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The best books for expecting dads

Books on pregnancy, babies, and being a good dad

Let’s face it: fatherhood is daunting. From the moment you first find out you’re expecting to years after the baby is born, your life is full of firsts as you’re suddenly responsible for an additional life. 

It’s exciting. It’s thrilling. It’s probably one of the best experiences in your life. But if we’re being honest, it’s also scary as… well, insert a synonym to what goes into a diaper here. So why not get some help?

The good news is that millions of expecting and new fathers have gone through the exact same rollercoaster of feelings. None of them had to be on their own. They’ve sought, and in some cases used their experience to create their own, libraries full of advice.

The only problem? There are so many books full of parenting advice out there, it can feel impossible to know where to start. What’s worthwhile reading? What books are particularly good for expecting dads—that won’t put you to sleep, that’ll resonate, that’ll provide actionable info? Well, you’ve come to the right place.

Consider this your comprehensive guide to the books that help you through everything related to fatherhood, from pregnancy to simply being a good dad. Because hey, you deserve all the help you can get. Let’s do this.

Please note Fathercraft is reader-supported, meaning, at no cost to you, we may earn a commission if you buy after clicking an affiliate link. Learn moreAlso, we are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Best overall books for expecting dads

Among all the books we considered, two stood out as great overview books that cover a ton of relevant topics for expecting dads. Call them the pentathlon winners, the lifetime achievement award winners… you get the picture. These two are, broadly speaking, the best baby books for dads.

The winner: Caring for Your Baby and Young Child, by the American Academy of Pediatrics

We call this book the bible of parenting. It’s a beast, 960 pages chock full of advice, tips, and reassurance. If you only have the patience for a single dad/baby book, make it this one.

What it’s about:

Everything? That sounds like an exaggeration, but it’s actually not far from the truth. Now in its 7th edition, Caring for Your Baby and Young Child has dozens of chapters are broken down into pregnancy, birth, and age ranges up to age 5. You’ll also find dedicated sections on sleep, feeding your baby, common ailments, and more.  

It’s not just a baby book for dads – but if anything, that makes it even more relevant. The book contains so much information that you might actually get overwhelmed at times, but it’s relevant enough for both parents that you can always check it out together.

What makes it great: 

While the length is daunting at first, it’s also organized in a way that’s perfect to understand and skim. Every chapter is short, as little as a single page or two, broken down into topics that are easily recognizable.

That means you can treat the book as almost like an encyclopedia. Instead of reading it cover to cover, you can look up very specific questions about feeding your baby, illnesses, and any other topic that might be relevant quickly and easily.

Here’s one way to sum up the book: it’s almost like a more trustworthy version Google. When you have those panicked 2am wakeups and don’t know what to do, a quick reference can help you get valuable advice or at least assurance that whatever your little one is doing (other than sleeping) is perfectly normal. 

My wife and I read this one together, taking it one chapter at a time, each time our first daughter approached a new age range covered by the book.

Caring for Your Baby and Young Child, by the American Academy of Pediatrics

See Caring for Your Baby and Young Child on Amazon

The runner-up: The Happiest Baby on the Block, by Harvey Karp

This author’s name might ring a bell. Dr. Harvey Karp is the creator of the Snoo, a smart bassinet that does a surprisingly good job of keeping your baby calm and sleeping (our review here). Karp is also behind the 5S’s to Soothe a Crying Baby, which we’ve found to be extremely effective. This book, maybe not as surprisingly, goes in that same direction. 

What it’s about:

Sleep, of course! The subtitle (The New Way to Calm Crying and Help Your Newborn Baby Sleep Longer) sums it up. It’s essentially a more in-depth, researched, and comprehensive version of that above-mentioned 5S technique.

In just over 350 pages, Dr. Karp dives into the reasons why your baby cries and why sometimes, it’s just inevitable. Of course, he also goes into the techniques you can learn to minimize the unnecessary side of that equation, teaching parents and dads how to get that little bit of extra sleep during long and exhausting baby nights.

What makes it great: 

If you’re like most new dads, you know that a new parent’s life consists largely of two parts: trying to get your baby to sleep and/or to stop crying and soaking up every second of peace and quiet. Why not get a book that tries to help you do exactly that?

Reassurance is an especially important part of the book. Dr. Karp goes through the length to avoid scaring new parents or making them think they’re doing something wrong. Instead, he explains in detail why babies behave the way they do, positioning his tips and techniques as natural extensions rather than revolutionary new ideas.

The book has received some criticism that it’s just an extension of his 5S’s, which are easily available in any quick online search. But this book goes into much more detail than that, expanding on the safe ways parents can take these steps. It’s not as comprehensive as the winner of this category, but it still deserves to be on any list of books on how to be a good dad—I can tell you from personal experience using the 5 s’s technique (we had the OG DVD version) made me feel like a superhero with both of my daughters, so check this one out.

The Happiest Baby on the Block Book

See Happiest Baby on the Block on Amazon

There you have it—the best books for new dads and first time dads—if you only read one or two, make it one of them—and yes, we know they’re not dad-specific, but most parenting isn’t gender-specific.

Best books about pregnancy for dads

Pregnancy is all about your significant other, but let’s be clear: you should understand what’s happening. After all, the little one preparing to be born will be yours. It can be tough to find good pregnancy books for dads, but we do have a clear winner in this category. If you’d like a cheat sheet, we wrote a detailed guide in our week-by-week guide to pregnancy for dads.

The winner: The Baby Bump by Carley Roney

 This was the book my wife and I read together when she became pregnant with our first daughter, Kenzie. We loved it, for a variety of reasons. If you’re looking for a good pregnancy book for dads, you just might, too. 

What it’s about:

The content in the title: this one is all about pregnancy. It includes everything from week-to-week baby developments to keep track of what’s actually happening to advice on what to wear. Along the way, you’ll find a checklist for the birth plan, a baby kick tracker, and more helpful nuggets.

The book is first and foremost written from moms to moms, but it goes to lengths to ensure its relevance for the rest of the family, too. Both expecting parents, friends, grandparents, and more can all find some relevant info to help prepare them for birth.

What makes it great: 

It’s probably a tie between the information and the tone. This book is deliberately written in a less authoritative, more fun voice. That sounds like a cliché, but it’s true. This is the book that (jokingly) advises the mom to “run for the hills” when the first pregnancy test comes back positive.

The information itself is nothing to sneeze at, though. The book’s brevity doesn’t take away from its helpfulness; every page has practical advice, and especially for dad, that advice tends to be great context throughout the pregnancy. The many worksheets throughout the book also help in the practicality of this gem.

The Baby Bump Book

See The Baby Bump Book on Amazon

Books that teach you how to be a good dad

There are one thousand and one books on how to be a great mom. And there should be—moms are awesome. Books on how to be a dad, on the other hand, can be tough to find. That’s actually a big part of the reason we started our company, Fathercraft. Still, they’re out there. You just have to know where to look. Below are what we consider the best books to prepare for fatherhood.

The winner: The Expectant Father by Armin A. Brott

Maybe it’s a boring choice. After all, this is the one that you find on all those guides ranking what to expect books for dads. Still, there’s a reason it shows up on every list, including this one, and is in its 5th edition: it’s a damn good book.

What it’s about:

It’s essentially a guide, organized by months, on what is happening during pregnancy and the first few months after the baby is born. The catch: it’s all from a dad’s perspective. The book covers everything from what’s going on with your partner to advice on how you can get involved and help throughout the process.

As a result, the 336 pages branch out pretty widely. In this book, you’ll find anything from starting a college fund what you can expect during delivery–and how you can help. 

What makes it great: 

Other than the general wealth of information, my favorite part here is the father’s perspective. The book does a great job in covering what most other books don’t: the father’s perspective during pregnancy, and the questions that might pop up there. 

Throughout the pages, the author inserts some levity with cartoons that sum up situations you’ll encounter.

The Expectant Father - The ultimate guide for dads-to-be

See The Expectant Father on Amazon

The runner-up: Be Prepared by Gary Greenberg

Fair warning: this book is from 2004, and its cover looks like it was published in the 1950s. BUT, it’s the highest-rated book on Amazon specifically on this topic, so you know it has to be good; 2,500+ reviews can’t lie, right?

At least, in this case, they don’t. Greenberg focuses on the stress, challenges, new situations, and–yes–fun that fathers-to-be will experience. It’s a book on preparing for parenthood, and then some.

What it’s about:

At its core, it’s about giving baby tips for dads. Of course it is. That means all kinds of unique advice, like how to stay awake at work and constructing an emergency diaper.

When a book specifically tells you to throw out the deep stats and research, you know you’re in for a ride. It’s impossible to list all of the pieces of advice you can find here, so we’ll let one speak for itself: “how to create a decoy drawer full of old wallets, remote controls, and cell phones to throw baby off the scent of your real gear.”

What makes it great: 

It might be obvious already: the off-beat humor, of course. Parenting and fatherhood are hard, and this book makes it just a little less hard. What really makes this book special, though, is the fact that in all of that fun, you can actually find tons of real-world, helpful advice.

It’s not as comprehensive as other guides like the winner in this category, and it doesn’t have to be. Instead, it makes sure to keep you reading and you’ll be surprised just how much helpful information you soak up in the process.

Be Prepared

See Be Prepared on Amazon

The bronze medalist: Home Game: An Accidental Guide to Fatherhood by Michael Lewis

Yep, that’s the Michael Lewis, author of bestselling books like Liar’s Poker, Moneyball, and The Big Short. Turns out he also writes parenting advice and is pretty damn good at it.

What it’s about:

Home Game is not one of those all-knowing guides. Instead, it’s a first-person account on how Lewis went through what every expectant dad experiences: unexpected feelings, stress, panic, and a certain sense of guilt that he didn’t know what he was doing.

More specifically, the book is a detailed account of what Lewis went through when each of his three children was born. He’s just like any other dad out there, and that’s what makes his story – and this book – so special.

What makes it great: 

The brutal honesty, glorious banality, and subtle humor of Lewis’s account. Don’t use this book if you’re looking for comprehensive advice. But if you just need to know that every other new dad is going through the same thing you are, it’s absolutely perfect.

Home Game

See Home Game on Amazon

For dads who are going to stay home: The Ultimate Stay-at-Home Dad by Shannon Carpenter

We’ve said this before, and we’ll say it again: parenting without going insane requires viewing situations with levity. Which is why it’s great that Shannon Carpenter is a stay-at-home dad who also trained at Second City (yeah, the world-famous comedy club), and wrote a book about how to be a stay-at-home dad.

What it’s about

No surprise here: how to be an awesome stay-at-home dad. But this book goes deep—into how to cook and clean, but also thorny and important issues like mental health. Expect plenty of advice from Shannon’s 15 years as a dad, but plenty of others too—this book includes anecdotes from dozens of other stay-at-home dads, too.

What makes it great

Humor, as you might expect, plays a big role—Publisher’s Weekly said this book has “lighthearted quips and plenty of comic asides”. But also practical advice. And, since it was published in late 2021, it’s truly published with the modern dad in mind.

The Ultimate Stay-at-Home Dad by Shannon Carpenter

See The Ultimate Stay-at-Home Dad on Amazon

Preparing for parenthood books

Books about getting ready for your baby can cover a wide range of things. You’re probably scared about what you can do to prepare your kid throughout life. These books can help you feel just a little less worried.

The winner: Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth

Sure, it’s not a book for or about babies. But it’s about one of the most important skills you can teach your kid from when they’re born all the way through adulthood. 

What it’s about:

It’s a book about the inherent potential of tenacity, the ability to persevere through adversity and achieve heights you didn’t think possible. It’s about learning how to not give up, but strive for bigger and better?

That sounds a little aloof, but it’s worthy advice coming from someone who has consulted with the White House, NBA, NFL, and more. Duckworth essentially writes a book about the practice makes perfect saying and makes it real in the process.

What makes it great: 

The biggest takeaway from this book is that everyone can be great with the right determination and approach.

That’s relevant for both expectant dads, and the kids they’re looking to raise. It’s impossible to not come away from reading this book and not feel ready to conquer the world, while also understanding what it takes to teach your little one the same approach.


See Grit on Amazon

The runner-up: Cribsheet by Emily Oyster

Consider it the economist’s guide to parenting. We promise, that’s more fun than it sounds. It’s part of a new wave of books that use data to help you improve and optimize your parenting skills.

What it’s about:

Data, first and foremost. But it’s really about the conclusions that this data leads to. Oyster takes conventional wisdom that tends to be pretty stressful (never co-sleep with your baby), then uses data to show that actually, context matters more than absolute truths.

Methodically, the author goes through all of the typical advice, but shows in which ways in which it is (or isn’t) supported by sufficient evidence or studies. The result tends to be pretty relaxing. As it turns out, you don’t actually have to follow an exact blueprint for raising your baby.

What makes it great: 

The writing is outstanding. That matters, because it’s easy to write a data-based book and make it seem completely boring. Oyster has accomplished the opposite, which makes this a surprisingly fun read.

Then, of course, there’s the actual advice. Having reassuring thoughts supported by comprehensive data feels both relaxing and surprisingly helpful. It’s impossible to come out of reading this book not feeling better about your impending fatherhood, knowing that it’s going to be okay. 

If you’re into this one, Oster has a prequel of sorts called Expecting Better (Amazon). We’ll let you guess what that’s about.

Cribsheet by Emily Oyster

See Cribsheet on Amazon

The bronze medallist: Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth M.D

This is the book my wife used to help both of their kids through learning to sleep. Listen, sleep books can be judge-y, but this one is far from it. That alone means it deserves a spot on our list.

What it’s about:

Sleeping habits, of course! It sounds self-explanatory, but what the title doesn’t mention is that not all sleeping habits are the same. Instead, this book provides plenty of options depending on your comfort level.

Are you a family with two working parents, or does one of you stay home? Each might require a different strategy, and this one covers both. It’s full of helpful advice related to everything you need to know about your baby’s sleep. 

What makes it great: 

We already mentioned the lack of judgment above, which you might recognize as a bit of a theme here. The best books for expecting dads take it to your level, instead of expecting you to raise it to theirs. 

At the same time, Weissbluth is not afraid to tell it as it is. His advice is backed by science, but he doesn’t shy away from answering general questions like whether keeping your baby up later helps them sleep in. Don’t know the details of sleep regression and what to do? Check out this book.

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child

See Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child on Amazon

Best baby books for dads (what to read to your baby)

Finding books for dads to read to baby girls and boys can be tough because everyone tells you something different on what works best. In the end, it’s all about your preferences, but we’ve picked out a few options that we especially love. 

The winner: The Going-to-Bed Book by Sandra Boynton

Boynton is our favorite board book author, bar none. This book shows why.

What it’s about:

A group of animals is preparing to go for bed. If that doesn’t sound like a great promise for the next Hollywood Blockbuster, I don’t know what does. In all seriousness, it’s a fun book about all those activities (from putting on pajamas to brushing teeth) that your little ones do before their snooze. 

What makes it great: 

Boynton’s book are unique. They have the magical ability to entertain both your little one and you. The new page might be unexpected or just plain silly. This one happens to be about establishing bedtime routines, which is, of course, a relevant topic. Just be careful it doesn’t soothe you as much as your baby.

The Going to Bed Book

See The Going to Bed Book on Amazon

The runner-up: Opposites by Sandra Boynton

Another classic Sandra Boynton book, it’s truly ‘fun for all ages’. Babies just love the colorful pictures, toddlers enjoy the humor, and grown-ups are surprisingly quick to love along with it. 

What it’s about:

Why, opposites of course! From big to small and dark to light, this book teaches your kid about the concept in a way that’s so fun, they won’t even notice. You get a 16-page board book that’s sure to entertain you as much as it does your little one.

What makes it great: 

The silliness is the obvious answer here, but Opposites goes beyond that. In talking through opposites and why they aren’t always bad, Boynton manages to convey a message of inclusivity and positivity. At the same time, that doesn’t make it any less fun.

Opposites by Sandra Boynton

Check out Opposites on Amazon

The bronze medallist: Anything you’re currently reading.

Here’s a secret: for newborns and small babies, what you read to them doesn’t actually matter much. Instead, they just want to hear the sound of your voice. So why not pick up a book you’re reading anyway, and read it to them?

It’s a perfect way to get through one of the books mentioned above. You can finally finish that book that’s been laying on your nightstand, or even make a resolution to start a new one. As long as you find something to read to them, you’ll win. 

It’s not a book, but we’re including it anyways (hey, it’s our website)

The Winner: Father’s Ed: An online course for expecting dads

It might not technically be among the top books for expectant fathers, but this is our list. And, full disclosure, this is also our product. At least we put it at the end, right? But seriously, online parenting courses can be a great compliment to reading—video content can demonstrate skills and convey information in a way that printed books just can’t.

In nine video modules, you’ll learn about anything from prepping for the baby’s arrival to diaper changing skills and essential gear you need. An 80-page workbook with plenty of cheat sheets helps to make sure you stay on track. And of course, you get all of that from the perspective of dads who’ve gone through the same thing you have.  

Learn who the Beardmaster is by clicking on him …

Learn more about Father’s Ed

Closing the book on our best books for expecting dads

Do you have to read all of these books and consume all that content? Probably not. But, find a couple that speak to you to help you prepare. Use them as a helpful guide through the crazy, amazing journey that fatherhood is. It’s all about the baby now—but you can take a starring role in that process.

If you’re looking for more ways to prepare as a new or first time dad, allow us to introduce ourselves—we’re Fathercraft, a company dedicated to creating resources for dads. Learn more about us here, or download some of our favorite resources, free, right over here.

Editor’s note: this post was originally published in January, 2020, but was updated in May, 2021 to include new and updated information

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