Best books for baby’s first year: The only 20 books you need 

It’s no secret that reading is one of the best things you can do for your baby.

Reading to your little one—even from a very young age—stimulates brain development and strengthens the parent-child bond. Reading helps babies develop language skills and make sense of the world around them. Fostering a love for books is a gift your children will treasure for the rest of their lives.

It can be a bit overwhelming to start your baby’s first library, so we’ve created a buying guide featuring the best of the best—20 classic and new titles that will take you from baby’s first day to her first birthday.

Happy reading, mamas!

The sentimental classics

They’ve been around for decades, and for good reason; these are the books you’ll reach for again and again.

“Once there was a gorilla, and everybody loved him. His mother loved him. His father loved him....even when he was only one day old, everybody loved Little Gorilla...But then Little Gorilla began to change.”

This heartwarming story about how baby —and love—grows over the first year of life will give you all the feels. (We may or may not be crying as we type this...) And the amazing retro illustrations will never go out of style.

Little Gorilla; $4.95, Amazon

We’ll never get tired of this ultimate classic of children’s literature, beloved by generations for its quiet prose and simple beauty.

Goodnight Moon; $6.19, Amazon

“If you run away,” said his mother, “I will run after you. For you are my little bunny.” This book has never gone out of print since its publication in 1942; if that isn’t enough of a ringing endorsement, we’re not sure what is.

The Runaway Bunny; $5.67, Amazon

Little ones have loved chomping their way through the pages of this book for decades, right along with everyone’s favorite little caterpillar.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar; $6.89, Amazon

This one doesn’t always make the classic favorites lists, but we have a soft spot for it—it always elicits the giggles, features of a lovable cast of silly dogs, and was edited by Dr. Seuss. Little ones will love the basic concepts but will enjoy it as they get older, too.

Go, Dog, Go!; $6.69, Amazon

Hands-on favorites

Busy hands will love these lift-the-flap, touch-and-feel interactive favorites

The TouchThinkLearn series stands out as a favorite for its clean, modern aesthetic and engaging tactile die-cuts and cut-outs. Tiny, curious hands will love touching—and learning—their ABCs.

TouchThinkLearn: ABC; $19.77, Amazon

Our favorite peekaboo book promises lots of giggles, while lots of flaps to lift and brightly colored animals to spot promise lots of learning for little ones!

Peek-A-Who?; $4.61, Amazon

This sturdy lift-the-flap book puts babies on the hunt for their favorite body parts and will bring lots of delight along the way.

Where is Baby’s Belly Button?; $4.19, Amazon

Babies will love to lift the flaps and find out which animal will be coming home as the new family pet!

Dear Zoo; $4.99, Amazon

Indestructibles are just that: chew proof, rip proof, nontoxic, and washable. We love them for stroller entertainment or tossed in the diaper bag for a “I need to distract baby now!” emergency.

Indestructibles: Baby Faces; $4.31, Amazon

Skill builders

These picks teach Baby Basics 101—eye development, colors, numbers, ABCs + more.

The black and and white images throughout this board book will help your little one’s visual development, and the sophistication of the illustrations—created by a British textile designer—means you won’t mind reading it again and again.

Jane Foster’s Black and White; $6.19, Amazon

Fun fact: babies love looking at other babies! Short of running a daycare in your own house, this oversized board book is perfect for showing your little one bright baby faces and expressions all day long.

Look At You!; $7.99, Amazon

Let those little hands work their way through the rainbow with this book featuring sturdy cardboard pages of graduating lengths. This unique design introduces colors in a fun and creative way.

Colors; $10.95, Amazon

With 100 first words accompanied by 100 clear, bright photos, this word book stands out as one your baby will go back to again and again.

First 100 Words; $4.34, Amazon

A told B and and B told C, “I’ll meet you at the top of the coconut tree.” ” This lively alphabet chant couldn’t be better—we’ve never met a little one who doesn’t agree!

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom; $7.99, Amazon

Sweet + silly stories

Great for a giggle or a snuggles on the couch, these stories round out our list.

This simple, beautiful story about the passing of a day will capture baby’s attention with its bright, high contrast art and sparse, rhythmic text.

Sunrise, Moonrise; $6.86, Amazon

We 💜 Gossie, our favorite precocious little yellow gosling who loves to wear bright red boots. (And get into all sorts of trouble.) We think your little one will agree!

Gossie; $5.76, Amazon

Get ready to practice those animal sounds 🐧 Babies will love the bright backgrounds set against black + white images, and you’ll have fun perfecting the noise of penguins flip-flopping across the sand.

Wibble, Wobble; $5.29, Amazon

We love little Llama so much that we couldn’t choose just one! This four board book set is the perfect introduction to Llama Llama and all of his rhyming adventures. These are the perfect first read-alouds.

Llama Llama’s Little Library; $15.73, Amazon

Our love for Sandra Boynton knows no bounds, and we can’t imagine kid lit without her. This cheeky board book about a silly hippo is guaranteed to put a smile on your baby’s face—and yours, too.

But Not the Hippopotamus; $4.19, Amazon

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