Rachel Khoo’s 7 favourite books for babies under one

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a sucker for children’s books, especially when they’re beautifully illustrated. I started collecting, long before I even had a baby of my own. Some of the books are so old that they’re holding on with just a strip of sticky tape. It was a hard task putting together a list of only seven baby books, so I’ve picked the ones that have been the biggest success – with the audience of babies – rather than ones I simply love. They are a mix of English, German (my mother is Austrian) and Swedish (we live in Sweden) books, but for some the language doesn’t even matter.

    1. Titta Apan (transl. Swedish – Look! There’s a monkey)

Everybody’s baby book collection needs one simple animal picture book. This Swedish book depicts a collection of animals (monkey, crocodile, dog, frog etc) with the relevant Swedish words underneath. It’s illustrated by Ingela P. Arrhenius, a talented Stockholm-based artist whose work can be found on everything from French cosmetic packaging to kids’ books. The charming block illustrations have a vintage 50’s/60’s vibe. This pop-esque style lends itself well to a baby book, making it easier to recognise the shapes. Brush up on your animal noises, you’ll need them!

2. The Very Hungry Caterpillar 

This book needs no introduction. Eric Carle‘s book has been on baby bookshelves for decades. The story about a caterpillar who eats his way through numerous foods is something that clearly speaks to me. The little holes cut-out in the book also come in handy for slightly older fingers to investigate.

Rachel Khoo baby book

3. Hoppla! Wer knabbert da? (transl. German – Woops! Who’s nibbling?)

This compact book fits in the back pocket of my skinny jeans and is super handy to keep stashed in the baby bag for when some spur-of-the-moment entertainment is required. There are little finger spots to allow those pudgy baby digits to push out the little animal who has been nibbling the food. These books have been a big hit with my baby (as you can see by the gaffa tape). There are minimal words, other than a little German text to annotate which animal is nibbling.

Rachel Khoo fox's socks

4. Fox’s Socks

Finding the right ratio of text to pictures is a bit like Goldilocks finding the most appealing bowl of porridge. Too much and baby is turning the page before you can get half way through the text, and too little and you’ll have to start making up the story yourself (not great when you’re tired). You’ll no doubt encounter the Gruffalo on your baby book adventures, but I found it to be a tad too wordy, compared with Fox’s Socks which is created by the same duo, Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. You’ll find lots of fun details in this book (spot the duck in every picture).

Rachel Khoo Svenska-Barnvisor

5. Svenska Barnvisor (transl. Swedish Children Nursery Rhymes)

Ok I’m not suggesting you and your baby start learning Swedish nursery rhymes, but I found the nursery songs with music player attached to it very handy. The songs are illustrated, include the text and musical notes, as well as being able to play the melody. So if your singing capabilities aren’t quite up to Mary Poppins’ standards, then you can simply press the button to play the music (also entertains the baby when they work out how to make the music work). This is a much better alternative to the books with CDs attached (who has a CD player these days?). I’ve only been able to find individual song books, so do let me know in the comments below if you have found a similar version in English.

Rachel Khoo my first signs

6. My first signs

I had some ambitious plans of trying to teach my baby sign language after reading an interesting study. However, I simply didn’t have the stamina, so this book has proved to be a handy alternative. The illustrations by Annie Kubler of other babies doing everyday activities, certainly keeps my baby fascinated.

Rachel Khoo Mog and the V.E.T.

7. Mog and the V.E.T.

There is for a good reason that Judith Kerr‘s books are still popular with children today. The stories and illustrations have a gentle feel to them. It’s the perfect way to wind down at the end of the day after bath time or for morning snuggles and books in bed. I have almost all of Judith’s books, but Mog is definitely a favourite in our house.

Rachel Khoo baby books

What are you baby’s favourites? Or do you have any favourites from when you were a child?

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