Tips on choosing books for Babies

Some practical advice and tips to keep in mind while selecting books for your baby.

Photo: By Jon Mick [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
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Both, my husband and I, love to read and are just book lovers in general. This also means we cannot bear to see a book being manhandled (Is babyhandled a word?). Even before I got pregnant, I was sure that my children would be the same. After all it was in the genes, right? I just had to nudge them in that direction. 

Well... not exactly!

Baby GiftsImmediately after the birth of my son, I went into overdrive, searching for books that I felt he would enjoy. But, I got lost in the ocean of books that are available for babies and kids. I had no idea what to buy and the prices seemed rather steep, (A 10 page board book for Rs. 300!! That's more than what my 500 page novel costs!!).

After a lot of thought, Hubby and I settled on a book of nursery rhymes that we got at a local exhibition. It was bright and colorful and I was sure Bubs (then 4 months old) would enjoy looking at the pictures. And I was right. But, he babyhan... I mean, manhandled the book! And I learned that we had made a huge mistake - buying a paperback book for a 3 month old! (I really didn't think he'd try to touch or grab it!)

That and many mistakes later, we got smarter and have had decent success in choosing books that Bubs has loved and that have been able to withstand his babyhandling. (Forgive me. But, I am going to use it as an official word!) 

Let me share with you some of what I have learned so far.

Watch the price

Babies get bored very quickly. Of course there are some exceptions, but you can never know what goes on in those little heads of theirs. If you spend a fortune on a highly recommended book, but your baby doesn't like it, neither of you is going to be very happy. Look out for sales where you can get good books at discounted rates. If you have a lending library nearby that keeps baby books, borrow some and see what your baby seems interested in. 

Buy picture books

Babies are generally drawn to anything colorful. So buy picture books that have lots of colorful pictures that you can point out to. This also helps them identify objects. Even if they aren't interested in the story, they might be interested in just looking and pointing at the pictures. I also noticed that Bubs seemed to be more interested in big pictures rather than smaller ones.

Scan through the text

I once bought two lovely picture books online. But, when I opened them to read, I was shocked. The English was terrible. Be sure to scan through a few pages of any book you intend to buy, to make sure it is acceptable. Also, I personally recommend buying books with short sentences. Babies are generally more interested in the pictures than the story. Also, rhyming sentences capture more attention. Bubs is always in a hurry to flip the page even before I can finish reading through a line! Babies also seem to like sentences that rhyme.

Board books/Foam books/Plastic books

I largely recommend board books for babies. Nowadays, you also get foam books and plastic books. But, I have no personal experience with them so I can't comment. They didn't appeal to me much (at least not the ones available here in India). They are probably okay for bath time. 
But, definitely stay away from paperback books for very young babies, unless you do not mind your baby crushing/ ripping off the pages (ugh! Just the thought of it...sorry...)

Washable books

Whether by simply drooling or spitting up on them, or by using them to slide across the floor, babies are going to get those books dirty. Buy books that can be wiped clean. These books have laminated pages that can be easily cleaned by wiping with a damp cloth. 

Size matters

Choose the right size. With Bubs, I had to put away all those palm sized (3'x3') board books, because he decided they were better teethers! So, I bough him bigger and slightly heavy board books, so that he was forced to sit down and look at them rather than just walk around with them! 

Interactive books

Bubs was a little over a year old when he first saw a slide-and-see book at a friend's house. He loved it. He sat for a full 15 minutes moving the slides and flipping through the pages. That is probably the longest time he has ever spent on any single activity! I subsequently bought him one of his own and threw in a touch-and-feel book, which he still loves. You could also try Lift-the-Flap Books in addition to these.

Well, that's most of it for now. I will surely update this post as I learn more. Bubs is a great teacher. He teaches me something new everyday! (Did I mention that somewhere before?) 

How do you choose books for your baby? Do share your experiences or tips on selecting books for babies. I would love to hear them all.

Also, watch out for my future posts on book suggestions and reviews, based on my own experiences. 

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