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Reading to baby doesn’t come naturally for every parent, especially when your little one is too young to truly interact during reading time.


But with every page turned, you’re stimulating cognitive development and helping to establish a love of reading that will last long past the toddler years.

“These early rituals, even before a baby knows what a book is, set up reading as a loving and nurturing interaction with you that your child equates with books as they grow up,” explains Tovah P. Klein, PhD, director of Barnard College Center for Toddler Development and author of How Toddlers Thrive: What Parents Can Do Today for Children Ages 2-5 to Plant the Seeds of Lifelong Success.

If you are looking for a few perfect books to add to your child’s collection, we have the scoop on the best types of books to promote cognitive development and a lifelong passion for reading.

1. Newborn (0-3 months): a high-contrast book

If you want to stimulate your newborn’s senses, think high contrast.

Research indicates that high-contrast colors like black and white register most strongly in a baby’s brain and help the optic nerve to grow.

Read your newborn books featuring high-contrast images and graphics (we love Art-Baby’s Spots and Dots by Chez Picthall and Hello, Bugs! by Smriti Prasadam and Emily Bolam) and watch their little eyes dance.

“No need to read every word or comment on every picture,” Klein said. “The important piece is that books are part of your routines and loving time together.”

2. Infant (4-6 months): a tactile book

Odds are, your little one won’t start turning the pages (or even paying much attention to them) until he’s a few months old. Until then, maximize their interest by capitalizing on their love of touching everything around them.

Tactile books that let your baby shake, grab and stroke are the perfect solution, like Old Macdonald: A Hand-Puppet Board Book from Little Scholastic. Lean toward sturdy books made of vinyl or cloth that will stand up to a few chews.  Switch to board books around 6 months to encourage little fingers to start turning pages.

Pro tip:

“Scaffold your child’s attempts at turning pages by separating pages when you are finished reading each page. This will give your child a cue that it is time to move to the next page and will help to develop fine motor skills. If your little one has trouble turning pages independently, don’t worry: Many children won’t master this skill for a couple more years!” notes Dr. Holly Ruhl, PhD.

3. Your 6- to 12-month-old: a rhyming book

When it comes to what you’re reading with your child, it’s rhyme time.

Rhyming books create a nurturing environment for kids by using simple patterns they can learn to predict (key to establishing a lifelong love of reading). Plus, they help babies learn how vowels and consonants sound and come together to form words. Rhymes also help children to easily memorize and recall content from beloved books by establishing patterns and sequences, increasing their impact on a child’s cognitive development.

We love Hush Little Polar Bear and other classic rhyming books like Go, Dog Go!

4. Older babies + toddlers: a classic that mama loves, too

As your child gets older, adjust what you’re reading accordingly.

Children’s versions of classic books can be just as entertaining for you, mama, which will make you more likely to stick with a reading routine. We love the BabyLit collection of children’s books based on classics, like Dracula and Alice in Wonderland.

Regardless of what you and your little one choose to read, the most effective way to promote a love of reading is to start a daily reading routine as soon as possible. “And no, beginning during pregnancy is not too early, mama. Babies begin listening to you around week 16 and can even remember words and stories after they are born!” explains Ruhl.

Don’t worry if it doesn’t seem like your baby actually gets reading—spending time each day curled up with a book will give your child positive associations with reading, creating a lifelong habit before they can even read a word.

In fact, according to the Children’s Reading Foundation, the simple act of reading with your child for at least 20 minutes each day may be one of the most important things you can do to promote socio-emotional development as well as necessary pre-literacy skills.

5. All babies + toddlers: a bedtime story

Read to your baby from day one. There’s no sweeter way to do that than by introducing a bedtime story—even one you bring to the hospital with you!

We recommend choosing books focused on sleep or bedtime to help baby wind down in the evening. Have a stash of “bedtime books” within easy reach for baby to choose from, like A Book of Sleep or The Going-to-Bed Book. You’re establishing routines that can even help baby to get her zzz’s. That’s good for you—and for baby.

Here are 3 tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics for creating lifelong readers from an early age:


1. Create a comforting environment.

Make reading an integral part of your bedtime routine. Wind down from your day by cuddling up in cozy jammies and snuggling with baby as you turn a few pages.

Pro tip: Active children can lose interest in a book after only a couple of minutes (okay, seconds!). That’s why it is so important to make whatever limited time you can dedicate to reading as focused as possible. That means turning off the TV and cell phone. We know that’s a tricky one! ?

“Sitting with a book, turning pages, pointing to pictures and being together provides a quiet and fun way to spend time with your little one,” Klein says. “It’s not about getting through the whole book or making your child stay still. What they will take from it is the time with mommy.”

2. Make reading come to life.

A newborn may not know how to read, but she knows she prefers the sound of her mother’s voice—even as early as two days after being born! Capitalize on that natural preference for your voice by reading books with emotion and over-the-top expressions to keep things interesting.

3. Ask questions to bring the story into the real world.

As your child gets older, reading can be a safe time to talk about feelings. Start when your child is young by asking ancillary questions about books, such as, “What does the cow say?” or “Where is the yellow flower?” to broaden their vocabulary. As your tot advances, use characters in books to discuss emotions or to motivate your child to think about abstract or imaginative situations.

Pro tip: “Make associations between a book and your baby or toddler’s experience: ‘Remember when we saw a dog at the park? It’s like the dog in this book,’” Klein suggests. “This builds vocabulary and helps your child move between books and the broader world in ways that have direct meaning to them.”

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Whether you're filling out your own registry or shopping for a soon-to-be-mama in your life, it can be hard to narrow down what exactly new moms need (versus what will just end up cluttering the nursery). That's why we paired up with the baby gear experts at Pottery Barn Kids to create a registry guide featuring everything from the gear you'll use over and over to the perfect gifts under $50.

Check out the picks below, and happy shopping (and registering)!

MUST-HAVE BABY GEAR

These five gift ideas are designed to make #momlife easier while solving some of the most common parenting dilemmas.

1. Doona All-In-One Infant Car Seat/Stroller

One of the first things you learn when you become a mom? Those infant car seats are heavy. Which is what makes the Doona All-In-One Infant Car Seat/Stroller so genius. It's the world's first completely integrated mobility solution, quickly transforming from safe car seat to functional stroller without any extra parts. Simply pop out the wheels, pull up the handle bar, and you're ready to roll.

Doona All-in-one Infant Car Seat / Stroller, $499

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GIFTS THAT CAN BE PERSONALIZED

Even the most utilitarian gift feels a little more special with some personalization. Here are some of our favorite options that can be customized with baby's name or monogram.

1. Nursery Blankets

You'll never forget the blanket you bring your newborn home in. And with Pottery Barn Kids' assortment of blankets, there's a wrap to suit every new mama's style. Choose from fuzzy neutral patterns or stylish printed options, and add baby's name for an extra personal touch.

Nursery Blankets, Starting at $39.50

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GIFTS THAT GROW WITH THEM

Save money and space by gifting items that will last long after baby's first year. These clever gift items will have mama saying "thank you!" for years to come.

1. west elm x pbk Mid-Century Convertible Crib

A convertible crib is an investment in years of sweet dreams. We love this mid-century-style option made from sustainably sourced wood with child-safe, water-based finishes. When your baby outgrows their crib (sniff!), it easily converts into a toddler bed with the matching conversion kit.

west elm x pbk Mid-Century Convertible Crib, $399

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GIFTS UNDER $50

Sometimes the littlest gifts mean the most. Here are our favorite gifts under $50 they'll be sure to cherish.

1. west elm x pbk Dot Muslin Swaddle Set

When you're raising a newborn, you can never have too many swaddles. Perfect for naptime, burp cloths, stroller covers, and spontaneous play mats, a muslin swaddle will always come in handy. And we especially love this neutral patterned collection in platinum, nightshade, and peacock.

west elm x pbk Dot Muslin Swaddle Set, $45.50

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Learn more and explore all Pottery Barn Kids' registry must-haves here.

In the moments after we give birth, we desperately want to hear our baby cry. In the middle of the night a few months later it's no longer exactly music to our ears, but those cries aren't just telling us that baby needs a night feeding: They're also giving us a hint at what our children may sound like as kindergarteners, and adults.

New research published in the journal Biology Letters suggests the pitch of a 4-month-old's cry predicts the pitch they'll use to ask for more cookies at age five and maybe even later on as adults.

The study saw 2 to 5-month olds recorded while crying. Five years later, the researchers hit record again and chatted with the now speaking children. Their findings, combined with previous work on the subject, suggest it's possible to figure out what a baby's voice will sound like later in life, and that the pitch of our adult voices may be traceable back to the time we spend in utero. Further studies are needed, but scientists are very interested in how factors before birth can impact decades later.

"In utero, you have a lot of different things that can alter and impact your life — not only as a baby, but also at an adult stage," one of the authors of the study, Nicolas Mathevon, told the New York Times.

The New York Times also spoke with Carolyn Hodges, an assistant professor of anthropology at Boston University who was not involved in the study. According to Hodges, while voice pitch may not seem like a big deal, it impacts how we perceive people in very real ways.

Voice pitch is a factor in how attractive we think people are, how trustworthy. But why we find certain pitches more or less appealing isn't known. "There aren't many studies that address these questions, so that makes this research especially intriguing," Hodges said, adding that it "suggests that individual differences in voice pitch may have their origins very, very early in development."

So the pitch of that midnight cry may have been determined months ago, and it may determine part of your child's future, too. There are still so many things we don't know, but as parents we do know one thing: Our babies cries (as much as we don't want to hear them all the time) really are something special.

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They say there's no use in crying over it, but for pumping mamas, spilled milk is a major upset.

When you're working so hard to make sure your baby has breast milk, you don't want to lose a drop, and Chrissy Teigen knows this all too well.

The mom of two posted a video to social media Wednesday showing her efforts to rescue breastmilk from a tabletop. She used various utensils and a syringe to try to get the milk back in the bottle.

"I spilled my breastmilk and this is how important it is in this house," she says while suctioning up milk with what appears to be a baster.

In a follow-up video Teigen continues to try to rescue the spilled milk.

"We're trying," she says as she suctions up a drop or two. "I got some."

Teigen is currently breastfeeding baby Miles, her son with husband John Legend, and has been very public about the fact that she pumps a lot as a working mom.

She's also been open about the fact that milk supply has always been an issue for her, not just with Miles but with Luna, too.

"I actually loved [pumping] because I'm a collector of things, and so when I found out I could pump I [did it] so much because I knew the more you pumped, the more milk you'd make," she told POPSUGAR back in March. "So I loved collecting my breast milk and seeing how much I could get, even if it was very, very little."

Like a lot of moms, Teigen did struggle emotionally when a pump session wouldn't get her the ounces she wanted.

"I wasn't producing a lot of milk, and it was frustrating. When you're frustrated, [it can also make you] not produce that much."

Research backs her up. Stress has been linked to lower milk production. Because of that, she's trying to stay positive this time around, but captioned her video post "EVERY DROP COUNTS IN THIS HOUSE" because, well, they do.


So many mothers can relate. Have you ever tried to save your breastmilk?

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What is it about networking that's just kind of...awful? Typically inconvenient and often awkward, formal networking events rarely yield the results most women (and especially mamas) are looking for.

Whether you're reentering the workforce post-baby leave or simply looking to make a complicated career switch as a busy mom (or just struggling to juggle play dates and professional meetings), making the right connections is often a hurdle that's difficult to surmount. And more and more often, networking comes up short in providing what moms really need.

When time is truly at a premium—a session swapping business cards can be hard to prioritize. Shapr wants to change all that.

Designed with busy people in mind, Shapr is an app with an algorithm that uses tagged interests, location, and professional experience to match you with 10-15 inspiring professional connections a day. You swipe to indicate interest in networking with any of them, and if the interest is mutual, you're connected. (But don't worry, that's where the similarities to that dating app end.)

It makes it easier to connect with the right people.

From there, you can chat, video conference, and even meet in person with potential mentors, partners, and investors while growing your real-life network. No more wasting hours trying to pick someone's brain only to discover they don't have the right experience you need. And no more awkward, stilted small talk—even suggests a few preset icebreakers to help get the conversation rolling more quickly.

The best part? You could do virtually all your connecting from your couch post-bedtime.

It simplifies switching careers or industries.

Sysamone Phaphone is a real mom who was fed up with traditional networking options. When she quit her full-time job in healthcare to pursue founding a startup, she quickly realized that in-person networking events weren't only failing to connect her to the right people, they were also difficult for a single mom of two to even attend. "I was complaining to a friend that I was so tired and didn't know how I was going to keep doing it this way when she recommended the Shapr app," Phaphone says. "I tried it right there at dinner and started swiping. [Later], in my pajamas, I got my first connection."

From there, Phaphone was hooked. Her network suddenly exploded with developers, potential partners she could work with, and even people to hire for the roles she needed. She was also able to connect with and empower other women in tech. Now, checking in with Shapr connections is just part of her routine. "I look for connections after drop-off at school and on my commute into the city," she says. "Then after bedtime is done, I go on to check if there is anyone I've connected with."

It helps you find a mentor—no matter where they live.

Another common roadblock Shapr removes? Location. While you probably wouldn't fly to LA from New York for a networking event, the Shapr app lets you connect and chat with the person who best meets your needs—regardless of where they're based. Even better for parents, the "mom penalty" many women contend with when trying to get back into the workforce doesn't exist on Shapr—if you have the right experience, the connections will still come.

To connect, simply create your account, enter up to ten hashtags you want to follow (either industry related like #film or #tech or by person you're seeking, such as #developer or #uxui), preset what you're looking for (investors, collaborators, etc.), and indicate how you prefer to meet. To connect with more people at once, Shapr also has community groups within the app around interest topics that you can join. And even though the connection begins in the digital space, it often results in the in-person experiences mamas crave.

"I wish I could encourage more moms and dads to use it because it has been a lifesaver for me," Phaphone says. "It empowered my career and career choices, and it provides so much convenience. I can put my kids to bed and not go to an event, but still meet 20 people in a night."

For women looking to grow their business, position, or simply achieve a little self-growth, Shapr is changing the way we connect. This powerful new app could change everything, mama. Download it today to get started.

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