The 7 Best Books for New Dads I’d Recommend (and Why)

Looking for the best books for new dads as you count down the days before becoming a parent. Is there anything like it that’s as terrifying and exciting at the same time? Nope, but losing three quarters of your arm hair lighting the grill is a close second.

If you’re like me, finding out you’re going to be a dad comes first with feeling of incredible joy. Then it’s followed by overwhelming anxiety as you realize you have no idea what to feed a baby, how to get one to sleep, or how to parent a teenager (anxiety makes people get a bit ahead of themselves).

If you’re like me after the joy and anxiety (which come and go up until birth), you also know there are smart people in the world who have written books about being a dad. I didn’t even know what questions to ask or topics to Google. Thankfully these books helped with that.

Here are the 7 books for new dads I’d recommend. (You got this.)

The 7 Best Books for New Dads

#1: Be Prepared: A Practical Handbook for New Dads

Be Prepared book

Why’s it good?

Be Prepared gives you important info in a non-boring way about things no one will probably tell you. I didn’t know where to start learning what to expect. Like what the baby will probably look like right after it’s born, when to give start giving it a bath, and what the first month will mentally feel like for you as the dad. 

The book is separated into sections based on the baby’s age: the first week, 0-3 months, 4-6 months, 7-9 months, and 10-12 months. Each of the sections has topics explained in non-medical, dad-understandable, ways. It has good info without reading like a textbook.  Textbooks bad. This book good.

Who should read it?

  • Expecting dads feeling clueless about what to actually expect.
  • Dads who like unusually specific but useful tips.
  • Dads who appreciate pictures in books (Yes, I am one of them.)

What questions does it answer?

  • What are the stages of newborn progression like?
  • What should I expect to go on with my spouse before and after birth?
  • How do you make an emergency diaper out of a towel, a sock, and duct tape?

#2 Raising Emotionally Strong Boys (or Raising Worry Free Girls)

Raising emotionally strong boys book

Why’s it good?

Raising Emotionally Strong Boys was the first book I bought after finding out we were having a boy. I’d heard David Thomas interviewed on the Dadville podcast several times and was super impressed by his wisdom. If you’re having a girl, I’d recommend reading Raising Worry Free Girls by Sissy Goff, who is another psychologist working out of Daystar Counseling Ministries with David Thomas in Nashville. 

As I get older (especially in the last 3-4 years in my mid-20’s), I’ve learned more and more how much my emotions affect my life. Not being able to process emotions well, which I think is a common thing for many men and many adults in general, makes navigating life challenges so much more difficult. Little issues can become big issues and big issues can feel absolutely insurmountable.

I read Permission to Feel by psychologist Marc Brackett a few years ago and learned:

  1. Emotions and how we process them play a huge part in life whether we like it or not.
  2. Learning to be more emotionally healthy is like a skill. It can be practiced and learned.
  3. I wanted to get better at identifying and processing emotions if I wanted to be the best husband, dad, and leader of my family I could be.

Like many books on this list, Raising Emotionally Healthy Boys, helped me identify ways that I can grow as a man and be a better adult, as well as practices and ideas I can use to help my own son grow up well.

Who should read it?

  • Dads having a boy
  • Dads who like learning how to better themselves
  • Dads who want to start mentally preparing for future parenting

(P.S. This isn’t the first book you’d absolutely need to read if you’re finding out you’re having a baby. It’s not going to tell you about the pregnancy stages or the birthing process or how to take care of a newborn. But it did help me feel more mentally prepared for being a parent (and less anxious) because I learned some great parenting ideas and realized there are great books out there like this one that will help me learn how to be a dad.)

What questions does it answer?

  • How can I manage my emotions well? 
  • What can I do to prepare for being a great dad in the future?
  • How do I help my son manage his emotions?
  • What can I do that will help my son be a healthy adult?

#3 New Dad’s Playbook

New Dad's Playbook

Why’s it good?

Benjamin Watson was an impressive tight end in the NFL but I think he deserves just as much, if not more, respect for how he lives his life as a dad and husband. Lots of questions came to mind while I waited for my son to be born like how do I support my wife during pregnancy? And how can I be intentional as a husband so I’m ready to be a dad?

Watson and his wife have seven (!!) kids and I have a ton of admiration for him as a man, father, and husband. He gives some good info about the basics of pregnancies like terms you’ll want to be familiar with, but I mainly appreciated what he shared about his own thought processes and what he did to support his wife.

I think it’s common to hear stories about how childbirth and parenting are incredibly hard, but it’s not as common to hear about people doing it well. New Dad’s Playbook gives a glimpse into Watson’s approach and is a good example to read and learn from.

Who should read it?

  • Dads who are nervous about pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting in general
  • Dads who want an overview of basic pregnancy terms
  • Dads who don’t want to read a textbook
  • Dads who want to hear examples of good parenting and dad-ing

What questions does it answer?

  • How do I support my wife during pregnancy?
  • What are pregnancy basics I should be aware of?

#4 A Dude’s Guide to Baby Size

Why’s it good?

I read this when my wife was about 33 weeks pregnant and I wish I’d had it from the start of the pregnancy. I had seen Taylor Calmus’ videos on YouTube before (Dude Dad) and his book lives up to the same humor.

The book does a good job of explaining what’s happening during the pregnancy as the baby grows, without it feeling like a textbook, and doing it in a humorous way.

It’s broken down in the 40 weeks of pregnancy and if I could go back in time, I would have read the book slowly throughout the whole pregnancy to follow along with my baby’s growth. It’d be a cool way to learn what’s happening to the baby and my wife as the baby grows, in only a few pages at a time, and also not feel clueless about the miracle that is a baby’s growth.

Who should read it?

  • Dads that don’t want to read a textbook
  • Dads that would find Dude Dad’s videos funny
  • Dads that want to learn what happens during the pregnancy
  • Dads that want to follow along with the baby’s growth

What questions does it answer?

  • What happens during the 40 weeks of baby growth?
  • How do I learn about pregnancy without being bored to death?
  • Explain pregnancy without overwhelming me.

#5 The Expectant Father

Expectant Father Book

Why’s it good?

Of the books on this list, this is the only one I didn’t read. Looking at possible books to help me learn, this was one I considered and thought could be helpful, but ended up passing on. The Expectant Father reads more scientific and is like a textbook. Not so entertaining and much more factual.

If you want to cover every topic of dadhood and would prefer a more comprehensive summary from an expert, rather than something more relatable or specific to one topic, this is a good fit for you.

Who should read it?

  • Dads who want every detail.
  • Dads who want facts, not entertainment. 
  • Dads who want all the parenting topics in one book.

What questions does it answer?

  • How does the baby grow during pregnancy?
  • What’s the whole process like for mom?
  • How can I be helpful and involved as a new dad?

#6 On Becoming Baby Wise: Giving Your Infant the Gift of Nighttime Sleep

On Becoming Baby Wise book

Why’s it good?

I knew nothing about baby’s sleep. This book was recommended by a close friend and following it perfectly wouldn’t be easy, but it has some great info about baby cycles and schedules. I don’t think you can follow any book or baby sleep program perfectly, but the more basics you can learn, the easier it is to go into dadhood and feel slightly less lost.

Who should read it?

  • Dads that want a program to follow and tips for baby sleep.
  • Dads who want an expert’s opinion.
  • Dads clueless about how to get a baby to sleep.

What questions does it answer?

  • How does feeding affect a baby’s sleep?
  • What can you expect for a baby’s sleep schedule?
  • What are baby feeding philosophies?

#7 Boundaries with Kids

Boundaries with Kids Book

Why’s it good?

Authors Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend are two people I have a ton of respect for. I’ve read multiple of the Boundaries books they’ve written and all have been good. Boundaries with Kids is great parenthood training. Setting healthy boundaries makes a huge difference in all areas of life.

But there’s a reason I put this last on the list. I got most of the way through it and realized I was learning things that would be far down the road of parenthood and I had no idea how to deal with the things coming up quick like the labor process, feeding a newborn, or a baby’s sleep schedule.

I’d absolutely recommend any of the Boundaries books. But only read Boundaries with Kids if you’re working on preparing for future dad plans. Don’t expect it to come in handy right away with a newborn who is limited to sleeping, eating, and going to the bathroom.

Who should read it?

  • Dads who want to prepare for future parenthood
  • Dads who want to learn new habits and practices in parenting than they experienced
  • Dads overwhelmed by the idea of eventually having an older child

What questions does it answer?

  • How do I discipline a child well?
  • What’s differences in a child’s life does it make when they have good boundaries?
  • How do I set my child up for success as they grow older?
  • Where do I even start with parenting a child that needs guidance and boundaries?

In Summary

Entering dadhood is awesome. And overwhelming. Quite a bit of both actually. Hopefully you’ll find what I’d consider the best books for new dads to be helpful.

You might also want to see podcasts for new dads, new dad tips, or my dad hospital bag recommendations.

And if you read other books that helped you go more confidently into being a parent, email me at