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Baby Milestones: Board Books

All board books are great for infants, but here's a clue as to why your baby may particularly adore that one full of animal photographs: "It's easier for toddlers to learn about real objects from photographs than from illustrations," says Gabrielle Simcock, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University of Queensland, in Australia. In a new study she coauthored, one group of 18-month-olds was read a book with photographs about a child who constructed a rattle out of three objects. The other group was told the same story, but with a book of drawings. Later, both groups were given the objects and asked to make the rattle. The children who saw the photographs were able to build the toy after just two readings, while those who saw the drawings required about four readings.

Bottom line: There are no right or wrong books, but your tot may learn what a rabbit is, for instance, from a photo of one faster than from an illustration.

Think bold, simple, and clean. Look for books that have...

  • Color photos or highly realistic drawings
  • Pages with a single photo or a simple scene
  • Multiple examples of a particular item, such as photos of different types of cows