Through books, babies learn more about the real world and are exposed to topics that are relevant to their lives -- families, animals, nature, everyday objects.
Books are important for laying the foundation so our children grow up learning about cultural appreciation, peace, diversity and family togetherness.
10+ Montessori-aligned Baby Books with Realistic Pictures
I must confess -- it is generally challenging to find realism-based baby books in the sea of books written for babies. Many baby books are fictional, fantastical (talking animals/superheroes) or present visuals that are cartoon-like.
Thankfully, with recommendations from the Montessori Toddlers facebook group and book lover parent friends, I found a great assortment of visually appealing baby books -- with realistic pictures!
These curated book picks are fun and educational for babies, and even toddlers! These books span the following categories:
- Learning about Self
- The World Around Us (Object/Color Recognition etc)
- Health (Exercise & Healthy Eating)
I love that many (if not all) of these spark curiosity, teach facts, grow with our children and can evoke meaningful, reality-based discussions when our babies are a little more grown.
Learning about Self
1. I Am a Baby Board book
"I am a baby, this is my crib, this is my high chair, this is my bib."
I like that this book lays the foundation for explaining family units, and helps babies eventually understand that they form the young of the family.
This book is careful to include a diversity of baby visuals, representing different races, ethnicities & different types of families. The rhyming and relatable words make it a joy to read to little ones, and for them to repeat them to you.
2. All About Me! (Fun Flaps) Board book
This book allow babies to discover their bodies in a fun and interactive manner, as they learn the names of her body parts. There is an element of interactivity and surprise with the flaps that could be revealed to show babies making faces and performing simple actions.
The book uses expressive baby phrases which build vocabulary and language skills.
3. My First Body Board book
This is an informational book for explore and learn about the different parts of the body through bold, visual images that are labeled clearly. Because of the variety of topics and information, this book can grow with the child and engage even a toddler or preschooler.
I like this book for its clean, white background so there isn't anything distracting from the photographs. The photography is engaging and beautiful, featuring a variety of happy babies and relevant, everyday objects.
4. Hands Can Board book
Hands can hold things.
Hands can mold things.
Hands can catch
and hands can throw.
Hands can do much more, of course — wave hello and goodbye, play peekaboo, touch things, clap, even tie a shoe.
This book encourages children to discover what their little hands can do, and use their hands creatively and in a hands-on manner to explore and interact with the world.
The content is straightforward and rhyming, and it is easy to engage babies (and even toddlers!) as many scenes relate to their lives. With time, they might even start to mimic many of the scenes in the story.
This book features interesting photographs of children with authentic emotions -- toothy grins, yawns, bright eyes, pouts, and tears. Identifying and discussing the various emotions help little ones put a name to feelings, encouraging acceptance of all feelings as well as social-emotional development in babies and toddlers.
There are other books in this series: PEEK-A-BOO!, EAT!, SLEEP, SPLASH! and HUGS & KISSES.
6. Baby Faces board book
I like this book's focus on facial expressions for the emotions, which are accurately captured and named. There is a wide range of emotions (happy/sad/laughing etc) and actions (ex. peek-a-boo/clean/dirty etc) in the book for children to learn the names of.
The book also features lots of diversity, laying the foundation for teaching about cultural and ethnicity differences.
7. Baby Faces Peekaboo! board book
This book has pages which are big and sturdy, perfect to be propped in front of the baby for tummy time and exploration as the baby grows.
There are flaps and fold out pages, and the peekaboo nature allows babies to learn cause and effect as they grasp and manipulate the pages. There are different fabrics and surfaces to feel on each page and this encourages tactile interaction and sensory processing. The inclusion of a mirror is great as babies love to study their reflections.
As a book reviewer pointed out, the downside with this book's large size is that it could be cumbersome to hold when reading to a fidgety baby and it might fit awkwardly into your book shelf.
8. Making Faces: A First Book of Emotions board book
Look at the happy baby. Can you make a happy face? Find the happy baby!
There is a good flow to the story which first introduces five essential expressions -- happy, sad, angry, surprised, and silly -- with a large image of a baby’s face, invites readers to mimic the face, then pick it out from a group of other babies. The very last spread includes all of the expressions from the previous pages, and a mirror so little ones can make any face they want.
The concept, simplicity, repetition, photos stand out in this board book.
However -- Note that many book reviewers point out racist tendencies in this book. It could be purely coincidental or unconscious bias at work but positive emotions are assigned to white babies, while negative emotions are assigned to babies of color.
9. Touch and Feel: Farm board book
This touch and feel series consists of a couple of books which feature simple, clear photographs, simple text and fun textured sections.
With this Farm version, children learn about their favorite animals (kittens/horses/chicks etc) on the farm through tactile exploration which help develop fine motor skills and build a strong language foundation. It'll be great to practice animal sounds on each page, and describe the textures as well as how the animal might feel when petted/stroked.
10. Babies and Doggies board book
I'm a dog parent too and seeing the interactions between dogs and babies just melt my heart.
This adorable book has a unique concept -- it shows babies and doggies doing many similar things, like squirm, sniff, sit, splash, play ball and cuddle. It highlights how baby could find best friends in doggies, fostering a love and appreciation for our furry friends from young.
I like that the full-color, beautiful photographs feature a diversity of dog breeds and babies, in addition to beautiful rhyming text. A heartwarming read.
The World Around Us (Object/color recognition etc):
11. The National Geographic Look and Learn Series: Colors
The National Geographic Look and Learn series is known to be educational yet fun.
This colors book is interactive and informational. The flow is great -- on one page there several objects of the same color, on the next page children are invited to identify objects of that color to reinforce learning from the previous page.
The little fun facts are interesting and this book grows with your child as there is a fun little game segment at the end for toddlers.
12. Baby Loves: A First Book of Favorites board book
This book has a good flow, first introducing an assortment of familiar objects for babies to identify (like a banana, a sippy cup, a ball, and a puppy), then introducing them with a variety of other objects in the same category, before inviting children to pick out the featured object from the rest. You could prompt children to use their pointers to identify words and objects (e.g. Which one is the banana?)
The last spread shows what babies love most... which is none other than being loved!
This board book is a follow-up to Making Faces, which features the same photographer’s vibrant photos.
13. First 100 Words board book
This is a big book with 100 words for everyday objects or animals that babies come across, which help to learn and help build their vocabulary. It's definitely one that grows with a baby and can be used into toddlerhood and beyond.
There was a phase when my little one took real objects and matched them to the corresponding items in this picture book. Most of my toddler's first words also came from this book. I love that it's like an encyclopedia for me to explain everyday things to my child.
14. I Love Colors (Look Baby! Books) board book
This is a very simple book for learning about colors. There is a color on the left page and a picture of a baby with that color on the right. There are 6 colors in total.
There are many baby books that get too cluttered or distracting with content. This one is clean, simple and easy to follow.
15. Baby Up, Baby Down: A First Book of Opposites board book
This interactive photographic board book teaches children about the world of opposites that are relatable to them -- up/down, clean/messy, wet/dry, near/far, quite/loud, awake/asleep.
Each pair of opposites is explained with pictures of the same baby so it's not confusing. The awake/asleep ending makes this book optimal for bedtime reading.
16. Shades of People paperback book
Cocoa, tan, rose, and almond—people come in lots of shades, even in the same family.
This book makes an excellent starter for discussions about race and ethnicity. It is written beautifully in a way that makes us appreciate the different physical traits of people and cultivate a natural sense of appreciation for people regardless of color.
It presents diversity of everyday life through simple text paired with vibrant photographs by Shelley Rotner, who has a talent for capturing lively action shots and authentic, candid portraits.
Note that Shades of People is a paperbook version. There is a board book version called All Kinds of People, here on Amazon US, and here on Book Depository worldwide. Don't get both as they use the same content.
17. Global Babies board book
This Global Babies board book is lovable for many reasons -- its simple understandable text for babies, wonderful visuals and beautiful key message that all babies, regardless of where in the world they are born, are perfect in their own ways and well-loved. This book celebrates the diversity of our world.
Each page has a picture of a baby and the name of the country where the baby lives. From Guatemala to Bhutan, this book takes us to places around the world and expose us to new traditions and cultures. As a book reviewer pointed out, I love the intentional and thoughtful feature of two babies from the US, one native-american, one white.
18. We Are Little Feminists Board Book Set
Little Feminist's 3-board-book-bundle are known to be inclusive books with diverse representation of real families, introducing the concept of diversity and differences through:
- HAIR which features race & ethnicity,
- FAMILIES which features gender, sexuality & all the wonderful types of family structures,
- ON-THE-GO which features the many forms of mobility, ability & bodies.
These are books that help with cultural and global exposure, which work towards shaping children's perceptions and values about people and diversity.
Available on Amazon US here.
Note: I've yet to find this book set on Book Depository.
Health (Exercise & Healthy Eating):
19. My First Yoga board book
This book curates gentle yoga poses and places them in an order that engages, energizes, then relaxes children. The yoga moves are varied, including downward dog, cat stretch and sleepy sloth.
With clear illustrations of yoga positions demonstrated by photographs of real children practicing the moves, little ones enjoy following the poses as they read along. This is a great way to encourage physical movement, gross motor coordination and mastery.
20. Eating the Rainbow board book
This is a visually appealing photographic book to introduce to babies when they start to take interest in food.
The bright photos featuring a diverse array of children enjoying healthy foods are inspiring and help to inculcate and support good eating habits as well as reinforce learning of colors. The flow is simple -- photographs of foods of a certain color are shown coupled with a photograph of a child eating a food of that color, with names of the colors and foods clearly labelled.
21. My First 100 Food We Eat board book
This is an informational and attractive book about colorful and diverse types of foods for little ones to learn about. The photographs are clear and engaging, and the variety of foods featured is great to build children's vocabulary of food words and their recognition of common types of foods.
The organisation is clear with categories of fruits followed by vegetables, then table foods such as muffins. The visuals make it easy for little ones to remember and recognise what a particular food looks like.
My toddler loves to match play food as well as real foods from the refrigerator to food images in the book. This object to image matching game is a fun activity to reinforce learning.
Note: Countries/cultures have different names for the same type of food e.g. the book names it "capsicum" instead "bell pepper". You could introduce the food in your local language to build familiarity and then introduce another name for the same food to broaden your child's global knowledge and code-switching ability.
I hope you find keepsakes from the list above that you'll love reading and re-reading to your little ones!
More book recommendations on Instagram, Pinterest or Facebook Group.
Note: These are not affiliate links, so I don't earn any commission from purchases made at these links.
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Hi! I am Yunnie. I am the newly minted mama to a little baby girl and a mum friend to everyone on this special (and many times scary) journey of motherhood. Also a graduated bride with a penchant for weddings.