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What are the best baby books?
Studies show that it’s never too early to start picking out the best baby books for your infants. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests to start reading to kids from birth.
Reading toddler books out loud to your little ones not only strengthens the parent-child bond, but it also provides many early learning and child development benefits down the road.
To be honest, hearing the words – even if they are from your grocery list – will hone your child’s foundations of vocabulary and get them babbling early.
But why rely on the grocery list when there is a world of amazing baby books out there with creative illustrations, inventive wordplay, and ingenious interactive features to help you and your baby grow together?
In this post, we will go through some of our top picks to add to your child’s little home library. These books were chosen after thorough research and real mom experiences to make sure you get nothing short of the best.
Book # 1: Touch-and-Feel Book (0-3 Years)
There is a different texture on every page so that your toddler has the opportunity to engage with sensory experiences along with the words, firing up all of their tactile senses.
Here are a few reasons to include touch-and-feel books in your child’s reading collection:
- They develop sensory awareness. The textured patches in touch-and-feel books provide a multi-sensory experience, helping your child understand and explore the world around them through touch. This not only adds to their sensory development but also helps sharpen their attention and concentration skills.
- They enrich your child’s language and vocabulary. The touch and feel format maximizes babies’ interest by capitalizing on their love of touching everything around them. Through the use of varying sensations, you can introduce simple words, such as “soft”, “rough”, and “smooth” to your toddler. As these textures and sensations are new to infants, they are often curious to explore.
- They instill a lifelong love of reading. Touch-and-feel books are the name of the game when it comes to learning through interaction. This makes reading time fun for kids and helps instill an invaluable love of books.
If your touch-and-feel book comes with rhythmic storytelling, your child can experience additional benefits:
- a nurturing environment. Rhymes help foster a sense of comfort, support, and nurture for kids by using simple patterns that they can then learn to predict – another key to increasing cognitive functions and establishing a love of reading.
- memorization and language skills. Rhymes help babies and young children learn their vowels and consonants and how they come together to form words. Memorization and recall are fine-tuned, too, as your child hears you read through rhymes.
Book # 2: Lift-the-Flap Book (0-5 Years)
Often, newborns, toddlers, and young children find it hard to focus on a book when there are way too many exciting things around them to explore. One way to engage their curious minds for hours is by using lift-the-flap books.
Kids love lift-the-flap books since they come with a ton of surprises for them to find. These types of books contain playful hide-and-seek elements. Your toddler will almost forever continue to be amazed by the “trick” under each flap.
The bright, bold, and colorful illustrations make these some of the best baby books out there. Similar to the little ones, we also love lift-the-flap books for a few reasons of our own:
- They teach location. Lift-the-flap books often contain phrases that include locational words like “under” and “over.” These words are tools for your child to learn location and help them recognize what exists where.
- They develop language and literacy skills. Interactive books inspire conversation with your toddler about what they see under the flap. Matching the word to the picture they see after flipping a flap over helps broaden their vocabulary and develop language skills. Trust us, your baby will be babbling in no time!
- They fine-tune their fine motor skills. The very act of lifting the flap fine-tunes children’s fine motor skills as they learn to handle the book. Of course, the first few books will likely end up without flaps by the time you and your little one are done reading. Nevertheless, these books always provide you with an opportunity to show your child how to gently handle their books.
- Kids learn about the world around them. You can make associations between what your child sees in the book and a real-life experience. For example, if a book mentions body parts, – such as the nose – you can point to your nose and help the baby make the connection. This helps your child move between the broader world and books in ways that give direct meaning to them.
Our choice Where is Baby’s Belly Button is a great book to teach body parts to your baby or young child. The bright illustrations will keep your baby’s attention and help make the experience of lifting a flap much more rewarding.
Each flap is easy to open and engage with, making it one of the best baby shower gifts even for moms with young babies.
Book # 3: Changing Faces Book (0-3 Years)
Changing faces books are always a delightful addition to your toddler's library. Watch your children get fascinated by seeing animals’ faces appear and then change gradually as they turn the pages.
These books show off the cause and effect for toddlers in a super interesting and cute way. As the change takes place, you can read to your child aloud and help them make sense of the moving illustrations that are taking place in front of them.
We encourage you to read these books for the following reasons:
- Storytime expands the child’s understanding. Talking and reading aloud to infants is important in the development of their cognitive processes. According to research, babies begin to learn what words mean well before they even start talking.
- It increases pre-reading skills and brain development. As is probably evident at this point, shared reading is a language powerhouse. Reading with/to your young one develops their language learning and pre-reading skills along with honing their conceptual development skills.
- It nurtures a high-quality parent-child relationship. When you and your child get snuggly and go through a book together, it results in a positive bonding experience between the both of you. This greatly improves your child’s emotional development as they feel nurtured and loved through the gentle reading. A great extended benefit of this bonding is that your child associates books with a positive experience which could make it easier for them to remain consistent with reading as they grow older.
- It can be a consistent part of bedtime routine. Your child will begin to associate reading with relaxation and understand that bedtime comes next. This can even make it easier for them to lay down without tears and sleep longer through the night!
According to us, Meet Happy Bear by Nathan Thoms is the perfect changing faces book that mesmerizes children with its moving imagery and puts a fun spin on how they interact with it.
Since the Happy Bear is initially sad, the book encourages children to sing songs or do something kind to lift the bear’s mood.
In doing so, they learn different facial expressions and moods. They also learn how those emotions change depending on the situation.
It's one of the sweetest little board books out there. We highly recommend grabbing a few extra to give as baby shower gifts to your near and dear new moms.
Book # 4: First Words Book (1-3 Years)
First words books make some of the best baby books out there. Even if your baby cannot sound out the letters of the alphabet, it’s never too soon to introduce your little one to the magic of these books. Here’s why:
- They provide essential building blocks. The more you read and sound out the different letters and words to your infants, the faster they will learn to read and write them. This provides a host of benefits to your kids as they grow into young children as their pre-literacy skills are developed.
- They promote emotional learning. Babies don’t just look at the pictures of their favorite books. They also notice the expressions and the sounds you make when reading. This helps promote emotional learning and early brain development.
- They help with school success. According to research, about a third of kids start school without the necessary language skills that they need to learn to read. Reading educational first words books to your kids before they even get to school age can help them develop those valuable skills and make school a little easier for them to handle.
Our favorite first words toddler book called First 100 Words Board Book is the perfect mix of education, fun, and interactiveness. The book is visually delightful with loads of colors. It serves as a great aid in both receptive and expressive speech development.
It also helps children learn how to categorize different objects and elements of their life, such as animals, colors, different foods, and so on.
As you point to a picture and pronounce its accompanying word, you will encourage babbling in your toddler along with helping them make real-world and pictorial object associations.
Book # 5: The Pout-Pout Fish (0-4 Years)
The Pout-Pout Fish is a baby and toddler book that deserves a category of its own. There is just something special about this book that enthralls babies and toddlers of all ages. Repetition helps them learn funny noises, such as “Blub.”
The book follows a wholesome storyline about a sad fish who thinks he is just destined to be glum. As the book moves along, the reader is unsure of Mr. Fish’s sadness. Through this, the writer creates space for parents and children to discuss emotions – such as sadness and happiness – and the possible reasons behind them.
One day, a shimmery fish comes along who shows Mr. Fish that he is capable of being cheerful. The book explores happiness and how sometimes, if we look at things differently, we can change our mindset.
For older toddlers, here are a few questions that you can ask to encourage a philosophical discussion:
- Is Mr. Fish happy?
- Is it ok that Mr. Fish is not happy?
- Imagine a time when you felt happy. What did it feel like and what were the reasons behind it?
- Imagine a time when you were sad. What did it feel like and what were the reasons?
The Pout-Pout Fish is a classic that any list of the best baby books would be incomplete without.
Give the Gift of Reading – Baby Shower Gift Idea
When it comes to the best baby gifts, choosing ones that are thoughtful and practical is the way to go.
As mentioned earlier, the books we have featured above are not only a great purchase for your own baby, but they also make for invaluable baby shower gifts.
One of the best baby shower gift ideas is to arrange a gift basket containing all 5 books for the new baby and parent to enjoy.
A gift basket filled with the best baby books would serve as the perfect personalized gift for their eagerly-awaited bundle of joy. It would also encourage the very happy baby and parents to spend some time reading together and engaging in a shared activity.
What you will need:
- Gift Basket
- Touch and Feel Book
- Lift-the-Flap Book
- Changing Faces Book
- First Words Book
- The Pout Pout Fish
- Baby Shower Card
When most people think of reading to their newborns and toddlers, they have a set scenario in their minds about how it all looks. They envision themselves calmly curled up in a chair with their infant or young child and reading a story from end to end.
However, real-life moments seldom turn out this way.
Our little ones are full of curiosity and energy. There is a very likely chance that they will end up in a wrestling bout with the book itself or simply climb off your lap as they lose interest or get distracted by something else in front of them.
Hopefully, this blog post will help you bridge that attention gap and keep your child glued to reading as they explore and interact with the colorful pictures, textures, and illustrations in each book. These are some of the best baby books that provide an educational moment to your tot by giving them an active role in the reading process.
As Dr. Seuss fittingly put it:
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
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