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Gift Guide: 15 Must-Have Books for Babies and Toddlers

Being a baby products team, we're always getting asked for recommendations for all kinds of products for babies and toddlers, especially books. So we're making it official with this list of must-have books to build baby's first library. Here's a list of beloved (and fun!) must-have books for babies and toddlers that won't get returned if you gift them. 

Books for Newborns and Babies 0-1 Year

Best Books for Babies & Toddlers: On the Night You Were Born by Nancy TillmanOn the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman

This was the very first book I read to my baby when we brought him home and this verse will forever bring tears to my eyes. Not too sappy. Highly recommended for new parents.

On the night you were born, the moon smiled with such wonder

that the stars peaked in to see you, and the night wind whispered

"Life will never be the same".

 

Best Books for Babies & Toddlers: Dear Zoo by Rod CampbellDear Zoo by Rod Campbell

This lift-the-flap book about a kid looking for the perfect pet is good for a quick last-story-before-bed read. Of course, your kid may ask you to read it over. And over. And over again. My kid especially enjoyed the hissing snake and learned to say 'hippopotamus' thanks to this great little book.

 

Best Books for Babies & Toddlers: Where's Spot? by Eric HillWhere is Spot by Eric Hill

This short, simple, colorful book is incredibly popular with babies (and their parents) and the flaps are fairly sturdy as flaps go. I've lost track of how many homes I've seen this book in. Good news: your baby is probably too young to ask for a puppy when you read this to him or her. Phew.

 

Best Books for Babies & Toddlers: Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise BrownGoodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

A little rabbit says goodnight to all his possessions in the room as the room slowly darkens. Great way for baby to learn about the (duh) moon and everyday things like mittens, wall pictures, clock etc., and begin to say goodnight as part of the bedtime routine. Good follow-up books in another 2-4ish months are Goodnight Moon ABC Book and Goodnight Moon 123 Book.

 

Best Books for Babies & Toddlers: First 100 Words by Roger PriddyFirst 100 Words by Roger Priddy

Parents will love this book as it helps your baby learn basic words even before they can speak. What a relief to have real pictures instead of cartoony characters that can be annoying for the parent and cause confusion for the baby (of the"oh, dogs wear clothes? wonder why my dog isn't wearing any" variety). Highly recommended. 

 

Books for Toddlers Age 1-2 Years

Best Books for Babies & Toddlers: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr.Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archenbault

A fun alphabet rhyme with letters, big and small, racing to the top of the coconut tree makes this one of the most beloved alphabet books around. Best left alone if you don't have a rhythmic bone in your body, however.

 

Best Books for Babies & Toddlers: Little Blue Truck Leads the Way by Alice SchertleLittle Blue Truck by Alice Schertle

This beloved book has it all - trucks, farm animals and a suitable life lesson (the power of friendship and the reward of helping others). Beep! Beep! Beep! will soon become a mainstay in your family. Little Blue Truck Leads the Way by the same author is a great follow-up book about the little country truck going to the big city - we've learned all about different types of city vehicles (a limousine is the longest car you've ever seen) and skyscrapers. Both books are highly recommended for both boys and girls.

 

Best Books for Babies & Toddlers: Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site by Sherri Duskey RinkerGoodnight, Goodnight Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker

Another lovable book that teaches toddlers about different types of construction vehicles. My one problem with this book is that every single construction truck - a digger/excavator, a bulldozer, a crane truck, a cement mixer and a dump truck - is gendered male! So during our nighttime routine, two of the trucks are girls and my son hasn't noticed the difference yet. 

 

Best Books for Babies & Toddlers: Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo WillemsDon't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems

Baby schmaby, this book was a game changer for me. I can't remember any children's book I've enjoyed reading out aloud as much. The protagonist, a pigeon, brilliantly captures how children try and negotiate to get their way; the brilliance of this simple story is that toddlers recognize themselves in it at some point. My kid loves it. As do my niece and nephew. And the kids at daycare. And all our friends. Get it.

 

Best Books for Babies & Toddlers: Chugga Chugga Choo Choo by Kevin LewisChugga Chugga Choo Choo by Kevin Lewis

Know a kid who doesn't like trains? Yep, me neither. 

 

Best Books for Babies & Toddlers: My First Superman Book by David Bar KatzI'm also tempted to mention My First Superman Book by David Bar Katz in this list as my son loves the book, but my rendition of the story is heavily personalized. The book explains core concepts like capes, muscles and Kryptonite and Superman's fortress of solitude helped me get my little superboy into his own fortress of solitude (aka his crib) every night for a solid two weeks. For girls, My First Book of Girl Power by Julie Merberg could also be a winner. 

 

Books for Toddlers Age 2-3 Years

Best Books for Babies & Toddlers: How Do Dinosaurs Say I'm Sorry by Jane YolenHow Do Dinosaurs Say I'm Mad by Jane Yolen

This book helps children understand a timeless problem - how do young dinosaurs handle anger and frustration when they're not getting their way? Caveat: While reading this book, be careful you're not giving your kids new and creative ways to express anger!

 

Best Books for Babies & Toddlers: Potty by Leslie PatricelliPotty by Leslie Patricelli

Perfect for when a toddler begins to show interest in potty training, it goes through a baby's inner dialogue ("Should I go in my potty?"), has some hilarious sound effects you can have fun mimicking ("Tinkle tinkle toot toot") and culminates in an over the top "I did it!". Short and silly, toddlers and parents love this book.

 

The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak

A conceptually radical book, this books employs silly sounds and funny words to make adults and kids laugh uproariously. Good for older siblings and parents too, you will be hearing "read it again pleeeeease!" often when you read this book.

 

Best Books for Babies & Toddlers: National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Why by Amy ShieldsNational Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Why by Amy Shields

This may be just a bit advanced for precocious little minds but I've been trying it out with my friend's 3 year old toddler and I can see that some of the questions are really making her think. Great for curious little minds and good for years to come. How can you go wrong with National Geographic?

For other book recommendations, do head over to our friends at weeSpring for reviews from other like-minded parents.