Choosing the best baby books to read to your little one can be such fun, (especially if you’re building your baby registry) but with literally millions of books to choose from… how can you possibly choose?
Over the years, I have found some classics that never lose their appeal and in my recent research have discovered more wonderful books that I can’t wait to hand on to the next generation!
So here’s my comprehensive list of the best baby books for your little one’s first year.
The Best Baby Books
This little book makes it onto my list of first baby books because of its sturdy pages and padded cover with beautiful illustrations. Its sturdy beauty is matched by a lovely story teaching children about love and emotions making it an ideal book for baby's library!
This fun cloth book provides tons of sensory stimulation for your baby! From a monkey that squeaks, to a parrot that jingles and fleece grass that is soft to touch, your baby will certainly experience a range of visual and physical stimulation from these jam-packed pages!
One of the most beloved books of all time, Goodnight Moon is a must for every baby's library. With a soothing rhyming story and simple beauty, the board book is the perfect size for little hands and makes a beautiful gift for baby showers and holidays.
Best Books For Newborns
The best books for newborn babies are black and white books.
These high-contrast images have been proven to help newborns develop their concentration skills, visual recognition and attention span.
Choose books that have contrasting images, bold black and white lines and patterns with only an occasional splash of colour.
Here are my picks for the best baby books for newborns:
Hello Bugs By Smriti Prasadam
My top book for newborns is Hello Bugs by Smriti Prasadam.
With its charming introduction to ten beautiful little bugs, high contrast images and a touch of colour on every page, your baby will be entranced by its beauty every time you show it to them.
You can’t go wrong by including this little gem in your little one’s library!
Look Look! By Peter Linenthal
This black and white baby book from Peter Linenthal has been around for 20 years and it continues to be loved by babies and families across the world.
Its tried and tested design holds its own as one of the best baby books on the market and it extends its appeal to older babies too as they learn to read too.
Black & White By Tana Hobson
Another great baby book is this accordion-style book from eminent photographer and acclaimed book creator, Tana Hobson. It features fourteen bold, black and white high contrast images to engage baby’s attention and can be folded out to stand alone making it a great toy for tummy time too.
Look At Baby’s House! By Peter Linenthal
This is my second baby book by Peter Linenthal… But for good reason!
Peter has more than 30 years of experience teaching art to elementary school children and his book, Look at Baby’s House, is a delightful example of his experience understanding how newborns work with beautiful bold black and white illustrations.
This book has warm, simple text that is perfect for sharing with very young babies and will be a timeless classic in your baby’s library.
Discover how you can get your little one to listen in under 5 minutes so you can become a calm, effective and happy parent without yelling, nagging or losing control.
Best Books For Very Young Babies
As your baby’s eyesight and cognitive understanding improve, now is the perfect time to introduce books that include fun rhymes, bright colours and basic storylines!
I Love You Through And Through By Bernadette Rossetti-Shustak
I Love You Through and Through is a rhyming story of unconditional love between a toddler and a teddy bear who declare ‘I love you through and through!’ throughout their day.
This book perfectly illustrates a young child’s happy, sad, silly and mad sides, all whilst producing a story that will appeal to young babies right through to toddlers.
This baby book truly is a treasure to return to again and again.
Welcome Little One By Sandra Magsamen
Welcome Little One is a charming heartfelt book written by Sandra Magsamen who has been writing books and melting hearts for over 30 years.
This book expresses the love for a newborn in a way that allows parents to share and cherish their bond with their baby using lively illustrations and rhyming text.
Sandra Magsamen writes in a way that is designed to remind and teach us to explore and experience each day with more heart, meaning, purpose and joy.
And what better life lesson is there to offer your little one as you share this lovely little book together!
Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? By Bill Martin Jr And Eric Carle
Bill Martins’ sing-song text and Eric Carle’s boldly coloured collage illustrations make Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? a firm favourite with parents and children alike!
The simplicity of this classic is what I find most appealing and that is exactly what makes this book ideal for young babies. They will love the bright bold colours and the repetitive easy to remember text and combined with Polar Bear, Polar Bear and Panda Bear, Panda Bear, this set of baby books will make a fantastic gift to any new family.
Goodnight My Darling Baby (New Books For Newborns) By Alyssa Satin Capucilli
Goodnight My Darling Baby from Alyssa Satin Capucilli with its lovely lullaby text is a beautiful baby book for parents to share with their baby at bedtime from the very start. Join in the journey as animals tuck in their babies, sing songs, give a kiss good night and end with parents tucking in their child for a sweet sleep.
If you are looking for the perfect first book to fit into your bedtime routine then this is a must.
Moo, Baa, La La La By Sandra Boynton
Moo, Baa, La La La is a time old classic that has been around for 30 years, which is a testament to its appeal. Re-released with redrawn illustrations, this book is full of silly rhymes to introduce babies to animal sounds in a fun and unique way!
This lovely book also features non-traditional text and brilliantly drawn animals presented in a whimsical and hilarious style that will entertain and educate your little one well into toddlerhood.
Best Cloth Books
Cloth baby books are a great addition to every baby’s library.
Perfectly light and squishy, cloth books with crinkly pages are always popular options as little hands will love to explore their tactile nature no matter where they are.
Cloth books are great for playing within a cot, bassinet, Moses basket or pram, as well as being the best baby books to put in your diaper bag for when you are on the go!
So here are my top cloth baby books to invest in!
Fisher-Price Monkey Mirror Activity Book
This Fisher-Price Activity Book has to be one of the most fun-filled cloth baby books for a baby on the market…
Each of the three pages features bright colours, friendly animal faces, and a variety of different textures for your little one to explore. With built-in surprises like a hidden squeaker, a self-discovery mirror, and the attached monkey teether and clacker, there’s so much for your baby to enjoy, no matter where they are!
This book certainly covers all the bases helping to develop your baby’s sensory, visual and fine motor skills all in one place.
Sea: A Soft Book And Mirror For Baby (Baby Sees Cloth Book Range)
Sea from the Baby Sees range is another one of my favourite cloth baby books.
It is bold and beautifully illustrated which helps babies learn about the big bright world around them. It features the softest velour on the cover for babies to touch and on the inside there are lots of engaging illustrations of sea creatures including starfish, crabs, dolphins and an octopus.
This book will definitely captivate your baby and encourage visual development and physical activity like wriggling, kicking, clapping and waving!
Giraffe And Friends By Francesca Ferri
When it comes to soft baby books this brightly coloured, highly tactile Giraffe and Friends book is a sure winner.
The bright yellow giraffe on the cover opens up to reveal a happy bumble bee, crocodile, fox and other animals for your baby to identify plus the fabric tabs extending from each page encourage fine motor skills for little fingers as your baby enjoys this adorable book!
This book’s cheerful design will also capture your baby’s attention with its crinkly pages and a gentle rattle sound when shaken.
Lamaze Peek-A-Boo Cloth Book
Peek-A-Boo Forest is a lovely little interactive book that introduces little ones to the different animals that live in the forest.
Like all Lamaze products, this cloth book is designed with your baby’s development in mind and is made from durable washable material in bright contrasting colours with peek-a-boo flaps to withstand the strains of the most “enthusiastic” readers!
The bright colours and multiple textures make this a great book for little fingers to explore and I especially like the easy to open and close peek-a-boo flaps that promote hand-eye coordination.
Best Classic Baby Books
Here you will find the all-time favourites that I consider to be the best classic baby books for your baby’s first year.
These books hold such fond memories for me from when I read them to my own son and which I have kept to one day read to the next generation…
I am thrilled to see that these classic baby books are just as popular today as they have always been… and I hope that you will treasure and return to these baby books for years to come as well:
The Very Hungry Caterpillar By Eric Carle
Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar has been a childhood treasure for years and no children’s library would be complete without a copy of this all-time favourite!
A deceptively simple but hopeful story, The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s imaginative illustrations and clever cutouts follow the story of a caterpillar as he eats his way through a week teaching children about the names of different foods and the days of the week.
I have yet to come across a young child that is not drawn to this book again and again!
Although there have been many more baby books in the hungry caterpillar story… you can’t beat the classic original board book, which is perfect for even the youngest of readers!
Peepo! By Janet And Allan Ahlberg
Peek-A-Boo! takes you on a rhyming peek-a-boo journey, through the day in the life of a baby boy in a style full of wit, charm and ingenuity.
The wonderful illustrations provide hours of fun and investigation and you will delight as your little one joins in with a joyful ‘peepo’ as you turn each page!
A book to last a lifetime, Peepo! has become a classic for babies, toddlers and parents and will stand the test of time in any library.
Dear Zoo By Rod Campbell
This classic lift-the-flap book has been a firm favourite with young readers since it was first published in 1982 and with its thick card pages, sturdy flaps and clear images, Dear Zoo is a timeless book for small hands that love to join in and learn new words when reading!
Where’s Spot? By Eric Hill
I have lost count of how many times I have read ‘Where’s Spot?’ over the years…
Every child needs a Spot book and the original is by far my favourite!
Babies will love lifting the flaps to find all sorts of fun surprises as they look for the cheeky puppy, Spot.
The playful text is great for language development and the hide-and-seek flaps encourage curiosity and fine motor skills.
Each Peach Pear Plum By Janet And Allan Ahlberg
From traditional stories such as, ‘Tom Thumb’ and ‘The Three Bears’, Each Peach Pear Plum is a great way to introduce your little one to the world of nursery rhymes and fairy tales.
Each beautifully illustrated page of this lovely baby book encourages young children to interact with the pictures, to find the next fairy tale or nursery rhyme character.
Although young babies will not be able to identify with the nursery characters until they are a little older… the strong rhymes and rhythms of this book make it perfect for very young babies to follow.
The colourful illustrations also provide lots to talk about which will make it one of your go-to books for toddlers too!
Best Baby Board Books
Board books are robust and designed to withstand rough treatment from little hands and mouths making them must-have early books for your nursery library!
They are also the ideal way for your baby to learn how to grasp and turn pages making them great for fine motor development and cognitive development too.
Goodnight Moon By Margaret Wise Brown
In this charming book, a little bunny says goodnight to all the familiar things around him one by one through a soothing and comforting rhyme.
One of my all-time favourite baby books, Goodnight Moon, is a timeless picture book loved by families all around the world. The story gradually gets calmer and quieter ending with the bunny in bed, encouraging your little one to quieten down too, making it an ideal bedtime story.
Peek A Who? By Nina Laden
Peek-a-Who! takes the most loved baby and toddler game and puts it in book form. The brightly coloured board book is filled with vibrant, happy images and the simple rhyming text helps your baby to guess who is peeking through the die-cut windows!
This baby book is the perfect size for curious babies and its fun and interactive aspects make it incredibly enchanting for little ones. (The surprise mirror at the end is always a winner!)
Ten Little Fingers Ten Little Toes By Mem Fox
Ten Little Fingers Ten Little Toes is about babies from all around the world who, although they look different, all share the common trait of having the same number of toes and fingers.
It is never too early to use baby books to teach our children compassion and tolerance and the message in this book does just that…
No matter where babies come from, they all have ten toes and fingers, to wiggle, wave and tickle.
That’s Not My …. By Fiona Watt
Fiona Watt’s That’s Not My… book series all follow a similar theme…
The same little mouse is looking for its thing/person but finds five or six other things/people first who are not quite right…
With interactive features and bold images, these books are far more robust than most touchy-feely books which ensure they will be firm nursery favourites for a very long time!
Despite their appearance, these Indestructible Books by Amy Pixton are lightweight, rip-proof and waterproof making them perfect for travelling and enthusiastic hands and mouths!
Plus with bright pictures and few words on the page, it allows the readers to create their own story for the characters in each image!
Best Keepsake Books For Baby
This group of keepsake baby books is my pick of the best baby books that you can give as a gift to new parents or buy for yourself to include in your little one’s first library…
These books can be treasured and handed down from generation to generation; standing the test of time with their beautiful stories and wonderful illustrations.
On The Night You Were Born By Nancy Tillman
On The Night You Were Born is a beautiful and unique baby book that makes the perfect keepsake for your baby’s first library.
It tells the story of how your little one’s birth was celebrated as the moon stayed up all night and the polar bears danced.
The overriding message throughout the book is that there is only one you and that the world will never be the same now that you are here, without being overly sentimental.
The pictures in this book are absolutely beautiful too and the poetic words will make both young and old smile when they imagine how the world changed when they were born.
Welcome To The World By Lucy Tapper And Steve Wilson
Welcome To The World is a special baby book that celebrates the arrival of a new baby and makes a lovely gift for a baby shower or to celebrate the arrival of a newborn.
The story follows a charming little elephant on a colourful journey, discovering all the wonders the world has to offer!
This is a very special storybook with a delightful feel-good story to read to a baby.
The thing I love most about this book is the very clever option of adding the book You’re the Biggest as a gift for an older sibling to ensure they feel included in celebrating a new arrival.
Guess How Much I Love You By Sam McBratney
Guess How Much I Love You is a book that comes in many forms from hardback, pop-up, to board, and soft and cuddly…
But whichever you choose it is sure to be a hit with your little one for many years, as the lovely story of Big Nutbrown Hare and Little Nutbrown Hare play the game of expressing their love for each other!
This book was my son’s favourite as a child and I recently bought him the anniversary edition (he is now 30!) for him to keep and read to his own children one day.
Pocket Full Of Posies (A Treasury Of Nursery Rhymes) By Salley Mavor
Each scene in Pocket Full Of Posies took Salley Mavor nearly a month to complete as she renders a new and visionary interpretation of well-loved nursery rhymes, that will make this baby book a keeper for future generations!
This delightful book also puts a new spin on classic children’s nursery rhymes with intricate and colourfully embroidered works of art that will be treasured for years to come.
This book will make a wonderful baby shower gift.
Read To Your Baby Every Day By Rachel Williams
Read To Your Baby Every Day is another classic nursery rhyme book with beautiful illustrations by Chloe Giordano.
With 30 well know rhymes from the Mother Goose Collection and beyond, you can bond with your baby as you recite and sing your way through this lovely book together!
Where To Buy Baby Books
There are endless places to buy baby books.
Amazon is the first place most people think of buying the best baby books…
However, you can also pick up books at garage sales, libraries, charity shops and online second-hand book shops such as Awesome Books and Better World Books.
When To Start Reading To Baby
It is never too early to start reading to your baby and introducing them to the wonderful world of books.
The benefits of reading are boundless and baby books will never stop being a useful and essential tool in your parenting toolbox.
Newborns can benefit from seeing pictures and patterns in baby books too and even though they cannot understand the words yet, their little brains will take in everything you say and as they grow, they will start to repeat the words, rhymes and stories back to you.
Baby books should be ingrained in your daily family routine, especially the bedtime routine, and held up as a source of knowledge and insight into our world and emotions.
Nurturing a love for books is one of the most important gifts you can give your children.
With competition from modern technology and screens and its instant response to questions asked, it is even more important to foster a love for books in your children.
Teach them the joy and anticipation of watching a story unfold and allow their listening and language skills and imaginations to develop alongside.
Plus, there is nothing more bonding than sitting snuggled up with your little one and looking at baby books together!
The moments shared with a book are an oasis of calm in a busy world, filled with love and closeness that you will cherish for years to come.
Frequently Asked Questions About Baby Books
Looking for more information about baby books? Find answers to the most common questions here.
What Age Can Babies Have Books?
Even though newborn babies will not understand stories yet, there is nothing to stop you from using high-contrast baby books during tummy time and when having some bonding time at the end of the day to begin to form the habit of reading together.
What Is A Popular Baby Book?
The most popular books on this list are The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle and Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney.
What Are The Benefits Of Reading Baby Books To A Newborn?
There are many benefits to reading baby books to newborns:
- It is a bonding experience for you both
- Reading to your newborn will boost their brain development
- It will also stimulate their visual development
- Your newborn will begin to understand that the spoken word can convey emotions and meanings.
- Reading is an incredibly positive, calming and comforting experience for babies!
What Are The Best Books For Infants?
The best books for infants are board books as they are designed to withstand grubby fingers gripping and little mouths exploring the pages!
Cloth books are also great for infants because they are very interactive and provide a lot of feedback for inquisitive hands and minds!
I, therefore, recommend Goodnight Moon and Fisher Price’s 5-to-1 Activity Cloth Books as my top picks for infants.
How Can I Read To Baby?
There is no right or wrong way to read to a baby.
Therefore, the best way to read to a baby is to simply start.
Choose a few suitable baby books, cuddle up together in a cosy chair or in bed and begin to read to your baby.
Use expressive voices and encourage your baby to focus on the book – if they can!
Do not be put out if your baby seems uninterested or bored, they might be zoning out to the world and staring off into space whilst focusing on your voice as you read the book.
Whatever you do, keep reading to your baby and don’t ever stop enjoying and exploring the world of books together.
Best Baby Books Summary
Here’s a quick recap of the best baby books you can buy on the market today:
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Paula McLarenPaul Mclaren - Norland Nurse NNEB RSH is the founder of Teething to Tantrums and has been in the child care industry as a Norland Nanny since 1982. Since then, her mission has been to help parents become the best they can possibly be. And each year, she continues to help more families understand their child's development, the trials and joys of parenting and of course, how to care for their little ones.
Discover how you can get your little one to listen in under 5 minutes so you can become a calm, effective and happy parent without yelling, nagging or losing control.