40 Best Books for a Baby’s First Year
Board books are a baby’s best friend—perfect for story time, bedtime, and even teething! (Chomp, chomp.) But with so many baby books to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start.
Here are 40 tried and true favourites with just the right combination of education and entertainment. Most importantly, they’re really fun to read aloud, which is clutch when you’re reading them over and over and over…
I Kissed the Baby, by Mary Murphy
Newborn babies respond best to bold, black and white illustrations…like the ones you’ll find in this board book for babies. I Kissed the Baby will grab their attention while charming you with its sweet tale of welcoming a brand-new baby.
Moo Baa La La La!, by Sandra Boynton
You can’t go wrong adding any of Sandra Boynton’s board books to baby’s library. We love this exploration of animal sounds, an important part of every baby’s vocabulary.
Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Clement Hurd
There’s a reason everyone has heard of Good Night Moon. The Margaret Wise Brown classic makes bedtime feel safe and cozy by wishing goodnight to every object in the room.
Pat the Zoo, by LV Studio
Babies love to read with their fingers, so Pat the Zoo invites babies to touch and feel different animals, from a furry panda to a bumpy turtle.
Knuffle Bunny, by Mo Willems
Baby loses her precious stuffed animal, but how can she explain the problem without words? Luckily, Mum understands what she’s trying to say in this classic board book for babies.
Guess How Much I Love You?, by Sam McBratney, illustrated by Anita Jeram
In this board book for babies, a little bunny and his parent express their love for each other to the moon and back.
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, by Bill Martin Jr. & Eric Carle
Each page of this board book for babies asks the question “What do you see?” before revealing a new animal, from a red bird to a purple cat. The rhythmic repetition and bright colours make it a perfect book for a baby’s first year.
I Love You as Big as the World, by David Van Buren, Illustrated by Tim Warnes
It’s nearly impossible to explain the depth of our love to our littles, but this board book for babies comes close.
Time for Bed, by Mem Fox, Illustrated by Jane Dyer
Every page of this baby book features a young animal snuggling down with its mama for good night’s sleep. You’ll both be yawning by the end!
The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle
This board book starts out innocently enough with a tiny caterpillar eating through one apple on Monday. By Saturday he’s worked his way up to cupcakes!
Counting Kisses, by Karen Katz
Learn the parts of the body and count down from 10 to 1 while getting lots of kisses? That’s a win-win.
Goodnight Gorilla, by Peggy Rathman
A wily gorilla steals the zookeeper’s keys and lets all the animals out of the cages. You’ll both be laughing when Mrs. Zookeeper discovers the animals napping in her house.
Go Dog, Go, by P.D. Eastman
A classic exploration of opposites through funny dogs who are big and little, fast and slow, and all headed to a big dog party!
Everywhere Babies, by Susan Meyers, illustrated by Marla Frazee
Babies are fed, dressed, and loved in this baby board book that celebrates babies everywhere.
From Head to Toe, by Eric Carle
Before your baby can even talk, they’ll be able to imitate the animals’ gestures in this boardbook for babies, turning their head like a penguin or shrugging like a buffalo. (See more interactive books for kids!)
Baby Happy Baby Sad, by Leslie Patricelli
Hugging kitty makes baby happy. Falling down makes baby sad. The simple examples throughout the board book teach babies about their feelings…and that’s a good thing!
Little Blue Truck, by Alice Schertle, illustrated by Jill McElmurry
A brave little truck helps a dump truck who’s stuck in the mud in a much-loved baby board book that features great values and great trucks!
Clip-Clop, by Nicola Smee
In this board book for babies, a horse graciously offers a ride to a dog, cat, pig and duck…but they’d better hold on tight!
Peek-a-Who, by Nina Laden
Every baby loves a good game of peekaboo, so try it in board book form as you spy on an owl that says “who” and a train that goes “choo choo.”
Good Night, Good Night, Construction Site, by Sherri Duskey Rinker, Illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
For little ones who like things that go (and who doesn’t?), this is the perfect bedtime board book.
Baby Faces, by Margaret Miller
Very few things fascinate a baby more than the faces of other babies! Explain the parts of the face and the meanings of different expressions as you explore real life baby pictures together.
Eyes, Nose, Fingers, and Toes, by Judy Hindley and Brita Granstorm
This board book does more than just label the main parts of a kid’s face and body—it explains what they’re for, as in, “A nose is to blow, a nose is to sniff, a nose has holes for sniffing with.”
The Going to Bed Book, by Sandra Boynton
Even hippos have bedtime routines, at least in this board book for babies, which finds various animals brushing their teeth and donning jammies before rocking to sleep on their cozy boat.
I Like Myself, by Karen Beaumont, illustrated by David Catrow
It’s never too soon to build self-esteem, and I Like Myself does a great job showing how our differences make us uniquely awesome.
My Car, by Byron Barton
Sam proudly demonstrates the parts of his car and how he takes care of it with gas, oil and washing. We love Byron Barton’s cartoon-like illustrations and littles are absolutely fascinated to discover how things work.
Dim Sum For Everyone, by Grace Lin
“Little dishes on little carts” will make you hungry and eager to explore the culture that gave us such yummy goodies.
Besos for Baby, by Jen Arena, illustrated by Blanca Gomez
If you need an excuse to shower your bebe with kisses, Besos for Baby is here for you.
Where Is the Green Sheep?, by Mem Fox & Judy Horacek
On a quest to find the elusive green sheep, we meet the up and down sheep, the scared and brave sheep, and many others in this extremely silly rhyming board book for babies.
Where Is Baby’s Belly Button?, by Karen Katz
Author Karen Katz is a master of the lift-the-flap book, and this baby favourite teaches the parts of the body from head to toe.
Please, Baby, Please, by Spike Lee & Tonya Lewis Lee
Having trouble getting your little one to sleep or listen? Spike Lee feels your pain in this sweet baby book that he wrote with his wife…it’s the perfect way to prep for the toddler years ahead!
Jamberry, by Bruce Degen
Jazzy rhythms and rhymes make this story about a boy and his bear on a berry hunt read like pure poetry.
Where’s Spot?, by Eric Hill
It’s Spot’s dinnertime but he’s hiding so we’ll have to search the house! Baby can help lift the flaps in every room until our puppy is found.
Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You?, by Dr. Seuss
Dr. Seuss gifted us with many classic books for babies, from Green Eggs and Ham to The Lorax. We love Mr. Brown for reading to babies because it’s all about making funny sounds like “buzz buzz” and “boom boom.”
Quick as a Cricket, by Audrey Wood, illustrated by Don Wood
A small child compares himself to animals with different traits—like “loud as a lion” and “quiet as a clam”—because humans are complex and amazing!
The Runaway Bunny, by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Clement Hurd
A baby bunny learns that no matter where he goes, Mama will always be there in this imaginative fantasy.
Dear Zoo, by Rod Campbell
Can The Zoo help us find the perfect pet in this lift-the-flap book for a baby’s first year? After several misfires—including an elephant that’s too big and a snake that’s too scary—a perfect puppy finally arrives.
More, More, More Said the Baby: Three Love Stories, by Vera B. Williams
Celebrating family love in its many forms, the three short stories in this classic board book are sweet as a baby’s smile.
In the Tall, Tall Grass, by Denise Fleming
“Crunch, munch, caterpillars lunch,” begins this nature adventure with just a few well-chosen words on each page and gorgeous illustrations.
A Good Day, by Kevin Henkes
Not every day starts out perfectly, but hang in there, and you can turn it around. That’s the moral of this beautiful baby book by Kevin Henkes.
Whose Toes Are Those?, by Jabari Asim, illustrated by Leuyen Pham
This celebration of oh-so-sweet little baby toes will get little ones giggling with its charming rhymes.
More Books for a Baby's First Year:
Another essential for a baby's first year? SNOObear! SNOObear plays the white noise babies and toddlers love and doubles as a cuddly lovey. Learn more about SNOObear here.
Have questions about a Happiest Baby product? Our consultants would be happy to help! Submit your questions here.
Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider. Breastmilk is the best source of nutrition for babies. It is important that, in preparation for and during breastfeeding, mothers eat a healthy, balanced diet. Combined breast- and bottle-feeding in the first weeks of life may reduce the supply of a mother's breastmilk and reversing the decision not to breastfeed is difficult. If you do decide to use infant formula, you should follow instructions carefully.