10 of the best baby and toddler books

It can never be too early to start reading to your baby, and as their vocabulary starts building, you can take them on new discoveries with brilliant new books

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1. That’s not my unicorn…, Usborne, £6.99, MadeForMums Gold Award Winner

Picking up on one of the biggest trends of last year, this sparkly, touchy-feely boardbook gives babies and toddlers a unicorn accessory of their own. It’s the 50th offering from Usborne’s That’s Not My… series, which is hugely popular around the world and loved by parents and kids alike.

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This gold award-winning version features a magical unicorn (and of course, the ever-present little white mouse to spot on each page), and it quickly became Usborne’s fastest selling title.

With sturdy pages that will cope well with lots of love from toddlers, this eye-catching gem features beautiful illustrations in bright colours that your child will love. On each page, there’s a different textured patch for little ones to touch as you read to them, helping them engage with the book and develop sensory and language awareness.

As they grow, it’s lovely to see them engage with the simple, repetitive language and read along with you. And, if you can bear to part with it, the pearlescent cover page, holographic foil edges, and pink foiling make it an extra-special baby gift. 

What our MadeForMums Awards Judges say about That’s not my unicorn…:

“My son loves this book! After being a massive fan of the others in the series he was very excited to have a new book! The pictures are lovely and the repetitive pages are great when he is joining in. Gorgeous book as always.” Mum of 1, Leah

“My toddler loved feeling the different textures and the book was bright and enjoyable to read.” Mum of 2, Corinne

“Such a fun book, a great introduction to reading and multiple sensory exploration.” MFM Reviews Editor Hazelann Williams

You can buy That’s not my unicorn…from: Usborne, Waterstones and Amazon.

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2. The Little Black & White Book Project, from £7.50, MadeForMums Silver Award Winner

High-contrast images help with your baby’s brain development, making this smart set of board books and flash cards the perfect gift for newborns. Covering different countries, the overall theme of our silver award winner is one of conservation, encouraging readers young and old to value and protect the planet.

The pack includes 12 black and white illustrations of animals from Southeast Asia, and is suitable for newborns to toddlers. Little ones will be fascinated by the images, while older children will enjoy learning from the animal flashcards, each of which has a fact plus an action, question or challenge on the back.

As well as the educational aspect, it’s great to know that all products are printed on FSC certified board using soy inks and 25% of profits are donated to wildlife charities.

There are currently three books in the series, themed around Southeast Asia, Australia and Africa, but keep an eye out for more editions in the future covering the likes of the UK and USA.

What our MadeForMums Awards Judges say about The Little Black & White Book Project:

“My three-year-old has really loved using these books and flash cards. He started to remember the facts very quickly, and was instantly attracted to the images. Even my baby has had a go at rifling through the pages! I think these will be well used by both of them. The books are excellent quality, and came packaged very nicely – I would certainly order them as a gift.” Mum of 2, Claire

“I absolutely love that 25% of profits go to wildlife charities. I fell in love with this product as soon as I opened it. My 19-month-old loved turning the pages of the book by herself, which was nice and sturdy and not easily ruined by a heavy-handed toddler. My 5-year-old- also loved browsing through and had more understanding of the animals. As a parent, I really enjoyed reading the facts on the back of the cards, I even learned some new things myself! The RRP is very reasonable on these and I’d buy without hesitation.” Mum of 2, Michelle

You can buy The Little Black & White Book Project from: Black and White Book Project and Notonthehighstreet

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3. Where Bear?, Penguin Random House Children’s, £6.99, MadeForMums Bronze Award Winner

This year’s bronze award winner is Where Bear?, Sophy Henn’s beautifully illustrated tale of a little boy and his bear, now available for the first time in chunky board book format.

Suitable for all ages, this moving story explores friendship, camaraderie and discovery as the duo search for a place called home, with plenty of fun along the way.

The hardback version has won a clutch of awards in the past few years, and this new board version is perfect for younger readers.

What our MadeForMums Awards Judges say about Where Bear?:

“A sweet story about friendship, with delightful illustrations and lots of fun places to explore in more detail. Would definitely buy this!” MFM Reviews Editor Magda Ibrahim

“This is a real quality book which would be nice enough to give as a gift for special occasion, yet the price point is not prohibitive. It was the perfect size to hold whilst reading to my one-year-old and she seemed to enjoy pointing out all the main characters on each page. I would consider buying more in the series if there were to be any.” Mum of 1, Lucinda

You can buy Where Bear? from: Wordery, Book Depository and Amazon


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4. Little Learners Follow the Rainbow, Parragon Books, £12

The deluxe version of this beautifully illustrated board book has eight fun sounds, finger trails, flaps and diecuts, and is part of the Little Learners range for babies and toddlers.

Cuddle up with young readers to follow the rainbow trail with baby bird and friends.

The bright images and interactive elements will help engage curious minds as they learn about colours and numbers.

You can buy Little Learners Follow the Rainbow from: Marks And Spencer

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5. Baby’s Very First Fingertrail Play Book Garden, Usborne, £5.99

Last year’s gold award winner is a super-fun way to introduce babies to books. It’s an easy-to-handle durable cardboard book, made so babies can be as touchy, feely, and throwy as they want.  But as the pages are so bright and sparkly, it’s likely this is a book they’ll want to keep hold of.

Looks aside, this book really is a good one to read to smaller babies.

You can buy Baby’s Very First Fingertrail Play Book Garden from: Amazon, World Of Books and Wordery.


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6. Jessie Says Goodnight, Sing & Sign, £4.99

This clever book shows little ones how to sign through easy-to-follow pictures and simple storytelling with a very cute cat called Jessie.

A lift-the-flap book, so it’ll be fun for babies and as they grow, it teaches them another language too!

You can buy Jessie Says Goodnight, Sing & Sign from: Sing & Sign

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7. The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle, £6.99

If it isn’t already on your bookshelf, this classic picture book about a caterpillar munching his way to becoming a beautiful butterfly is well worth picking up. This charming story has sold 22 million copies, and also makes for a lovely gift.

In the story, the newly hatched caterpillar starts to look for food. On day one he eats one piece of fruit, the next two, the next three and so on, until he reaches the end of the week, when he eats a fabulous feast of muffins, pizza and pickle. By now he is too fat to move but there’s a moment of triumph as he transforms into a beautiful butterfly.

You can buy The Very Hungry Caterpillar from: Amazon, World Of Booksand JoJo Maman Bebe.


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8. Where’s Spot? – Eric Hill, £3.99

One of the great pioneers of the lift-the-flap novelty books for babies, Spot remains a timeless classic. Here, the honey-and-black puppy has gone missing at dinner time and mummy dog, Sally, must find him.

Hill’s lovable characters and deceptively simple narrative and bright, bold illustrations make this a great choice with very young children. Hill has sold millions of books in the Spot series.

You can buy Where’s Spot? from: Amazon, Waterstones, World Of Books.


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9. The Cat In The Hat – Dr Seuss, £6.99

Theodor Seuss Geisel wrote the vibrant Cat In The Hat as a primer to help children with the 225 words that were vital to ‘new reader’ vocabulary. It may date back to 1957 but this absolute classic still charms adults and children today.

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. Dr Seuss’ poetic pace heaps excitement upon chaos in a story that’s fun as well as educational.

You can buy The Cat In The Hat from: Book Depository, Amazon and Wordery.

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10. The Bedtime Bear: A Lift-The-Flap Book, Ian Whybrow, £5.99

This hugely enjoyable interactive book adds an element of fun to the bedtime wind-down.

Children of all ages will love to lift the flaps as you follow the bear on his adventures. The quirky tale is packed with witty rhymes and silly scenarios from Ian Whybrow, paired with lovely illustrations by Axel Scheffler, illustrator of The Gruffalo.

You can buy The Bedtime Bear: A Lift-The-Flap Book from: Amazon, Wordery and World Of Books.

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