Your baby aged 12 to 18 months is getting really fun and really busy. They’re mimicking your actions more, and pretend-play has picked up a notch. You’ll also notice that story time changes a bit as they are eager to learn and explore. Your little one is getting wiggly, and their attention span is shortening, so be mindful about which books you read and how you read them.  

Now is a time to stick to shorter books. Other attention-grabbers include any books that are bright and colorful, interactive (like textured or lift-the-flap), or super silly. Board books are still a great option, and we also recommend keeping a couple chew-safe choices in the diaper bag or toy box.

There are a variety of themes to look for in books for a 12- to 18-month-old, especially those that teach theme fundamentals about their world and themselves. Reach for books about counting, colors, shapes, and people and/or body parts, or any topic they’re interested in. Your baby will benefit from reading stories about routines such as mealtime, bathing, and the steps that lead toward bedtime, like brushing our teeth and saying goodnight. 

While reading to your baby, mimic the style and tone of the book. Act out the voices and even sing certain passages to keep them rapt. And remember: Even if your little one takes off in the middle of the book to do something else, what really matters is that you spent some quality time together. They will get back into sitting for longer stretches later; at this age it’s just about spending those cozy moments— even for a few minutes!

On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman

 Baby book: On the Night You Were Born

A truly enchanting board book for babies and toddlers that describes their arrival as a global affair celebrated by everyone, everywhere—from animals to the moon itself.  

Color Me: Who’s in the Water? by Surya Sajnani

Color Me Who's in the Water book for babies
It will be pure nostalgia for the happy parents when reading this bathtime book featuring pages that change color when wet. Timeless illustrations and that waterproof ‘80s are the perfect way to bring pleasures from your childhood to your little one. 

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

 Goodnight Moon book for babies

This absolute classic winds down Baby for bed in both color and black-and-white. Beloved for generations, it’s sure to be one you’ll have memorized by their next birthday.  

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. & John Archambault

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom book for babies 

It’s never too early to introduce the ABC’s, and this bright and busy book does it in the best way ever. The letters become characters in a fast-paced and silly story rich with repetition and rhyme. Consider yourself warned that Baby will reach for Chicka Chicka Boom Boom a lot!

Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae

Giraffes Can't Dance book for babies

A story of friendship, inclusion, and learning to let go and try new things—packaged into neat rhymes and vibrant images. The lessons are many, and the precious characters will win over both you and Baby.

If Animals Kissed Goodnight by Ann Whitford Paul

 If Animals Kissed Goodnight book for babies

In this quiet bedtime book, we witness all different types of animals smooching goodnight like humans do, with one particularly cute and funny mother-child pair that make more than one appearance as you turn the pages.

Night Night, Little Digger by Nicola Edwards 

 Night Night Little Digger book for babies

A sensory experience for your little truck lover, this baby book features glittery pages and other touch-and-feel details. Though it was made for bedtime, don’t be surprised if your little one wants to read it around the clock!

Yoga Bear (and the Yoga Bug Book Series) by Sarah Jane Hinder 

 Yoga Bear book for babies

These early books for tiny yogis detail a series of basic yoga poses being done by children, alongside the animals that inspired each pose. It’s a joy-filled way to introduce your little one to the mind-body practice that can support them throughout their whole life. 

Bedtime Peekaboo 

Bedtime Peekaboo book for babies

A nighttime lift-the-flap offering a quiet sensory experience for your little tyke, the charming illustrations and mild memory practice will make it a favorite.

Hands Can by Cheryl Willis Hudson

Hands Can book for babies 

Now is a perfect moment to share this exploratory book with your little learner. Photographs of other toddlers are mesmerizing to your 12-to 18-month-old, and on these pages you’ll see lots of them using their hands to do different things like waving, playing peekaboo, and more.

Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers

Everywhere Babies book for babies 

Crawling, walking, playing, and snoozing—babies everywhere are doing lots of interesting things. Your babe will love the rhyme and cadence of this lovable book about babies on the move.

I Love All of Me by Lorie Ann Grover

 I Love All of Me book for babies

It is never too early to teach your toddler about their body. With this bright and happy book, you lay the groundwork for self-esteem and care. 

Baby! Talk! by Penny Gentieu

 Baby Talk book for babies

Encourage your curious cutie to try out some new words with this charming board book that’s bursting with photographs of babies and toddlers to delight and inspire.  

Snap Snap - Guess the Animal

Snap Snap book for babies 

Learning about animal sounds is a pinnacle moment for any young toddler. This practice is not just about the animals either; call-and-response, memory, and empathy are all at play. Set that in motion with this lift-the-flap book.

Press Here by Herve Tullet

 Press Here book for babies

Sometimes the simplest illustrations draw them in the best. This renowned book takes your baby on an exploratory and interactive journey where they’ll respond to basic commands, get moving, and probably giggle a time or two. 

Counting Kisses by Karen Katz

 Counting Kisses book for babies

We’re guessing you kiss those squishy little cheeks about a thousand times a day, so your baby will know exactly what’s going on in this book. A precious story about love (and counting!), it’s perfect to read any time of day.

Do Cows Meow? by Salina Yoon

 Do Cows Meow? book for babies

Bright colors and interactive flaps will keep your little one involved and having fun while you read this barnyard-sounds book together. 

Baby Happy, Baby Sad by Leslie Patricelli

Baby Happy Baby Sad book for babies 

A fantastic introduction to feelings, this cute book represents relatable situations bringing on different emotions in the babies on the pages. In turn, it helps your little one match facial expressions and body language with these different feelings. 

Time for Bed by Mem Fox

 Time for Bed book for babies

Cozy bedtime stories are important for your toddler, setting in motion a routine that becomes second nature. The soothing illustrations of sleepy animals paired with repetitive prose in this modern classic will lull your little one toward sleepytime themselves.  

Will You Be My Sunshine? by Julia Lobo

Will You Be My Sunshine? book for babies 

A rhyming story with bright and colorful, vintage-inspired pictures, it’s a love letter to your baby and one of those books they will remember reading together for years to come. 

My Very First Book of Numbers by Eric Carle

 My Very First Book of Numbers book for babies

It wouldn’t be early childhood without Eric Carle. In this cute counting book illustrated in his signature style, your little learner will get an early sense of numbers, represented by objects they recognize and love—a colorful variety of fruits!

Orange Pear Apple Bear by Emily Gravett

 Orange Pear Apple Bear book for babies

Speaking of fruits, a few of them end up on the head of a bear (and everywhere) in this hilarious, yet super-simple tale for toddlers.

Noisy Farm

 Noisy Farm book for babies

Delighting littles for over thirty years, this farm-themed favorite follows in the footsteps of its sister book Dear Zoo taking your toddler on a lift-the-flap tour to discover who’s (making noise on) the farm. 

Oh No, George! by Christ Haughton

 Oh No George book for babies

There is absolutely no way around loving this adorable, funny, terribly tempted puppy who tries so hard to be a good boy. You and your tot will be laughing the whole time, and the bold colors will keep their attention along with the great story. 

A Collection of Stories for 1 Year Olds

 A Collection of Stories for One-Year-Olds book for babies

It’s a wonderful thing to be 1, and your little love is learning so much at this age. Classic nursery rhymes beloved for generations will catch their attention in short, age-appropriate retellings you can read one per sitting, or a few at a time.


Marshmallow by Clare Turlay Newberry

 Marshmallow book for babies

The fluffy bunny in this award-winning children’s story develops an unlikely and heartwarming friendship with the family cat. It’s giving vintage, cozy vibes from start to finish and your babe will love every page. 

Jump! by Scott M. Fischer

Jump! book for babies 

Toddlers love repetition, which helps with their language development, attention span, and deductive reasoning. In this fun rhyming book, a host of animal friends take part in what turns into a sequence of funny actions to entertain your baby.

More More More Said the Baby by Vera B. Williams

 More More More Said the Baby book for babies

Engaging illustrations and a relatable storyline grab your little’s attention and hold on tight in this action-packed book for 1-year-olds (and up!).

Feelings of the Sky 

 Feelings of the Sky book for babies

Using the sun, moon, stars, rainbows, and beyond, this sweet board book introduces your little one to a variety of feelings which will help them express themselves in the months to come– and beyond.

I Love You Through & Through by Bernadette Rossetti-Shustak

I Love You Through and Through book for babies 

Start them young on the concept of unconditional love. This precious story about a little boy and his teddy will give them an early understanding of just how much you love them.

More Books for Littles:


About Jenny Studenroth Gerson

Jenny Studenroth Gerson is an Atlanta-based lifestyle journalist and novelist (Let Me Let You Go, 2020). Her work can be seen in publications including HuffPost, Cosmo, and WSJ, among many others. Jenny has researched thousands of baby names, combed through hundreds of nursery designs, and curated dozens of baby shower guides, making her absolutely the mom—and writer—you want to talk to when planning for Baby. When not meeting deadlines, she is chasing toddlers or chugging coffee—or both! Find her on Instagram @ourlifeinrosegold for mom hacks and more.

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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.