Editor's Picks: Infant Books (6-12mo.)
Updated November 2016
The second half of baby's first year is a great time to start reading to him regularly, if you aren't already doing so!
- Board books are a popular default medium because they'll hold up well to your baby's abuse as he starts handling the books and turning the pages himself.
- Soft books are also a great option, especially for kids at the younger end of this age range, because they don't have any pointy parts; they also often feature built-in interactive elements, such as squeakers and crinkling elements.
- Touch and feel and "lift-the-flap" books are two more types of books with interactive elements, which will not only help to keep your kiddo engaged, but will also help him to develop his fine motor skills.
- Last, be sure to pick up at least a couple first words books (picture books filled with images of people, animals, and everyday objects) to help your child on his journey toward saying his first word around 12 months or so.
Below are our editor's picks for infant books (6-12mo.) by subcategory:
Note: Our editors developed this list by summarizing TotScoop parent favorites and adding a few hand-picked editor favorites and new releases. Our picks are 100% unbiased — we never accept compensation in exchange for coverage. That said, this page may contain affiliate links, meaning we may receive a small commission on any purchases that you make (at no cost to you); see our full disclosure.
You may also be interested in the following related guides:
Best soft books
Soft books are nice, especially toward the beginning of this stage, because they don't have any pointy parts! They also often have built-in interactive features for additional entertainment and stimulation.
Lamaze's line of cloth books ($10-15 at Amazon) features a number of titles appropriate for this age range. Our featured pick, Peek-A-Boo Forest ($13 at Amazon), features bright colors and (surprise!) a peek-a-boo theme — each page features a flap that baby can lift to uncover a hidden animal. Interactive features include fun textures, crinkling sounds, and a raised face on the cover.
Another great soft book is Lamaze's Classic Discovery Book ($10 at Amazon), which features bright colors and interactive features including textures, crinkling sounds, and squeaker, and a rattle. Equipped with a ring that attaches easily to strollers and car seats, it's a great option for on-the-go.
Jellycat makes a variety of these animal "tails" books including our favorite, Pet's Tails ($17 at Amazon). These are excellent sensory books that feature a variety of textures, bright colors, and crinkly components to entertain and stimulate. Each book is soft which makes it easy to pack in the diaper bag or in a suitcase.
Best general board books
The classic title Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? ($8 at Amazon) follows a chain of animals and explores what each one sees (leading to the next animal). The repetitive format and text appeals greatly to babies, and the gorgeous illustrations will be enough to keep parents entertained. There is also a Brown Bear & Friends trio gift set that is also popular, but the other books are quite similar to this one, so unless this is your kid's favorite book ever, our advice is to just get this one.
The Sandra Boynton, the American cartoonist and humorist, has created a series of beloved board books that grace practically every nursery bookshelf in America. Her board books feature her characteristic farm animal characters, fun illustrations, and whimsical rhymes. They're short and simple, yet adults often love them as much as kids! Her Boynton's Greatest Hits: Volume 1 set ($15 at Amazon) includes four of her most popular books: including Moo, Baa, La La La! (which introduces basic animal sounds); Blue Hat, Green Hat (great for introducing colors); A to Z (introducing, you guessed it, the alphabet); and Doggies (a counting book). If you like these, Boynton's Greatest Hits: Volume II is also well worthwhile.
Animal Sounds ($5 at Amazon) provides a great first introduction to a farm. It's a simple book, featuring only different animals around the farm and the sounds they make (e.g. "The cow says moo-o-o-o-o!"), but for this reason it's absolutely perfect for young babies who are just learning to identify animals and associate them with certain sounds.
Best lift-the-flap / activity books
Books with interactive elements such as flaps, touch-and-feel components, and so on are perfect for this age group. They're a great way not only to keep your baby engaged, but also to help him develop his fine motor skills.
Peek-A Who? ($6 at Amazon) delights with peek-a-boo cut-outs and guessing rhymes. Babies never tire of exploring the holes and shrieking with laughter as you turn the page to reveal a new image! The pages include "peek-a-who" (owl), "peek-a-moo" (cow), "peek-a-boo" (ghost), "peek-a-choo-choo" (train), "peek-a-zoo" (animals), and "peek-a-you" (built-in mirror to reflect baby's face).
Dear Zoo ($6 at Amazon) is a classic lift-the-flap book that has been delighting babies for 30+ years! It chronicles a child's search for the perfect pet — cycling through a series of animals that are utterly unsuitable (an elephant is too big, the lion is too fierce...) before finally settling on the perfect one (a puppy dog). Great concept, well executed, and fantastic for developing fine motor skills.
Where Is Baby's Belly Button? ($5 at Amazon) is the quintessential flap book by favorite children's author Karen Katz. Each page invites baby to lift a flap to discover a different body part. See Katz's full line of books — available for practically every conceivable relationship or occasion (e.g. Grandma & Me, Where Are Baby's Easter Eggs, My First Ramadan, etc.) — on Amazon here.
No baby can resist this series ($8 per book at Amazon) — with each book featuring a different finger-puppet animal (you insert your finger from the back of the book) and cut-out pages featuring different scenes. Most babies are mesmerized by the finger puppet — and go absolutely nuts trying to figure out what is making it move. Our favorite book in the series, In My Tree, features an owl who perches on his branch, hoots at the sky, washes his feathers in the raindrops, dries off, and is finally reunited with his family. See all of the books in the series on Amazon here.
Chomp! ($7 at Amazon) features animal illustrations on cut-out pages and a pull-tab that makes each animal's teeth open and chomp shut. The crocodile smiles, the leopard growls, the polar bear yawns, the orangutan laughs, the shark chomps, and the lion roars. Your little one won't be able to resist sticking his fingers into the chomping teeth — and you won't be able to resist the furious giggles that result!
Best first words books
Simple picture/word books are great for babies working on basic word recognition and starting to build their vocabularies.
The bestselling First 100 Words ($4 at Amazon) is simply a must have. Sized for little hands (approx 5.25 x 5.25"), it's perfect either for baby to read on his own or for you to tote around in your diaper bag. It features four to six images per page, providing baby with plenty of stimulation without overwhelming him. If baby starts fussing in the car or at a restaurant, just pull it out and enjoy the peace!
This set of simple Bright Baby first words books ($16 for 4-pack at Amazon) is great for babies at the younger end of this age range. Each book is small (approx 5.25 x 5.25") and features just one picture and word on each page — perfect for babies learning their very first words.
Part of the Indestructibles series, Baby Babble ($5 at Amazon) introduces baby to everyday objects via playful, whimsical illustrations — all in a chew-proof, rip-proof, baby-proof package. They're also super thin and lightweight — perfect for the diaper bag or for travel. See the entire Indestructibles series here.
Best good night books
The Going-To-Bed Book ($5 at Amazon) follows a troupe of Sandra Boynton's adorable animal characters as they prepare for bed — taking a bath, putting on their PJs, brushing their teeth, and finally getting rocked to sleep by the ocean. It features simple text, colorful pictures, and a wonderful soothing ending ("they rock and rock and rock to sleep"). It's a favorite wind-down book in our homes.
A Book of Sleep ($6 at Amazon) follows an owl surveying the night landscape and observing the ways in which different animals sleep (standing up, with one eye open...). At the end of the book, the sun comes up and everybody wakes up — except for the owl, whose bedtime has finally come! Parents will also love the modern, whimsical illustrations and sweet storyline.
Guess How Much I Love You ($5 at Amazon) is the sweet, simple story of Little Nutbrown Hare and his Dad, Big Nutbrown Hare, sharing how much they love each other. The end of the book leaves readers with the phrase "I love you all the way to the moon, and back" — showing us the love we have for each other can grow out of this world. A perfect way to end the day before bed!