The Best Books for Baby’s First Year

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As Baby D is quickly approaching his first birthday, I’ve spent quite a bit of time reflecting on this amazing year. It inspired me to write a series of posts on things we’ve had success with.  Because we love books so much I want to focus on reading for our first post of the series.

I was incredibly blessed to have a book theme for one of my showers so Baby D had plenty of books right from the start. Given my addiction to buying books, we already have a bookshelf FULL of books. That being said, I’ve definitely noticed that certain books get more mileage at this age than others. These are the ones I consider essential.

Books With Real Pictures

 I’ve been working to create a Montessori environment for Baby D in our home. Books with pictures of real objects are one of the cornerstones of the method. Luckily, they are also a hit with Baby D!

His favorite in the category by far is First 100 Words

by Roger Priddy. He loves to flip through the pages and the board book is tough enough to withstand his habit of chewing on books. I’ll eventually work on getting him to point at different objects and colors but for now he just loves to have me read and point.

The other books with real pictures that have been a hit are the DK Baby Touch and Feel Board Books. We have several and Baby D loves feeling the different textures.

The Classics

This category was tough for me since there are so many books I bought because I love them. The reality is many of them are not (yet) able to hold Baby D’s interest so I am not including them. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t buy them, just that I didn’t find them essential for this first year.

Having a good bedtime routine is important so I started reading Goodnight Moon

 by Margret Wise Brown every night to him as a newborn. Helping to create healthy sleep associations is great (and something we are STILL working on).

Dr. Seuss’s ABC: An Amazing Alphabet Book! is another board book he loved from early on. I think it’s the rhyming that he likes so much. The nice thing for mom is that is it shorter than the regular version.  Like many mothers I can recite the entire book from memory on command. This skill comes in handy when he snatches the book from me and flips the pages at random.

We received the The Runaway Bunny (also by Margaret Wise Brown) as a gift. I was surprised how much he liked this book from just a few months old. I love that the story is about a mom loving her baby. This one would have also made a cute gift for a first Easter Basket.

Make Way for Ducklings is a favorite among Bostonians and was a gift from one my best friends from college who happens to be from Boston. I think the reason this classic tale was an early favorite was the black and white pictures. Babies can see black and white contrast the best so he was drawn to it. Now that he is grabbing everything and chewing on it I have to be careful since this one isn’t a board book.

Baby D’s Favorite New Classics

These books are ones that aren’t classics by age but have become our household classics because he loves them so much.

I have no idea what it is about The Pout-Pout Fish but this is hands down his absolute favorite book. We brought it to my parents’ house and my niece loved it so much we had to buy her a copy, too. I think the repetitive rhyme scheme that is sort of like a song is what draws them in. This is another book I can recite by memory. If you buy no other book off of this list do yourself a favor and get this one. Your baby will love it. Sometimes when he is upset I will start reciting it without the book and he will stop to listen. It is THAT good.

I think most babies like songs so this one was a no-brainer: Baby Beluga (Raffi Songs to Read). He loves for me to sing the song as we look through the book. I’m going to buy him some more books like this one where the song is illustrated.

I bought Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site for Baby D’s first Christmas. He loved to watch the construction trucks at the university so I purposely looked for a book about construction and this is the one I found. It is perfect! The only thing is I wish I had bought the board book version instead of the hardcover. I didn’t know it was available and he tries to eat the pages. This one is another favorite nighttime book for us.

Alphasaurus is an alliterative board book that combines the alphabet with dinosaurs. It was an instant favorite! There are more books in the series but this is currently the only one we have.

I hope this list is useful. I would love to hear about what books were your baby’s favorites in the comments!


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