Ah, toddlers. One minute they’re giggling nonstop over a pile of noodles, and the next they’re sobbing over the way you put their shoe on. From the inexplicable to the downright adorable, there is no denying that parenting a toddler is unlike any other stage of childhood development. And while it’s surely going to put your parenting skills to the test, the good news is there are plenty of other parents out there to empathize with and celebrate these years right along with you.
While there will never be a one-size-fits-all approach to parenting, these ten parenting books for toddlers offer tips, tricks, strategies, and camaraderie and will help you tame tantrums, communicate better, and even laugh out loud. We think they’re all worth reading, whenever you can cram in the time.
10 best toddler parenting books
Harvey Karp, M.D.
You may know Harvey Karp from his bestseller, The Happiest Baby on the Block, and his awesome products like the Snoo. In the same vein as The Happiest Baby, Karp offers parents strong strategies for the toddler years—which Karp identifies as beginning around eight months of age—aimed at helping parents communicate with toddlers on their primitive level. Tips like the fast food rule, which uses gesture, repetition, simplicity, and tone as well as how to handle big topics like separation anxiety, potty training, and more.
Whether you’re a die-hard believer in the benefits of Montessori play or you’re looking to cast a wide net to find positive approaches to parenting through the toddler years, Simone Davies offers a book that is full of not just coping tools but tons of ways to foster curiosity and encourage learning. Practical, useful advice like how to set up a non-chaotic home environment and an array of Montessori-based activities accompanies real-world help for establishing daily routines, setting boundaries without bribes, staying composed during meltdowns, and more. You need not be familiar with Montessori to benefit from this book.
Parents who struggle with disciplining their toddler (ahem, all of us) will find a compassionate, welcome message in Lansbury’s book. Approaching the act of “discipline” with a new lens, based not just on studies and research but also on more than 20 years of empowering parents through the toddler years. Lansbury helps parents remember that the toddler years and toddler defiance are a critical part of their development, and it’s their job to test our patience and love as they test boundaries. This book helps parents approach toddlerhood with a foundation of mutual respect and compassion.
One of the biggest milestones, and stressors, of moving your child from daycare into a preschool is potty training, and author Jamie Glowacki recommends you get started between 20 and 30 months of age. Glowacki’s six-step plan has been parent-tested again and again and takes a lot of the anxiety out of the process by helping you understand when your child is ready, potty regression, potty power struggles, and other common obstacles potty-training parents face.
Jamie Glowacki is also the author of “Oh Crap! I Have a Toddler,” another funny and insightful read that takes a lot of the stress and pressure out of the so-called “terrible twos” and beyond using humor and practical advice.
Separation anxiety, meltdowns when a routine is disrupted, bedtime struggles: anxiety in toddlers often manifests in ways that can cause parents to feel exhausted. Author Daniels helps explain the behaviors of anxious toddlers and offers lots of very practical solutions using real-life examples that are explained from both a parent and a toddler’s point of view. Great for parents and educators alike.
You might not think of a book of sign language as a go-to parenting book, but consider Dr. Harvey Karp’s message: communicating with your toddler on their level is a key component of making toddlers feel heard and nipping tantrums in the bud. Using sign language, children can communicate even before they know their words or when they are too mad, sad or anxious to speak. Whether a child is hearing impaired or not, sign will help them communicate their feelings, needs, and wants to you in a simple, effective way. This book offers a visual demonstration of over 200 signs toddlers can easily learn and replicate.
Joanna Faber and Julie King
The authors of the bestselling How to Talk series (including “How to Talk so Kids Will Listen”) offer this breakdown of communication strategies aimed at parents of little kids 2 to 7. It helps normalize the common problems parents and kids have, from tantrums to talking back, and offers lots of strategies for parents culled from the authors’ own life experiences as parents and teachers. The good news is, even if you can’t get behind every word of this book, you are nearly guaranteed to walk away with several applicable ways to talk with your kids without yelling or feeling frustrated, the kind you’ll actually remember in the heat of the moment.
This one doesn’t apply just to toddler parents, but toddler parents will get a lot out of it. Babies are tiring for entirely different reasons, and now that you have a toddler on your hands, you have a little one pushing boundaries, exploring the world, and clinging to your legs (often all at once). Whether your child is two or twelve, this book is focused on ways to help stop parenting meltdowns. We cannot promise you won’t still occasionally cry in the shower, but after reading this, you will definitely have some major coping strategies and will be better for it.
Tovah P. Klein
In this book author, Tovah Klein helps parents rethink their approach to the generalizations like “terrible twos” and the idea that toddlers are misbehaving and rude. Instead, she offers parents a fresh view and six key ways to connect to their kids in a meaningful way through simple actions that are easy to execute on a daily basis.
A version of this article was published April 29, 2022. It has been updated.