Best Parenting Books for 2021

A round-up of the best parenting books to help you navigate pregnancy, birth and early childhood

Alex Kinsella

Content Marketer and Writer

As parents, we all question whether we’re making the right decisions at the correct times. Thankfully, there are evidence-based books available to guide us as we navigate pregnancy, birth, and the early childhood stages. To help you out, we’ve put together a list of the best Montessori-aligned parenting books for 2021 below.

The First Forty Days — The Essential Art of Nurturing the New Mother

Modern mothers are pushed to “bounce back” after deliver­ing their babies, and are often left alone to face the physical and emotional challenges of this new stage of their lives. Author Heng Ou wanted to change that. Based on her own postpartum experience with zuo yuezi, a set period of “confinement,” in which a woman remains at home focusing on healing and bonding with her baby, The First Forty Days revives the lost art of caring for the mother after birth.

The book includes 60 simple recipes for healing soups; replenishing meals and snacks; and calming and lactation-boosting teas, all formulated to support the unique needs of the new mother.

Over the last decade, conversations about mental health have become more common and open. What No One Tells You, from psychiatrists Alexandra Sacks, MD and Catherine Birndorf, MD explores the complex emotions women experience during pregnancy and postpartum. It’s an excellent read for those who are expecting and their partners, as insights on what an expectant or new mom is experiencing can help partners become more supportive.

Humans are born communicators. We start listening in the womb and announce our introduction to the world with a loud cry. While the average age for first words is between 11 and 14 months, children can easily communicate everything from being hungry to wanting a book read to them using sign language. Lane Rebelo’s Baby Sign Language Made Easy provides parents with the basics of sign language.

Introducing solid foods is an exciting step in your child’s growth, but knowing when to start can be challenging. Author and registered dietitian nutritionist Malina Malkani’s Simple and Safe Baby-Led Weaning helps parents identify readiness. The methods taught by Malkani align well with the Montessori principle of independence, empowering babies to have autonomy with their first meals by equipping them with self-feeding skills.

As your child grows, so does their independence. That independence can assert itself in many ways, and knowing how to talk to your child so they listen is critical. How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen: A Survival Guide to Life with Children Ages 2-7 helps parents create strong communication channels with their children, which ultimately boosts connection and independence.

In Your Two-Year-Old: Terrible or Tender, Drs. Ames and Frances Ilg show how toddlers are widely misunderstood by presenting parents with a two-year-old's worldview. It offers fantastic insight into the perspective of a toddler, helping parents better understand — and subsequently better respond — to them during these foundational years.

Being a supportive dad-to-be is more than offering foot rubs and 2 a.m. ice cream runs. In First-Time Dad: Pregnancy Handbook for Dads-To-Be, Steven Bell helps dads-to-be navigate their new role from the pregnancy test to what they need to know to help care for a new baby and for their partners as they recover from labor and delivery.

Talking with someone doesn’t always mean you’re communicating with them. This applies to communication between partners and between parents and children. First coined by author and pastor Gary Chapman, love languages are the distinct ways you and your partner show and expect affection from each other. In 5 Love Languages of Children, Chapman uses those same love languages to help parents and children communicate better and build stronger bonds.

Understanding and mastering our emotions are essential skills that many of us strive towards improving in early adulthood. Marc Brackett, founder of Emotional Intelligence at the Yale Center, advocates for these skills to be developed in childhood. In Permission to Feel, Brackett guides parents on how to help their children understand and communicate their feelings.

Can lessons from the business world help parents make better decisions in parenting, discipline, and schooling? That’s the question Emily Oster, economics professor, answers in The Family Firm: A Data-Driven Guide to Better Decision Making in the Early School Years. Oster uses her experience to guide parents from parenting on the fly to using data and insights about their children to make long-term parenting decisions.

Denmark has consistently scored near the top of global happiness rankings for almost two decades. Many attribute it to the Danes’ concept of hygge — a strong sense of togetherness from spending quality time with friends and family. In The Danish Way of Parenting, authors Jessica Joelle Alexander and Iben Dissing Sandahl share examples and advice from Danish parenting that you can bring into your family.

Montessori philosophy is filled with examples of “less is more.” Using fewer higher-quality toys and books is just one example of how simplicity helps create a rich environment for self-directed learning. Kim John Payne explores how this same philosophy can help create a calming space for children to play, learn, and grow.

Guiding our children through challenging behaviors is one of the most complex parts of parenting. We’ve all had times where we have regretted overly-reactive responses. In Gentle Discipline, parenting expert Sarah Ockwell-Smith uses practical examples of connection-based discipline that help parents set boundaries, build strong connections, and break the cycle of shaming and blaming.

Every parent has a moment when their child has done something that we as adults don’t understand. There’s a reason for this; The part of our brains that makes decisions doesn’t develop fully until our twenties. In The Whole-Brain Child, neuropsychiatrist Daniel J. Siegel gives parents 12 strategies to help children deal with tantrums, outbursts, and disciplinary issues.

Montessori Parenting Deep Dives

For more than 150 years, parents have trusted Montessori schools with their children’s education. These books are great resources for parents looking for more information on the Montessori method or ways to bring the Montessori philosophy into your home.

There’s no better place to start than Dr. Maria Montessori’s The Montessori Method. This book documents Montessori’s extensive research into how children learn, grow, and explore the world around them. 

One of the pillars of Montessori’s philosophy is the concept of the Absorbent Mind. Montessori discovered that a child’s mind is built to absorb information around them from birth. The first six years of a child’s life are the most important for cognitive and emotional development. In The Absorbent Mind, Montessori’s research on this critical period of development provides a foundation for parents and educators to create a prepared environment where children can flourish.

In Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius, Dr. Angeline Stoll Lillard explores the science that validates the methods that Montessori wrote about 150 years earlier. Lillard shares her research into the foundations of Montessori education and explains how authentic Montessori education can benefit every child.

Montessori education doesn’t have to wait until your child is school-age. Author Tara Greaney’s Montessori at Home: A Practical Guide for Parents provides a step-by-step guide for parents to introduce Montessori methods at home for children three and under.

The Montessori Baby by Simone Davies and Junnifa Uzodike helps expecting parents prepare themselves and their homes for their baby’s arrival. The authors have written a fantastic guide for parents looking for help being physically and emotionally prepared, understanding what it means to be an active observer, and creating an environment ready for learning, growth, and love.

Simone Davies brings parents a new way to think about how their toddlers interact with the world. The Montessori Toddler is full of practical advice on dealing with tantrums, ways to foster deeper understanding and connections, and tips on being your child’s guide as they navigate their toddler years.

In Montessori from the Start, Paula Polk Lillard provides a comprehensive guide to introducing Montessori in your home from birth to age three. Parents will find information on everything from setting up the prepared environment at home, what materials, toys, and books are best for self-guided learning, and guidance for parents to help their children become independent and secure individuals.

Meet the Author

Alex Kinsella

Alex Kinsella is a freelance content marketer and writer based in Waterloo, Ontario. Alex has contributed to publications including BetaKit, Grand Magazine and more.

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