My 8 Best Parenting Books On Sleep, Discipline, & Potty Training

Clients and friends often ask me for book recommendations when they’re trying to overcome a specific challenge in their parenting. This list of the 8 best parenting books on sleep, discipline, and potty training come from my personal experience as a mom as well as my experience as a pediatric nurse practitioner.

Best Parenting Books on Baby Sleep

Many clients ask me about what sleep books to read to get their babies to sleep through the night. I certainly do not have any that I’d swear would do the trick. This whole sleep thing is much harder than anyone anticipated, and in the end almost every child learns to sleep regardless of the book read or the method used. This being said, some clients find it really helpful to have something to read to give certain strategies to get them through the tough sleepless days and nights!

No Cry Sleep Solution
by Elizabeth Pantley
This book offers some great tips to encourage your baby to learn how to soothe him or herself to sleep, and stay asleep. It’s also a gentle and supportive book for parents who really feel that the traditional “cry it out” books aren’t for their families. A great book to begin with!

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child
by Marc Weissbluth, M.D.
This is one of the “sleep guru” books, however, you should beware! It does offer some very useful thoughts on sleep, and ways to facilitate sleep in your child, but it also offers contradictions in spots, and a more “tough love” attitude than No Cry Sleep Solution.

The Baby Sleep Book: The Complete Guide to a Good Night’s Rest for the Whole Family
by William Sears, M.D.
Dr. Sears is one of the most read pediatricians, especially for people seeking a natural or alternative approach to raising their child. His sleep book offers good tips, discussion about infant and baby sleep, and also bases a lot of the sleep methods on your child’s temperament and personality.

More from Deb

My number one credential when I am evaluating parenting ideas gleaned from a book is the feeling the advice leaves me with. It’s important that any new techniques I try with my kids “sit right” with me. The amount and diversity of parenting advice can be overwhelming, and I find that there are two paths to accurate information; read just about nothing at all and go with your gut – OR – read high quality, evidence-based literature. Sorting out literature based in evidence from the sea of opinion isn’t necessarily easy. Here are some tips:

  1. Know how the author gained their expertise. Did they raise a family similar to the family you aspire too? Did they have kids who shared some of your child’s strengths and challenges? Are they childhood development experts? Safety experts? Medical doctors?
  2. Know the author’s purpose in writing the book. Do they aim to promote the best for children? For parents? Are they writing in service of an ideology or belief?
  3. Seek out books that give advice based on your child’s temperament and personality rather than a one-size fits all approach. Kids are unique. Gaining insight into your child can be incredibly helpful. Trying to fit your child into a mold will be frustrating at best, and possibly detrimental.

Best Parenting Books on Toddler Discipline

Clients often ask me when they should start reading up on toddler discipline and what books I recommend. It is here where I think that doing some reading really can pay off and help you to be a better parent! I advise people to start reading these books early, around the first year mark. This ensures that you’ve got some solid background before you have a full-fledged toddler.

Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood
by Jim Fay and Charles Fay, Ph.D.
This is by far my favorite parenting book! It gives solid, understandable advice that makes sense. And it has real implications and applications for parenting as your child grows. Plus, it’s easy and humorous to read and resonates strongly with families that want to ensure they have well mannered, thoughtful children who will make wise decisions and understand consequence, while ensuring that love and empathy are all in the picture.

Setting Limits with Your Strong-Willed Child : Eliminating Conflict by Establishing Clear, Firm, and Respectful Boundaries
by Robert J. Mackenzie, Ed.D.
This book’s title really does say it all! If you have a strong-willed child, this book with reassure you and resonate strongly, allowing for some self-examination along the way. It also offers useful tools for not getting into a “battle of wills” with your child.

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk
by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish
This book gives some wonderful contextual information on the ways in which we can speak with our kids and truly listen to them as well! It is filled with anecdotes and practice “discussions” and it even offers examples for you to “work” on as well. A great basic refresher to facilitate respectful and useful discussions with your children.

1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12
by Thomas W. Phelan, Ph.D.
This book presents very easy steps to follow to promote good behavior. I find that the counting method isn’t always effective or useful in every situation, but it works when you do it correctly! A decent place to start if you’re feeling like you’ve completely lost control.

Best Parenting Books on Potty Training

Although it may seem early to read about potty training, I actually think that around the first year mark, it’s a good idea to get a bit of reading on the subject into your parenting repertoire.  It’s amazing how some early ground-work can really make the actual “training” go much more smoothly.

The American Academy of Pediatrics Guide to Toilet Training
by American Academy of Pediatrics
This book is really my go-to on the subject of toilet training. It gives solid information with tips and bases your parental interventions and actions on your child’s temperament and personality.

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