Category Archives: BOOKS FOR BABY

recommeded books for baby’s first year


YouTube Preview Image

These two energetic baby books by Sandra Boynton will add much rhythm and dance to baby’s first library.  “A cow says MOO, A sheep says BAA, Three singing pigs say LA LA LA,” begins MOO, BAA, LA LA LA.  The story reads in the rhythm of a march and ends with an invitation for baby to join in.  A mother I know who was a dancer loved to read these books to each of her three children as a way to introduce rhythm and share her passion for the performing arts.

Boynton’s beloved barnyard animals appear again in The Barnyard Dance.  The cow and horse square dance with their friends as the reader issues the calls such as stomp, clap, bow, twist, strut, spin, prance, and swing.  This book has the energy and dynamics of an old-fashioned square dance for everyone–  “with a neigh and moo and a cockadoodle doo, another little promenade two by two.”  The above video from storybookreadalong’s youtube channel will teach you the rhythm.  Dance out the movements when you read the story and baby will love it!

Moo, Baa, La La La:  by Sandra Boynton.  (New York:  Simon & Schuster, 1984).
The Barnyard Dance:  by Sandra Boynton.  (New York:  Simon & Schuster, 1993).



With respect to babies and motor skill development, there are pros and cons to electronic books.  With the rise of electronic tablets such as iPads in both homes and schools, babies and toddlers are increasingly exposed to them.  Sometimes a curious infant gets her hands on one in order to examine whatever mom or dad is using, sometimes she is handed the iPad to entertain her, and sometimes mom reads her an e-book on the electronic tablet.   The pros and cons of using these devices remain uncertain since they are new inventions and it takes a few years to develop and carry out research studies.   It will take a few more years before we know what studies reveal about the use of these “tools” for baby play and children’s learning.

With the absence of much research, the next best information sources are the opinions of various professionals who have worked with babies and children in the field of human development.  Two recent Wall Street Journal articles, “What Happens When Toddlers Zone Out On An iPad,” and “Once Upon a (Virtual)Time,” attempt to do just that.  Written by a father whose own son liked to zone out on his Daddy’s iPad, author Ben Worthen consults experts in neuroscience and child development as well as other parents on the topic of children and electronic tablets.


The Pros of iPad use apply primarily to toddlers and children, rather than babies.  For example, one obvious benefit with tablets is that touch screen technology remains accessible to young users whose fingers are not large enough to manipulate a mouse or keyboard.  For toddlers and young children, some studies show noticeable increase in vocabulary with the use of certain apps.  Another benefit for toddlers is that the ipad directs their focus. They are drawn to touch the screen where the action occurs.  With a TV set toddlers look away from it about 150 times an hour, according to WSJ, because they do not know where on the screen to focus their eyes and attention.  Thus, the iPad may be a better entertainment option than a TV set for toddlers and children.  Several parents express the entertainment value of the iPad with their child for long airplane flights or other occasions where they would like to keep the child quiet for long periods of time.  Please read our post “TV and Babies” for more information about the effects of television on baby’s development.


I’m writing about the Cons of electronic tablet use with the idea that the optimal developmental experience for babies and children includes some exposure to electronics. However, ultimately, encouraging physical and cognitive development is the most important consideration when making choices for baby’s toys and children’s gadgets.  Some developmental experts express concerns that the electronic tablets cut short the process of exploration since the app programs have ending points whereas play time with toys such as blocks may continue until the child decides she is finished.

The WSJ article suggests that more learning takes place during the reading of board books because of the dialog exchange between parent and baby or toddler.  The parent can observe what the baby is interested in and prompt further learning such as, “I see you like the dog.  Is she sleeping like our dog sleeps?  Where is the dog on this page?”, etc.

Here are some additional points for parents to keep in mind.  Remember that babies are still developing their eyesight and, with an electronic tablet, the eyes remain focused within the limits of the small screen.  Toys and board books encourage more eye movement because the dimensions of the visual playing or reading field are much larger than a tablet screen. Board book skills use more muscles and joints in the body than ebooks which primarily use finger tapping.

Books for babies are an integral part of speech development as well.  Babies often hear parents read the story and focus on their face and lips rather than the book. They are fascinated with how mommy creates words and closely watch the shapes of her lips and try to imitate them.  If the ebook is reading to baby she is not able to observe the process of how speech occurs.   For these reasons, Stellar Caterpillar highly recommends that parents include board books in baby’s first library.

For more in our series on babies and technology, please read “TV and Babies,” “Electronic Gadgets Pose Safety Risk,” and “Baby Toys:  Unplugged vs. Electronic.”



Not only does Pat The Bunny make it into Baby’s First Library, it makes it to the top of the list.  This is possibly the most commonly gifted baby book.  Published in 1940 and with over 6 million copies in print, this story is unique because it involves most of the five senses.  Opportunities to smell, touch, and see are found on the pages within.  Dorothy Kundhardt’s simple story journeys through activities that you can share with baby.  Invite baby to pat the furry bunny, smell the flowers, and look into a shiny mirror.  It makes a clever introduction to reading books since baby’s senses are very much a part of her motivation for every movement she makes.  She crawls to get to a toy so she can touch and feel it.  She reaches to grasp an object so she can bring it closer where she can see it better and fully examine it.  Her senses evoke her curiosity which motivate her movement and now her reading, too!

Pat the Bunny: by Dorothy Kundhardt. (New York:  Golden Books, 1940)


YouTube Preview Image

A confident, coordinated, and physically active baby often is tempted later in toddlerhood to climb furniture and jump on the bed.  A wise grandmother offered the following parenting tip, “Teach baby the song, ’5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed’.”  She explained that later when baby is climbing the furniture or attempting to jump on the bed, mother sings this song as you take her away from the furniture.  As she grows older, singing the song may be enough to get her to stop jumping on the bed.  My friend, the grandmother, said she would sing one or two verses and then her grandchild would stop.

Add this board book to baby’s first library and sing the song when you read it to her.  It is also a counting book for learning to count to 5.  Although there are many tunes for the lyrics, we posted above “5 Little Monkeys” from DavidOsaka’s youtube channel.

Five Little Monkeys:  retold and illustrated by Eileen Christelow.  (New York:  Clarion Books, 1989).


YouTube Preview Image


A curious and confident Stellar Caterpillar is eager to learn new sounds and words.  After they learn to eat they will want to speak!  The development of motor skills facilitates the process of learning sounds and eventually words because of the stimulation in the brain.  Baby books are an important chapter in the story of  baby’s development.  Today, on his birthday, we celebrate those by Dr. Seuss!


When assembling baby’s first library, many parents include books by Dr. Seuss.  Among these favorite children’s beginner books are Green Eggs and Ham,  The Cat in the Hat,  Hop on Pop, and One Fish Two Fish.  Recently, we were asked by blogger and Press-Enterprise columnist Maura Ammenheuser how Dr. Seuss’ books nurture young minds.  Here, I share my answer:

” I call it the 4 Rs: Rhythm, rhyme, repetition and the ridiculous. When something is organized in patterns it is easier to grasp. It is easier for babies to learn to speak when they learn songs because the rhythm and repetition brings a familiarity so they anticipate the next words and try and say them on their own. So through the rhyme, rhythm and repetition of these simple words, learning to read is easier.

The 4th R, the ridiculous, is very important because children are drawn to the new and unusual. The ridiculous aspects of Dr. Seuss stories captures and maintains their attention, which creates deeper learning. [Simple and goofy] … is Dr. Seuss’ brilliance.”


According to, “When publisher Bennett Cerf bet him that he could not make a book using fifty or fewer different words, Seuss wrote Green Eggs and Ham. The book is his best-selling title.  To learn more about Dr. Seuss, read our interview on the Momarama blog and visit the Seusville webste.  “In honor of Dr. Seuss’ birthday on March 2, enjoy the video above from youtube channel 197022007.  Happy Seuss Day!




Ease the transition from day to night and from awake to sleep with this book for baby.  This classic bedtime rhyme, Goodnight Moon, celebrates over 60 years in print!  Written by Margaret Wise Brown in 1947, the story follows a rabbit as he prepares to go to bed.  He says goodnight to bears and chairs, clocks and socks, mittens and kittens, a red balloon and the cow that jumped over the moon.  In fact, rabbit says goodnight to everything in the room!

This book is an excellent tool for the sleep ritual.  Through rhyme and short sentences, baby becomes familiar with saying “goodnight” and going to sleep.  If baby does not understand words yet, she will find comfort in the rhyme she hears in your voice as you read to her.  We know babies love the rhythm of the songs we sing to them.  They also love the rhyme in the books we read to them.  Sound, from our earliest days on earth, can bring feelings of comfort and security.  The predictability of familiar patterns of sound also helps baby learn sounds and eventually words.  “Goodnight room, and goodnight moon.”

Goodnight Moon:  by Margaret Wise Brown.  (New York:  Harper & Row, 1947).