Dr Spock and the world of parenting books

Back in the day, Dr Benjamin Spock was the authority on parenting. The first edition of his book was published in 1946 as The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care. Within six months, it had sold half a million copies. What made it so popular were a few things, beginning with the famous first line: “Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.” With that, Dr Spock, in the gentlest and friendliest way went on to offer realistic – and sensible – advice that stemmed from his years as a pediatrician. Finally, here was an authority on the subject who was not insisting that the only way to parent was so strictly that you’d better not show any love. Although modern readers of the book (now titled Dr Spock’s Baby and Child Care and in its 9th edition) may find much they disagree with, the fact is this book changed a lot of views on parenting, shifting it to the modern era.

In the last 50 years, there’s been one book that sparked off parenting as a genre and that’s the now-iconic What to Expect When You Are Expecting. Written by Heidi Murkoff, after having a baby of her own and coming up with nothing for all the questions she had, the book’s spawned a whole series and gone on to inspire a film by the same name. What to expect… remains a bestseller on the list of parenting books, even after 25 years since it was first published.

Coming to the 21st century, we’ll say the genre has expanded to other formats – we think Instagram is sustained by mums and dads who are holding on to it as their link to the adult world! Celebs and babies, mommies and babies, dads and babies… everyone who’s got something to do with babies is out there talking, sharing, laughing and crying together! We’ve gone from talking down to parents to sharing and being more empathetic about the real world of parenting.

The genre is now flooded with more books than you can read in 9 months. New-age parenting is all-embracing and has something on everything you can imagine asking about parenting – birthing, lactation, sleep, feeding, relationship with your partner after baby, the early weeks, the first year, the second…it’s a deep well of things to write books on! If Dr Spock and Heidi Murkoff wrote for the mother, you now have books for dads, single moms, single dads, adoptive parents, surrogates, same-sex…it’s a wide range of audience to write books for!

So, if you’ve been looking for some books on parenting, and are overwhelmed by the (often conflicting) information out there, here’s our pick of 6 books for today’s parents!

1. The New Dad Dictionary: Everything He Really Needs to Know – from A to Z by Chris Illuminati

Everything from Attachment Parenting to Episiotomy to Water Birth is defined. And then dad-defined!

2. Cribsheet: A Data-Driven Guide to Better, More Relaxed Parenting, from Birth to Preschool by Emily Oster

Written by an economist and a mom, it’s a terribly useful and modern guide to decision-making in the early years!

3. How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids by Jancee Dunn

Having a baby changes things, especially between husbands and wives. It happens to the best of us! Here’s a LOL read but also with useful advice.

4. Hot Mess To Mindful Mom by Ali Katz

This one’s for the new moms who need to be reminded to take care of themselves.

5. Work. Pump. Repeat by Jessica Shortall

It sounds like a terribly useful book with its claim as the new mom’s guide to breastfeeding and returning to work! How 21st century!

6. Forever Outnumbered by Simon Hooper

This Instagrammer Dad of Daughters, already famous for chronicling life with his wife and four daughters, got a book deal following his popularity online. His book, Forever Outnumbered took 9 months to write, and is a great gift for dads, and moms.

What books did you read when pregnant? Leave your recommendations in the Comments below!

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