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40 Best Baby Books for Baby's First Year

Our selects include best-selling classics, new releases and even a few that can be personalized.

Best Baby Books for the Ultimate Nursery Library
amazon

Studies show it's never too early to start reading the best children's books to infants. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics notes that reading baby books out loud to your kids starting from birth strengthens your parent-child bond and gets your baby started on important language and literacy skills. And in truth, it doesn’t matter what you read to your babies: Just hearing any words will get them the foundations for a later vocabulary, and it’s the lap-sitting, not the book choice, that makes for good bonding time. You could read your to-do list for the week, and it wouldn’t matter to a baby.

But it does matter to you, because reading a to-do list isn't that much fun. And instead there's a world of fantastic baby books with wonderful illustrations, innovative interactive features, ingenious wordplay and great read-aloud rhythms, all available at your fingertips. You might even get to learn a thing or two about quantum physics while you're it. Add the best baby books to your child's home library, and get ready for snuggly story time. (Bonus: They also make for great baby gifts.)

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Feelings
Cottage Door Press
Cottage Door Press
Now 10% off

At first, your child will just get a kick out of seeing their own face in the mirror. As they get older, the book gives prompts like, "Little lion looks so happy! Can you look happy, too?" which gets them to explore their emotions.

Count to LOVE!
Cartwheel Books
Cartwheel Books

This book offers sweet, rhyming instructions, like, "Count to LOVE on your fingers and toes. 1-2-3-4 touch your nose." Your baby will love watching you play along!

8 Little Planets
Sourcebooks Explore
Sourcebooks Explore
Now 35% off

Sure, babies may not remember this book's rhyming facts about our solar system, but, staring at the smiling faces of all the celestial bodies, they'll still have a good time.

RELATED: 20 Books All Students Should Read Before They Turn 18

Peekaboo: House
Nosy Crow
Nosy Crow

For kids who love to get their hands into things, this book features a sliding mechanism on every page that reveals a surprise. Plus, the reveals are usually adorable, courtesy of illustrator Ingela P. Arrhenius.

All the World
Little Simon
Little Simon

This book combines simple, rhyming text with Caldecott Honor-winning pictures. It's a snapshot of a day told with so much depth you won't tire of it.

Dishwasher's Big Job (The Big Jobs Books)
Roaring Brook Press
Roaring Brook Press

At Good Housekeeping, we love our appliances, but Steven Weinberg just might love them more. His books — Dishwasher's Big Job, Fridge and Oven's Big Job and Washer and Dryer's Big Job — are all love letters to the machines that make our homes run. And babies also love the googly eyes!

Best Baby Book Illustrations
Once Upon a World
Little Simon
Little Simon
Now 33% off

If you're sick of seeing the same style of illustrations for the same fairy tales over and over, the Once Upon a World series is the antidote. It sets common fairy tales in specific locations: Rapunzel escapes from a tower in India, Snow White hikes through the woods of Japan, Cinderella attends a ball in Mexico and The Little Mermaid swims in the waters of the Caribbean.

Where Is Little Fish?
Candlewick
Candlewick

Little Fish is hiding, and babies get to check under flaps to find him and his fishy friends. The brightly colored coral, shells and seaweed they conceal themselves in makes for a happy hide-and-seek book. It's by Lucy Cousins, who delights preschoolers with her Maisy books.

Bath! Bath! Bath!
Little Bee Books
Little Bee Books

Bath time, like story time, could be a cherished part of the nighttime routine. This book uses rhyming lines with lots of repetition to celebrate the joys of the tub.

TummyTime: Happy Baby
duopress
duopress

Tummy time is hard for babies. This book folds out like an accordion, so you can stand it up in front of your baby for some extra motivation to pick that head up. The illustrations are a mix of high-contrast black-and-white patterns, images of smiling babes and mirrored pages so your baby can gaze at her own reflection.

RELATED: The 40 Children's Books That Belong in Every Family Library

One, Two, Three Dim Sum
duopress
duopress

For a delicious twist on a counting book, this board book lets kids count the offerings at a dim sum outing, starting with one menu. (Five egg rolls, please!) The words are written in both Mandarin and English.

Antiracist Baby
Kokila
Kokila

Research shows that babies as young as 3 months already recognize race, so it really is never too early to start conversations about anti-racism. This board book, written by Ibram X. Kendi, the Founding Director of the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research, offers nine steps to becoming an antiracist baby.

The Going-to-Bed Book
Little Simon
Little Simon
Now 40% off

You really can't go wrong with any board book by the great Sandra Boynton. (And there are so, so many of them.) But this book follows animals as they get ready for bed, so it might inspire your little one to get some shut-eye, too.

I Love Us: A Book About Family
Clarion Books
Clarion Books

This books shows how there's many ways to be a family, and how families have different routines for everything from getting breakfast in the morning to celebrating special occasions. It also comes with a mirror surprise and a fill-in family tree.

First 100 Words in English and Spanish
Lil' Libros
Lil' Libros
Now 22% off

Start building that baby vocabulary! This board book's sweet illustrations are labeled with both English and Spanish words, so your baby can get double the vocab out of the same number of pages.

Think Big Little One
LB Kids
LB Kids

If you want to feel inspired about your baby's future, pick up this book, which introduces kids to 18 different inspiring women, like Disney artist Mary Blair, musician Sister Rosetta Tharpe or scientist Wang Zhenyi. There's also Follow Your Dreams, Little One, which features figures like tennis star Arthur Ashe, civil rights leader John Lewis and dancer Alvin Ailey.

Look, Look!
Dutton Books for Young Readers
Dutton Books for Young Readers
Now 10% off

Newborns only see black, white and gray at first, which makes these high-contrast, black-and-white pictures all the more engaging to young eyes.

You Are My Cupcake
Scholastic
Cartwheel Books

Ultra-adorable illustrations make this book feel like a sweet treat. Each page is another delicious term of endearment, like sweet pea or pumpkin — all with happy, smiling faces.

Where's the Astronaut?
Nosy Crow
Nosy Crow

This book combines two things kids love: outer space and hide-and-seek. You look for extra-terrestrial elements on the pages, finding them under the flaps of the book. ("Where's the space dog? Here he is!")

Oh No, George!
Candlewick
Candlewick
Now 13% off

George the Dog tries to be good while his owner is out, but just can't stop himself from chasing the cat and making a mess. If your child is too young to glean the themes of self-control and restraint, they'll still love the doggie mayhem — most of which end with a chorus of, "Oh no, George!"

Pat the Bunny
Random House
Random House

Kids have been enjoying the interactive nature of this book — patting the bunny, feeling Daddy's scratchy face — since way back in 1940. And no, the novelty has not worn off yet.

Baby University Board Book Set
Sourcebooks Explore
Sourcebooks Explore
Now 41% off

It's never too early to get them started on their college applications. (Kidding!) Still, parents get a kick out of these "Baby University" books, which includes Quantum Physics for Babies, Rocket Science for Babies, General Relativity for Babies and Newtonian Physics for Babies. (Then maybe they can explain it to us?)

Peek-a Who?
Chronicle Books
Chronicle Books
Now 10% off

Die-cut windows give kids a hint as to who might be hiding on the next page. It's way more fun than playing peek-a-boo alone, and less tiring for your hands, too. If your baby adores this one, there are others in the series, including Peek-a-Zoo and Peek-a-Moo.

That's Not My Dragon ...
Usborne Books
Usborne Books

Starting on the cover (with the "tufty" ears), there's something for kids to touch on every page of this book (part of a That's Not My series, which also includes dinosaur, unicorn and goat). Babies love feeling all different textures as they go through all the dragons, trying to find the "right" one.

Goodnight Moon
HarperCollins
HarperCollins
Now 13% off

Goodnight Moon has had such a weird history, from being banned by the New York Public Library to the strange story about what happened to the book's rights after author Margaret Wise Brown's death. So it really speaks to the magic of the book that the simple story of a house winding down for the night is still so loved today.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Philomel Books
Philomel Books

In 2019, The Very Hungry Caterpillar celebrated its 50th anniversary — and it's easy to see why it's endured, since it combines so many things that babies love: counting, cute animals and food. You can pair this classic with the recent Sleep Tight with the Very Hungry Caterpillar for all-day fun.

Mommy, Mama, and Me
Tricycle Press
Tricycle Press

This adorable rhyming book shows a toddler spending a fun day with their two moms. There's also Daddy, Papa, and Me, about a family with two dads.

Welcome
Hyperion Books for Children
Hyperion Books for Children

Author Mo Willems began his career as a writer and animator on Sesame Street, and is most famous for his beloved Knuffle Bunny, Elephant and Piggie and Pigeon series. Until your baby is old enough for those, there's Welcome, which explains to babies some of the many wondrous things to look forward to in life, like music and cats.

Can Bears Ski?
Candlewick
Candlewick
Now 18% off

This book is about a little bear who finds out he needs hearing aids, and how he has to adjust after receiving them. The book won a prestigious 2021 Ezra Jack Keats honor for its writing.

Besos For Baby
LB Kids
LB Kids

In this book, rhyming lines in English are paired with simple Spanish phrases, so your baby can get used to hearing two different languages. "Besos" means kisses, so be prepared to give lots of smooches!

Guess How Much I Love You
Candlewick
Candlewick
Now 49% off

As the Little Nutbrown Hare and the Big Nutbrown Hare talk about how much they love each other, you get to assure your little one that your love is immeasurable, too.

Penguin Bedtime Classics
Penguin Bedtime Classics
Penguin Bedtime Classics

If you like the idea of re-telling classic stories through more diverse illustrations, the Penguin Bedtime Classic series is on the same wavelength. Other titles in this series include The Nutcracker, The Wizard of Oz, Jack and the Beanstalk, The Three Little Pigs, The Princess and the Pea and A Little Princess.

Leo Loves Baby Time
Charlesbridge
Charlesbridge

When Leo goes to the library for "baby time," he gets to do exciting activities, like singing a happy song or playing peek-a-boo with scarves — things you can play at home, too!

No No Yes Yes
Candlewick
Candlewick
Now 13% off

Chances are, "no" and "yes" are going to be the words that your baby hears most. So it makes sense that "no" and "yes" are the only words in this book, too. The baby gets a "no" for bad behavior and a "yes" being good. (See also: Yummy Yucky.)

Counting With - Contando Con Frida
Lil' Libros
Lil' Libros
Now 27% off

There are endless numbers of counting books out there, but only one where the great Frida Kahlo acts as the guide to numbers. This book counts in English and Spanish, using element of her life as inspiration. ("One blue house/una casa azul.")

Marvel Alphablock
Abrams Appleseed;
Harry N. Abrams
Now 27% off

Your baby is cuter than Baby Groot, sure, so make this Marvel book their first introduction to the ABCs. The book's pages are so thick the whole thing feels like a block instead of a book — good for withstanding your baby's abuse. If Marvel isn't your family's fandom, you can also do Star Wars (or just regular words if you don't want them hooked on movies so young).

Guess What? Sweets and Treats
minedition
minedition

Yusuke Yonezu's clever lift-the-flap illustrations offer surprises on every page — what looks like a lollipop turns into a chameleon, or a hard-candy wrapper transforms into the tail of a fish.

Emma: A BabyLit Emotions Primer
Gibbs Smith
Gibbs Smith

Practice naming feelings with the characters in Jane Austen's Emma. ("Emma is excited! Mr. Weston is Surprised!") It's part of the BabyLit line of books, which adapts classics into board books for kids. If you know a new parent who's a fan of Shakespeare or ancient Homer, or if you want a scaled-down version of your own favorite literary classic, there's a BabyLit book to go with it.

The Foot Book
Random House Books for Young Readers;
Random House Books for Young Readers;
Now 19% off

Almost every Dr. Seuss book is a classic, but this one is a good starting point, since it gives you an excuse to play the little piggies game as you examine your own feet.

Book Bundle
Brave + Kind Bookshop
Brave + Kind Bookshop

Or if you simply cannot choose, you can have the experts at the Brave + Kind Bookshop put together an assortment of books for you. Each bundle comes with both chunky and soft board books, plus a crocheted rattle. It comes in three different sizes, with either four, six or eight books.

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