The 8 Best Parenting Books for Toddlers of 2022

Handle the next tantrum like a pro thanks to Jo Frost's "Toddler Rules"

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Terrible twos? Terrific twos? Toddlers can be fun, frustrating, challenging, and hilarious all at the same time. Toddlerhood is an important time of exploration and discovery. There are many parenting books that can help guide new (or seasoned) parents on how to raise toddlers into helpful, kind, and smart children.

Reviewed & Approved

Jo Frost's "Toddler Rules: Your 5-Step Guide to Shaping Proper Behavior" is a five-step program that zeroes in on key problem areas including sleep, food, learning, play, and manners. For spirited children, we recommend "Raising Your Spirited Child: A Guide for Parents Whose Child Is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, and Energetic".

While the author doesn’t need to be a medical doctor or world-renowned expert, make sure they are credible and the book aligns with your lifestyle and family. We carefully considered author credibility, reputable information, lifestyle alignment, and value when reviewing products.

Here are the best parenting books to read when you are raising a toddler.

Best Overall: Jo Frost's Toddler Rules: Your 5-Step Guide to Shaping Proper Behavior

Jo Frost’s Toddler Rules

Courtesy of Amazon

What do buyers say? 92% of 700+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.

Jo Frost's "Toddler Rules: Your 5-Step Guide to Shaping Proper Behavior" ranks high on our list because it's easy to understand and follow. Author Jo Frost is a world-renowned expert best known for her TV show Supernanny. The praise is well deserved as this guide focuses on practical advice to help parents during the tough toddler years.

Frost's five-step program is easy to digest and zeroes in on key problem areas including sleep, food, learning, play, and manners. Easy-to-remember acronyms, like the “S.O.S.” method of Step Back, Observe, Step In will provide parents with straightforward, honest, and easy-to-implement advice.

Price at time of publication: $18

Best for Spirited Tots: Raising Your Spirited Child: A Guide for Parents Whose Child Is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, and Energetic

Raising Your Spirited Child: A Guide for Parents Whose Child Is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, and Energetic

Amazon

Spirited children are often more intense, sensitive, perceptive, persistent, and uncomfortable with change as compared to the average kiddo. If this fits your toddler, turn to this book. The goal is to help parents understand their child’s (and their own) temperamental traits and focus on positive labels and outcomes.

A simple four-step program will help parents create strategies for handling common pain points like mealtime, sibling struggles, bedtime, school, and other daily situations.

Price at time of publication: $19

Best With a Simple Concept: 1-2-3 Magic: Gentle 3-Step Child & Toddler Discipline for Calm, Effective, and Happy Parenting

1-2-3 Magic: Gentle 3-Step Child & Toddler Discipline for Calm, Effective, and Happy Parenting

Amazon

Parents praise this simple book, written by a clinical psychologist, as life-changing. The guide helps parents learn how to control their own behavior in order to produce the best outcomes in their children’s behavior.  With a focus on positive routines, the book highlights how to improve behavior around mealtime, bedtime, morning routines, and overall family relationships.

Price at time of publication: $17

Best Positive Discipline: No-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind

No-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind

Amazon

Praised as a sanity-saving guide, this book teaches parents how to connect with their child, redirect their emotions, and make meltdowns into opportunities for growth. Rooted in science, the book is sprinkled with facts about brain development in children and breaks down what kind of discipline is best for each age and stage. Parents may find this type of book eye-opening and relatable with its candid stories of real-life situations.

Price at time of publication: $17

Best Montessori Approach: The Montessori Toddler: A Parent's Guide to Raising a Curious and Responsible Human Being

The Montessori Toddler: A Parent's Guide to Raising a Curious and Responsible Human Being

Amazon

Reframing toddler struggles is a key tenet of this Montessori-based guide to raising young children. With a focus on curiosity, learning, respect, and discovery, the book is chock full of information. Many reviewers especially found the parts on how to set up your home for success, learning, and growth to be insightful. Visual learners will appreciate the series of easy-to-read and implement charts that include topics like “Instead of This, Say That.”

Price at time of publication: $20

Best for Gifted Toddlers: Parenting Gifted Kids: Tips for Raising Happy and Successful Children

Parenting Gifted Kids

Amazon

Praised for going beyond identifying gifted children, this book gets to the heart of how to best parent gifted kids. With clear and practical advice, it does extend past the toddler years, so it’s a helpful guide as your gifted child ages. Parents appreciate that there are chapters on working with your school system and how to be an adult role model for your child. 

Price at time of publication: $20

Best Funny: Toddlers Are A**holes: It's Not Your Fault

Toddlers Are A**holes: It's Not Your Fault

Amazon

Great for a quick read at 176 pages, a gag gift, or a semi-helpful book, this humorous parenting book may not be stuffed with advice, but it’ll likely make parents of toddlers laugh, feel less alone, and grab some moments of relief. Relatable, comforting, and LOL funny, this book is for those with a sense of humor that doesn’t mind some gross-out commentary.

Price at time of publication: $11

Best for Twins: Ready or Not . . . There We Go!: The REAL Experts' Guide to the Toddler Years with Twins

No one said toddler twins would be easy, including the hilariously honest author of this book. Readers praise the frank descriptions of the challenges of raising young twins and appreciate how relatable the book is. Packed with funny commentary and real-life situations that apply to parents of twins, like room sharing, double baby-proofing, and so much more, this book is a useful guide for parents of two toddlers.

Price at time of publication: $13

Best for Siblings: How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk

How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk

Amazon

A best-selling book for good reason, parent readers may find this book will help improve relationships between siblings, spouses, and other family members. Full of tips, summaries, practical examples, and real-life techniques, parents praise this book and especially find the sections on peaceful resolutions helpful for sibling conflicts.

A “parenting toolbox” allows moms and dads to quickly reference what they’ve learned. Some readers find the toolbox so helpful that it takes up a permanent spot on their fridge.

Price at time of publication: $18

Best for Christian Parenting: Shepherding a Child's Heart

Religious families with Christian practices will glean insights from this author, a pastor, counselor, school administrator, and father who uses religion and God as helpful guides for parenting tips. Written with Christian values and ideals in mind, the author seeks to guide parents in child-rearing through the teachings of the Bible.

Price at time of publication: $16

Final Verdict

Most parents of toddlers will be sure to glean some practical, usable nuggets of advice from Jo Frost's Toddler Rules (view on Amazon) book. It is easy to read, humorous and has enough general information to be applicable to any family with a toddler. For a book rooted in communication techniques, How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk (view on Amazon), is sure to help parents with kids of all ages and may also improve adult-to-adult communication.

What to Look for in Parenting Books for Toddlers

Author Credibility

While the author doesn’t need to be a medical doctor or world-renowned expert, make sure they are credible. Check out the author’s website and other books, or run the name by your pediatrician or trusted parent friend. Avoid taking advice from someone untrustworthy or bogus. Above all else, remember to take all advice with a grain of salt. Whether the author is an expert, medical professional, or just a really experienced parent sharing what they know, all families and children are different.


Lifestyle Alignment

Find the right book for your family and lifestyle. If you are religious, are raising twins or siblings, have a gifted child, or anything else, a book that is catered more toward your needs will be most helpful. If you aren’t a big reader, aim for a short or funny book. If you prefer lists, go with a workbook-style guide. Choose a book that you'll actually want to read so that you can absorb the advice and apply it.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Are tantrums normal?

    Tantrums are common and normal among toddlers. This may be because young children's language skills are not yet advanced enough to allow them to express their needs. Highly verbal or communicative toddlers may still have outbursts, however. Self-regulation is a developmental skill of its own, and toddlers are still working on it.

    Since tantrums are normal, harsh punishment isn't the answer. Instead, address the underlying cause. If a child has trouble saying they don't want to eat a certain food, teach them the words and let them practice. If it's difficult for them to leave the playground when it's time to go, teach them to take a deep breath when they are feeling upset, and give them a 5-minute warning next time so they are not so surprised.

  • Do toddlers understand rules?

    Toddlers can be taught to follow simple instructions and abide by clear cut rules. It's essential to be consistent, however. If it's sometimes OK to open the refrigerator, for example, but other times it's not, your toddler may have trouble complying.

    In general, toddlers do not always understand the underlying reason for a rule, such as why they can't take a toy out of a store without paying. It's fine to skip the background info or give them a quick explanation, such as, "No hitting. Hitting hurts." But skip the long-winded discussions and focus on the behavior you want to encourage: "Hitting hurts. Use gentle touches."

  • Is physical punishment ever OK?

    The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against the use of physical punishment or harsh verbal punishment such as shaming. The research indicates that positive discipline strategies, such as reteaching or having a child practice doing something the right way, are more effective over the long term.

Why Trust Verywell Family? 

Maya Polton is a former marketing manager and current freelance writer who covers food, home, and parenting. She’s also the mom of an 11-year-old son, a 7-year-old son, and a 3-year-old daughter. Maya has lived through the toddler years three times over and has found the most useful book to be How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk. Somehow she finds herself checking it out from the library once every year or so for a quick refresher. 

1 Source
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  1. American Academy of Pediatrics. Where we stand: Spanking.