Are you looking for the best books for baby’s first year? Well, my friend, you are in the right place.

We’ve compiled the ultimate guide to books for babies in their first year. From the coolest baby books to the greatest gift books for babies, all the way to the best baby books broken down by age range in the first year, look no further!

So join me on this adventure into reading. Whether you’re searching for books for your baby or choosing the perfect book for a baby in your life– you’re in the right place.

Reading with little ones is truly the best gift of all. I always enjoy cuddling and reading books with my little ones. 

At what age should you start reading to babies?

You really can’t start reading to your baby too soon.

By making reading with your baby a regular part of your routine early on, you will set the stage for a lifetime love of reading.

Most research points to the importance of regular reading by the time your baby is 4 months old (source), but sooner is even better.

When it comes to reading to a newborn and infant, it might not seem like they are comprehending or paying attention to the books, but they are listening to your voice, tone and responding to your actions.

They will come to associate reading with a calming and positive experience with their parent or caregiver.

In 2014, the AAP began to formally counsel families on shared reading starting at birth. At the 2-week well check-up roughly 57% of families had not begun reading to their babies, and the AAP is hoping to change that because of the benefits of beginning a shared reading ritual in your house right from the start. (source)

Below, you will find advice on the best books to read to newborns to help you get started on reading with your baby in the very early weeks.

Why are books important for a child’s development?

Access to books, and more specifically, being read to in the first 5 years of life has a huge impact on your child’s language development and future academic success.

The research explains that children who have just one book read to them each day are exposed to an average of 78,000 more words per year than children whose parents do not read to them.

This is known as ‘heard vocabulary’, and for children who are not read to, they are suffering from what’s known as the “word gap”. (source)

When to read books with your baby?

One of the easiest ways to boost your child’s literacy development and give them an academic edge is by making time to read with your child every day and increase their word exposure.

You can make this part of your bed or nap time routine, something you do during snack or meal time, or when you are having quiet activity time with your baby or toddler.

Benefits of books for babies first year

  • Helps your baby associate reading with positive feelings
  • Exposes your baby to concepts like numbers, shapes, feelings, letters, opposites
  • Gives your baby your full one on one attention
  • Develops listening skills, memory, and concentration
  • Allows your baby to hear varied tone and expression
  • Improves language skills and vocabulary in the long term
  • Can provide a sensory experience depending on the type of developmental books for infants you choose (for example: lift a flap, touch and feel, high contrast books, bath time books and cloth books)
  • Develops comprehension and critical thinking skills when you stop and ask questions about the picture and text, even if you pose the question AND answer it (for example: Where is the bird? What’s that silly dog doing?)
    (source)

Building your baby book library and choosing nursery books for babies

Building your book collection for baby is a fun task that every expectant mama should undertake.

It’s easy to get caught up in making sure you have all the baby gear and clothes you’ll need (for good reason!) but don’t overlook books for the nursery.

If you have some great baby books on hand before baby arrives you will be ready to start a shared reading ritual with your little one right away.

And if you are a family member of someone with a baby on the way or invited to a baby shower, I can’t urge you enough to add a board book or two to your gift for the mama to be.

Ways to get help with your baby book library:

  • Make a baby book registry in addition to your regular registry
  • Put a general note on your registry that you’d love any and all books
  • Have baby shower guests bring their favorite baby book instead of a card, ask them to write a note on the inside cover
  • Register for some baby’s first book gift sets
  • If your husband is having a ‘Daddy Diaper Party’, suggest a book along with each box of diapers

Where can I find baby books and where to buy baby books?

  • To find the best baby books you can try local book shops, Amazon, Target, and other online retailers
  • To keep costs down, hit up yard sales, thrift shops, or even used book offerings on Amazon
  • Local libraries and schools often have book sales for a good cause and you can get good deals on baby books

Features to look for in first books for babies:

  1. Board books for babies – better than hardcover books for babies because the pages can’t tear or cause paper cuts. Board books are sturdy, are smaller in size for smaller hands, and can usually withstand some mouthing and chewing as well
  2. Picture books for babies – Babies in their first year, especially once they are over 6 months will love books with real photographs. 100 first word type books are especially popular.
  3. Touch and feel books for babies – books that are interactive or provide a sensory experience are another popular option among babies in their first year.
  4. Cloth books for babies – cloth books are great because baby can manipulate the book on their own, chew it and have a different sensory experience than with a board book.
  5. Baby faces books – babies love to look at and study faces, especially the faces of other babies! Baby face books are also a good way to introduce the concepts of feelings and emotions.
  6. High contrast books for babies – very young infants do not yet have the visual focus of older babies, children and adults. For this reason, high-contrast and black and white baby books are a great choice for 0-3 month olds. Here’s one we love.

Best books for Baby’s first year

Now that we’ve talked a lot about the benefits of books for baby’s first year, why you should read to your baby and what features to look for, let me share some of our top picks.

We’ve broken this down into two main categories, 0-6 months and 6-12 months. This is because at 6 months there is usually a shift where your baby will become a much more active and interested participant in the reading process.

Within each category, you can find more specific age ranges and book types.

As always, if you have any questions and additional favorite don’t hesitate to leave a comment or send a message!

Best baby books for newborns (0-3 months)

Newborns love to seem bright colors and contrast monochrome pictures. They enjoy the closeness and 

 1. Look Look by Peter Linenthal

This is a high contrast book done in black and white cut-paper art. The images will captivate the youngest reader and is a perfect first book for babies.

2.Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney:

 

A classic that should be in every nursery book collection. This sweet story is about a child and parent that keep trying to outnumber their love for the other.

3.The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle:


The Very Hungry Caterpillar is one of our personal favorite.

This cute little board book talks about a caterpillar that eats a fruit every day of the week. On Saturday he gobbles a cheesecake, a pickle , an ice cream and much more; ends up having a tummy ache. 

He rests in his cocoon and transforms into a beautiful butterfly later. This classic picture book has brightly colored images and interesting page shapes to captivate all readers and will grow with your baby. This book covers a variety of concepts like learning colors, counting and naming the pictures. 

4.Brown Bear Brown Bear by Eric Carle & Bill Martin Jr.:


The repetitive nature of this book and fun animal images and sounds are perfect for the youngest baby’s ears.

Both our babies enjoyed this book and always asked me to read it over and over again. The big and brightly illustrated animal pictures seems very captivating to babies and older toddlers alike.

This is also my four year old’s favorite to read it to her baby sister. I recommend getting the board book version as the pages are sturdy and easy to handle for little hands.

 

5.I Prayed for You by Jean Fischer:

 

This sweet story is about a mama bear who prays every day for her baby bear. It lets your baby know that they will always be surrounded by love and prayer.

This book bring tears to my eyes because it hits home when it says ‘Before you were born, I asked God for something special. I asked him for you”.

My first pregnancy ended in am early miscarriage at 6 weeks. I prayed night and day for a baby and God blessed us with a boy after 6 months.  This book always reminds me of my answered prayer and the two beautiful treasures I get to hold in arms every day.

This book can make a great baby shower or baby dedication gift. This book will be very much appreciated by anyone who says a prayer for their little ones.  

Best baby books for infants (3-6 months)

6.Oh Baby the Places You’ll Go by Tish Rabe and Dr. Seuss:


 

This is an adapted version of the longer classic that is perfectly simple and rhymed for babies. Your baby will love listening to the tone and rhythm of your voice and looking at the bright and interesting pictures.

If you are a Dr. Suess fan and would love to introduce to your baby to all his wonderful characters, then add this book to your baby registry.

Many parents use this book as a guest sign in book at a baby shower, which I think is a brilliant idea!

7.Animals Touch and Feel Book by DK Books:

 

At the age of 3 – 6 months babies love to touch and feel various things and enjoy the sensory stimulation.

You can’t go wrong with the Animals touch and feel books.  Your little one will love exploring the different textures and animals on each page of this sturdy board book.

8.Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr.:

 

This fun book is full of repetition and rhyme and also introduces the concept of the ABCs, a classic your baby will love.

It goes..

A told B
and B told C,
“I’ll meet you at the top
of the coconut tree.”

My kids and I just laugh out loud every time we read this book ( probably because I made a rap song out of this book lol)

9.Moo Baa La La by Sandra Boynton:

 

You must have figured out by now that we love silly books.  We like to goof around while reading books making silly sounds and funny faces. The reason both my kids are so much into books is probably because they think books are fun and enjoyable. 

Sandra Boynton’s books are an all time favorite in this house. This funny book about animal sounds will sure be a hot with your baby. 

10.Jelly Cat Board Books:

 

If I Were a Bunny by Jelly Cat: This series of touch and feel books will be popular among this age group as they explore the books as much as they listen to them. Your baby will  love touching and feeling the bunny’s soft ears and paws.

Best books for 6 month old

11.Baby Let’s Eat by Amy Pixton:

 

This brightly illustrated book introduces your child to a rainbow of fruits and vegetables in a fun question and answer format.

You will start introducing solid food to your baby at 6 months, and getting them hooked to fruits and veggies through books is an excellent way to get them interested in food.

12.Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae:

 

This is a sweet, rhyming tale about a giraffe who thinks he can’t dance until he is encouraged by a friend and finds a way to dance to the beat of his own drum.

13.First 100 Words by Roger Priddy:

 

These bright and simple photographs will be an instant hit with your 6-9 month old baby. As babies begin to learn about the world around them, first word books become a popular demand and this is one of our favorites.

14.Where Is My Belly Button by Karen Katz:

 

This classic lift-a-flap book with bright and fun illustrations helps your baby learn the parts of your body. It is sure to be an instant hit. 

We make it extra funny by adding some actions along with reading the book.

Example:

Where are my baby’s hands? Under the hands. Let’s clap them.

Where are my baby’s feet? Behind the cat. Let’s tickle them!

and the best of all is finding the belly button and blowing raspberries!

Best baby books for 9 months old

15.I Love You to the Moon and Back by Amelia Hepworth:

 

 

This is a sweet story about a bear and their cub sharing fun and gentle adventures. It is a rhyming book that expresses love and warmth. A short and sweet story, a must have in your baby’s first year library collection.

16.Baby Beluga by Raffi:

 

A fun picture book version of the classic Raffi song. Your baby will love having pictures to look at while you sing this familiar tune.

17.Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle:

 

This fun rhyming book includes trucks and farm animals—two very popular topics among 9-12 month olds. A great story book for boys and girls alike.

18.Peek-A Who? by Nina Laden:

 

This fun book has peek-a-boo cut outs and silly word play. Perfect for the baby that’s just getting into playing peek-a-boo themselves. A perfect addition to your baby’s book list.

19.Little Owl’s Night by Divya Srinivasan:

Follow little owl on his nighttime adventure through the forest. The dreamy illustrations are captivating for little ones. This will make a thoughtful baby shower gift for woodland themed showers. 

I have to admit that this book doesn’t have a rhyme to it but I find it very soothing for bed time. It just feels dreamy and magical whenever I read this book to my babies. 

Best baby books for 12 months old

20.Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt:

 

This classic interactive book is sure to be popular with your 12 month old. Follow along with everything the children in the book do. Your baby might even surprise you by picking up this book and reading it independently.

21.Where’s Spot? by Eric Hill:

 

A fun lift-a-flap classic where you and baby will be on the hunt for Spot the dog; he needs to eat his dinner!

22.That’s not my Dragon… by Fiona Watt (or any book in this series):

 

Another fun touch and feel book series. Find the animal or theme your child will enjoy most, or get a whole bunch of books from this popular series. Our other favorite book from this series is  That’s not my Robot, perfect for your techy robot loving boy or a girl. 

 

23.100 First Animals by Roger Priddy:

 

This book of real photographs of animals, organized by habitat, will be a popular book to read again and again. It’s also a great book to bring on the go.

Other must have baby books:

Beyond these top picks in each age-range within the first year, there are other book you might be interested in purchasing as a gift or to add to your little one’s library.

Things like, books about baby’s first year, books for baby girls, books for bedtime, books for certain holidays and the list goes on.

That is one thing I love about children’s and baby books, you can find a book for every occasion, age-range, and need! Here are some more of our favorites.

Best first baby books for bedtime

25.On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman:

 

A sweet bedtime read that celebrates the night your baby was born into the world. A book to revisit throughout baby’s childhood.

26.Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown:

 

The ultimate bedtime classic that needs to be in every baby book collection.

27.The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton:

 

A fun and extra silly bedtime rhyme that goes through a typical bedtime routine with some unexpected additions.

 
28.If Animals Kissed Goodnight by Ann Whitford Paul:

 

A newer, best-selling bedtime book that is sure to become a classic. A sweet, tender and love oozing book that is sure to calm your little one’s before sleep.

29.Where Diggers Sleep at Night by Brianna Caplan Sayres & Christian Slade:

 

All little ones are fascinated by trucks and tractors. This cute book uses these themes in a clever and charming bedtime story.

Best baby’s first year books:

Looking for a birthday gift when your baby turns one? Books make a great birthday gift. Unlike other toys they will be used and read over and over again. 

30.Where is Baby’s Birthday Cake by Karen Katz: A lift-a-flap birthday adventure for your little one to enjoy.

31,Dr. Seuss’s Happy Birthday, Baby by Dr. Seuss: This interactive book has things to lift, touch, pull, spin and more. It will be fun to read again and again for your new one-year-old.

32.Now You Are One by Minnie Birdson:  This is the perfect first birthday book to give instead of a card for the one-year-old in your life.

33.Baby Touch and Feel: Happy Birthday by DK Books: Give your baby a touch and feel adventure with a birthday theme. This is perfect for reading leading up to their birthday to help get them excited and ready.

34.Happy Birthday from the Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle: If your child is already loving the bright paper collages of Eric Carle’s other classic books, then this birthday edition is a must have!

There you have it, your complete guide to the best baby books

With the information about reading to your baby and suggestions in this article, you will be well on your way to choosing the perfect book for the baby in your life or having the perfect baby book library.

We love learning about new books and favorites of our readers, so don’t hesitate to chime in below to keep the list of best baby books going.

Happy Reading!

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