15 of the best books for newborns

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What are the best books for newborns? As the mother of a newborn just a few years ago, I have to be honest: you can read about infants all you want. War and peacea YA romance, Selected Topics in Astrophysics. When a baby is only a few weeks old, all he really cares about is the sound of your voice and a soft place to relax in your arms. If you’re lucky, your soothing tones will lull your drooling audience to sleep.

However, even though babies lack discerning literary tastes, studies show that reading has clear benefits even for the youngest. Parents.com cites a 2019 study in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics which found that “children who are read to every day are exposed to approximately 78,000 words each year – over five years, that’s 1.4 million words heard during story time”. The Cleveland Clinic also notes that reading is a great way to bond with a baby, reducing stress for both baby and parent.

So, in addition to your personal TBR list, what types of books should you read to a baby? Here are some things to look for when selecting the best books for newborns:

  • Books with clear images and bold contrast: Newborns see best in black and white, so high contrast images help baby focus. The bright colors also attract the attention of older babies.
  • Singing text: Babies love changes in tone. If the words are easy to say while singing, the baby might start squirming with your rhythm.
  • baby books: Everyone loves books about their experience, right? Babies recognize baby objects like bottles and toys more easily.
  • Board books: These little fingers love to grab and pull. Board books are a great, durable choice that can withstand baby’s curiosity.
  • Textured Books: Babies love to grasp objects to test textures. Crumpled pages, markers and vinyl books are always a win when it comes to textile images. The bonus points are that they can chew it.

The best books for newborns

With these criteria in mind, here are 15 books that newborns and the people who read them will love:

Brown Baby Lullaby by Tameka Fryer Brown and AG Ford

This sweet book gently describes a baby’s nighttime routine. Spanish phrases are sprinkled throughout, perfect for expanding a bilingual vocabulary. This is a great bedtime book for newborns to inspire sleepy vibes.

baby love book cover

Baby Love by Angela DiTerlizzi and Brooke Boynton-Hughes

Having read this one at bedtime at least 100 times, I can say it’s still a favorite. The text is a simple ode to loving all things about your baby as they move through the day and get ready for bed. As a parent, I appreciate the familiar “exhausted but proud” faces of mother and father in this story.

what should we do with the baby boo-hoo book cover

What will we do with Baby Boo-Hoo? by Cressida Cowell and Ingrid Godon

Blame it on the baby-related sleep deprivation, but I still found the title phrase, What will we do with baby Boo Hoo? fun to say. In this hardback book, a baby is entrusted to enterprising farm animals who try to feed, bathe and play with a baby who won’t stop booing. What parent can’t understand? Written by the author of How to Tame Your Dragon, this story shows how taming babies is no small feat.

little you cover

Little You by Richard Van Camp and Julie Flett

Written and illustrated by Indigenous creators, the simple rhyming words and beautiful illustrations of little you put a nice spin on parents expressing their wonder and love for a new baby.

mom's khimar covers best newborn books

Mommy’s Khimar by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow and Ebony Glenn

This beautifully colorful book tells the story of a young girl who spends the day playing with her mother’s khimar (headscarf) and explores all the different meanings it has for her and her mother. A newborn will love the bright colors and simple but sweet words.

cover made for me best newborn book

Made for me by Zack Bush and Gregorio De Lauretis

The burly daddy and little baby illustrations are adorable in Done for me. One of the few recent books that focuses on new parenting from a father’s perspective, it has rhyming text that lends itself to sung reading and quite a few “awws.”

i love you baby burrito blanket best books for newborns

I love you, baby burrito by Angela Dominguez

Babies are often so cute that you want to nibble on them (That’s normal, right?). Double if they’re swaddled like a burrito. This is a bilingual English-Spanish story about a baby’s first days at home. Good luck swaddling the baby in a cozy burrito – it’s magic only the maternity ward nurses seem to have perfected.

this must have been your cover

It Had to Be You by Loryn Brantz

Shown in bold, black, white and red (especially designed for babies’ developing eyes), it had to be you tells the sweet story of how every baby is the most unique and wonderful person to their parents. The story will especially resonate for parents who have had a long road to parenthood.

cover i love you to the moon

I love you to the moon and back by Amelia Hepworth and Tim Warnes

The title is a refrain that every parent wants to inscribe in their baby’s heart. I love you madly is illustrated with cozy animals and tells how babies are loved. The board book can also withstand a baby’s curiosity.

Art for Baby hardcover book cover

Baby Art by Divers

This one has no text, but your baby will love the high contrast black and white contemporary art chosen specifically for infants. The images take up the entire page of the hardback book. I would lift the book to an open page during “tummy time” and get a few amused gurgles from my daughter. It’s also a welcome break for adults – consider it a starter book for your baby’s artistic tastes.

please baby please cover up

Please, Baby, Please by Spike Lee, Tonya Lewis Lee and Kadir Nelson

Baby books may not be your first association with legendary director Spike Lee, but he and his wife have written a beautiful ode to the joys and frustrations of a baby’s endless antics. Hopefully the gorgeous illustrations won’t give your baby ideas for new tricks before bedtime.

cover of ten fingers ten toes

Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox and Helen Oxenbury

This Mem Fox classic tells a rhyming story of how babies around the world have Ten little fingers and ten little toes. Babies will love all the baby faces, and readers can practice counting chubby fingers and fidgety toes while reading.

so much coverage

So many! by Trish Cooke and Helen Oxenbury

Another choice exemplified by Oxenbury, So many! tells the story of parents who shower a baby in love. Everyone who visits – including aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins ​​– give hugs and kisses to the new family member.

look at the cover

Look look! by Peter Linenthal

Simple black and white pictures will catch the eye of newborn babies as this board book shows familiar images like faces, hands and flowers.

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Nocturnal Friends of the Forest by Annie Bach

Calm the little ones with this sleepy story of cuddly woodland creatures tucking in their babies at bedtime. You and your baby will have a pleasant yawn at the end.

These books will get you started with the early hours of baby storytelling. If you’re looking for even more of the best books for newborns, check out our list of 50 must-read advice books for babies.