Babies are born with only 25% of their brain developed, but their brains are twice as active as an adult’s! In fact, all of a baby’s senses will continue to develop as he/she ages. At birth a baby can see best at a distance of only 8 to 12 inches. Take time to gaze at your baby while holding him/her – babies love to look at faces. Touch is extremely important to a baby – enjoy bonding while feeding, bathing, rocking, and reading to your baby. The library offers storytimes that focus on the developmental needs of infants.

How to Pick Books for Your Baby

When looking for books for infants, look for sturdy board books with the following features:

  • Books with eye-catching colors such as red, blue, or yellow: My Very First Book of Colors by Eric Carle
  • Books with pictures of babies: Baby Faces by Margaret Miller
  • Books with high contrast drawings like simple black on white pictures: White on Black by Tana Hoban.
  • Books with rhyming, rhythmic sounds and repetition: The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton
  • Books with a short, simple story, and repeated words and phrases: Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
  • Books that introduce concepts like opposites, numbers and colors are good for older infants: Big Fish, Little Fish by Ed Heck

Children learn from repetition so don’t be surprised if they ask for the same book over and over again.

Nursery Rhymes Pre-literacy Importance

Nursery rhymes have been used by caregivers for centuries. They are little stories that have rhythmic patterns of speech sound and movement to delight, soothe, and communicate with babies. Babies love nursery rhymes and respond instinctively to the cadence of the language and the interactions with their caregivers. Nursery rhymes also have many pre-literacy benefits:

  • Nursery rhymes rhyme! Rhyming by the age of four is a predictor of early reading success. Rhyming helps a child learn to listen to the smaller sounds in words and is important in learning how to sound out words later, as they learn to read.
  • Nursery rhymes have a strong rhythm and beat that, when combined with rhythmic body movement, helps baby to absorb the pattern of language physically. Long before a baby can speak they can move their bodies in response to familiar patterns of sound and movement.
  • Nursery rhymes give caregivers something new and fun to say to their babies. They also introduce new vocabulary words such as canter, prance, and trot. A large vocabulary is a key predictor in long-term reading comprehension success, as it helps the child better understand the world around them and the information they will be reading later.
  • Nursery rhymes are really little stories with a beginning, middle, and end. These short stories introduce babies to how stories are structured and will be important as they learn to read and begin to understand the world.
  • Nursery rhymes invite close physical contact with a caregiver. The face-to-face interactions and eye contact between caregiver and child while playing with nursery rhymes will stimulate the firing ofsynapses in baby’s brain and build neural connections. This close physical contact also invites intentional touch such as during the nursery rhyme, This Little Piggy Went to Market, which is vital to baby’s development as it says — in the only language babies understand (touch) — that they are worthy of attention and love. To learn more about your child’s brain development, click here!

Nursery rhymes are fantastic tools for a caregiver to have. They’re free, portable, and can be played anywhere from the changing table to the grocery store…and there are hundreds to choose from. Want to find some fun nursery rhymes to use at home? Check out the library catalog to find good books filled with fun nursery rhymes for you and your baby to share.


Remember! Early literacy is not about teaching your child how to read, but rather building the skills they need to be successful when they begin reading instruction later on. Motivate them by making their experiences with books and reading fun!