Is there anything better than snuggling up with a little kid and reading a wonderful story? Whether you’re shopping for a gift, or just building your own bookshelf, there are so many incredible books out there. If you’re looking for something that doesn't always make the “best books for babies” lists (or you don't want to saddle a new parent with yet another copy of Goodnight Moon or The Very Hungry Caterpillar) here are some great suggestions.
Oh, we didn’t include any lift the flap books. Little hands love getting involved, and by involved I mean ripping those babies right off. That doesn’t mean there aren’t great ones out there, there just aren’t any on our list.
Best board books for babies and toddlers:
This one was recommended by a reader and looks like a lot of fun! “A brave young penguin takes a kite flight to a tropical paradise. But in the end, he realizes that home is where his igloo is.” I feel ya, bird! It gets high marks for colorful illustrations and being a good bedtime story.
Sweet little book that features animals from Australia. Endearing and beautifully illustrated, this one is a classic when it comes to interactive books for preschoolers and young kids who want to act out the story while it’s being read.
Illustrated by Christian Robinson (who also illustrated You Matter) this adorable story highlights opposing emotions, and follows a grumpy old man and a little kid who have polar opposite feelings about the rain. In the end, a simple act of kindness changes all frowns to smiles. This is an underrated wonder you definitely need on your shelf.
I actually had this book as a kid and I LOVED it. Turns out it stood the test of time because my kids love it too. Grover is terrified of the monster at the end of the book so he implores you not to turn the pages. Turns out he is the monster at the end of the book. Spoiler alert – sorry : )
The illustrations, repetition (Beep! Beep! Beep!) and Blue’s animal pals in this one are really fun. The moral is great, too – be nice because people don’t like assholes. The combo really makes this one of the best baby books out there and can be enjoyed by babies and toddlers alike.
A fun read illustrated with bold colors and simple prose, this is the story of a little girl who sits down to share a meal with her family in a busy restaurant. Kids love the patterned art and little dishes, and parents love exposing their kiddos to different cultures. Fair warning, it may make you hungry! If you like this style, the author/illustrator Grace Lin has a bunch of other picture books, including A Big Bed for Little Snow, and the awesome Storytelling Math series Circle! Sphere!, The Last Marshmallow, What Will Fit?, and Up To My Knees!
Children’s books often use rhythm and rhyme, and this one is no different. A charming board book that, when paired with some goodnight kisses, is guaranteed to lull your little one to sleep. From bugs to bears, and everything in between, this farm says good night to all the creatures who call it home. Beautiful illustrations, too.
The most charming book about families and unconditional love you will ever find. Mommy, daddy, and caretakers of every label will love how inclusive this book is. Blended families, big and small families, families with two moms or two dads, and different races, cultures and religions are all represented in beautiful and detailed illustrations your baby will want to stare at for ages.
This one is quite possibly the sweetest book ever to welcome a new baby. Filled with sweet affirmations and comparisons to different animals, it’s the perfect soothing bedtime read to help little ones drift off to sleep – which is pretty much the whole goal here, right?
This incredibly cool high contrast book for infants folds out like an accordion so that you can stand it up on the floor - perfect for tummy time. Also excellent to toss in the diaper bag so baby has something super distracting to look at while you try to power down a coffee while it’s still hot.
Written and illustrated by members of First Nations tribes, this is a wonderful bedtime read to close out the day that focuses on feelings that bring us joy. The illustrations are uncluttered and interesting, driving home the point that there is so much joy, even in the simplest of things. It’s also available in several languages including Plains Cree, Spanish, French, and more!
Probably the cutest book ever? Beautifully illustrated in bold colors with a cut-paper collage giving it the illusion of different textures, it’s as calming to look at as it is to read. This is truly an essential modern classic and the perfect mash up of cute babies and cute animals (together at long last!).
When I first published this list, a few of you were outraged that there was no Sandra Boynton. I LOVE Sandra Boynton's books but I thought they’d make every best-of list possible because they’re on all the bestseller lists. The Going to Bed Book seems to be the best of the best, but I also love Pajama Time, Barnyard Dance!, Horns to Toes and in Between, Moo Baa La La La and my all time fave, Your Personal Penguin (be sure to find the Davy Jones song so you know the tune – or, I can also come over and sing it to you.) Honestly, Sandra Boynton's books are like pizza, I’ve rarely experienced a bad one.
Anyone who reads this site knows I have an unhealthy obsession with this book. The beautiful pictures and sweet story always get me and you can’t go wrong popping down to the bookstore to give it as a gift to anyone having a baby.
What's your baby's favorite board book?
Do you have an Eric Carle kid? Are you a Peek-A-Who or Pout Pout Fish family? Do you know Dear Zoo front to back? I'd love to know so drop the title in the comments!
Special thanks goes out to Inclusive Story Time for getting some of these great board books on my radar!
Our next reco: 100 Great Gifts Ideas for Babies Under One