Mother and Baby

A guide to the best books for babies and toddlers

Section: Toys & Education

There’s nothing like a bedtime story (with or without Tom Hardy reading it). Not only do they help your little one unwind before bed, but they’ve also been proven to help improve speech and language skills too.

We all know that baby books are important for their development, but with lots readily available it can be difficult to decide which is the best book for your little one.

We’ve compiled a definitive guide on how to choose a book for your baby, the benefits of reading with your little one and the best stories on the market that your little one will love!

You are going to use a baby book for any downtime, during any time of the day. You can also use at bedtime to relax and to calm your baby.  Don't worry if your baby doesn't pay attention to it, his/her focus will build up with time, just keep reading and showing the pictures and with time your baby will ask for their book time.

It's important to keep in mind that a baby book needs to be easy to hold and to carry around. Also, you need to like the illustrations as well, because you and your baby are going to spend lots of time looking at them. You can also stick with one favourite author or illustrator.  

What are the best baby and toddler books?

There’s a number of different baby books out there, but these are some of the best-selling baby books to buy for the nursery bookshelf:

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

£5.99 - RRP: £6.99

Hungry Caterpillar

The classic baby book that has definitely stood the test of time, start reading to your baby with this everlasting tale of The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

My First Gruffalo Little Library

£5.00 - RRP: £5.99

First Gruffalo

The exciting Gruffalo baby and toddler series features all your favourite characters from the deep dark wood. Learn about colours, numbers, opposites and animals with this fabulous set of four bold, bright board books, now available in a miniature slipcase.

Squeaky Baby Bath Book Baby Animals - Baby Touch and Feel

£3.33 - RRP: £5.99

Baby animals

Make baby Bath time fun with DK's new Squeaky Baby Bath Book series. Safe for baby and perfect for bathtime fun or highchair play, the book is packed with bright pictures of baby animals, squashy, waterproof pages, and a built-in squeaker making baby bath time fun for your little one.

Faces: Baby Touch First Focus

£4.29 - RRP: £4.99

Baby Touch First Faces

Part of the Ladybird best-selling Baby Touch range, this baby book contains a range of bright, high-contrast characters and faces to help stimulate your baby’s developing eyesight from birth. There is also a cute mirror at the back for your baby to smile at.

Baby’s Very First Noisy Nursery Rhymes


Noisy nursery rhymes

A cute book with a sound panel your baby will love, the easy to press buttons to play popular nursery rhymes to your tot, including Twinkle, twinkle little star, and Baa Baa back sheep. The high-contrast colours and patterns have been designed with tots in mind.

Dear Zoo

£4.00 - RRP: £6.99

Dear Zoo

A book that has been a firm favourite with parents and toddlers for years, Dear Zoo is an interactive flap book that your tot will love. Will they ever manage to find the perfect pet as they discover the different animals the zoo has sent?

That’s not My Kitten



One for the cat lovers out there, this touchy-feely book encourages your baby to touch and feel the tactile patches. The bold illustrations are designed with little ones in mind, and spotting the white mouse on every page helps develop problem-solving skills.

Hello You

£5.39 - RRP: £5.99

Hello You

Designed for babies from birth to six months, this book is perfect for tummy time. Say hello to familiar faces and play peekaboo with the peepholes. The contrasting colours, bold patterns and mirror are designed to focus on developing eyes.

Baby Touch and Feel Animals

£3.59 - RRP: £3.99

Farm animals

Stroke, tickle and touch the different animals and let little hands feel how soft the kitten feels compared to the scaley lizard. They’ll be learning as they play, and the tactile book aids development.

Peter Rabbit Finger Puppet Book

£6.49 - RRP: £7.99

Peter Rabbit

Introduce them to Peter Rabbit early with this cute finger puppet book! Bring Peter to life and teach your little one how to count, before moving on to the classic books as they get older.

Each Peach Pear Plum, by Janet & Allan Ahlberg


Each Peach Pear Plum is a timeless picture book classic from the bestselling illustrator/author team Janet and Allan Ahlberg, creators of Peepo!. Each beautifully illustrated page encourages young children to interact with the picture to find the next fairy tale and nursery rhyme character. This board book edition is perfect for little hands.

Peepo!, by Janet & Allan Ahlberg

Peepo! Is set in the early forties, showing an unpretentious vision of a baby's contented life based on Allan Ahlberg's own working-class childhood.

Maisy's Bus, by Lucy Cousins

£2.32 - RRP: £3.99

Maisy’s adventures have been translated into 28 languages and sold over 25 million copies. You can find now more than 150 stories full of letters, numbers, and shapes for your baby to learn.

The Baby's Catalogue, by Janet & Allan Ahlberg

£5.99 - RRP: £6.99

The Baby's Catalogue is a lovely picture book of objects and scenes from a baby's world. The content of this book has made it a classic addition to your nursery library.

That’s Not My Dinosaur, by Fiona Watt & Rachel Wells

£2.00 - RRP: £6.99

This board book is here to give a valuable and enjoyable learning time for your baby, showing through a simple narrative with textured pages all the reasons that why is not that animal or object. You can find as well many other books from this collection such as that’s not my teddy/dolly/tractor”.

Where’s Spot?, by Eric Hill


This is a timeless classic. In the book, the puppy Spot has gone missing at dinner time and mummy dog, Sally, must find him. This book is part of a collection of many stories about Spot adventures. Your baby will love the bright images.

Is It bedtime Wiggly Pig?, by Mick Inkpen

£6.29 - RRP: £6.99

Like your little one, Wibbly Pig wants to do everything but go to be. With this book, your baby will interact with counting, vocabulary, and emotions.

Peek-A-Boo, by Jan Ormerod

£5.34 - RRP: £6.11

This is a classic board book for babies which combines the peek-a-boo fun activity and the with the fun of flaps to lift. On each page a baby hides from something, your baby will love to see other babies.

What are the best books to buy for my toddler?

Once your little one is ready for a more complex story at bedtime, here are a few classics to add to their bookshelf:

The Gruffalo

£5.00 - RRP: £6.99

The Gruffalo

This book is undoubtedly the number one modern children's classic. It’s a publishing phenomenon, has sold over three million copies worldwide, been turned into a TV adaptation and led to numerous merchandise spin-offs (Trunkis, duvets, onesies…you name it). But it’s the simplicity of the fable-like story – a clever mouse escaping the clutches of other woodland animals – and the colourful characters and wonderful illustrations by Axel Scheffler that make it a firm family favourite.

Guess How Much I Love You

£5.99 - RRP: £6.99

Guess how much I love you

This is the story of two Nutbrown Hares, Big Nutbrown Hare and Little Nutbrown Hare and how it’s impossible to measure how much you love your little one. A great story to read to your tot with a big cuddle at the end.

Fox's Socks - Tales From Acorn Wood

£3.89 - RRP: £5.99

Fox's Socks

Poor old Fox has lost his socks--can you help him find them? Are they in the kitchen or under the stairs? Are they inside the clock or hidden in a chest? Lift the flaps and find out! With sturdy flaps on every spread and rhyming stories that are a joy to read aloud, the Tales From Acorn Wood have been delighting both parents and toddlers for over fifteen years. Celebrate their unending appeal with Tales From Acorn Wood: Fox's Socks, a beautifully produced board book with a gorgeous shiny-foiled cover look. 

The Tiger Who Came to Tea

£4.00 - RRP: £6.99

Tiger who came to tea

Another classic that has stood the test of time, this beautiful story of Sophie and her very hungry tea-time guest is a must if you’ve got an animal-lover in your brood. Why not plan a tea-party for your own hungry tigers at the weekend? 

The Dinosaur that pooped a planet


Dinosaur Pooped a Planet

From writing songs for McFly to bedtime stories for tots, dad of two Tom Fletcher clearly knows exactly what little boys (and girls) love in a book. Teaming up with bandmate Dougie Poynter, the duo tell the story of Danny and Dinosaur on their mission to space (without Dino’s all important lunchbox). 

Postman bear

£3.44 - RRP: £5.99

Postman Bear

A lift-the-flap book for little hands, deep in the heart of Acorn Wood, Bear is writing letters to his friends. Written by the award-winning team behind The Gruffalo, you’ll love the easy to read rhyme. 

Stick man

£5.99 - RRP: £6.99

Stick Man

The adventurous tale of Stick man! A dog wants to play with him, a swan wants to build her nest with him, will he ever get back to the family tree in one piece?  

Where the Wild Things Are

£5.13 - RRP: £6.99

Where the wild things are

This adorable story of Max and his monsters has entertained children for years. After dressing up in his wolf costume, Max wreaks so much havoc (sound familiar?) he is sent to bed before dinner. That night, his bedroom transforms into a forest, and he is taken to where the wild things are. The perfect night-time story for all those loveable little monsters out there.

Eat Your Peas

£5.99 - RRP: £6.99

Eat your peas

This award-winning picture book gave rise to a series of books about Daisy, the spirited little girl, who doesn’t like much of what she’s given for tea – and will not be tempted by anything.

Open Very Carefully


Open very carefully

This won Best Picture Book at Waterstones Children's Book Prize 2014, and we can see why. It starts off as a regular story about the Ugly Duckling, but suddenly the book is invaded by a hungry crocodile who starts gobbling up letters off the page, leaving the duckling shouting ‘St p! Mr Cr c dile!’ Plenty of participation from you and your little one will help you get to the end of the story.

Do you speak English, Moon?

£2.63 - RRP: £9.99

Do you speak english moon

From the author of the Horrid Henry books, this is a beautiful picture book about a little boy who likes chatting to the moon. The illustrations are striking – there are lovely scenes to look at including deep-diving mermaids and cloud-topped mountains, smiling tigers and children all looking out to the moon.

We’re going on a Bear Hunt, by Michael Rosen & Helen Oxenbury

£3.48 - RRP: £6.99

This is a very nice story as it talks about a father and his 4 children and dog in an adventure. It's the perfect contemporary book for a raining day.

The Tale of Peter Rabbit, by Beatrix Potter

£5.29 - RRP: £5.99

This one of the most important books for kids in The UK bringing the story of Peter Rabbit with really nice writing and illustration styles by Beatrix Potter.

The Cat In The Hat

£3.29 - RRP: £5.99

This book has 225 words vital to 'new reader' vocabulary. The cheeky Cat arrives and causes mayhem with his suggested rainy day games in the home of two young children, while their mother is out.

Owl Babies, by Patrick Benson

£5.00 - RRP: £6.99

Sarah, Percy, and Bill, three owl babies, wake up one night and don't find their mom.  Their loneliness makes them anxious but is overcome with relief and joy when their mummy owl comes back. It's perfect to help with separation times.

Why is it important to read to my baby?

  • Creating bedtime routine: Even though your newborn is still too little to understand what you are saying, it is a soothing ritual to start from a young age.
  • Learning to talk: Your baby will settle with the sound of your voice, and will subconsciously pick up the rhythms, tones, and inflexions of your voice which can help when they learn to read later on.
  • Developing eyesight: The stories might be too complex, but from birth to around three-months-old, your baby is learning to focus their eyes on simple patterns. All of these books will have bright illustrations, shapes, and letters to occupy your baby.
  • Storytelling skills: Your baby will develop his or her own imagination in time, and storytelling will be a big part of this. Reading to your baby from an early age can encourage this.
  • Developing empathy: Scientists have found that children who have stories read to them regularly show more empathy, and find it easier to understand people.
  • Extending understanding: As your tot gets older, at the end of story time stop and ask them ‘why do you think this character did that’ — this can help your child develop their understanding and vocabulary.

Read next: The best nightlights for babies and toddlers 

Read next: The best baby toys to help development 

Related Content

Related content: