If you want to raise a reader, surround your baby with physical books early on. In this digital age, there are enough pieces of evidence to show why physical books are recommended for babies and toddlers than any digital product.

However, as a parent of newborn or toddler, you probably have questions regarding when to introduce books to baby, what types of books are safe for a small child, how and what to read to babies and toddlers, etc. This guide answers all these questions. You will also find parents recommended book lists and a few pro tips.

When to Introduce Books to a Child?

A child should be introduced to books as soon as possible. Some parents plan in advance and fill the baby’s nursery with as much book possible. The ideal age to give a book to baby is around 4 months when they learn to grab things around and develop the color vision. This off-course does not mean you cannot read to your baby before that. In fact, you can start reading stories to your baby much earlier, starting with pregnancy. When you start introducing different sensory toys to babies, is also the time to introduce age-appropriate books to babies.

Also Read: 7 Reasons to Read Aloud to your Kid

How to Know if a Book is Appropriate for Baby and Toddler?

For selecting a book for baby or toddler you need to keep in mind safety first since you do not want a choking hazard. Choose book types specially designed for babies where parts of the page do not tear easily. Select a book with big pictures and very few words.

Early Literacy and your Baby

What Types of Books are Safe for Babies?

Board books are the safest to give to babies at an early age. You can give them to babies at around 4 months of age when they show interest in holding and touching things. The pages of board books are made with cardboard-like material, lessening the chances of babies tearing and putting them into the mouth.

That said – babies around 6 months age love to chew on things. So, do not get panicked by seeing your baby chew on books. It is quite common as reported by parents. Putting things on mouth is how babies familiarize themselves with things around them.

You need to keep an eye to ensure it does not happen often and is not a choking hazard. Make sure to choose only books specially designed for babies of that age. 

A father and baby reading a cloth book together
A father and Baby reading a Cloth Book together

Books Types Designed for Babies

There are different books specially designed for babies from newborn to 1 year old. Some of them with unique concepts such as tummy times etc. Parents and babies are spoilt for choice. They fall under one of the below types

Tip: A list of the most recommended books for babies can be found here.

Board books:

Why are board books are good for babies?

Board book pages are made from cardboard type materials, which do not tear easily when chewed on. They can be given to babies from around 4 months age. Go for the ones with big colorful single pictures and with little or no words. It should be attractive enough to hold your baby’s interest.

Touch and feel books:

These types of books are always a favorite with babies from around 6 months of age. The pages of the books contain materials like soft furry texture (complimenting the picture of the page), mirrors, crinkly, etc. Babies can see the picture and get a feel of how the object would be to touch.

MusicSound books:

This works the same as a musical toy. Nursery rhymes, animal sounds, etc come out when a button is pressed. Babies can press the sound the like and listen to them again and again. They even try mimicking them sometimes.

A toddler playing with a musical book
A toddler playing with a musical book

Cloth-Vinyl books:

These books are very attractive and come in non-traditional book format. Quite safe to play with for babies from a very early age. Vinyl books can double up as bath time toys as well.

Also Read: When to Start Reading to Baby

Cut out books:

These books are really great when your baby starts trying to turn pages, maybe with your help initially. The flaps, pull-outs, different cutout structures on each page are quite interactive and interesting enough to hold attention for longer.

When Does a Child Start Reading Books?

The books for small babies are designed to make them touch, feel, see, and understand as another sensory experience. It will be sometime before your baby actually shows interest in the content of the pages. For that to develop, parents have to actively start reading to babies from a very early age. The initial stages of learning happen through listening. 

Now the question is – at what age you should start reading to your baby?

You can start reading to your newborn immediately. Just hold your baby close, sing to him, read stories, talk. They start developing color vision at around 4 months, age. That is when you can introduce board books, cloth books, touch, and feel books with big pictures. 

 Tip: Check out our read-aloud guide, starting with a New-born, here

The idea of giving a book to a baby is to make them feel comfortable around it so that they play with it more and more. Grabbing, touching, feeling, tearing, chewing are all parts of learning. Physical engagement is important and the first step of the love of reading starts here. On an aside – ask any book lover the smell of new books and pages. In this age of e-books, the physical books sell for the sensory experience it provides. 

The next step is to see and learn through pictures. Babies and toddlers can look at pictures in the books and identify the objects. This is part of increasing their vocabulary, which is the building block of sentence formation. Babies are drawn to simple and bright pictures. So, introduce them only to the pictures relatable to them, like fruits, shoes, puppies, household objects, etc.

Also Read: Reading Milestones by Age

Interactive books help babies to develop imagination and creativity. Touching, lifting the flaps, searching, sound captures their interest and keeps them engaged for longer. The sequence of events helps the babies and toddlers to create and learn story structure. 

Tip – Surround your baby with books. Ensure there are stocks in the car, park, etc. Books double up as great time pass tool when needed.

Tips for Selecting Books from New-born to Toddler

Infant to 6 months:

  • Choose board books with large one picture per page 
  • Should contain very fewer words
  • You can also try attractive pop-up, cloth vinyl books

7 to 12 months:

  • Choose books with simple words and large colorful pictures.
  • Babies at this age try to flip pages, so choose one accordingly
  • Interactive, cloth-vinyl, touch, and feel works well at this age
  • Choose books with nursery rhymes and sing them to babies
  • You can choose soundmusic books at this age
  • Look for the kind of books your baby likes and buy more of them

12 to 18 months:

  • Character books like an animal, cars, etc work well at this age for holding a child’s interest
  • Buy a book with a simple storyline, one line each page, accompanied with related pictures
  • Interactive, fold-out, etc books work well
  • The pages need to be sturdy enough to take rough handling of a toddler
  • Spend more time reading aloud stories your child likes

Also Read: How to Develop Reading Habit in Children

19 to 30 months:

  • Introduce books with a bigger storyline. Few lines per page
  • The picture of the book can describe a sceneevent, instead of just a character
  • Introduce alphabet and number books
  • All books need to have interesting pictures or activities. Only words would not hold the interest of a toddler
  • Introduce a variety of topics at this age, as your child becomes more aware of the surrounding
Expert Speak: How to Choose Baby Books


While this guide pens out the tips and tricks of selecting age-appropriate books for babies and toddlers, it is the parents who know what works best for their child. Take the help of this guide in selecting the types of books available, and select a book, keeping your child’s interest in mind. Pick a book which both you and your child will enjoy. Go ahead, script some memorable time together.