Do you get the feeling that your little baby is growing too fast and you want a new way to strengthen the bond that you two share? Bedtime stories are a wonderful way to bond with your baby or toddler. Reading children a bedtime story inculcates a love of reading in them and improves their understanding of the language. When you snuggle up in bed with your toddler and read him a soothing bedtime story, it has a calming effect that lulls the baby to sleep. It is a great idea to use picture books and even books with sound effects, as babies find these books very interesting. In most cases, while the moral of the story is important, the tone and actions used help capture the babies attention. Once your baby grows a little old you can also tell them inspirational stories.
Best Baby and Toddler Bedtime Stories
Here are 12 of the best bedtime stories for babies and toddlers. These are the most popular bedtime story books that will definitely have a calming effect on your baby and soothe him to sleep.
1. Goodnight Moon
This is one of the most popular short bedtime stories for toddlers with pictures. This picture book is written by Margaret Wise Brown and is about a bunny who would say goodnight to everything around him. Written as a rhyming poem, Goodnight Moon describes how the bunny says goodnight to various inanimate and living objects around him, such as a dollhouse, a red balloon, two kittens, the moon, etc. Babies love rhyming words and calming rhythm of the story, and it swiftly lulls them to sleep.
2. The Very Hungry Caterpillar
This story written by Eric Carle is one of the well-known toddler stories for bedtime. This book has colourful pictures and differently shaped pages with holes showing the caterpillar eating through various foods. On a Sunday morning, from an egg perched on the leaf, a caterpillar hatches and starts to look for food. He eats a leaf but is not satisfied. He then eats through increasing quantities of various foods for the next five days. On Monday the caterpillar eats through 1 apple, on Tuesday 2 pears, on Wednesday 3 plums, four strawberries on Thursday, and five oranges on Friday. On Saturday, the caterpillar has an enormous feast of one piece each of chocolate cake, pickle, ice-cream cone, salami, Swiss cheese, lollipop, sausage, cherry pie, cupcake, and watermelon. After this, the caterpillar has a terrible ache in his stomach from eating too much food. He feels much better on Sunday once he returns to his regular diet of a green leaf. Later, he spins a cocoon to wrap himself and remains in it for two weeks. As the two weeks pass, the caterpillar emerges out from the cocoon transformed into a colourful, beautiful butterfly with majestic wings. This book teaches toddlers about counting, names of various foods, days of the week, and the life cycle of a butterfly.
3. Dr Seuss’s Sleep Book
You can find numerous toddler bedtime stories online, and Dr Seuss Bedtime Stories are amongst the most popular. Dr Seuss’s Sleep Book talks about many different creatures from various lands going through their bedtime routines before falling asleep. It starts at the County of Keck where there is a small bug named Van Vleck who yawns so wide that you can see down his neck. The yawn spreads to some birds who are building their nest to sleep for the night. The story goes on to describe even stranger creatures and the weird ways they sleep. It then talks about different things that creatures do when they sleep, such as dreaming, snoring, sleep-talking, and sleepwalking. The book then talks about various kinds of sleepers until the number of sleepers is in the billions. Finally, there is a page of sleeping creatures snuggling against each other with their eyes shut and smile on their faces. The book ends with an empty page containing just the words a good night.
4. Hush Little Baby
This book is written by Sylvia Long and is a modern version of the old bedtime lullaby. The original lullaby has lyrics that promise a child various rewards such as a Mockingbird, a diamond ring, and a looking glass for being quiet and going to sleep. The one by Sylvia Long tells the story of a mother bunny that soothes her baby bunny to sleep by singing about different wonderful things in nature, such as a flying hummingbird, the evening sky, the call of crickets, a shooting star, and the harvest moon. The book ends with the mama bunny promising the baby bunny a lullaby. The book contains fascinating miniature pictures of the objects mentioned in the story.
5. The Crunching Munching Caterpillar by Sheridan Cain
This book contains cheerful and bright pictures that show a caterpillar who is always hungry, but wishes that he was able to fly. The caterpillar is busy crunching and munching on leaves when various flying creatures visit him. He is visited by a bumble bee, a sparrow, and a butterfly. When he expresses his desire to fly like each of them, he is told that he is too large and bulky, has legs for walking, and lacks wings for flying. The caterpillar then wraps himself in a leaf and spins a cocoon around his body. He then naps for a long time. When he wakes, he stretches himself and discovers that he has become a beautiful butterfly with wings.
6. The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle
This book has bright-coloured illustrations and tells the story of an ill-tempered ladybug who thinks she is better than other creatures and refuses to share or say ‘please’ and ‘thank-you’. The ladybug meets a new animal each hour and tries to pick a fight with each of them. She first meets a wasp or yellow jacket, then a stag beetle, and so on, with the animals getting bigger each time. She finally meets a whale and attempts to get into a fight with it, but the whale slaps the ladybug all the way back to land. The hungry tired ladybug then flies home to her aphid-covered leaf, where another kind ladybug offers to share the aphids with her for dinner. This book is unique as it has the picture of a clock on each page to show the time. In this way, the book teaches kids about telling time, size comparisons, and standing up to the bullies. And read this story to your child because kids simply love animal stories.
7. Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann
This book has lovely and colourful pictures that tell the story of a naughty gorilla at the zoo. The book has very few words, but the colourful pictures tell the story in a very playful way. The zookeeper goes for his nighttime rounds and says goodnight to the gorilla. However, the mischievous gorilla steals the zookeeper’s keys from his belt and lets all the animals out of their cages as the zookeeper bids them goodnight. The animals that are freed include a mouse, a lion, a giraffe, an armadillo, and an elephant. The animals follow the zookeeper into his house when he finishes his work and returns home. Finally, Mrs zookeeper takes them all back to the zoo and tells them to stay put. This story makes babies and toddlers laugh. As there are very few words in the book, the children and parents can get creative and make up further situations of animals escaping from the zoo.
8. The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn
This is a lovely story about a baby racoon named Chester, who is terrified of starting kindergarten the next day and being away from his mom. Chester’s mother comforts him and tells him about all the wonderful things he will see and learn at school. She tells him about how he will learn to read books, get to play with new toys, and make new friends. Chester is still worried about leaving his mother, so she reassures him by telling him about the secret of the ‘kissing hand’. She plants a kiss on Chester’s palm and tells him that whenever he feels lonely or is a missing mom, he should press the hand that she kissed to his chest and think that his mom loves him. Chester is finally convinced that his mom’s love will stay with him no matter where he is. Chester then returns the favour by giving his mom a ‘kissing hand’ by kissing her palm. He then goes to school happily.
9. The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown
This book has beautiful illustrations and tells the story of a mother’s constant love for her child. In the story, a young bunny admits to his mother that he wants to run away from home. His mother assures him that she will follow him wherever he goes and take whatever form necessary to be near him. It starts off with the bunny saying that he will run away when the mother says she will run after him. The baby bunny then says if she runs after him, he would become a fish in a stream and swim away. The mother says she will then become a fisherman and fish for the bunny. The baby bunny then says he will become a rock on a high mountain to which the mother replies that she will become a mountain climber and climb up to him. Next, the bunny imagines becoming a crocus in a garden, and the mother says she will become the gardener and find him. This goes on in a similar fashion, and finally, the bunny says he will become a little boy and run into the house. The mama bunny replies that she will then become the little boy’s mother and hug him tightly. The baby bunny then realises that he might as well stay right there with his mom and be her little baby.
10. Monkey Puzzle by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler
This is the story of how a little monkey asks for help from a butterfly to find his mother. He tells the butterfly he has lost his mum, and the butterfly says she will help him find his mom. The butterfly then asks the monkey how big his mom is. When the monkey says his mum is bigger than him, the butterfly takes him to an elephant. The monkey then says the elephant is not his mum as she does not have a trunk or tusk or thick knees. He also says that his mum’s tail coils around trees. So the butterfly takes him to a snake the next time. When the monkey says the snake is not his mum and that his mum has legs, the butterfly takes him to a spider. The monkey tells the butterfly that the spider is not his mum because his mum lives on the trees. The butterfly then takes him to a parrot. The monkey tells the butterfly that the parrot is not his mum and that his mum can leap and spring. This time, the butterfly takes him to a frog. It goes on this way, and the butterfly takes him to a bat and an elephant. Finally, the monkey tells the butterfly that his mum looks just like him. The butterfly says she did not know that as her babies do not look like her. The butterfly then finally takes the monkey to his mum. The butterfly’s wrong matches each time makes us laugh. The story is narrated like a poem with lots of rhyming words which are enjoyed by kids.
11. Snoozers: Seven Short Short Bedtime Stories for Lively Little Kids, by Sandra Boynton
This book has seven tiny bedtime stories for young children. These are all in the form of rhyming poems. Using coloured picture tabs, the children can find the story they like. The names of the different stories are Snoozers, I’m not Tired, The Big Yawn, Pajamas, Six Sleepy Sheep, Night Sounds, and Silly Lullaby. Snoozers features a pig, a duck, and a dog that talk about how they like to snooze all day in various positions such as horizontal, and upside down. It ends with the animals saying that when night falls, they put on their pyjamas, hug their moms and try to stay awake all night. The second story, I’m Not Tired, is a story about a little bear that hides under a chair to avoid bedtime and tells his parent that he is not tired. He keeps refusing to go to bed even after much cajoling by the parent. Finally, he falls asleep under the chair in his hiding place, and his parent puts him back in bed after wishing him sweet dreams. The Big Yawn talks about a dinosaur called Pteranodon that has a giant yawn. Pyjamas talks about how various animals like chickens, pigs, hippos, lions, rabbits, and moose like to wear their pyjamas. Six Sleepy Sheep counts six sheep one by one and describes an activity that each sheep is doing, such as painting the night sky or singing a lullaby. Night Sounds talks about what noises different animals like the tiger, cheetah, crocodile, and elephant make while sleeping at night. The last story is Silly Lullaby which is a song with silly words like ‘Go to sleep, my zoodle; my fibblety fitsy foo’.
12. Oliver Who Would Not Sleep by Mara Bergman
This story is about a boy named Oliver who is not ready to sleep and likes staying awake. After his parents read him a story, kiss him goodnight and tuck him into bed, he wakes up and bounces out of bed. He then spends time painting, drawing, reading and doing magic. He also plays with his racing cars. He then imagines blasting off in his rocket and seeing rooftops, trees and houses and cities in the night. His rocket then flies past the stars and the moon and lands on Mars. Oliver stands and stares at all the empty space on Mars. Suddenly a light flashes far away, where he sees his house and longs to go back home. Oliver then gets back into his rocket ship and soars back home through mountains, trees and rooftops once again. Oliver returns home to find his cuddly toys cosy and warm, waiting for him to come to bed. So with a stretch and a big yawn, Oliver finally falls asleep in his bed with his cuddly toys.
Bedtime stories for babies and toddlers should ideally be calming and soothing. However, for children who want to have some fun before bedtime, the stories can also be funny or adventurous. Reading bedtime stories with funny voices, impressions, and sounds will make the stories much more enjoyable for the little ones. Reading these 12 bedtime stories to your baby or toddler can help create a comforting bedtime ritual for you both and also bring you closer to your baby.
Also Read: 15 Interesting Bedtime Stories for Kids