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Being a mom means being on a constant lookout for the best for our little ones. Especially when it comes to books, which they can tear, taste, or toss them aside at a minute’s notice! If you’re always hunting for budget-friendly but intriguing books for babies and toddlers, you’re in the right place.


Photo of Emily in front of a bookshelf

Hi there! I’m Emily Campbell, the face behind The Book Nanny. Here, I strive to provide readers with information about what’s inside the books they read. After all, nothing’s worse than an unexpected twist or content you might not be comfortable with. With two young kids and after reading two thousand books, I’m well-versed in sifting through content to find the gems that fit my reading standards. Grab a warm cup of cocoa, and settle into your comfiest reading nook. It’s time to talk about some of my favorite books for babies!

Thrifty and Wise: Best Places to Buy Books for Babies

assorted book lot

Ah, the thrill of finding a bargain! With toddlers who have a penchant for destruction, it’s smart not to spend a fortune on every single book. Thrift stores, Walmart, Dollar Tree, and garage sales have come to the rescue more times than I can count. Top tip: Dollar Tree’s selection can be quite a revelation! Our beloved Doll House Kitties is a dollar find. Who says you can’t get quality for a buck or two?

Must-Haves: Types of Baby Books

– Lift-a-Flap Books: A game and book rolled into one! Toddlers can’t resist the magic behind each flap. I prefer the ones with felt flaps because they don’t tear.

board book with blue felt flap over a mirror

– Finger Puppet Books: Interactive fun that keeps tiny fingers engaged and giggling. 

puppet baby book

– Indestructible Books: For those more *enthusiastic* readers who love a good tear-and-wear session. These are the tanks of toddler books. They cannot be torn and can be washed in a dishwasher!

the covers of six indestructible books

– Board Books: Sturdy, durable, and perfect for little hands. I like the toddler books that are smaller in size so toddlers can read them on their own.

top-down look at thick board book pages

– Bath Books: Make bath time reading time with these waterproof wonders. Top tip: Bath books are great for the “everything in the mouth” phase and during teething. 

waterproof book in water

Related: Books for Babies: The Right Books Starting at Birth til 2

Favorite Baby Books from Our Shelf and Why We Love Them:

The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen

large grumpy fish

Dive deep into the ocean and discover why this fish is so glum. An instant mood-lifter! This lyrical book has rhymes to keep littles engaged. We like saying the rhyming part with a silly grumpy voice and more often than not we end up laughing our way through the book.

Find this book on Amazon.

Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

A classic bedtime tale, reassuring, and rhythmic. It’s a lullaby in book form. I love the simple black and white mixed with color. We love playing the game “Find the Mouse” because there is a little mouse on almost every page.

Find this book on Amazon.

The Foot Book by Dr. Seuss

dr. seuss character pointing at his foot on a book cover.

Dr. Seuss meets tiny feet. A toe-tapping delight for toddlers. It teaches opposites simply and with a touch of Dr. Seuss’s silliness.

Find this book on Amazon.

Inside, Outside, Upside Down by Stan & Jan Berenstain

baby book cover of bear inside a box, running and doing a handstand.

A topsy-turvy journey of a bear in a box. This book helps kids learn some spatial words in a silly way.

Find this book on Amazon.

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star by Tiger Tales

cover of baby book with kid in bed and smiling star above

It’s more than just a lullaby. This book is full of short songs and rhymes that are fun to read together. It is a favorite for bedtime at our house.

Find this book on Amazon.

Little Scholastic – Baby Days: Baby Loves by Anna W. Bardaus

pink square with baby hugging tiny teddy bear. baby book cover

This simple book is four pages long and is a well-loved favorite at our house. Before we read this book my toddlers didn’t understand what hugs or kisses were. Now they hug and kiss their stuffed animals and initiate them with other family members.

Find this book on Amazon.

Where’s The Ladybug? by Ingela P. Arrhenius

pink square with smiling ladybug and two flowers

Find the ladybug and other bug friends in this felt Lift-a-flap book. This book has been a hit with both my kids and has a fun mirror at the end.

Find this book on Amazon.

If Animals Kissed Good Night by Ann Whitford Paul and David Walker

mommy and baby elephant on book cover

See how different creatures express their love in this whimsical world. I love the many fun ways animals say goodnight. This is a great addition to a bedtime routine.

Find this book on Amazon.

Curious George: A Halloween Boo Fest by H. A. Rey

curious george jumping out of a jack-o-lantern.

Join George as he learns about the spookiness of Halloween and how to make it fun instead of scary. This book normalizes costumes and jumping out to spook each other. This book made something scary into fun and it has a mirror at the end.

Find this book on Amazon.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

baby book cover with caterpillar

This classic toddler board brings you on Caterpillar’s journey getting bigger and eating lots of different foods. It is full of colors and is a celebration of growth and change. Plus, it helps to teach eating fruits and veggies.

Find this book on Amazon.

The Napping House by Audrey Wood

baby book of people and animals piled on top of each other on a bed.

Step into a cozy home where everyone from the mouse to the granny is sleeping. Every page turn increases the chaos that culminates with everyone awake. The gentle rhythm lulls readers even as everyone starts waking up.

Find this book on Amazon.

The Magic of Relatability: Books for Babies That Resonate

toddler facing mirror while smiling

One overlooked secret? Toddlers, just like us, love seeing themselves in stories. Be it through mirrors, pictures of other babies, or relatable adventures. Remember the thrill of reading about a character who felt just like you? Our little ones feel the same!

Familiar Faces: The Magic of Recognizable Characters

It’s truly remarkable how toddlers have this innate ability to form connections with characters from their favorite shows or movies. My daughter, for instance, lights up when she spots books featuring characters she recognizes, be it Elsa, Elmo, or Daniel Tiger. She especially loves learning from them as her favorite characters experience hard things she struggles with too.

But why is this connection so powerful?

1. Consistent Learning Environment:

These characters often teach essential life skills, values, and concepts in their screen time appearances. Transitioning these lessons to a book format reinforces the same principles, ensuring that learning is consistent.

child watching tv

2. Comfort in Familiarity: 

Just as adults find comfort in re-watching favorite movies or TV shows, children find solace in familiar characters. It’s the comfort of knowing what to expect, combined with the joy of experiencing something new within that familiar context.

toy, plush toys, plush figures

3. A Seamless Transition from Screen to Print: 

As parents, we’re often caught in the balancing act of managing screen time. Recognizable character books offer the perfect solution. When the TV goes off, and my daughter is yearning for just a bit more time with her fictional friends, these books for babies act as the bridge. They allow for continuity in her entertainment and learning journey, ensuring she’s still engaging with her beloved “peeps” in a more tactile, interactive way.

collection of daniel tiger books, baby books, books for babies.

In essence, these character-driven books for babies serve as a beautiful merger of the visual and literary worlds for toddlers. They not only feed their imagination but also offer the warmth of familiarity and continuity in their rapidly expanding world. So, the next time your little one clings to a book with a recognizable face on the cover, know that it’s more than just a story—it’s an experience, a learning tool, and a comforting friend all rolled into one.


babies reading books, books for babies

Investing in books for babies isn’t just about keeping them occupied. It’s about nurturing their growth, sparking their imagination, and building a lifelong love for reading. Whether you’re shopping on a budget, seeking relatable content, or just looking for the next best read, this guide has got you covered. Here’s to many cozy reading sessions with your toddler! 

Related: Books for Babies: The Right Books Starting at Birth til 2

Make sure to share this post with moms that you know who are trying to find books for their little ones. Or if you are friends with lots of moms share it on social media. Let me know what book is special for you and your babies in the comments!

Happy Reading!

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on a link and decide to buy, I make a small commission for referring you. This helps me make a few cents for doing what I love.