parenting books without plugging our own! The Mumsnet Guide to Babies has all the wit and wisdom of the forums condensed down into a handy guide.

Babies the mumsnet guide

What Mumsnetters say:

“The Mumsnet book was the only one I really liked and of course, it led me here.”

“I agree, the MN books are fab.”


Buy the book for £14.99


The Expectant Dad's Survival Guide by Rob Kemp

There are plenty of parenting books out there specifically for new dads but Rob Kemp's 'survival guide' seems to have come out top for being genuinely useful and the least patronising. See also: The New Dad's Survival Guide

What Mumsnetters say:

the expectant dad's survival guide by rob kemp

“I found The Expectant Dad's Survival Guide really useful and non-patronising. Many of the others on offer seemed to be the useless 'Wahey! Blokey bloke' type, but the Survival Guide was actually useful throughout my other half's pregnancy and also useful on practical things like picking car seats, pushchairs etc.”

“The Expectant Dad's Survival Guide is excellent. Properly researched and not patronising sexist crap. Lots of advice on how to support your partner in labour.”

Buy the book for £9.09


Mothering Multiples by Karen Kerkhoff Gromada

If you've got more than one bundle of joy, sick and tears, Mothering Multiples is the book for you. Highly recommended by Mumsnetters with twins and triplets, it has a particular focus on how to breastfeed multiples if that's your dig. Although it's now out of print, there are still plenty of second-hand copies available on Amazon- or alternatively you could ask if someone's got spare copy on the Multiple Births talkboard.

mothering multiples by Karen Kerkhoff Gromada

What Mumsnetters say:

“Mothering Multiples is a fab book! If you can get a copy then I'd highly recommend it.”

“Mothering Multiples is absolutely brilliant – I even packed it in my hospital bag so I had it with me in the first few days.”

Buy the book from £20.54


Don't forget, if the books can't answer your questions, Mumsnetters can! Ask the experts.

All prices correct at time of publication