Building your baby’s first library can be a struggle sometimes. Here’s my top picks of books for baby’s first year.
Want to know a little secret? What you read in your baby’s first year makes a huge difference.
In the first year, we teach them about reading and the wonders of it. We set the expectation that reading is fun and magical.
If we did our job… in the next few years, we will have to pry books out of their hands just to get them to go to bed.
But what are the best books for baby’s first year? Where do you begin creating baby’s first library?
This is where we gloss over because we have no idea where to start. I was there once and with so many amazing books available, it can be hard to decide what to get first.
My goal for you is to provide you a full list of the best books for baby’s first year so you can start building your baby’s first library.
But before we get to that, I thought I’d go over a few things to help you before you even buy the first book. (If you really don’t care about that, feel free to click the applicable links in the navigation menu below to get to the good stuff!)
PS: This post probably contains affiliate links. As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. This means I may be rewarded monetarily or otherwise upon purchase through these links, at no additional cost to you. My full disclosure policy can be found here.
If you don’t want to actually read the entire post, here’s the full list of my top picks:
- Guess How Much I Love You
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar
- Rainbow Fish
- Pout Pout Fish
- Goodnight Moon
- Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See?
- Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
- Where’s Spot?
- Baby Touch & Feel Animals
- Five Little Monkeys
- Bear Snores On
- Where’s Baby’s Belly Button?
- There’s a Wocket in My Pocket
- Elmo Says
Why read to your baby?
Reading to your baby when all they can do is grab the book out of your hands or try to smash it closed over your fingers sounds pointless and annoying, but there’s actually lots of proven benefits to reading to your baby!
Helps develop language
When you read to your baby, you’re using language and talking to them. The more you read, the more they hear, and the more they can develop their language skills.
When you read to them, they:
- Learn new vocabulary from the words used in their books
- Hear language patterns and different sounds
- Recognize different rhythms as you read the story
In fact, there are a variety of ways to support language through reading.
Encourages them to explore
As you read to them, you’ll notice your baby starting to explore reading as they get older. They’ll explore reading in a number of ways, including:
- Grabbing and chewing on the book
- Looking at the book as you read
- Touching the book by trying to open and close it
This is also why touch and feel books are so popular for babies! They will love to feel the different textures in their favorite stories.
Discover a love for reading
The more of a routine reading becomes, the more they will learn to love books. If you read to them in the morning, at bedtime, before naps, and in the middle of playtime, they will learn to expect and love books.
Naturally, this allows them to discover a love for reading.
Promotes close bonding
As long as you are setting your child in your lap while you read, you will also bond closer. This especially comes in handy for dads who might not feel close to their baby due to a variety of factors.
When you read to your baby, you are forming a bond by:
- Sharing an experience you both enjoy
- Cuddling closely while you read
Helps with emotion control
Lastly, reading also can help with emotion control. This sounds kind of silly, but it’s true! Reading can easily become their go-to when they’re older to help with emotions.
Reading helps control emotions by:
- Being their preferred activity when emotions are strong
- Calming them down as reading is a very mellow activity
- Identifying with stories about emotions
So how do you best read to a baby anyway? This all sounds nice, but reading to babies can be a struggle.
Tips for reading to your baby
These tips will help you read to your baby from a young age, starting as soon as infancy. Adjust as needed and always follow your baby’s lead.
Read often in short periods
As your sweet little infant gets older, they will become distracted or bored easily. Do not expect them to sit still for an entire story.
Instead, read several times a day in short spurts throughout the day. Find as many pockets of time as you can to read to them!
Great times to read to your baby might be:
- Before naps or bedtime
- After a big meal
- In between playtimes
- First thing in the morning
Cuddle your baby in your lap
When you do read to your baby, cuddle them in your lap! This helps promote bonding as you feel close to one another and they are more likely to pay close attention.
If they start to appear bored or restless, let them down to go play. Always follow your baby’s lead and don’t try and force a story.
Engage with the story
When your baby starts to get older in age, you’ll be able to engage in the story with them. Start doing things like:
- Point to pictures and identify it and see if they respond
- Ask questions like “Do you see the big tree?” and see if they point to it
- Make noises as you point to animals and see if they will join in
- Create different voices for stories with different characters
This makes reading so much more fun for both you and your baby! You’ll be amazed at what they respond to, the older the get.
Read favorites frequently
Once you start to notice them prefer certain stories over others, read their favorites to them! Repetition does wonders for brain development.
You might even start to notice them bring some favorite books to you to read.
How to choose your baby’s first books
There are a number of ways for you to choose your baby’s first books. Aside from the books I am recommending to you today, you might find some others you like!
When choosing your baby’s first books, make sure they:
- Are very sturdy and thick for easy holding
- Feature bold illustrations to interest baby
- Includes fun characters to make interest voices for
- Simple stories so baby doesn’t become bored too easily
- Interactive to make reading a fun experience
Best books for baby’s first year
Without further adeau, here are my picks for the best books for baby’s first year! These are hands down our all time favorite best board books in our home.
Corduroy by Don Freeman is a classic that babies and toddlers will love! When a girl comes in and spots corduroy, she is turned away by her mother when she notices a missing button. That night, corduroy goes on a special adventure to find his button – only to find out he is wanted no matter what his imperfections are.
Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney is the perfect bedtime story! In this story, a mama and baby bunny go back and forth about how much they love each other. This is a favorite in our home as my 3yo will wrap her arm around me as we read this story. It’s such a sweet story for kids!
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle is the perfect story about a caterpillar that turns into a butterfly. It’s a true classic that your toddler will quickly become obsessed with. My 3yo has this one memorized and I always catch her sitting on the coach “reading” it!
What I love most about reading is that it helps with language development, encourages them to explore, and really sets the stage for them to love reading.
When reading to them, make sure you follow their lead and make reading fun! It will truly last a lifetime as they become avid readers for years to come.
To this day, my all time favorite book is forever Corduroy. We read this book almost every night even still as my kids are no longer babies. It’s a true favorite in our home.
What are some of your favorite books for baby’s first year? Share them in the comments below!
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