At two years old, my daughter requests a book every night. Sometimes it’s her new favorite (Frozen II), other times it’s one of the originals I bought before she was even 6 months old. As a bookworm and aspiring novelist, cultivating her love for books has been one of the proudest moments of my momlife!
How about you? Are you a bookworm wanting to pass along your passion? Or are you simply trying to boost your baby’s development while sneaking in a few more snuggles?
In this post, I’m sharing some of the best baby books for the first year of your little one’s life. If you see a book you like, just click the image or link to go straight to Amazon.
Because your little guy or gal is developing rapidly, I’ve separated this post into two sections: best books for babies under 6 months and best books for babies 6 to 12 months. Believe it or not, your baby’s tastes will change significantly during these time periods. The little fabric pattern books that used to captivate your newborn could become an absolute bore for a rowdy 6-month-old.
You’re about to start a really sweet tradition, Mama, and I am so excited for you!
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Have You Heard About the Benefits of Reading to Your Baby?
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I’m sure you’ve heard it before: reading to your baby builds the foundation for early learning literacy and writing skills. You’re also exposing your little baby to a wealth of new words and vocabulary, as well as developing his critical thinking and recognition skills.
Babies learn best by human interaction (in fact, this is one reason why experts recommend keeping baby away from screens until they are at least 18 months). When your little one watches how you read, your facial expressions and your vocal cues, he’s learning a ton.
On a (non-scientific) side note, I love how reading to my daughter has helped solidify our daily routine. Our wind-down routine (which is just as necessary for a 4-month-old as it is for a toddler) consists of a 5-10 minute reading time. Reading to your baby at night can become a “sleep cue” that helps him subconsciously prepare for lights out.
How and When to Read to Your Baby
Chances are, if you’re reading this article, you’re already convinced that reading to your lil’ guy is a fabulous idea.
If you’re unsure of how to read to your baby, check out this article for 10 pro tips(so that you both enjoy it!) If you’re just looking for the cliffnotes, keep these tips in mind:
- Start as early as possible!
- Read frequently (everyday if possible)
- Buy age-appropriate books
- Start with small time limits
- Don’t be afraid to read the same books over and over (and over…and over…)
- Make reading fun! Ask questions, point out objects, make silly noises….
- Read even when your baby hates it (during playtime or when he’s sleepy). He’ll come around!
Alright! Let’s get right into some of my favorite books that can boost your baby’s development.
Books for Babies Under 6 Months
Before we dive in, let’s talk about the best books for newborns specifically. At this stage of the game, you could read him Shakespeare and as long as he’s being snuggled, he’ll be perfectly content. BUT. If you want your baby to actually see and notice what you’re reading to him, focus on books with high contrasting colors, big, bold patterns, and faces.
Young babies LOVE faces.
By 4 months, your baby may become interested in touching and feeling the book, so make sure your book is safe (All of the books on this list are board or cloth books for this reason).
Just Like the Animals
Your little one will most likely love this book even into his toddler years. Why? As a soft cover baby book, it’s delightful to hold, perfect for teethers, and comes packed with interactive pages. You can wiggle your fingers inside the holes, let your baby gnaw on puppy’s years, AND boost his vocabulary.
Definitely one of the best baby books for the first year!
Look! Look! Board Book
In the beginning of your baby’s life, he won’t be able to pick up colors too well. So, black and white shapes are much more likely to hold his attention.
This is board book focuses mostly on patterns, rather than words, but your baby can be highly-entertained by it.
(BTW if you’re new to baby’s developmental milestones, I suggest picking up your copy of the Wonder Weeks…it’s so eye-opening and walks you through your baby’s progress!)
Another soft cover baby book that should be on your bookshelf. This one is also a flap book, so as your little one grows, he will love flipping through the pages.
I also love that Peek-a-Boo Forest features crinkle pages. Babies LOVE crinkle sounds, especially around 4-6 months.
Indestructibles: Baby Peek-A-Boo!
If you have a gnawing destructo-baby, you will be so thankful for the Indestructibles series. Waterproof and ridiculously durable, Peek-a-Boo Baby gives you a chance to work on your theatrics without worrying about your baby’s safety.
Baby Touch and Feel Books: Farm Animals
The Baby Touch and Feel books are definitely some of our faves. We have 4 books from this series and my daughter (now two) still loves reading them!
Seriously, if there is just one book that you choose to buy on this list, check these out. They will help familiarize your child with animal and object vocabulary, sounds, and sensation.
Before 6 months, babies are fascinated with faces. Extremely nearsighted, faces are actually more than just a blur. Baby face books like this one feature labels below each picture, which can also help your baby (and toddler) identify emotions.
Indestructibles: Baby Let’s Eat!
Another Indestructibles book! By the time your baby is 6 months, you can start teaching him sign language. For now, you can tell him all about food (super beneficial when you start sign language) and colors.
Jelly Cat Board Books: If I Were a…
This is another fun touch and feel series. The Jelly Cat books feature big, bold pictures that will appeal to younger babies and 6-month-olds alike. I also love that while each page contains a sentence or two, the content isn’t overly long.
Mama Loves You So
If your kiddo will sit still, this book is so cute. The pictures are beautifully illustrated and, let’s be honest, it’s a tear-jerker.
Best Books for Babies 6 to 12 Months
By 6 months, your baby’s eyesight and understanding sky-rocketed. If you haven’t started reading to the little guy yet, now is the time. His little brain will pick up words like you wouldn’t believe.
However, this can also be the most challenging time to begin reading.
A mobile baby is a squirley baby. Don’t feel bad if your little one will only be able to tolerate a couple sentences at a time before moving on to his next activity. When my daughter was that age, I was lucky to get 30 seconds of reading in!
Just like your baby’s developing tastes evolve, so to should your book selection. Your books should contain very, very short sentences but slightly more complex pictures. Flap books and noisy books are usually very entertaining and may hold your baby’s interest a little longer.
Touch and feel books are usually still a big hit, but keep in mind that you might need to spice things up by adding in silly sounds or narrations.
Little One, God Made You Special
Ladies, Little One, God Made You Special is my personal fave. My toddler still loves it. We began reading it right when she was about 6 months and haven’t stopped since then.
I love this book because it’s faith-based, focuses on your child’s unique features, and gives you the chance to punctuate every statement with action (For example, when we get to the part where the book says, “Your wiggly, squiggly toes” I always give her a little tickle).
Babies First Words
If you want to build your baby’s vocabulary, these books are excellent tools! You can purchase the original separately, or buy the box set as seen above. The only thing I’ll say, since the book only includes real photographs and just the name of the object, I’d spice it up by creating animal sounds or using hand motions.
This is a good one! Noisy Trucks is part of another touch and feel series, but your baby can also press the little buttons to create noises. Some babies won’t be able to do this until they are about 18 months, but most will certainly appreciate the noises if you do the honors. In any case, it’s definitely one of the best baby books for the first year!
As your baby’s hand-eye coordination develops, he’ll be eager to try new, challenging tasks. This series is durable, features bright, exciting pictures, and contains common objects that your baby will easily recognize.
Baby Signs: A Baby-Sized Introduction to Speaking with Sign Language
Fun fact: your baby knows many more words than he can speak right now! As your baby develops and he becomes more aware of his desires, his lack of communication skills can get frustrating; so, he screams!
Sign language bridges the gap between his wants and developing language skills.
I started teaching my daughter sign language when she was just about 6 months old. At 8 months, she started saying “all done” “more” and “drink.” By 12 months, she could strongly communicate what types of food she wanted.
If you’ve been thinking about teaching your baby sign language, the Baby Signs book is an excellent tool for you and your baby (I also highly recommend Baby Signing Time on Youtube…more for you at this stage)
Are you looking for the best books to read to baby with daddy? Daddy Hugs is packed with super cute pictures, patterns, and even counts to ten.
Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep
If the grandparents live far away, this recordable book is PERFECT for them. This book allows the giver to record their voice to corresponding buttons. Hallmark actually features quite a few of these recordable books, but this one features the bedtime prayer.
Baby’s First Bible Stories
If you’re looking for simple ways to introduce your baby to Jesus, reading a Bible story every night is a great starting point. My daughter’s all-time favorite classic is the “Jesus Book.” I’ve used it to console her after nightmares, teach her how to pray, and so much more.
Before that, however, it was just a cute, well-illustrated book with adorable animals!
This particular Bible story book is a little wordier than ours, so if you find that your baby is having trouble keeping still for the entire page, don’t be afraid to skip a couple sentences or just summarize. Eventually, baby’s tolerance will grow!
Discovery Noisy Baby Animals
The Discovery books are so interactive and fun! As you can see from the picture, each book contains little buttons that you or your baby can press, emitting a sound. Each page also contains a short description of the animal, allowing your to develop his vocabulary and recognition.
Ten Little Night Stars
Want to teach your baby how to count to ten? This is definitely on my best baby books for the first year. Ten Little Night Stars is perfect for 12-month-olds and will entertain well into the toddler years.
We also use Ten Little Night Stars to identify different objects and animals on each page. It’s a padded book as well, so it has really held up well and “feels” high-end.
Focus on the Best Books to Read to YOUR Baby
I can’t tell you how many times I wondered if my baby just hated books. She wouldn’t stay still and she obviously didn’t enjoy our reading time.
If your baby is reacting the same way, don’t give up! Just modify your routine a little. As your baby grows, his tastes will change.
Maybe he’s bored, maybe the book you’re reading to him is way beyond his level. Or, maybe you could work on your narrator voice a little.
The point is, find which books/reading style/routine works for your baby.
I hope you enjoyed my list of the best baby books for the first year. If you’re looking for more tips on how to read to your baby, check out the post below. I also love posting quick baby tips and graphics on Instagram (if you’re a new mom, you should know now, Instagram=momlife!).
Let me know what some of your favorite books are below!
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