We’ve culled a handful of titles from our long list of literary favorites. They’re roughly organized in a linear fashion along the P2P spectrum—from planning through pregnancy and birth to parenting—although many topics naturally overlap. While we love sifting through ancient wisdom and scouring the latest scientific research, we’ve intentionally selected titles accessible to the layperson and most likely available at your local library.

We’re also adding different categories in addition to general reading. See below for a taste of some recommended cookbooks.


General reading

The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby and Child Care
by Sally Fallon Morell and Thomas S. Cowan

An exceptional book devoted to the childbearing and childrearing years based on Dr. Weston A. Price’s work, this resource is clearly written, well-documented, and exceedingly practical, with chapters focused on preconception preparation, pregnancy nutrition, perinatal advice, managing childhood illnesses, and other helpful topics.

How to Conceive Naturally: And Have a Healthy Pregnancy After 30
by Christa Orecchio and Willow Buckley

With backgrounds in clinical nutrition, homeopathy, labor doula work, and perinatal yoga, Christa Orecchio and Willow Buckley have compiled an authoritative guide on the five trimesters—the three months prior to conception and the three months following birth that bookend the three traditional trimesters of pregnancy. They include dietary and lifestyle strategies for each stage, as well as natural troubleshooting guides for unpleasant pregnancy conditions, a helpful homeopathic section for everything related to pregnancy, and comprehensive meal plans and recipes.

The Continuum Concept: In Search of Happiness Lost
by Jean Liedloff

A compelling read for young and old alike, this book presents a paradigm for parenting—and indeed all of human life—that diverges radically from current Western thought. Jean Liedloff, sharing insight from her years in the South American jungle, depicts a human continuum guided by age-old instinct, inherent expectations, infancy spent in arms, proper sensory stimulation, real-world learning, and multigenerational community. While more philosophical than practical in nature, this could be the most influential book in shifting modern mores around birthing and raising children.

Taking Charge of Your Fertility: The Definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control, Pregnancy Achievement, and Reproductive Health
by Toni Weschler

Toni Weschler clearly explains the Fertility Awareness Method for understanding and charting cycles—extremely helpful both for maximizing chances of conception and for preventing pregnancy, as well as promoting basic gynecological health.

The Mama Natural Week-by-Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth
Genevieve Howland

This is a must-read for all mamas-to-be. Author Genevieve Howland, also known as Mama Natural from her popular website and YouTube channel, takes readers on a week-by-week journey through pregnancy, offering a comprehensive perspective on everything pregnant women want—and need—to know, from nutrition and safe remedies to prenatal screenings and birth interventions. Fun, quirky, well-researched, and über-practical, this guide embraces pregnancy and birth as “natural”—that is, as the normal and marvelous biological processes they are and have always been, not as medical conditions to be treated or outsourced to doctors. If you select only one pregnancy book, make it this one!

The Natural Pregnancy Book: Your Complete Guide to a Safe, Organic Pregnancy and Childbirth with Herbs, Nutrition, and Other Holistic Choices
by Aviva Jill Romm

An experienced midwife, herbalist, integrative physician, and mother of four provides an overview of the essentials during pregnancy—prenatal care, nutrition, herbs, exercise, rest, emotional changes, and so forth—as well as a thorough list of common pregnancy concerns along with general, dietary, and herbal recommendations for addressing them.

Origins: How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives
by Annie Murphy Paul

A fun read from a well-respected author and journalist, who also happens to be pregnant, this book weaves Annie Murphy Paul’s own journey with scientific research on the field of fetal origins, persuasively demonstrating how critical those nine months in utero can be.

Birthing From Within: An Extra-Ordinary Guide to Childbirth Preparation
by Pam England and Rob Horowitz

The Birthing From Within approach, refined over years of teaching childbirth classes, challenges parents to prepare for labor from the inside, from their own insight and perspective, offering tools and exercises for beginning this journey toward childbirth, engaging appropriate resources along the way, reclaiming personal power, coping with pain, and more.

Preparing for Birth with Yoga: Empowering and Effective Exercise for Pregnancy and Childbirth
by Janet Balaskas

The founder of the Active Birth Movement focused on empowering women in pregnancy and encouraging freedom and autonomy in birthing, Janet Balaskas provides a useful guide to breathing, everyday posture, and practicing yoga in preparation for labor and motherhood.

The Birth Partner: A Complete Guide to Childbirth for Dads, Doulas, and Labor Companions
by Penny Simkin

Not merely for dads, doulas, and labor companions, this trusted resource examines the period just preceding and following labor, helping parents and practitioners understand precursors, coping techniques, possible interventions and complications, and much more.

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth
by Ina May Gaskin

Renowned midwife Ina May Gaskin shares decades of experience supporting women through natural childbirth. Both practical and inspiring, this book empowers expecting mothers to trust their bodies and prepare for a birth experience free from unnecessary medical interventions.

The Fourth Trimester: A Postpartum Guide to Healing Your Body, Balancing Your Emotions, and Restoring Your Vitality
by Kimberly Ann Johnson

While comprehensive postpartum care resources have been noticeably absent from the contemporary literature, professionals like Kimberly Ann Johnson are leading the way in the new Postpartum Revolution. The Fourth Trimester is a groundbreaking guide that acknowledges—and honors—the whole woman who emerges from pregnancy and birth. It unites science, personal and professional experience, and the wisdom of diverse healing traditions from around the world to provide modern women with practical tools for postpartum healing on the physical, mental, emotional, energetic, and relational levels. As a doula, postpartum consultant, yoga teacher, bodyworker, women’s health care advocate, and mother who endured significant birth trauma, Johnson offers a unique and authoritative perspective that endeavors to make postpartum care as commonplace as childbirth education, with widespread repercussions for the vitality of our women, families, and communities.

Touching Heaven: Tonic Postpartum Care and Recipes with Ayurveda
by Ysha Oakes

Touching Heaven is the unedited, incomplete, yet still treasured brainchild of the late Ysha Oakes, the beloved founder of the Sacred Window School for training parents, students, and practitioners in the timeless wisdom of Ayurvedic postpartum care. While it does presuppose some understanding of Ayurvedic concepts, this downloadable PDF can provide a great springboard for current perinatal practitioners looking to deepen their understanding, as well as parents desiring to better understand the theory behind enduring postpartum traditions and to add some classic recipes to their postpartum repertoire. 

Infant Massage: A Handbook for Loving Parents
by Vimala McClure

This easy-to-follow guide for massaging infants equips parents with a simple skill, yet one that can be instrumental in facilitating communication and promoting physical and emotional well-being in their child.

The Diaper-Free Baby: The Natural Toilet Training Alternative
by Christine Gross-Loh

This handy guide to elimination communication (EC) provides parents with simple explanations and practical tools for learning to identify and respond to their child’s natural bodily cues.

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding
by Diane Weissinger, Diana West, and Teresa Pitman for La Leche League International

This completely revised and updated 8th edition of the 1958 La Leche League International classic promises to support and equip new generations of expectant and nursing mothers. Based on the premise that breastfeeding is the normal, healthy way to raise a baby, this comprehensive guide offers advice, anecdotes, and information to prepare mothers of all backgrounds and circumstances to nurse successfully. Clearly elucidated tips and techniques grounded in solid scientific data, age-based chapters, answers to frequent and consequential questions, tech support for common concerns, and handy tear sheets on popular topics empower women to gift their children with perhaps the most vital contribution to their future physical, mental, emotional, psychological, and social development: a secure, consistent, and dependable nursing experience in the early years.

Beyond the Sling: A Real-Life Guide to Raising Confident, Loving Children the Attachment Parenting Way
by Mayim Bialik

Author Mayim Bialik is a neuroscientist and mother of two whose experience in academia and at home guided her to a parenting philosophy that is both scientifically validated and instinctively sensible. Here’s a snippet from the description: “Mayim describes the beauty, simplicity, and purposefulness of attachment parenting, and how it has become the guiding principle for her family. Much more than a simple how-to parenting guide, Beyond the Sling shows us that the core principles underlying attachment parenting are universal and can be appreciated no matter how you decide to raise your child.”

It’s Just a Phase So Don’t Miss It: Why Every Life Stage of a Kid Matters and At Least 13 Things Your Church Should Do About It
by Reggie Joiner and Kristen Ivy

Don’t be misled by the subtitle: this book isn’t just for churches. In fact, it’s for everyone who cares about and interacts with kids, especially parents. Authors Reggie Joiner and Kristen Ivy, along with their collaborators at the Phase Project, have distilled complex and copious research related to child development into simple principles and practices that help leaders and parents understand kids better. Their goal? Families, churches, and communities who recognize that every kid at every phase matters and who leverage every opportunity for influence. With straightforward communication and a masterful design, It’s Just a Phase So Don’t Miss It can help you make the most of every critical life stage.

For quicker reads, the team at the Phase Project has resources like Don’t Miss It: Parent Every Week Like It Counts for parents to see each week of the approximately 936 weeks from birth to high school graduation not as something to “get through as soon as possible” but as something not to miss. There are also resources by year, like Parenting Your New Baby: A Guide to Making the Most of the “I Need You Now” Phase and Parenting Your Two-Year-Old: A Guide to Making the Most of the “I Can Do It” Phase, up to Parenting Your Twelfth Grader: A Guide to Making the Most of the “What’s Next?” Phase. While the mission of the Phase Project is unequivocally Christian, challenging and inspiring every leader “to treat every kid who breathes like they are made in the image of God,” the message is universal. What is true of your child's life is true of this series: “don’t miss it”!

Positive Discipline: The First Three Years: From Infant to Toddler—Laying the Foundation for Raising a Capable, Confident Child
by Jane Nelson, Cheryl Erwin, and Roslyn Ann Duffy

A foundational publication in the Positive Discipline collection, this book provides principles and tools to guide parents through the critical first three years in a child’s life. Emphasizing connection over correction and viewing relationships as primary vehicles of learning, the Positive Discipline model fosters an understanding of age-appropriate behavior and encourages parents to adopt kind but firm nonpunitive strategies that respectfully nurture trust, autonomy, and resilience in their child.

The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind
by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson

In this book, a neuropsychiatrist and a parenting expert masterfully elucidate the science behind how a child’s brain works and develops. Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson provide practical strategies, examples, and illustrations for working with infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and school-age children in order to help them integrate their logical left and emotional right brain, their upstairs and downstairs brain, their memories, the many different parts of themselves, and their interactions with others. This resource has the potential to transform the way parents interact with their children, as well as their approach to discipline.

The Secret of Childhood
by Maria Montessori

A revolutionary thinker and pioneer in childhood pedagogy, Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori offers a brilliant glimpse into the mysterious inner world of the child—a world often neglected and overridden by adult agendas, yet ripe with potential for unveiling the secret to human nature. This book, a transformative exposé not only for educators by profession but for all adults, illuminates the child’s character and innate desire to learn through work—albeit “work” quite divergent from that of man—and explores the requisites of an environment that allows the child to flourish. 

Glow Kids: How Screen Addiction Is Hijacking Our Kids—And How to Break the Trance
by Nicholas Kardaras

Neither pure diversion nor the unrivaled educator of the future, tech is decidedly nocuous. And Glow Kids has the science to back it up. From neuropsychologist and addiction expert Dr. Nicholas Kardaras comes a prescient compendium on the tragedy of tech gone rogue. Kardaras scrutinizes the devices that derail our dinner conversations, brazenly intercept our face-to-face interactions, and daily devour hours of the average kid’s life before rendering a verdict: age-inappropriate screen time is slaying our youth like a virtual scourge. He surveys all aspects of the topic—from video games to texting and social media—with the depth of a scientist and the breadth of an investigative journalist, peppering his pages with scientific studies, authoritative research, book and article references, policy findings, expert interviews, historical precedents, military data, clinical cases, and other quoted material to satisfy the appetite of the data-hungry. For a more in-depth analysis of Kardaras’s masterfully articulate and well-researched monograph, see the book review on our blog.

Parenting Without Borders: Surprising Lessons Parents Around the World Can Teach Us
by Christine Gross-Loh

Christine Gross-Loh takes a critical look at parenting practices around the world, elucidating conclusions that put American norms into jarring relief. With relevant research, poignant reflection, and good old gumption, she confronts some of the most polarized parenting topics of our time—sleep habits, commercialized childhood, food rules, self-esteem, unstructured play, cultivating kindness, and more—and reveals that what has become commonplace in the United States often has no place in other countries. Not merely a startling exposé, Parenting Without Borders is pragmatic and purposeful, challenging parents to engage their communities and cooperate in raising kind, responsible, resilient, globally minded children.

Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves: Transforming Parent-Child Relationships from Reaction and Struggle to Freedom, Power and Joy
by Naomi Aldort  

Author Naomi Aldort is a parenting and family counselor, writer, and public speaker who strives to liberate parenting from perpetual struggle. She depicts a parent-child relationship built on the radical scaffold of unconditional love—not control or coercion, however gentle—with the power to transform both parent and child. In lieu of scolding, threats, time-outs, punishment, and other painful measures, she proposes a kinder way—a way, in her own words, “of being and of understanding our children so they can do their best, not because they fear us or seek our approval, but because they want to, of their own free will.” She provides a communication formula, an explanation of children’s five basic emotional needs, and real-life stories of strategies in action to help parents transition from negating to validating and empowering their kids. The upshot? Children who reach their potential and live peacefully and powerfully with themselves and others.

Instead of Education: Ways to Help People Do Things Better
by John Holt

After years teaching in American schools, John Holt began to write about his experience, emerging as a formidable force in elucidating how children learn (and how they don’t) and becoming a pioneer in alternative education credited with fueling the growing homeschooling and unschooling movements. Bold and visionary, Holt braves deep waters when he defines education as “something that some people do to others for their own good, molding and shaping them, and trying to make them learn what they think they ought to know”—and plants himself ardently against it. Instead, he is a staunch advocate for self-directed learning in the context of creative living. He infuses his writing with practical ideas for learning apart from formal structure and testimonies to the amazing opportunities that educational freedom can afford. Not for the faint of heart, “this is Holt’s most direct and radical challenge to the educational status quo and a clarion call to parents to save their children from schools of all kinds,” as the official summary itself attests. Holt’s trailblazing manifesto for the redefinition of education will undoubtedly challenge the way you view your own education and upbringing—and the way you educate and bring up your kids.

Perfect Health for Kids: Ten Ayurvedic Health Secrets Every Parent Must Know
by John Douillard

With roots in ancient Ayurvedic medicine, this is a very accessible resource for understanding children as unique beings, proactively monitoring signs of imbalance, and fostering optimal health naturally.

Healthy at Home: Get Well and Stay Well Without Prescriptions
by Tieraona Low Dog

Though not tailored exclusively to pregnancy, postpartum, or raising children, this is a helpful resource for preventing and managing disease naturally at all ages. It includes recipes and guidelines for at-home treatment of numerous common ailments, as well as information about when to seek more advanced medical care.


Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats
by Sally Fallon with Mary G. Enig

This book espouses the research of Dr. Weston A. Price, a world-traveling dentist who observed isolated traditional societies free of chronic disease in order to elucidate the nutritional parameters for robust health, peerless fertility and virility, and graceful longevity. Primarily a compendium of recipes with some commentary and exposition, it can be a helpful resource for whole-foods nutrition, especially for enhancing fertility but also for nourishing a family. While the sheer volume of recipes might initially daunt the novice, Nourishing Traditions is an approachable classic, suitable for every kitchen. Given the compelling evidence and tasty cuisines of healthy cultures around the world, you might be surprised to find yourself making stock, fermenting vegetables, sprouting seeds, and embracing offal in no time—with an easier conception, smoother pregnancy, and healthier family to show for it.

The First Forty Days: The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother
by Heng Ou with Amely Greeven and Marisa Belger

Insightfully written and beautifully designed, The First Forty Days artfully invites the modern Western woman into the postpartum care traditions of generations past. Heng Ou, a contemporary California dweller in a long lineage of ancient Chinese healers, interweaves with the wisdom of old her own story as a mother of three bridging two worlds. Once second nature, proper caretaking after birth has gotten buried…but not forgotten. Refreshing books like this one breathe new life into the ancient traditions that have sustained humanity since time immemorial. Grounded in traditional Chinese medicine that remarkably parallels traditional Ayurvedic medicine and other healing modalities around the world, The First Forty Days encourages the time-honored practices of keeping a new mother rested, warm, and well nourished while respecting this transformative rite of passage with wisdom, grace, and genuine community. Compelling and poetic, Heng Ou does not shirk the practical, offering the essentials of what, when, and how to eat, plus easy-to-follow recipes for family and friends willing to help.

Nourished Beginnings Baby Food: Nutrient-Dense Recipes for Infants, Toddlers and Beyond Inspired by Ancient Wisdom and Traditional Foods
by Renee Kohley

“What should I feed my baby?” “Which first foods are best?” “How do I transition my baby to solids?” These common questions often prompt a confusing array of answers. Renee Kohley, founder of Raising Generation Nourished and mother of three, cuts through the confusion with Nourished Beginnings. Much more than a typical baby food book, it takes you on a nutrient-dense recipe journey from first foods to toddler-approved dishes to family-friendly favorites, all simple to prepare and filled with whole-food ingredients, so you can fuel your whole family well, right from the start, and help your child develop healthy eating habits for life.

Nourishing Meals: 365 Whole Foods, Allergy-Free Recipes for Healing Your Family One Meal at a Time
by Alissa Segersten and Tom Malterre

A dynamic husband-and-wife duo forging a path in functional medicine and whole-foods nutrition, Tom Malterre and Alissa Segersten challenge you to join them on this journey with healing recipes for every day of the year. Ditching processed foods and avoiding common allergens—especially gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, and refined sugar—need not be daunting with this practical guide. In addition to foundational chapters on nourishing our bodies well, raising healthy children, and getting started in the kitchen, they provide recipes for all types of meals, snacks, beverages, condiments, and treats. While this cookbook complements any stage of life, singlehood and preconception included, it is particularly family friendly, with simple recipes that kids can both help prepare and enjoy eating.

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Last updated May 9, 2018   •   This page contains affiliate links. Click here to learn more about our affiliate policy.