I quickly rushed through the story as I rocked my 6-week-old baby. What is the point of this? I wondered.
He clearly wasn’t paying attention. Was he getting anything out of this?
I’m sure many of you have felt this same frustration. The importance of reading to your baby is often emphasized to parents everywhere and many of us constantly feel like we aren’t doing it right or enough.
After some trial and error, I learned how to read to my baby to encourage a love of reading. I also discovered books that made reading time engaging for both of us.
Tried & Tested Books for Infants 0-12 Months Your Baby Will Love
Does Reading to Your Baby Do Anything Anyway?
According to AAP News, reading to a child in infancy has even been proven to improve the child’s vocabulary up to four years later (2017).
Reading to your child in infancy/toddlerhood:
- Increases a child’s vocabulary
- Helps build skills in listening and remembering
- Teaches them about the world around them
- Introduces new concepts in an engaging way (numbers, letters, shapes, etc.)
- Teaches communication skills (emotions, conversation)
- Develops thinking skills (cognitive development)
Am I Too Late?
It’s never too late to start reading to your baby. Start as early as you can and start today if you haven’t yet.
Make it Easy
Build reading into a routine by 6 months. I like to do this as part of their naptime routine.*
This is the best way to make sure you’re doing this every day. Adding it to a routine will help you remember every day. This will eventually become an enjoyable time for you and your baby. We normally read 1-3 books before each nap.
How to Engage Your Baby in Reading
While you read:
- Use voice inflections, emotion, and react
- Identify pictures and items
- Let your baby take his/her time
When I read to my baby, I let him touch the pages, lift flaps, babble at things, or even close the book and put it away if he wants to. I don’t rush him through the pages or worry about reading everything perfectly. This is about your baby exploring language and building a love for reading. It’s not about doing it perfectly.
Note that your younger baby, under 6 months, may not appear interested in books as you read (or give you any indication at all) and that’s ok. Make sure you aren’t making it a stressful time just to check off your box of reading to your baby. Have fun with it and, eventually, he/she will too.
Books to Start Reading to Your Baby Today
Often the books babies love are not books that adults see as anything special, so give a book a try even if you think it seems simple or uninteresting.
These are 10 of the best books that I found for infants that are 0-12 months. I would recommend starting your reading time with these books.
1. Where’s Spot?* by Eric Hill
This book has flaps Baby can lift as the mama dog looks for her puppy, Spot. I have to admit, as an adult, I didn’t think much of Where’s Spot?, but it was the first book that both of my babies started to interact with at a young age. Around one year old, he started lifting the flaps and saying, “no,” to each animal that wasn’t Spot. My second would laugh and get excited when the puppy was finally found.
2. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle
This is another simple book. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? goes through different animals, asking what they see. Since the book repeats the same phrases, your baby will quickly get into the rhythm of it. It also goes through all the colors, which helps teach your baby colors. This was an immediate hit with my son and his favorite for a good few months when he was in the 0-12 month range.
3. Is Your Mama a Llama? by Deborah Guarino
This book follows a llama as he asks other animals about their mamas. Is Your Mama a Llama? teaches babies the names and characteristics of different animals, but it also rhymes and repeats similar phrases, which helps with language development and holds Baby’s attention. I noticed from around 6 months of age, that my babies seemed to quiet down and focus when I read this book.
4. Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell
This is another good lift-the-flap book. Dear Zoo starts with, “I wrote to the zoo to send me a pet. They sent me a…” and continues to identify different animals throughout the book. It’s a fun one that your baby will love while young and continue to love as he/she gets older and can identify the animals.
5. Baby Animals by Roger Priddy
Babies love to touch new textures. Baby Animals offers a couple of sentences about five different animals with a large patch of textured fabric to match the animal’s fur. What stands out about this book from similar ones, is that the patches are large. Often I’ve found textured books to provide a patch that’s so small that a younger baby struggles to find the texture. This one makes it easy for Baby to touch.
6. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
This classic book engages babies with its rhyming and shifts from color to black and white each time you turn the page. Goodnight Moon is another book where you will notice a young baby quiet down and pay attention. It’s also a good bedtime book. Watch the sun go down as you read!
7. You’re My Little Baby by Eric Carle
Often times we don’t know which books our babies are connecting with until they start getting a little older. You’re My Little Baby has a few meaningless flaps, mediocre touch-and-feel aspects, and a heart-shaped mirror at the end that is actually a little sweet.
But, at 1-year-old my baby went straight for each flap, touched each texture, and sat up with a big smile on his face when I turn the last page just so he could see himself in the mirror. Because of his clear connection with the book at this age, I can see that he’s loved it for a long time.
8. Never Touch the Monsters by Rosie Greening
There are a few variations on this book and any will work. We’ve read a few of them and my baby likes Never Touch the Monsters right now. As an adult, I feel like this one makes the most sense and is engaging for babies. It counts down from five, has vibrant images, and gives Baby something to touch while you read. Plus, there’s a cheer at the end where you can teach your baby to clap.
9. Peacock’s Rainbow Feathers by Little Hippos Books
This is another touch-and-feel book. Peacock’s Rainbow Feathers has a few different types of textures (like the sequins you see on the front). Additionally, it subtly helps teach your baby colors since the Peacock has different colored feathers that he gives out to each of his friends. My baby loved scratching all the textures between 6-8 months.
10. Poke-a-Dot: First Words by Melissa & Doug Children’s Books
These aren’t the most engaging books to read but they have a unique feature that babies love–a dot that they can poke. The Poke-a-Dot books are great to keep in your diaper bag as a quick way to occupy your baby. When my son was a little older (9 months or so), he’d go back and forth through the pages, on his own, poking the dots for a good 10 minutes or more. You can also go through this with your baby during reading time.
Try it With Your Baby
Start with these 10 books for infants 0-12 months, and watch your baby engage with reading as he/she becomes more interactive. Remember to use this as a fun, bonding time between you and your baby. He/she will love the attention and that will help enforce the love of books and reading. Read your babies’ books that interest them and watch their love for reading grow!
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Books for Infants 0-12 Months
Try these books to help engage your baby with reading at a young age.
- Where’s Spot?
- Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
- Is Your Mama a Llama?
- Dear Zoo
- Baby Animals
- Goodnight Moon
- You’re My Little Baby
- Never Touch the Monsters
- Peacock’s Rainbow Feathers
- Poke-a-Dot: First Words
AAP News. (2017, May 4). Reading with children starting in infancy gives lasting literacy boost. Publications.aap.org. Retrieved August 29, 2022, from https://publications.aap.org/aapnews/news/13201
Lewis, K. N. (Ed.). (2019, August). Reading books to babies (for parents) – nemours kidshealth. KidsHealth. Retrieved August 29, 2022, from https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/reading-babies.html