In the first few months of your baby's life their eyesight is still developing. To begin with their sight is blurry and they can only...

The Best High Contrast Books for Babies

Saturday, April 07, 2018 BookBairn 4 Comments

In the first few months of your baby's life their eyesight is still developing. To begin with their sight is blurry and they can only focus on people or objects that are 20-30cm away from them. The perfect distance to lie on the floor beside them and look at a book. It is not until 2-3 months old that their sight is developed enough to differentiate between colours and even at this stage they will find similiar colours, like red and orange, difficult to differentiate. That's why you often see black and white books for babies. And these are great. But they are also often rather dull for you as a parent to read, even if your baby loves them. So I've found some great alternatives that use contrast colours, simple colour blocking and uncluttered backgrounds that your baby will be able to enjoy looking at but you will find more interesting to read with them!

Here are our favourite high contrast books for babies (and toddlers, even at 3 years old BookBairn still loves lots of there):

Baby's First Playbook: Peepo by Jo Lodge

Not really a story book, more a first word and exploration book, the characters are incredibly appealing with their cute and funny expressions and clear lines complimented by bold colours, which are perfectly designed to engage little ones as their eyesight develops. The thick and sturdy tabs reveal illustrations of babies in Jo's distinctive style that appeals to little readers and are set in frames of high contrast patterns and shapes. And just to top it off, there's a mirror on the final page that babies can spend hours exploring and adoring their own little faces. It really is a magic book for babies and will keep them busy for hours. (BookBairn enjoyed the first in the series long beyond babyhood, you can read our review of it here!) Basically any of Jo's books would be perfect for your littlest ones! And her paper engineering skills are second to none so you will have lots of fun playing with these books!

The Wee Page Turner loves to kiss the baby in the mirror.

Blocks by Irene Dickson

Telling the story of two children learning to share this book is great for siblings! Featuring primarily red and blue colours against a plain white background this book is great for engaging little readers with the key elements of the story. BookBairn loves this as much as her little brother so it's appeal goes further than just babies. It has a great little cliffhanger that BookBairn is just beginning to understand and she gives me a cheeky grin at the end every time. My only reservation about recommending this one is that it's a slightly oversized board book so it is very heavy which means that it isn't great for babies to read by themselves. However, that just means babies need their parents to cuddle up with them to share this adorable story! Or maybe even bigger siblings? This would be perfect for an older sibling to give to a younger one!

As you can see the Wee Page Turner has no problem
 with the larger pages.

Playtime with Ted by Sophy Henn

Part of a wonderful series of books, starring the terrifically imaginative little toddler Ted, 'Playtime' is a great story for little readers. Ted finds a box to play in and under each flap you reveal what he imagines the box is: a submarine, a racecar, a rocket. But BookBairn's favourite is the big yellow digger whilst The Wee Page Turner prefers zooming to the moon on a rocket with Ted. Ted is irrestible in his red and yellow wellies with his orange and turquoise bobble hat (I'll be he chose his own outfit that day!) and his animal friends are as cute and cuddly as can be. Sophy Henn does a wonderful job (again!) capturing the world of a toddler and bringing it to life in the pages of her books. And her illustrations are great for little ones with enough details to discuss but without overfilling the page with superfluous extras. Sophy Henn's books feature on our Favourites Shelf on a regular basis so well worth keeping an eye out for her books in the library or bookshops. 

I Love My Daddy by Jonathan Litton and Fhiona Galloway

The ' My Little World' series succeed in creating great books for babies again and again! But our favourite is 'I Love My Daddy' by Jonathan Litton and Fhiona Galloway. We love these books with the finger-holes to add a fantastic textural element. Each page features a die-cut star that gradually gets smaller and smaller as you turn the pages, The Wee Page Turner loves to touch and play with this star using it to lift the pages in order the turn them by himself. The characters in the story are adorably illustrated using bright colours and soft lines, each with large smiles! The children in the book are all enjoying spending time with their dad and celebrate their dads by sharing why they deserve a shiny star. It's a great story for reading if you are on maternity leave and Daddy has gone back to work and you want to share a little bit of Daddy appreciation with your little one whilst he is working.

Hush Baby Bear is Sleeping by Surya Sajnani (Wee Gallery Books)

For me, Wee Gallery books are the exception to the black and white books. These are far from dull. The illustrations are simply adorable and most have an additional mechanism like sound, lift-the-flaps, or paper mechanisms to make the book more engaging than simple primer texts. This one is our favourite as it has little tabs down the side that make the sound of the corresponding animal in the illustrations.  With a simple storyline this is a great book for little ones to begin to understand that books are stories with meaning. It tells the tale of Little Bear who is trying to sleep. But all the animals are making noises and could wake him up. The final page shows Mama Bear checking on her little cub and is accompanied by a snoring sound. Little ones will love this and it is one that BookBairn chooses again and again for her little brother's bedtime story. The only criticism is that the buttons are quite tricky to push and The Wee Page Turner can't do that himself yet so it's more fun reading this one together.
The Wee Page Turner turning pages.

Springtime by Jane Foster

I love Jane Foster's designs, her Black & White baby book is one of the few that I really appreciated when reading with The Wee Page Turner as it is incredibly stylish and full of things that are actually black and white and not just made so for the sake of creating a first baby book. But I must admit I love this one a little bit more! It celebrates Spring which is a wonderful season full of discovery and new beginnings, not just chocolate eggs. Sharing vocabulary such as blossom, tulips, lamb, chicks, rainbow and bumblebees you can talk to your little one about how the world is changing in this new season. It would be a great one to pop in the buggy or a changing bag so you can spot these things whilst out and about. As I say the real charm of these books is in the fantastic artwork. The lines are bold and thick and the colours bright and cheerful making them great first books for babies developing their eyesight as well as slightly older toddlers who will love making connections to the real world.

The Wee Page Turner loves this rainbow page!

Look, There's a Tractor by Esther Aarts

A lovely bright book about a farmer who is trying to find his hen. Each page features die-cut holes that little fingers can explore and use to turn the pages as well as peep through to spy what's coming next. The Wee Page Turner is absolutely fascinating by finding the deep blue tractor on each page running his little fingers over it every single time. It rally stands out to him - and that's where the high contrast colours really help him to focus. Even though he is older (almost one) and his eyesight is fully developed, he still finds high contrast colours more interesting. The illustrations in this are just lovely and provide lots of things to look at and talk about beyond the simple storyline. A wonderful first adventure!

Here he is spotting that tractor!

So that's a little list of favourites for you! All of these would make great new baby gifts and are an excellent starting point for your baby's library. It's never too soon to start them on books. (And to be honest I found it a great way to pass the time when mine were both really little - it's hard to really play with a baby and books give you something fun to do with them!)

Happy first stories!
Mummy and The Wee Page Turner xx

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DISCLAIMER: Most of these books were sent to us from the publishers for review (I bought Playtime with Ted and I Love My Daddy and Peepo was sent from the illustrator). Our words and opinions are, as always, our own.


  1. Speaking of Sophy Henn, I found your Postman Pat creation in your shed - a brilliant upcycling of an enormous cardboard delivery box and such fun to play with. I remember BookBairns black and white cloth books - they were fun too, if you didn’t want to risk braining your bairn. As for tractors, that sounds great although Wee Pagey will need to get used to spotting red or green tractors in his town.

    1. Thanks - I'll need to bring it back out now that we can play with it outside again! Yes tractor spotting is a hobby of the future for him!

  2. I love watching the Wee Page Turner crawl over to his basket of books, pick one out and start exploring it. I also love to see BookBairn helping him. These books look great for both.